Birding in Bhutan - Part I

Bhutan, the kingdom of the dragon was my destination early this year, with my friends Kesava and Arun. Beautiful place and such lovely people. It was winter and it was very cold, no surprises there :-) This was to be kind of a touristy outing. Wildlife wasn’t the main agenda. We did have a few specific targets in mind with respect to birds. However, our itinerary was more about visiting many of the tourist hotspots in western Bhutan.

All said and done, one can never really be far away from birds, isn’t it ? More so, when one’s eyes kind of instinctively latch on to the beautiful and colourful ones flying around. During all the driving from place to place, we sort of used our quick snack or lunch stopovers, to look for birds.

Thimphu was our first stop. After a visit to the popular places, we ended up at a location called Sangaygang or commonly known as the BBS Tower ( Bhutan Broadcasting Service’s largest tower is installed there ). Wonderful view of the valley of Thimphu below and great place for quick birding as well. It was early in the morning and different laughing thrushes were very active, but quite shy. Here are couple that I managed to photograph.



Dochula Pass presented us with the next opportunity to do some birding. Dochula, is a mountain pass en-route to Punakha from Thimphu. On a clear day, one can get an awesome view of the snow clad Eastern Himalayan peaks. Driving towards the Phobjika valley, we stopped at Dochula for a short tea break. At an elevation of 10,300 ft, it was indeed very cold and misty. Around the restaurant area, there seemed to be quite a bit of bird activity and we decided to try our luck there. Was quite rewarding I must say. Here are few images from the place.







Later came the Phobjika Valley, winter home of the Black-necked Cranes. As we landed there, it started snowing heavily. Morning, post a heavy snowfall overnight, the whole place was covered in a beautiful snowy carpet. Birding was quite productive too. The Black-necked Cranes didn’t disappoint ( More on those, with images, in a separate blog post :) A couple of Redstarts were busy looking for breakfast and turned out to be cooperative as well. Here are few images.




This trip turned out to be a fantastic one. Many new species for me and my first experience of snow too !! Couldn’t have asked for more.


Uday Kiran

Hey Santosh.. the pics are lovely with amazing colors. Could you please share the details of the accommodation and the guide info. so that I can add those in my checklist?

Thaks, Uday Kiran

Reply to Uday Kiran
Thanks a lot Uday. As I had mentioned in my post, this was more of a touristy outing, not a birding specific one. So, we didn’t have any birding guide with us. We did our own birding at the places mentioned in the post. It’s quite doable. And accommodation too wasn’t anything specific. Any decent hotel in the places, like Thimphu for instance, would do. Tourism in Bhutan is having a car for yourself with a good driver and a guide ( tourist guide ). Thats’ it. Rest is up to you, depending on what you want to do.
Reply to Santhosh

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