The Ultimate In Birding Tours

Asia (and its islands)

BANGLADESH EXPEDITION – Masked Finfoot, Cachar Bulbul & More

Saturday 10th February – Sunday 18th February 2024

Leaders: Mark Beaman and local forest guides

9 Days Group Size Limit 8

BANGLADESH EXPEDITION: OVERVIEW

Birdquest’s Bangladesh Expedition is a special ‘Quest for the Masked Finfoot’ with the range-restricted Cachar Bulbul and some other good birds like White-cheeked Partridge, Buffy Fish Owl, Brown-winged Kingfisher and Mangrove Pitta thrown in for good measure.

The Masked Finfoot used to be a fairly widespread species in the eastern Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, but endless human destruction of its mangrove and riverine habitats has driven the species further and further down the road towards extinction. None of the places where we used to see Masked Finfoot are reliable any longer and the Sundarbans National Forest in Bangladesh now appears to be the last stronghold of the species, which is now ranked as Critically Endangered. It may now be restricted to Bangladesh and possibly Cambodia!

In order to access the remote, forested waterways of the Sundarbans, where Tigers and many other mammals and birds still roam, by far the best solution is to charter a riverboat with sleeping cabins. This is a comfortable option and widely used by non-birding visitors to the Sundarbans. From our riverboat, and by using a smaller boat in the narrow channels, we will patrol the waterways looking of course for Masked Finfoot and the other specialities of the area.

Before our sojourn in the vast combined delta of the Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers, we will travel to northeastern Bangladesh. Here our major target is the very range-restricted Cachar Bulbul, shared only with adjacent parts of India (and hard to access there).  White-cheeked Partridge is another speciality and we are sure to encounter a large number of more widespread species.

Join us for something very different!

Note: This expedition can be combined with either our Red Panda Expedition or our Northwest India tour in 2024.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotel is of a good standard. The riverboat is distinctly comfortable with an observation deck, lounge, dining area and cabins for single, double or twin occupancy (but note that the toilets and showers are shared). Road transport is by car. Roads are variable in quality.

Walking: The walking effort during our expedition is easy throughout.

Climate: Typically it will be warm or hot, with a mixture of dry and sunny or overcast weather. Some rain is possible.

Bird & Mammal Photography: Opportunities during our expedition are fairly good.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • The quest for one of the rarest birds in Asia, the Critically Endangered Masked Finfoot!
  • Watching Buffy Fish Owl and Brown-winged Kingfisher in the mangroves.
  • Tracking down a Mangrove Pitta and perhaps watch one cracking open a small crab with that massive bill.
  • Being one of the few to have seen the highly range-restricted Cachar Bulbul
  • Visiting Bangladesh, a place few birders ever venture.

OUTLINE ITINERARY

  • Day 1: Morning expedition start at Dhaka airport. Drive to Satchari National Park area in northeastern Bangladesh.
  • Day 2: Satchari National Park
  • Day 3: Drive to Dhaka, fly to Jessore and board our riverboat.
  • Days 4-8: Exploring the Sundarbans National Forest.
  • Day 9: Return to Jessore and fly to Dhaka for evening expedition end.

To see a larger map, click on the square-like ‘enlarge’ icon in the upper right of the map box.

To see (or hide) the ‘map legend’, click on the icon with an arrow in the upper left of the map box.

To change to a satellite view, which is great for seeing the physical terrain (and for seeing really fine details by repetitive use of the + button), click on the square ‘map view’ icon in the lower left corner of the ‘map legend’.

PRICE INFORMATION

Birdquest Inclusions: Our tour prices include surface transportation, accommodations, meals and entrance fees.

We also include all tipping for local guides, drivers and accommodation/restaurant staff.

We also include these flights: Dhaka-Jessore-Dhaka.

Deposit: 20% of the total tour price. Our office will let you know what deposit amount is due, in order to confirm your booking, following receipt of your online booking form.

TO BOOK THIS TOUR: Click here (you will need the tour dates)


2024: provisional £2610, $3190, €3120, AUD4560. Dhaka/Dhaka.

Single Supplement: 2024: £60, $80, €70, AUD110.

The single room supplement applies to the nights near Satchari only. If you would like guaranteed single occupancy of a cabin on the riverboat the additional charge is $600 (approximately £500, €590 or AUD860).

The single supplement for the hotel nights will not apply if you indicate on booking that you prefer to share a room and there is a room-mate of the same sex available. However, if you opt to share a cabin on the riverboat you will not have to pay the single cabin supplement if there is no cabin-mate available.

This tour is priced in US Dollars. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

BANGLADESH EXPEDITION: DETAILED ITINERARY

Bangladesh: Day 1  Our expedition begins this morning at Dhaka airport. From the capital city of Bangladesh, we will make our way northeastwards to the vicinity of Satchari National Park for a two nights stay. This afternoon we will commence our exploration of Satchari.

Bangladesh: Day 2  Satchari National Park is situated in the southwestern part of Sylhet District. Unlike most of Bangladesh, Sylhet District is quite hilly and Satchari, which means ‘Seven Streams’ in Bengali, protects an extensive tract of tropical forest.

