By area Bhutan is one of the tiniest countries on the planet-roughly 300 km wide and 150 km across as the crow flies. Yet this tiny landlocked parcel of land has a diversity of flora and fauna far greater than that of North America.
This includes 700 species of birds some of which are exceedingly rare and on the verge of extinction. That is why Bhutan is increasingly being described as the birding capital of the Himalayas.
Species on the verge of extinction include the Imperial Heron, the White Bellied Heron and the Black Necked Crane, which migrates to the warmer valleys of Bhutan in winter from the Tibetan Plateau.
Pallas’s Fish Eagle, Grey Bellied Tragopan, Satyr Tragopan, Yellow Rumped Honey guide, Grey Crowned Prinia, Rufous Throated Wren Babbler, Chestnut Breasted Partridge, Blyth’s Kingfisher and Rufous Necked Hornbill are some of the endangered bird species that breed in Bhutan.
Birds in Bhutan vary from all year residents to breeding birds to migrant birds passing through with the seasons. Around 50 of the recorded bird species are winter migrants and include ducks, waders, birds of prey, thrushes, finches and buntings. The partial migrants include cuckoos, flycatchers, swifts and bee-eaters.
A common sight is the Wild Jungle Fowl and Violet Cuckoos. Another fairly common sighting is the Great Pied Hornbill with its bright yellow and black casque (helmet) on top of its massive beak.
Among the list of species in Bhutan you will find waterfowl and wading birds, song birds, game birds and swift.
DAY 1: ARRIVE PARO
Our guide will be there to receive you at the Paro airport and drive you to your hotel.
In the afternoon you will visit Rinpung Dzong (fortress on heap of jewels) built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder of Bhutan, and Ta Dzong. Once a watchtower for the defense of the Paro Rinpung Dzong the Ta Dzong today is museum of natural history.
Evening, stroll along the Paro River and spot some river birds.
Overnight stay in hotel, Paro.
DAY 2: PARO
After breakfast drive to Chele la, the highest road mountain pass in the country, and later to Drugyel Dzong to the north of Paro valley.
The species found in these areas are Himalayan Monal, Blood Pheasant, Satyr Tragopan, Kalij Pheasant, Ibisbill, Common Sandpiper, Crested Kingfisher, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Hoopoe, Nepal House Martin, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Spotted Nutcracker, Yellow-browed Tit, Grey-crested Tit, Rufous-fronted Tit, Black-throated Tit, Plumbeous Water Redstart,Brown Dipper, White-capped Water Redstart, Crested Serpent Eagle, Black Eagle, Himalayan Buzzard, etc.
Overnight stay in hotel, Paro.
DAY 3: PARO – PUNAKHA
Today you drive to Punakha, Bhutan’s old capital, passing through some of the kingdom’s most fertile river valleys.
The first stop is at Dochu La (pass) at 3,050 meters. The snow-capped eastern Himalayan range can be seen from here on a clear day. You could also circumambulate the 108 stupas of the Druk Wangyal Chorten.
The birds found in Punakha and Wangduephodrang valleys are Himalayan Cutia, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Collared Grosbeak, Red Crossbill, Golden-breasted Fulvetta, White-browed Fulvetta, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Plain Mountain Finch, Mrs Gould’s Sunbird, Green-tailed Sunbird, Black-throated Parrotbill, Himalayan Bluetail, White-browed Bush Robin, Rufous-breasted Bush Robin, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, Ultramarine Flycatcher, Brown Bullfinch, Red-headed Bullfinch, Chestnut-tailed Minla (Bar-throated Siva), Dark-breasted Rosefinch, Little Bunting, White-bellied Heron, Common Kingfisher, White-throated Kingfisher, Crested Kingfisher, Grey Treepie, Spotted Nutcracker, Speckled Wood Pigeon, Slaty-backed Forktail, Spotted Forktail, Eurasian Jay, Ultramarine Flycatcher, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler, Streaked-breasted Scimitar Babbler, etc.
Overnight stay in hotel, Punakha.
DAY 4: BIRDING IN PUNAKHA – GASA
In this Punakha to Gasa stretch you will sight Jungle Owlet, Asian-barred Owlet, Osprey, White-bellied Heron, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, Lesser Fish Eagle, Great Cormorant, Black-throated Sunbird, Green-tailed Sunbird, Black-throated Yuhina, Striped-throated Yuhina, Whiskered Yuhina, Straited Yuhina, Scarlet Minivet, Long-tailed Minivet, Grey-chinned Minivet, Barred Cuckoo Dove, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Darjeeling Woodpecker, Bay Woodpecker, Chestnut-headed Tesia, Slaty-bellied Tesia, Grey-bellied Tesia, White-gorgeted Flycatcher, Large Niltava, Small Niltava, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Great Barbet, Blue-throated Barbet, Golden-throated Barbet, Asian Koel, Grey-hooded Warbler, Golden-spectacled Warbler, Tickell’s Leaf Warbler, Lemon-rumped Warbler, Buff-barred Warbler, Yellow-bellied Fantail, White-throated Fantail, Rusty-fronted Barwing, Hoary-throated Barwing, Blue-fronted Robin, Lesser Shortwing, Himalayan Cutia, Green Shrike-babbler, Rufous-winged Fulvetta, Yellow-throated Fulvetta, Black-eared Shrike-babbler, Spotted Wren Babbler, Pygmy Wren Babbler, Speckled Piculet, Orange-bellied Leafbird, White-tailed Nuthatch, Maroon Oriole, Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon.
Overnight stay in hotel, Punakha.
DAY 5: PUNAKHA – GANGTEY/PHOBJIKHA
From Punakha you will drive eastward toward Phobjikha through the black mountain region. The Phobjikha valley is one of the most important wildlife preserves in the country and it serves as the nesting grounds for the endangered Black-necked Crane in winter.
The bird species found in this valley are Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Blue-capped Rock Thrush,Fire-tailed Myzornis, Great Parrotbill, Alpine Accentor, Green-tailed Sunbird, Fire-tailed Sunbird, Rufous-vented Yuhina, Whiskered Yuhina, Scaly Thrush, Tickell’s Thrush, Fire-capped Tit, Amur falcon, Ward’s Trogon, Blue Rock Thrush, Black-faced Laughingthrush, Spotted Laughingthrush, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Red-headed Bullfinch, Scarlet Finch, White-tailed Nuthatch, etc.
Overnight stay in hotel, Phobjikha.
DAY 6: PHOBJIKHA – THIMPHU
Before driving back to Thimphu, you visit the crane observation and information centre. Drive to Pelela at 3,300m to spot the Himalayan Monal, Spotted Laughingthrush, Himalayan Griffon, Brown Parrotbill, Great Parrotbill.
Stop at Dochula for lunch. Continue drive to Thimphu. Evening stroll around Thimphu
Overnight stay in hotel, Thimphu.
DAY 7: DEPARTURE
Early morning you will drive to Paro Airport for your onward journey.