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Birdwatching in Myanmar

Myanmar (formally Burma) is unique in the world in its biodiversity. It offers outstanding nature, wildlife and bird-viewing opportunities. It is the largest country in South East Asia and lies on the boundaries of continental South East Asia, Indian subcontinent and Tibetan plateau. This location marks a rich biodiversity with varied ecosystem, including lowland and mountance forests and various wetland habitats including coastal and riverine wetlands.
Himalayan species are found in the mountains in the north and west, and tropical Malayan species inhabit the south. Myanmar is still relatively unexplored, yet offers some of the most exciting birding in the region. In fact new species of birds are still being discovered in Myanmar. A recent example is the Naung Mung Scimitar Babbler Jabouilleia naungmungensis that was discovered during February of 2004. Myanmar is a bird watcher’s paradise with 1070 bird species of which six are endemic species which are globally endangered White-browed Nuthatch Sitta victoriae, near-threatened Hooded Treepie Crypsirina cucullata, White-throated Babbler Turdoides gularis, Burmese Bushlark Mirafra microptera, Jerdon’s Minivet Pericrocotus albifrons (recently split from White-bellied Minivet) and Andaman Teal Anas albogularis (recently split from Sunda Teal), and thirty five species are near-endemics.
Hlawga Wildlife Park: Hlawga is established in 1982 and is a small wetland area, comprised of semi-evergreen, mixed deciduous and swamp forests. It is 6.24 sq km on the outskirts of the Yangon city in South Myanmar. 179 bird species has been recorded here.
Bagan: Bagan is situated at North 21° 10' 20.6'' and East 94° 51' 51.1'' on the east bank of the Arrawaddy River, Central Myanmar Dry Zone and is semi-desert with scrub and scattered trees. Bagan is also Myanmar most important archeology zone and is one of the richest archaeological sites in Asia. It has over 2,000 pagodas and temples built during the Bagan Dynasty founded by King Anawrahta in 1044 A.D. 138 bird species has been recorded here.

"Natmataung National Park"



Ayeyarwaddy (Irrawaddy) River: Ayeyarwaddy is one of two major rivers and largest river in Myanmar. This section of the river has extensive broad sand-bars and some muddy edges. Some areas of the banks are covered by grass and thin thorny scrub. 101 bird species has been recorded here.
Natmataung National Park (Mount Victoria): Natmataung National Park is established in 1994 encompasses an area of 722.61 sq km of mountainous terrain including Mount Victoria (Natmataung) with the elevation of 3054m, the highest mountain in West and Central Myanmar. The park located in Southern Chin Hill at 21° 19' N and 93° 55' E in Chin State, north-western part of Myanmar. This park falls within the Eastern Himalayas Endemic Bird Area, which is covered by hill savannah, hill evergreen, moist upper mixed deciduous and pine forests. 254 bird species has been recorded here.

"White-throated Babbler"



Kalaw: Kalaw is a small town located at North 20° 37' 32.7'' and East 96° 33' 22.7'' in the Shan Plateau in East Myanmar at 1,380 masl. Its area is covered by evergreen forests and secondary pine forests. In Kalaw especially visit to Yeaye Reserve Forest (Yeaye reservoir) which is situated at North 20° 35' 51.2'' and East 96° 31' 49.2''. 189 bird species has been recorded here.
Inle Wetland Wildlife Sanctuary (Inle Lake): This sanctuary is established in 1985 and is located in the Shan Plateau in East Myanmar at 1,300 masl. It is situated at between 19° 46' and 20° 38' north and between 96° 47' and 97° 6' east in a north-south going valley surrounded on two sides by smaller mountain ranges. The wetland named after the Inle Lake that is a shallow lake. It is also a famous tourist site in Myanmar. 254 bird species has been recorded here.


"Trip map"


Electronic map of Myanmar

Tour I
16 day birdwatching tour to Myanmar


Itinerary
Expect more than 350 species of birds

Day 1.
Arrive at Yangon (Myanmar). In the evening, visit to world famous Shwedagon Pagoda.
Overnight at Panorama hotel in Yangon.

