In search of trogopan

Duration : 15 nights / 14 days
Season : April – May
Group Size : 10 Pax + 1 Local birding guide
Accessible Towns : Paro & Thimphu
Numbers of species likely see on this tour : 280-300
Accommodation : From basic lodge to comfortable hotel. Luxury camping.


Climate :
Wide varieties of weather are to be expected, from hot and
sunny to cold at the high elevations. Occasionally, rain is
to be expected in some places.
Birds:
Satyr Tragopan, Ward’s Trogon, Himalayan Monal, Blood Pheasants, Beautiful Nuthatch,
Ibisbill, Rufous-necked Hornbill, White-bellied Heron, and varieties of Wren Babblers.
Mammals:
Golden Langur, Common Langur, Capped Langur, Goral, Himalayan Black Bear,
Golden-throated Martin, and Flying Squirrel.
Other Attractions:
Bhutanese culture, visits to some ancient dzongs (fortresses) and monasteries; excellent
views of snow-capped mountains and landscape.

Day 1: Paro

Arrive at Paro International Airport, where you will be received by an Across Your Bhutan Travels transfer to your hotel to relax and settle in after your journey. In the
afternoon, visit the Paro Rimpong Dzong (fortress), and in the evening, partake in some birding along the Paro river, searching for one of the biggest target birds (Ibisbill). We may also see other birds, such as the River Lapwing, the Black-tailed Crake, and the White-collared Black Bird.

 

Day 2: Paro – Thimphu

Very early in the morning, drive to the cool Alpine meadow at the Chelila pass (3890m). This is the highest pass on the motorable road. Here, we should be rewarded with sightings of three different species of Pheasants — colorful Himalayan Monals, flocks of Blood Pheasants, and Kalij Pheasants. Besides these, we will also see other birds, such as Rose Finches, Grosbeaks, and Laughing Thrushes. Drive back to Paro for lunch. After lunch, hike to the Tiger’s Nest (Takshang), probably the most famous 17th century monastery in Bhutan. In the evening, drive to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. The drive will take about an hour and a half.

 

Day 3: Thimphu Halt

In the morning, drive towards the north of Thimphu for about 45 minutes, and then hike to the Cheri monastery. During the hike, we may see the following birds: Spotted Laughing Thrushes, Chestnut–crowned Laughing Thrushes, White-throated Laughing  Thrushes, Rufous-bellied Woodpeckers, Brown Dippers, and White-collared Blackbirds. We should also see the Goral (mountain goat) around the monastery. Drive back to Thimphu for lunch. Afterwards, do some sightseeing in Thimphu, and visit the Textile Museum, post office, and Trashichho Dzong.

 

Day 4: Thimphu – Shaten (Punakha) (5hrs)

In the early morning, drive to Punakha over the Dorchula Pass (3150m). Our day starts from this pass with the breathtaking views of the eastern Himalayan range. The mixed forest of hemlock, fir, oak, and rhododendron here is good habitat for many bird species, including: Satyr Tragopans (the bird that draws many birders to the Himalayas), Firetailed Myzornis, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatchers, Rufous-breasted Bush Robins, Blackeared Shrike Babblers, and Yellow-billed Blue Magpies. Later, we descend to the Punakha valley, stopping at Lobesa for lunch. In the afternoon, before heading to our campsite at Shaten inside the Jigme Dorji National Park, we will visit the impressive Punakha Dzong, which is said to be one of the most beautiful dzongs in all of Bhutan.

 

Day 5: Shaten (Punakha) Halt

Today, we spend the full day birding inside the Jigme Dorji National Park. Here, we have the potential to see Red–headed Trogons, Cute Slaty-bellied Tesias, Small Niltava, Black-chinned Yuhinas, a trio of Forktails, several Wren Babblers, Woodpeckers, and with luck, Pallas’s Fish Eagles and White-bellied Herons.

