Nine days birding in Myanmar without playback
In December 2019, me and 7 Indian birders took in the finest birding in Myanmar through Hlawga park in Yangon, Bagan(UNCESO), Natmataung( ASEAN Heritage Park), Inle Lake( RAMSAR Site), Kalaw( former British hill station). Significantly, no one used playback at all for the whole trip. There were nine full days in the field.
On the first day, we went to Hlawga wildlife park which is just 45 minutes drive from the downtown area. By the time we got there, we saw a variety of locally common species such as Red-collared Dove, Common Iora, Olive-backed Sunbird, Jungle Myna, Little Green Bee-eater, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Red-vented Bulbul, Red-whiskered Bulbul and so on. Particularly, we found a single Racket-tailed Treepie after we first heard the call. Then, we had a great lunch at Nay Win Ni lake view restaurant. In this evening, we flew to Bagan(UNESCO) via from Heho for three hours. Dinner and overnight at Sky Palace Hotel.
The next day early in the morning after breakfast, we checked for a few hours around Satanargyi Pagoda. Fortunately, we found our highlight a pair of Jerdon’s Minivet there with Burmese Collared-dove, Burmese Bushlark, Ayeyarwaddy Bulbul and White-throated babbler which all are endemic to Myanmar. After that, we set out our birding trip to Mt. Victoria. The road lead to the southern part then cross Ayeyarwaddy river. Moving to higher altitude after passing the semi desert forest of dry zone, we found Thick-billed Warbler, Yellow-vented Flowerpecker, Plain-backed Sparrow, Purple Sunbird. We enjoyed our lunch at tasty food local restaurant Moe Pyar Yaung. After proceed driving to the higher altitude, we had seen Oriental Turtle Dove,Grey-headed Parakeet, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Blossom-headed Parakeet and Red-breasted Parakeet, Blue-winged Leafbird and Golden-fronted Leafbird, Blue Rock Thrush, Hill Myna and other common species of the region. Then, we had reached to Saw town which is bordering to Chin state. We had a break over the coffee. After that one hour drove up to Kanpetlet town which is for three nights stayed there.
We left at 5:00 am early in the morning from our Hotel. We carried the breakfast with us. Firstly, we check at 8 mile birding spot. After sun rise, we could hear different bird songs from the surrounding. At the same time, we also heard the sweet call of Mt.Victoria Babax. In a short time managed to observe our target species Mt.Victoria Babax. About a couple hours later ,we enjoyed our breakfast with fresh coffee. Then moving to higher altitude again, there were plenty of birds to enjoy, including a huge number of Grey Sibia, Bar-tailed Treecreeper and Hume’s Treecreeper, Black-bibbed Tit, Great Barbet, Fire-tailed Sunbird, Yellow-bellied Warbler and Buff-barred Warbler. Yellow-billed Blue Magpie has been sighted in flight in the pine forest. While we were sighting a variety of colourful bird species in the different habitats, lunch was brought from the hotel. So, we took a break for a good lunch. In the afternoon, we had enjoyed a really good view of White-browed Nuthatch (endemic) and Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, Assam Laughingthrush and Brown-capped Laughingthrush. All other sightings for the first day were Striated Bulbul, Mountain Bulbul, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Striated Yuhina and Whiskered Yuhina, and Rusty-fronted Barwing and Streak-throated Barwing, Golden-throated Barbet and Blue-throated Barbet, and a single sighted Darjeeling Woodpecker, Black Redstart and Blue-fronted Redstart.
There had been no sighting for the Burmese Tit(endemic) until the second day. However, a new location add various species for the trip. On the third day, our great effort had been made to observe the essential our highlight Burmese Tit. Our recorded for the day were sighted Large Hawk Cuckoo, Common Buzzard, Large-billed Crow, Maroon Oriole, Large Cuckooshrike, Short-billed Minivet and Long-tailed Minivet, Yellow-breasted Greenfinch, Yellow-bellied Fantail and White-throated Fantail, Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush male and female, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, Himalayan Bluetail, Yellow-cheeked Tit, Chestnut-flanked White-eye and Oriental White-eye, Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker, Bar-throated Minla, Red-tailed Minla and Blue-winged Minla with abundant Olive-backed Pipit and a flock of Ashy Wood Pigeon in flight.