The bird which has brought us here is the extremely range-restricted Cachar Bulbul, a species only found in northeast Bangladesh and in adjacent India (where it is hard to access for non-Indians). Fortunately, it is quite easy to find at Satchari.

Another good bird is the White-cheeked Partridge, which we have a fair chance of seeing as opposed to just hearing.

The other birds in and around Satchari are more widespread and include Red Junglefowl, Large-tailed Nightjar, Asian Palm and House Swifts, Plaintive Cuckoo, Common Hawk-Cuckoo, Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo, Oriental Turtle, Eurasian Collared, Red Collared, Spotted and Asian Emerald Doves, Ashy-headed and Yellow-footed Green Pigeons, Grey-headed and Red-wattled Lapwings, Crested Serpent Eagle, Shikra, Spotted Owlet, Collared Scops Owl, Eurasian Hoopoe, Blue-bearded, Asian Green and Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, Lineated, Blue-throated, Blue-eared and Coppersmith Barbets, Speckled Piculet, Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Greater and Lesser Yellownapes, Fulvous-breasted, Streak-breasted, Grey-headed and Rufous Woodpeckers, Common, Black-rumped and Greater Flamebacks, Common Kestrel, Blossom-headed, Red-breasted and Rose-ringed Parakeets, and Vernal Hanging Parrot.

Likely passerines include Blue-naped Pitta (more likely to be heard than seen), Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Large Woodshrike, Ashy Woodswallow, Common Iora, Small and Scarlet Minivets, Large Cuckooshrike, Brown and Long-tailed Shrikes, Black-hooded and Black-naped Orioles, Black, Bronzed, Greater Racket-tailed and Hair-crested Drongos, White-throated Fantail, Black-naped Monarch, Rufous Treepie, House and Eastern Jungle Crows, Cinereous Tit, Bengal Bush Lark, White-throated, Black-headedm, Black-crestedx, Red-whiskered and Red-vented Bulbuls, Barn Swallow, Yellow-browed, Green-crowned, Dusky and Greenish Warblers, Blyth’s Reed Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Common Tailorbird, Indian White-eye, Pin-striped Tit-babbler, Puff-throated and Abbott’s Babblers, Jungle Babbler, Asian Fairy-bluebird, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Common Hill, Jungle, Common and Bank Mynas, Indian Pied and Chestnut-tailed Starlings, Orange-headed Thrush, Grey-winged Blackbird, Oriental Magpie-Robin, White-rumped Shama, Hill Blue, Blue-throated Blue, Verditer and Taiga Flycatchers, Siberian and White-tailed Robins, Blue-capped Rock Thrush, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Orange-bellied and Scarlet-backed Flowerpeckers, Ruby-cheeked, Purple-rumped, Purple and Crimson Sunbirds, Little Spiderhunter, Baya Weaver, Indian Silverbill, White-rumped Munia, White Wagtail and Olive-backed Pipit.

Mammals tend to be few and far between in this part of the world but we should encounter Capped Langur.

Bangladesh: Day 3  Today we will head back to Dhaka and take a short flight to Jessore in southwestern Bangladesh. From there we will head for a channel of the Ganges and board our comfortable riverboat for a six nights stay. Afterwards, we set sail for the Sundarbans!

Bangladesh: Days 4-8  The vast delta of the combined Ganges-Brahmaputra rivers, known as the Sundarbans, is a geographical wonder of the world. Nowhere else on our planet do two of the world’s great rivers enter the sea in the same area!

The ‘grailbird’ of the Sundarbans is the fast declining and Critically Endangered Masked Finfoot. We used to see this species at various locations in Southeast Asia, but nowadays it has become extinct or very hard to see in all of them. The Sundarbans of Bangladesh appear to be the Masked Finfoot’s last stronghold and here we have a very high chance of an encounter.

Other great birds of the area include Indian Spotted Eagle, Buffy Fish Owl, the big Brown-winged Kingfisher and the impressive Mangrove Pitta.

Other birds we may well encounter while in the Sundarbans include Greater Coucal, Green-billed Malkoha, Asian Koel, White-breasted Waterhen, Greater Sand Plover, Eurasian Curlew, Eurasian Whimbrel, Common Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Little Stint, Brown-headed Gull, Asian Openbill, Little Cormorant, Black-crowned Night Heron, Indian Pond Heron, Striated Heron, Eastern Cattle, Great and Little Egrets, Western Osprey, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Black and Brahminy Kites, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Grey-headed Fish Eagle and Ruddy, White-throated, Black-capped, Collared and Common Kingfishers.

Ganges River Dolphins are regularly encountered and we should also see Rhesus Macaque, Jungle Cat, Asian Small-clawed Otter and Small Indian Mongoose. The Sundarbans still have a good population of Tigers, but our chances of an encounter are low as the Tigers are shy and still persecuted. If we are really lucky we will come across a Fishing Cat.

Bangladesh: Day 9  Today we will return to Jessore and take a flight to Dhaka airport where our expedition ends this evening.