Welcome to Birdquest
Monday 11th April - Thursday 28th April 2016
This year’s Birdquest tour to Bhutan was once again a wonderful experience in a beautiful country where magic continues to flow around the forested mountain slopes. Despite the fact that on some days our birding was hampered by thick fog, low cloud and rain, we managed to find most of our targets, plus a few surprises thrown in to keep us on our toes. Our ‘bird-of-the-trip’ was a Red Panda that picked just the right moment to cross the road in front of us, a brief but stunning view of this chestnut ghost. Gamebirds once again featured strongly, and we counted a minimum of 12 Satyr Tragopans, most of which were on the roadsides, their apparent boldness aided by the rain and foggy conditions. Seven Himalayan Monal sightings was a tour record, plus we saw several Blood Pheasants on the high passes. A Himalayan Wood Owl was a nice find near one of our camps, though a vocal Hodgson’s Frogmouth would not show himself. Black-tailed Crake showed well, and we had great views of Ibisbill along the Paro River. Raptors abound in these mountains, and highlights included an abundance of Black Eagles, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, migrant Short-toed and Booted Eagles, and a female Amur Falcon seen on our way through Assam. Parrotbills gave a good account of themselves, and we saw six species including Orange-eared, Fulvous, Grey-headed, Brown, Great and Pale-billed (aka Lesser Rufous-headed), with Greater Rufous-headed heard only. Wren Babblers are always a favourite and we had a superlative look at a Long-billed (the little Kiwi!) plus Rufous-throated, Scaly-breasted, and Spotted Elachura (which of course is no longer a Wren Babbler!) We had some jigsaw views of Sikkim Wedge-billed Babbler, Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler gave us a prolonged and close performance, good looks at a charming Golden-breasted Fulvetta, and found White-hooded Babblers in the south of the country. We saw 13 species of Laughingthrush, with the gorgeous Spotted coming high on the list of favourites. Fire-capped Tits showed well this year, plus Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker and Sapphire Flycatcher. Spot-winged Starlings were a welcome thrill, as was a fine Collared Treepie, a write-in and a Bhutan lifer for the leader.