Travel Diary - p 5
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.