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Bhutan can be
effectively divided into three sectors to facilitate description and
developing bird-watching circuits.
Western Sector : Lying between longitudes 880455E to
Central Sector: Lying between longitudes 900135E to
Eastern Sector: Lying between longitudes 900535E to
Phobjikha Valley, Western Bhutan
Pic: Sujan Chatterjee
Sector: Western border with India to Pele La
Paro region 2300 - 4100m
[Paro - Thimpu: 55kms, 2 hrs. Paro - Ha:
i) Paro – Drugyel Dzong – Jangothang 2300 – 4100m
ii) Paro – Chele La – Ha Valley 2300 – 3503 - 2774m
The Paro Valley is relatively dry. Blue pines grow on the slopes
but most of the valley is cultivated. The main birding is along the Pa
Chu riverbed north of town.
Drugyel Dzong to Jangothang 2580 - 4090m: This alpine zone which can
be trekked over 8 to 9 days. Paro to Drugyel Dzong (13kms) is also
bird rich and can be easily done from Paro.
Paro – Chele La: Blue Pine Forests and higher up Silver Fir, Spruce
and Hemlock. Be the 1st car up to get the birds on the road. Takes
about 1.5 hours from Paro.
Chele La - Ha Valley – Paro: A drive through good forests and
Thimphu-Punakha region 1100 - 3110m
[Thimpu - Phuentsholing: 180kms, 6hrs]
[Thimpu - Wangdue: 76kms, 3 hrs. Thimpu - Punakha: 70kms, 3hrs]
A i) Thimpu – Dochu La – Punakha 2300 – 3115 – 1100m
ii) Thimpu – Begana – Tango – Dodena 2300 – 2760m
Thimpu Valley 2300 - 2700m: Good birding sites around Begana and Cheri
villages at 2500m ♪
Trek to Tango Dzong 2760 meters is recommended. Sub-alpine, temperate
broadleaf, evergreen, coniferous forests and shrubberies.
Dodena 2575m: A 45 minute drive north from Thimpu. Area above Dodena
below Cheri Monastery consists of Oak forests.
Dochula Pass 3115m: Good birding sites are found between 2800 and 2000
meters east of Dochula Pass. The mixed evergreen forest along the pack
horse trail consists of Fir, Cyprus, Rhododendron, Oak, and bamboo.
Dochu La area /
Pic: Sujan Chatterjee
Punakha region 1100 – 3850m
[Punakha - Gangtey: 70kms, 3 hrs]
i) Punakha – Mo Chu Valley – Rimchu 1100 - 1700m
Mo Chu Valley: The best area for birding is between in the warm
broadleaved subtropical forests between 1300 and 1650 meters along the
Mo Chu River.
ii) Treks beyond Rimchu:
Rimchu to Trashithang to Damji
Covers broadleaved and coniferous riverine forest from altitudes
ranging from 1700 to 2430m. This is a 1 day trek.
Damji to Gasa
Cool broadleaved forests between 2430-2770m. A day's trek.
Gasa - Koina - Laya 2770 –3200 - 3850m: Cool broadleaved forest mixed
forest. 3 day trek.
Pele La – Phobjikha Valley Region 1300 – 3410m
Wangdue Phodrang - Pele La area has mixed conifer forests,
rhododendron, bamboo meadows and river valleys
[Gangtey - Trongsa: 125kms, 5hrs]
Wangdue Phodrang – Gangtey – Phobjikha Valley 1300 - 3050m
i) Gangtey - PeleLa 3000 - 3410m
Pele La 3410m: Fir, Rhododendron and bamboo forest. Recommended walk
is downhill along the old abandoned road cut through mixed
broad-leaved forests on the west slope of Pele La.
ii) Gangtey - Phobjikha Valley 3000m
Phobjikha Valley: On the western slopes of the Black Mountains,
Phobjikha is a glacial valley. The road from Gangtey to Phobjikha is
characterized by the dominance of ground-hugging dwarf bamboo.
Bhutan: From Pele La to Bumthang Valley
i) Trongsa – Yutong La – Bumthang 2350 – 3520 - 2600m
ii) Trongsa – Shemgang 2350 – 500m
iii) Royal Manas National Park 60 – 500m
[Trongsa - Bumthang: 68kms, 3 hrs. Gangtey -
Trongsa: 125kms, 5hrs]
Trongsa – Yutong La – Bumthang 2350 - 3520m
Trongsa Valley: This warm and sunny valley between 2350-1100m consists
mainly of terraced cultivation.
Yutong La 3520m: This is the top birding area in this sector. This
pass area is dominated by thick forests of Silver Fir, Rhododendron,
Hemlock, pine and dwarf bamboo.
Gatsa Valley 2800 m: Boggy meadows
Bumthang - Jakar 3520 – 2600m: The riverbeds on the road hold birds in
Bumthang Valley 2600m: High-elevation agricultural fields and riverine
Trongsa – Shemgang 2350 - 500m
Area has subtrobical forests around Tingtibi and impressive giant
Royal Manas National Park 50 - 500m
Shares the border with India's Manas Tiger Reserve (more
shares a similar habitat though the forests on the Bhutan side reach
higher elevations. Best accessed from India.
Slaty-backed Forktail, Manas
Bhutan: Bumthang Valley to eastern border with India
i) Bumthang - Sengor – Namling – Yongkhala - Lingmithang 2600 – 3800 –
2600 – 1500m
ii) Mongar – Trashigang – Narphung – Dewathang – Samdrup-Jongkhar 1500
– 2450 – 1350 – 1700 – 250m
Bumthang - Lingmithang 2600 – 3800 - 1500m
Spectacular road after crossing Trumshingla Pass down to
Lingmithang. The habitat quickly changes from conifers to subtropical
forest as you drive down. The broadleaf evergreen forest commences at
2600 meters. A few exit trails into the forest can be found at 2500
meters near a mountain ridge.The road between 2600 and 1500m is the
Pic: K. David
Sengor to Namling 3050 m to 2360m: Passes over Trumshingla Pass
(3800m) and consists of cool broadleaved forests with Hemlock stands.
Namling to Yongkala 2360 to 1700m: Mixed cool and warm broadleaf
forests dominate this stretch.
Yongkala to Lingmethang 1700 to 650m: An area supporting warm
broadleaf forests towards the south.
Lingmithang 750 – 1500m: This is considered on of Asia's best birding
stretches. Area has dry subtropical ravine forests with Chir Pine and
Mongar – Samdrup-Jongkhar 1500 – 2450 – 250m
The Trashingang province is very densely populated and the hills
are under intensive cultivation.
Mongar – Trashingang 1500 – 1350m: Temperate broadleaved forests.
Narphang La to Deothang 1700 - 850m: Warm broadleaf subtropical
Deothang area 1100 meters - 200 meters: Good habitat consisting of
warm broadleaf and subtropical forests.
Deothang - Samdrup Jongkhar 850 - 250 m: Subtropical forest at the
border with India. Samdrup-Jonkhar is is usual exit point for a
cross-country birding tour starting from Paro or Phuntsholing.
Kingdom of Bhutan
2. Wiki Travel
Bhutan Government Site
4. Bhutan Bird Quest
5. Govt. of Bhutan Tourism
6. Birds of Bhutan by Salim Ali, B. Biswas & S. Dillon Ripley; ZSI 1996
7. Birds of Bhutan by Carol Inskipp, T. Inskipp and R. Grimmett 2007; Timeless
8. Various Trip Reports on the net by N P Dreyer, K David Bishop, E Barnes, R
Webster, D Farrow, T & M Southerland, P Lobo and others.
9. Personal communication from Sujan Chatterjee.