Bhutan lies to the north of the Indian plains and south of the Tibetan plateau. Deep valleys and towering Himalayan peaks provide a stunning backdrop to exceptional high-altitude forest birding. The 'Lateral Road' crosses Bhutan from west to east cutting through a rich diversity of forest habitats and provides the backbone for most Bhutan birding tours. Thanks to a small population embracing their Bhudist traditions of respecting wildlife and a forward-thinking government, Bhutan has avoided the environmental ravages that have left neighbouring Himalayan forests degraded.
Travelling through magnificent scenery blanketed in deep forests, with mighty snow-capped Himalayan peaks towering in the distance, the mountain kingdom of Bhutan is unlike any other destination in the world. The great mountain passes littered with prayer flags give way to pristine forests often dominated by massive temple fortresses.
Birding the lush-broad-leafed forests dripping with orchids, blazes of rhododendrons and magnolias and seemingly endless coniferous forests, offers opportunities to encounter arguably the most spectacular mountain scenery in the world. April to May is the best season to visit as species return to breeding territories.
The Kichu River in the east of Bhutan offers exceptional birding with an impressive array of pheasant species including Blood Pheasant and other specialties such as Satyr Tragopan and Himalayan Monal. The forest-cloaked mountainsides teem with birdlife. Great Parrotbills and a dozen species of laughingthrushes occupy the bamboo understorey, whilst a lucky few connect with Blue-naped Pitta. In winter some high passes are difficult to cross, although the Paro and Thimphu valleys will yield a range of worthwhile wintering high altitude species and the Phobjika valley has wintering Black-necked Cranes.
A common misconception about Bhutan is that it is hard to get into. Whilst government regulations do require that birders visit with the assistance of a Bhutanese tour operator, birders may still travel independently.
Blood Pheasant © James Eaton
Showing the 22 Most Recent Trip Reports Posted
Bhutan - March - April 2009 with extra days in Lampakbai and Seoul, author Lawrence Gardella (added May 17, 2009)
(Red Panda, Eye-browed Wren-Babbler, Scaly-breasted Wren-Babbler, Coral-billed Scimitar-Babbler, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker, Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Nordmann's Greenshank)
Bhutan - birding the land of the thunder dragon - April 2008, author Josh Engel (link created May 14, 2008)
(Tropical Birding Customised tour)
Bhutan - Birding Druk Yul: Land of the Thunder Dragon, 15 March to 3 April 2010, author Tom Stephenson (added March 25, 2011)
(Ibisbill, Satyr Tragopan, White-bellied Heron, Palla’s Fish Eagle, Ward’s Trogon, Beautiful Nuthatch, Dark-rumped Swift, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Rufous-necked Hornbill)
Bhutan: The Himalayas and Black-necked Crane - November 2015, author Chris Lotz, Birding Ecotours (link created January 19, 2016)
(Bhutan, “the Land of the Thunder Dragon”, is an awe-inspiring place to bird. Birding amidst its spectacular scenery and ancient Buddhist dzongs is an experience relished by all who undertake it.)
Birding the pristine eastern Himalayas: Incredible Bhutan - November 2010, author Chris Lotz, Birding Ecotours (added April 30, 2011)