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BHUTAN

Friday 18th April - Monday 5th May 2014

Eustace Barnes

The magnificent Ward's Trogon (Eustace Barnes)

The magnificent Ward's Trogon (Eustace Barnes)

One of the most beautiful and interesting countries in Asia, Bhutan always offers an exciting adventure along with a dazzling array of birds, landscapes and cultures. This tiny mountainous country, sandwiched between the menacing giants of China and India, seems to be managing to carve a democratic and independent escape from subsistence. Hopefully the forests and wildlife will survive this process rather better than elsewhere, saving the natural splendor of the Himalaya for many generations to come. Our experience certainly underlined the importance of Bhutan’s forests and need for their conservation with many outstanding moments never to be forgotten.

Our wanderings through this magical little kingdom were packed with highlights, too many to recount in a short paragraph. However, they nevertheless included several magnificent male Satyr Tragopans feeding on roadside verges and our morning at Chele La was outstanding with numerous splendid Blood Pheasants and several Himalayan Monals. During the rest of the tour we found a cracking male Ward’s Trogon, numerous pairs of Rufous-necked Hornbills, a pair of immaculate Long-tailed Broadbills and a superb pair of Beautiful Nuthatches near Zhemgang. This, of course, is but a fraction of what we enjoyed seeing, as this trip report will illustrate.

As Bhutan is a well forested country, one can more easily see many species generally hard to find elsewhere in Asia. Of these we had good views of a vagrant male Mandarin Duck, Black-tailed Crake, Chestnut-winged and Asian Emerald Cuckoos, a pair of nesting Pale-headed Woodpeckers, Tawny Fish Owl, Palla’s Fish Eagle, Fire-capped Tit, Cutia, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Fulvous and Pale-billed Parrotbills, nesting Spot-winged Starlings, Golden bush Robin, Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker, Blandford’s Rosefinch, Crimson-browed Finch and Scarlet Finch to give but a few good examples. Mammals were also well represented with sightings of Leopard Cat, Hodgson’s Giant flying Squirrel, Black Giant Squirrel, Masked Palm Civet and, Golden Langur.

The incomparable Satyr Tragopan (Eustace Barnes)

The incomparable Satyr Tragopan (Eustace Barnes)