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Collared Myna – Birding in Myanmar

One of the birds we were targeting on the recent Zootherabirding tour of Myanmar was Collared Myna. This range-restricted species occurs only in Myanmar as well as a small part of Southwest China and Northeast India and has been challenging for some other birders to find in the areas we were visiting at some times of the year. We need not have worried about any trouble finding this species as a short distance out of Heho airport we spotted clusters of flowering trees where we were to see good numbers of this species feeding on the nectar. Looking at illustrations in field guides it seemed that it should be an easy bird to pick out from flocks of other similar coloured Mynas but in reality from many angles the white collar was barely visible and on juveniles it was almost invisible making spotting the birds among White-vented and Jungle Mynas a tricky task at distance and at close range, looking up at the birds, the most obvious feature was the barred undertail coverts. Read more »

Red-tailed-minla

Four Days at Mt Victoria – Birding in Myanmar

Natma Taung National Park is more widely known as Mount Victoria, and this mountain, in the Chin Hills in Western Myanmar was one that we focused upon as a location which would turn up a lot of exciting, range-restricted species as well as a few endemics. Well, it certainly did not disappoint us with a vast area for birding along a mostly quiet dirt road which took us through a variety of beautiful forest types and never stopped giving with its prolific birdlife. There were only two down sides to our stay at Mount Victoria; the cold at night and the fact that we could have easily enjoyed further days birding on the mountain. Highlights included White-browed Nuthatch, Mt. Victoria Babax, Burmese Bushtit, Chestnut-headed Tesia, Assam Laughingthrush, Black-bibbed Tit, Red-faced Liocichla, Chin Hills Wren Babbler, Scaly-breasted Wren Babbler, Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler, Striped Laughingthrush and many more. Mount Victoria proved to be the right location to build our Zootherabirding tour of Myanmar around. Read more »

Jerdons-bushchat

Inle Lake – Birding in Myanmar

Wetlands almost always provide a large number of species on bird watching tours and Inle Lake in Myanmar was no exception while leading the recent Zootherabirding tour to this interesting country. Much of the lake is open water and there is a lot of disturbance from fishermen and tourists but by investigating the lake edges and the wilder corners of the lake we managed to see a lot of different bird species including nice views of Indian Reed Warbler, Striated Grassbird, Black-browed Reed Warbler and numerous Jerdon’s Bushchats when we visited the right habitat. A waterbird colony full of Asian Openbills, Glossy Ibis and Little Cormorant right behind our accommodation was fun to watch and additions to our trip list here also included Wire-tailed Swallow, Baikal Bush Warbler and Greater Painted Snipe. Read more »

White-tailed-stonechat2

Birding Bagan – Birding in Myanmar

Bagan, in central Myanmar, is famous for its thousands of temples scattered across the dry plains alongside the Ayeyarwady river but early in the recent Zootherabirding tour of Myanmar 2018 we found ourselves in this unusual environment looking for five of Myanmar’s endemic bird species. Birding around this largely open habitat was a very pleasant experience and over the course of two days we found all of our targets, Burmese Collared Dove, White-throated Babbler, Burmese Bushlark, Hooded Treepie and the wonderful Jerdon’s Minivet as well as many other interesting birds including close-up encounters with White-tailed Stonechat and Sand Lark, Striated Babbler, Long-billed Pipit, Tickell’s Leaf Warbler, River Lapwing, Ruddy Shelduck, Yellow-streaked Warbler and an amazing first for Myanmar! Of course, when we went through the inevitable slow patches we had the surrounding temples of Bagan to enjoy too. Read more »

Yellowhammer3

Birding Highlights of 2017

Happy New Year! I am looking forward to what I have planned ahead in 2018 with a birding trip starting in Northern Thailand in a few days and a two week trip to Myanmar at the end of the month, but I also looked back to some of my birding highlights of 2017. Birding in Thailand always produces plenty of memorable sightings throughout the year but I also had some great birding experiences in South Korea in winter, Southeast China in Spring, United Kingdom in Spring and Summer and a very nice journey around France, into Spain and Andorra. In September 2017 I traveled to Sulawesi and Halmahera in Indonesia and then finished the year with some pleasant trips in Thailand.

Visiting all those different locations brought me lots of good birds but there are some which stand out for various reasons including nesting seabirds at my feet in the Farne Islands, a lekking Wallace’s Standardwing in Halmahera, huge numbers of winter birds in South Korea, breeding plumage Spoon-billed Sandpipers in China, a couple of wonderful Little Bustards in the South of France and a very special Dartford Warbler in Southern England.

You can read about some of my birding highlights of 2017 here.

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Asian-dowitcher

A Big Wader Day – Thailand Birding

Early morning at Pak Thale always provides a sense of anticipation for visiting birders with the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper the much-desired prize. This was the feeling on stepping out of the vehicle at 7am on 23rd December with Graham and Penny Lower with the challenge being to find them a Spoonie with which to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. We were successful in this goal with a “his-and-her matching pair of Spoon-billed Sandpipers” as well as being able to enjoy enormous numbers of waders throughout the day resulting a in a total of 41 species of shorebird which included birds such as Nordmann’s Greenshank, Far Eastern Curlew, Greater Painted Snipe, Great Knot, Pied Avocet, Long-toed Stint, Malaysian Plover, Red-necked Phalarope and White-faced Plover. A wonderful day of waders with huge numbers, rarity and great variety in what is probably the number one wader watching site in the world. Read more »

Ultramarine-flycatcher4

Doi Lang in November – Thailand Birding

Doi Lang is definitely one of the best birding sites in Northern Thailand, probably THE best single site in fact hosting most of the county’s high altitude birds and being the only known site for several species. Most birders visit the mountain between January and mid March when there are many active photographic stakeouts but I recently made a couple of visits in mid November which is often a difficult time for birding in Thailand with the vegetation at its densest after the rainy season, many migrants yet to arrive, many resident species moulting and remaining secretive, frequent foggy weather and birds not vocal or responding to call playback. Despite all these difficulties over the course of a few days, with patience, I found a lot of really good birds and obtained quite a few nice photographs as well as finding a scarce passage migrant. Highlights included Himalayan Cutia, Giant Nuthatch, Grey-headed Parrotbill, Mrs Hume’s Pheasant, Black-throated Bushtit, Sapphire Flycatcher, Chestnut-headed Tesia, Asian Stubtail, Oriental Hobby & Eurasian Hobby as well as many others. So long as a huge list is not your aim, birding on Doi Lang in November can be rewarding so long as you have time to spend and do not expect to rush in and see everything in a short space of time.  Read more »

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