Bhutan 2013 : Birds ! (5)

Last post on this Bhutan trip : all the other birds !

Most of the following pictures have been taken on the Lingmethang road, on a 60km or so stretch between the Thrumsing la pass (3700m) and the village of Yongkola (1700m) where the forest is replaced by a mix of farmland and woodland as the road keeps on winding down all the way to Lingmethang (600m). This area is a true birdwatcher’s dreamland : a variety of good forested habitats, a mix of primary forest and secondary growth, forest edges, low traffic and human disturbance, and over 300 species of birds to look for.

My goal was not to score a high species number, but rather to focus on a few targets and try to get good sightings and photographs. Besides the pheasants/tragopans, my most wanted bird was undoubtedly the Ward’s Trogon, possibly the most beautiful of all asian trogons, restricted to East-himalayan cool broadleaved forests, where it mostly occurs within a thin 1800-2500m elevation bracket. Trogons are never easy to find and this is true of the Ward’s Trogon as well : a successful quest usually combines staying put patiently near a regularly visited perch, and walking down or up the slope toward where the bird has been heard calling. I easily spent 8-10 hours over 4 days just on this bird, and was rewarded by 2 great sightings, one where a male came perching only 15 meters fr0m me, eye level…

Another time consuming activity was to look for, and try to photograph, some of the most skulking birds : Partridges (3 species occur), Tesia (3 species as well), Wren-babblers (7 species) and the likes. I got lucky with a few of them, and got mad with others, notably the impossible Slaty-bellied Tesia… In one instance i heard a bird calling down a deep gully, i went down for it not without getting badly stung on the way by the infamous local nettle Urtica parviflora, played the call only to see a pair of deeply upset birds surrounding me and jumping from perch to perch only a meter or 2 away from me, so close that my camera would not focus at all ! Obviously i had broken into their nesting territory and i was invited to leave sooner than later …

Sunbirds were another favorite, especially the flamboyant Fire-tailed Sunbird, a very common bird around the Thrumsing la pass.

6 thoughts on “Bhutan 2013 : Birds ! (5)

  1. Dear Yann,
    The pictures taken in Bhutan for birds, Golden languor and Scenery on the trek were very beautiful and interesting. It was pleasure going through your blog and hope you will bring more.

    Tshewang Thinley

  2. Dear Yann,

    I am working on an environment book on Bhutan. I would like to seek your permission to use a photograph you took of the beautiful nuthatch in Morong in 2012. I would love to share more about the book if you are interested.

    Best Regards
    Tashi Dorji

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