Bhutan, the kingdom of the dragon was my destination early this year, with my friends Kesava and Arun. Beautiful place and such lovely people. It was winter and it was very cold, no surprises there :-) This was to be kind of a touristy outing. Wildlife wasn’t the main agenda. We did have a few specific targets in mind with respect to birds. However, our itinerary was more about visiting many of the tourist hotspots in western Bhutan.

All said and done, one can never really be far away from birds, isn’t it ? More so, when one’s eyes kind of instinctively latch on to the beautiful and colourful ones flying around. During all the driving from place to place, we sort of used our quick snack or lunch stopovers, to look for birds.

Thimphu was our first stop. After a visit to the popular places, we ended up at a location called Sangaygang or commonly known as the BBS Tower ( Bhutan Broadcasting Service’s largest tower is installed there ). Wonderful view of the valley of Thimphu below and great place for quick birding as well. It was early in the morning and different laughing thrushes were very active, but quite shy. Here are couple that I managed to photograph.

Chestnut-crowned-Laughingthrush

Chestnut-crowned-Laughingthrush

Spotted-Laughingthrush

Spotted Laughingthrush

Dochula Pass presented us with the next opportunity to do some birding. Dochula, is a mountain pass en-route to Punakha from Thimphu. On a clear day, one can get an awesome view of the snow clad Eastern Himalayan peaks. Driving towards the Phobjika valley, we stopped at Dochula for a short tea break. At an elevation of 10,300 ft, it was indeed very cold and misty. Around the restaurant area, there seemed to be quite a bit of bird activity and we decided to try our luck there. Was quite rewarding I must say. Here are few images from the place.

Black-faced-laughing-thrush

Black faced Laughingthrush

Dark-breasted-Rosefinch

Dark breasted rosefinch

Hoary-throated-barwing

Hoary throated barwing

Rufuous-breasted-Accentor

Rufous breasted Accentor

Spotted-Laughingthrush

Spotted Laughingthrush

White-browed-Fulvetta

White browed fulvetta

Later came the Phobjika Valley, winter home of the Black-necked Cranes. As we landed there, it started snowing heavily. Morning, post a heavy snowfall overnight, the whole place was covered in a beautiful snowy carpet. Birding was quite productive too. The Black-necked Cranes didn’t disappoint ( More on those, with images, in a separate blog post :) A couple of Redstarts were busy looking for breakfast and turned out to be cooperative as well. Here are few images.

Blue-fronted-redstart

Blue fronted redstart

Hodgsons-Redstart-Phobjika-Valley

Hodgson’s redstart

Hodgsons-redstart-with-breakfast

Hodgson’s redstart with breakfast

This trip turned out to be a fantastic one. Many new species for me and my first experience of snow too !! Couldn’t have asked for more.