"White-browed Nuthatch"



Day 2.
In the morning, visit to Hlawga Wildlife Park. Here we will be able to see near-endemic Streak-eared Bulbul, rare Pale-capped Pigeon, Racket-tailed Treepie, Green, Blue-tailed and Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, Green-billed Malkoha, Lesser Racket-tailed and Greater Racket-tailed Drongos, White-rumped Shama, Black-naped Monarch, Stripe-throated with red eyes, Black-headed, Black-crested, Red-vented and Red-whiskered Bulbuls, White-crested and Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrushes, Chestnut-capped Babbler, Oriental Darter, Spot-billed Duck, White-breasted Waterhen, Red-wattled Lapwing and many more.
Overnight at Panorama hotel in Yangon.
Day 3.
Early in the morning, fly to Bagan for a two night stay. We will spend the remainder of the morning exploring the area and we can see our first Myanmar endemics White-throated Babbler and Burmese Bushlark. In the afternoon, boat ride on Ayeyarwaddy River to see White-tailed Stonechat, Sand Lark, Long-billed Pipit, Spot-billed Duck, River Lapwing, Great Thick-knee, Indian Skimmer, River and Black-bellied Terns, rare Greater Spotted Eagle, Laggar Falcon and other species.
Overnight at Thante hotel in Bagan. www.hotelbaganthande.com
Day 4.
Birding again at Bagan to see another two Myanmar’s endemics which are Jerdon’s Minivet (recently split from White-bellied Minivet) and Hooded Treepie, together with near-endemics Vinous-breasted Starling and Plain-backed Sparrow, Yellow-legged Buttonquail, Rain Quail, Burmese Shrike, Spotted Owlet, Indian Nightjar, Yellow-eyed Babbler, Brown Prinia and many more.
Overnight at Thante hotel in Bagan.

"Jerdon's Minivet"



Day 5.
Drive from Bagan to Natmataung National Park (Mt. Victoria) for six nights stay. Birding stop on the way to see again Jerdon’s Minivet and Hooded Treepie, together with near-endemic White-rumped Falcon, White-eyed Buzzard, various species of Woodpeckers, five species of Parakeet which are Alexandrine, Rose-ringed, Blossom-headed, Grey-headed and Red-breasted Parakeets, Small, Scarlet and Rosy Minivets, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch and others.
Overnight at Mountain Oasis Resort (Ecological Lodge).
Day 6 to 10.
Birding at Natmataung (Mt. Victoria) National Park. This site is a major focal point of the tour. Here we can able to see White- browed Nuthatch and Burmese Tit (recently split from Black-browed Tit), Myanmar’s fifth and sixth endemics which are known only in here. Other speciality birds that could be seen on this area are near-endemics - Mount Victoria Babax (recently split from Chinese Babax), Chin Hills Wren-babbler (recently split from Long-tailed Wren-babbler), Assam (recently split from Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush), Stripe and Brown-capped Laughingthrushes, Green Shrike-babbler, Buff-breasted Parrotbill (recently split from Black-throated Parrotbill), Bar-tailed and Hume’s Treecreepers, Black-throated Prinia (recently split from Hill Prinia) and Whistler’s Warbler, together with rare and shy Blyth’s Tragopan, rare Mrs Hume’s Pheasant, Hodgson’s Frogmouth, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Grey-sided Thrush, Indian Blue Robin, Spotted Forktail, White-tailed and Chestnut-vented Nuthatches, Black-bibbed, Green-backed and Black-throated Tits, Striated Bulbul, Chestnut-headed Tesia, rare Broad-billed and Bush Warblers, Blue-winged Laughingthrush, Crimson-faced Liocichla (recently split from Red-faced Liocichla), Rusty-fronted and Streak-throated Barwings, Grey Sibia, Himalayan Cutia, Sickle-billed Scimitar, Streak-breasted Scimitar, Scaly-breasted Wren, Pygmy Wren, Black-eared Shrike and Black-headed Shrike Babblers, Bar-throated and Red-tailed Minlas, Blue-winged Siva, White-browed, Rusty-capped and Nepal Fulvettas, Stripe-throated Yuhina, Spot-breasted Parrotbill, Fire-tailed Sunbird, Spot-winged Grosbeak, Yellow-breasted Greenfinch and many more.
Overnight at Mountain Oasis Resort (Ecological Lodge).