 

Day 6: Shaten (Punakha) – Trongsa via Phobjikha (6hrs)

In the early morning, we start driving to Trongsa following the Mo chu river. This will give us one more shot at seeing the Pallas’s Fish Eagle and White-bellied Heron. We will also stop on the way to Trongsa to again look for Ward’s Trogons, Yellow-rumped Honeyguides, and other flocks. Before reaching the Pelela pass, we’ll take the side road to visit the Phobjikha Valley, which is home to the Black-necked Cranes, after which we will continue our drive to Trongsa.

 

 

Day 7: Trongsa – Shemgang (5hrs)

Today on our drive to Shemgang, we will make a number of stops at several forested valleys along the way, where we may see the following birds: Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babblers, White-browed Scimitar Babblers, Steak-breasted Scimitar Babblers, Greybellied Tesias, Crested Buntings, Long-tailed Shrikes, Prinias, Rufous Woodpeckers, Common Green Magpies, Rufous-bellied Eagles, Mountain Hawk Eagles, Common Kestrels, and Minivets. This is also our best chance for sighting the Golden Langurs, leaf monkeys endemic to Bhutan.

 

Day 8: Shemgang Halt

Today, we’ll explore the entire stretch of the Shemgang–Tingtibe road. We drop in elevation as we head towards Tingtibe, so we will target the low-elevation birds,
including: Great and Rufous-necked Hornbills, Green Pigeons, Cutias, White-browed Shrike Babblers, Minlas, White-tailed Nuthatches, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatches, and a whole host of Laughing Thrushes such as the Red-faced Liocichla, Rufous-chinned,  Blue-winged, and Grey-sided Laughing Thrushes. Our main target bird for the day will be the Beautiful Nuthatch.

 

Day 9: Shemgang – Bumthang (9hrs)

Today, we have a long drive to Bumthang going over the Yongtola pass (3450m). The Yongtola pass is a good spot for seeing: Bush Warblers, Brown Parrotbills, Eurasian Treecreepers, Gold-naped Finches, and Red-headed Bullfinches.

 

Day 10: Bumthang – Sengor (5hrs)

In the morning, we drive from Bumthang to Sengor going over the Thrumshingla pass (3800m). Thrumshingla is the prime habitat for Blood Pheasants, and it also holds other high-altitude species, such as Snow Pigeons, Orange-flanked Bush Robins, Spotted Nutcrackers, Red-billed Choughes, Fire-tailed Sunbirds, Greats Parrotbills, Stripethroated Yuhinas, Grey-crested and Coals Tits, and White-browed Fulvetta. Later in the evening, we will be birding around Sengor looking for Satyr Tragopans. Sengor is known as a hotspot for Satyr Tragopans.

 

Day 11: Sengor – Namling – Yongkala (3hrs)
Today, we will hit the Bhutan’s wet subtropical forest, which is one of the finest birding areas in the Himalayas. For the next day, we will be birding in the lush forested valley, searching for Short Wings, Bar-winged Wren Babblers, Black-headed Shrike Babblers, Ward’s Trogons, Slender-billed Scimitar Babblers, Yellow-rumped Honeyguides, Barbets, Golden Bush Robins, Chestnut-breasted Partridges, and Hill Partridges.

 

Day 12: Yongkala – Limithangs Road

We spend the entire day birding near the upper and lower Limithang road. In this area, we may see the following birds: Wedge-billed Wren Babblers, Rufous-throated Wren Babblers, Spotted Wren Babblers, Rufous-necked Hornbills, Coral-billed Scimitar Babblers, Slender-billed Scimitar Babblers, flocks of Parrotbills, Golden-breasted Fulvettas, Scarlet Finches, and many more.

 

Day 13: Yongkala – Trongsa (7hrs)

Now, we will be re-tracing our way back, so basically, we will be once again looking and listening for the flocks. We will also be looking for any species we have missed.

 

Day 14: Trongsa – Paro (8hrs)

Today’s drive should take us about 8 hours, again retracing our journey. We will stop whenever we run into the flocks.

 

Day 15: Departure

After breakfast, transfer to airport for departure