Bhutan Travel Diary - p 5Crimson Sunbird

12 April 2007
This part of Bhutan, the Yongkhola region, is a don't-miss for birders.  Each mile that we descend produces new and spectacular birds.  The stars today include Sultan Tit, Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbills, Coral-billed Scimitar-babbler, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Maroon Oriole, the list goes on and on.
   Along a river near some rice terraces, Chozang and I go chasing in vain a White-throated Kingfisher, who like most of his breed proves to be too shy for a photo.  But on the way back to the road, up pops another spectacular sunbird, the Crimson Sunbird, who wants to know what's going on. 










Rufous-gorgeted FlycatcherIn the high mountains of tropical America, you find thrushes, flycatchers, and bush-tanagers, mostly drab birds, that have almost no fear of humans.  They often hop around nearby, more curious than alarmed.  And here in the Himalayas is a bird acting the same way, the charming little Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher.  As a photographer, I have a soft spot for semi-tame birds.










Blue-capped Rock ThrushAnother mile, another blue-and-chestnut bird.  They're everywhere.  This one is a Blue-capped Rock Thrush, just arrived from its wintering ground in southwest India.  Although rather busy, I like the mix of colors in this photo.
   We're constantly amazed that Karma, with his portable gas hotplates, can produce meals that rival or exceed what we get in restaurants.  We start with lots of red rice, then a meat dish followed by potatoes au gratin.  Charlotte's favorite is a dish of young fern shoots that are gathered fresh daily along the roadside.  But be careful of the last dish.  That's the hot chillies.  To take a mouthful of them is an experience you won't soon forget.  













Ibisbill14 April 2007
We're back in Bumthang at Kalia's Guesthouse.  Its owner is a Nepali who's lived in Bhutan for many years, and has a squad of daughters and daughters-in-law who seem to do all the work.  The cozy dining room features a wood stove, great food including delicious lentil soup that's part of the main course, and Red Panda beer, potent at room-temperature .  Kalia's beds are the least hard of any we've found in Asia.
    A dawn excursion along the Chamkhar Chhu (river) outside town yields the Ibisbill.  This bird, not an ibis but rather related to oystercatchers and avocets, is different enough to be in its own family, the Ibidorhynchidae.  It's eagerly sought by all birders who visit the Himalayas.










White-capped Water-Redstart

The river also yields a bird that I've chased all over Bhutan, White-capped Water-Redstart.  Unlike its relative the Plumbeous Redstart, this one is usually quite shy.  It feeds on insects along the countless mountain brooks that we pass, striking a perfect pose on moss-covered rocks.  But it always flies up into the woods when we stop for a photo.  I decide that this Chamkhar photo is as good as I'm going to get, and so it proves to be.












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