Bhutan Travel Diary - p 2Blue-faced Barbet

8 April 2007
My fever broke last night.  At last I begin to feel almost normal, and can enjoy Bhutan and its bird life.  As if to mark the event, we find a colorful Blue-throated Barbet near the river.  The barbet represents a fascinating aspect of bird life here.  Just as our bird life in the U.S. is a mix of the neotropical (tanagers, warblers) and nearctic (jays, waxwings), Bhutan's bird life is a mix of the Oriental (barbets, hornbills) and the palearctic (parids [tits], accentors, rosefinches).
   Chozang tells us that barbets are his favorite birds.  We hear the Great Barbet calling daily, and later have scope views of a Golden-throated Barbet, but never again see these (usually) treetop birds so close as the Blue-throated.









Chestnut-tailed Minla

We continue east along the one main road through the country which although paved is not really a two-lane road, more like 1 1/2 or even one lane.  Fortunately there are shoulders where Tandi can negotiate passage when we meet trucks and buses, usually with several inches to spare. 
   It's always fun to stop along the roadside where Chozang stirs up a gang of songbirds with his owl imitation.  Green-tailed Sunbird and Rufous Sibia are usually the first to become irate, but another that's becoming a favorite is the lively Chestnut-tailed Minla.  Minlas are insectivorous and belong to a group called babblers (Timaliids), related to Old World Warblers. 








Green-backed TitThe Green-backed Tit is another bird that takes great interest in the owl call and is in fact one of the commonest forest birds of Bhutan.
















Plumbeous RedstartLater we stop at cliffs where wild bees have large nests.  Perched nearby is a decidedly odd bird, the Yellow-rumped Honeyguide.  Found in Africa and Asia, honeyguides are known to "lead" mammals including humans to bees' nests.  After the nest has been raided, the honeyguide moves in to eat the bee larvae and, oddly enough, the beeswax too. 
    Most birders eagerly seek the honeyguide as another tick on their list, but it's perched way up high.  Much more obliging for a photographer is a nearby Plumbeous Redstart, who poses for me along a mountain stream.  Nearly every stretch of river in Bhutan has a pair of these charming little birds.    








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