On the way back to Bagan, our patient keep watching completed other necessary key species after we had spent a few hours at old town Kanpetlet. The best sighted species were a huge number of Grey-sided Thrush with three Eye-browed Thrush in the group, a few small groups of Common Rosefinch, Striped Laughingthrush and Crimson-faced Liocichla with their pleasant song of beautiful morning, Black-throated Prinia at the Cherry blossom tree, busy Green-tailed Sunbird and Mrs Gould’s Sunbird, patrolling Black Eagle and Mountain Hawk Eagle, drumming Crimson-breasted Woodpecker, Crested Finchbill, Grey Bushchat, Green-backed Tit, Rusty-capped Fulvetta and Rufous-winged Fulvetta, Silver-eared Mesia, Hair-crested Drongo and Bronzed Drongo, Ashy Drongo, Flavescent Bulbul, Slaty-backed Flycatcher, Brown Bush Warbler, Aberrant Bush Warbler, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Black-headed Shrike Babbler, Blyth’s Shrike Babbler and Green Shrike Babbler. A little chance of sighting with distinctive call species were Chestnut-headed Tesia, Scaly-breasted Wren Babbler, Spotted Elachura and Chin Hills Wren Babbler. In our returning to Bagan, there were some good spots for our satisfaction. It was a fantastic view of Burmese Nuthatch. Besides, the most attractive bird species for all of us was a female White-rumped Falcon which was just ten meters away from us. As soon as we had reached to Bagan, we approached Laggar Falcon at particular temple in Bagan. Then, we went to the souvenir shop in Bagan for fun. After that, we spent over night in New Bagan.
Our active birding had been started among the glorious Bagan temples. In that beautiful morning, having great views of all widely distributed resident species under blue sky. After we had a struggle for a few hours, we sighted a family of Hooded Treepie. It is always challenging for all birders. The three Jerdon’s Minivet were also found in the same area. Bushy grass provide to search Burmese Prinia which was splitted from Brown Prinia. It was an amazing birding memory in Bagan since we had recorded those species Burmese Shrike, all endemic species of Central Myanmar, Plain-backed Sparrow, Paddyfield Pipit, Richard’s Pipit, Blyth’s Pipit and Long-billed Pipit, Purple Sunbird, Grey-breasted Prinia and Rufescent Prinia, Yellow-eyed Babbler, Spotted Owlet and Siberian Rubythroat, and winter visitor Dusky Warbler. We choose Sunset Garden Restaurant for single lunch which is facing the Ayeyarwaddy river. The day time in Bagan is a little hot, thus we had an hour break at hotel. The boat trip in the Ayeyarwaddy river started at 2:30 PM. The boat is completed with a roof just big enough for us.Traditional green tea, tamarind plate and roasted peanuts is ready to have by the boat owner served. Our captain leaded the boat along the calm river. We enjoyed the amazing landscape and bird species in the panoramic river. Ruddy Shelduck, Little Cormorant, Pied Kingfisher, Sand Martin, Little-ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper, Black-eared Kite, Grey Heron, House Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow were sighted bird species along the river. After one hour floating down, we approached the island that growing various kinds of crops. The island provided to observe specific highlights such Striated Babbler, Red Avadavat, White-tailed Stonechat and Prinias. It was too nice to look Sand Lark bathing in the sand. After we spent about two hours, we came back from the island. Sunset view of Ayeyarwaddy river is really amazing. Pied Harrier over the river was the ending birding ceremony of the day.
We checked out from the hotel at 6:15 am after an early breakfast to fly to Heho. On that day, the flight was delayed because of the weather condition at Heho. However, the plane could leave an hour later. After landed at Heho airport, we continous leaving to lake Inle. As soon as we got to the lake we took two wooden boat, the highlight of the lake Jerdon’s Bushchat had been focussed. Two Chinese Grassbird were seen near by wonderfully. Great effort had been made to get nice view the two Collared Mynas after sighting with a few small group of Great Myna. A huge number of Gulls decorated the world popular Inle lake to be more graceful. Eyeful Lake is one of the best restaurants in the lake thus we decided to have lunch there. At the very last site visited on the way back, Inle bird-watching tower completed a variety of bird species like Purple Heron, Brahminy Kite, Ferruginous Duck, Spot-billed Duck, Common Coot, Crested Myna, Reed Warblers and Western Harrier. In the evening, we proceeded to Kalw town a cool climate hill station for two nights spent after one and a half hours driving from Inle lake.
Kalaw is the last birding site during a nine day bird-watching trip through Myanmar. After having a buffet breakfast at the hotel, we left to Ye Aye Lake(cold water lake) forest which is reserved for the main water resources for the whole city Kalaw. In the pine forest it was silent at the beginning. Just a few Warblers and Japanese Tit had been sighted. But, we all were very active after we had entered into the evergreen forest since we sighted some species of birds. The surroundings are very delighted with the different species birds song. The first sighting was Dark-backed Sibia. Later, we had seen amazing bird species in the forest after being patient. Our records were Mountain Bulbul, Golden Babbler, Wire-tailed Swallow, Black-throated Sunbird, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, White-bellied Erponis, White-tailed Leaf Warbler and Black-throated Tit. A huge flock of Black-collared Starling had been sighted in the rice fields on the way back to the hotel. Spectacled Barwing, Burmese Yuhina, White-browed Laughingthrush, Black-breasted Thrush and Bianchi’s Warbler were the most impressive highlight species of the last day.
The next day we fly back to Yangon by morning flight from Heho.
Memorable successful birding tour without playback ended with total bird species 300 by the group Nine days birding in Myanmar.