"Burmese Tit"



Day 11.
Drive back to Bagan for one night stay.
Overnight at Thante hotel in Bagan.
Day 12.
Fly to Heho and proceed from Heho to Kalaw for two nights stay. Birding at Kalaw in the evening.
Overnight at Winner hotel in Kalaw.
Day 13.
Birding at Kalaw. Here we can see Silver-eared Laughingthrush (recently split from Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush), near-endemics Burmese Yuhina, Dark-backed Sibia and Indochinese Cuckooshrike, Giant Nuthatch, Speckled Piculet, White-browed Laughingthrush, Streaked Wren, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar, White-browed Scimitar and White-browed Shrike Babblers, Spectacled Barwing, Silver-eared Mesia, Grey-cheeked Fulvettas, Red-billed Blue Magpie, Sooty-headed, Mountain, Black, Ashy and Brown-breasted Bulbuls, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Sliver-breasted and Long-tailed Broadbills, Black-breasted Thrush, White-crowned Forktail, Bianchi’s Warbler, Black-headed Greenfinch and others.
Overnight at Winner hotel in Kalaw. Winner is local operated two stars grade hotel.

"Endemic Hooded Treepie"



Day 14.
In the morning drive to Inle Lake for one night stay. Birding stops on the way. Birding at Inle Lake in the evening. Here we can see rare Jerdon’s Bushchat, very rare Sarus Crane, Collared Myna, Glossy Ibis, Purple Swamphen, Pheasant-tailed and Bronze-winged Jacanas, Oriental Pratincole, Cinnamon and Yellow Bitterns, Lesser Whistling and Spot-billed Ducks, Plaintive Cuckoo, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Plain and Yellow-bellied Prinias and Striated Grassbird. We can also see many migrant water bird species and breeding or roosting colony of Egrets, Herons, Little Cormorant, Vinous-breasted, Chestnut-tailed, Black-collared and Asian Pied Starlings, Common, Jungle, White-vented and Collared Mynas.
Overnight at Golden Island Cottages hotel on Inle Lake. www.gicmyanmar.com
Day 15.
Morning birding again at Inle Lake and late afternoon fly back from Heho to Yangon.
Overnight at Panorama hotel in Yangon.
Day 16.
Depart from Yangon.

16 Days tour price is: 2 pax US$3122 per person. 4 pax US$2559 per person.
The road between Bagan and Natmataung National Park (Mt. Victoria) is very dusty, and this tour is based on using an opened Jeep.
16 Days tour price is: 2 pax US$3463 per person. 4 pax US$2755 per person.
The road between Bagan and Natmataung National Park (Mt. Victoria) is very dusty, and this tour is based on using a 4 wheels drive/closed vehicle.
Single accommodations are available for an extra charge of US$635 per person.

Due to currency fluctuations and fuel cost we reserve the right to adjust any pricing prior to departure.
A 50% deposit is required upon booking a trip. Balance due 30 days prior to departure.


Convert your tour cost into your currency of choice.

Included:
Transportation, Accommodation, All meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and mineral water), Guide fees, Permit fee, Entrance fees, and Bird lists.
Excluded:
Alcoholic drinks, Soft drinks, Tips, Airport tax, International flights and items of a purely personal nature.
Notes:
The above birding itineraries are based on what are essentially popular routes for birders. It can be shortened or extended.
All the date of itineraries include arrival and departure dates.
All trips are available year round, but prices may be adjusted around special holidays.
I don’t do for Natmataung National Park during June to October, as it is too rainy and wet then.
Minimum lead time 2 month.
To check availability for tours on short notice, fill out “Request for Quote” form with desirable dates.
Fitness:
The tour does not require a high level of fitness but particularly should be in good general health. Should you have any physical limitations please contact us.
Climate:
At low altitude conditions are usually hot. At higher elevation (at Natmataung National Park) conditions are usually hot during the sunny day, but cool in the early mornings. Raining conditions are unlikely but possible.
Equipment:
Recommended gear to bring is sun hat, sun cream, flash light, raincoat, gloves and fleece-jacket.


Should you only need a guide for a day please send a message to Thet and Lay Win.   

Birding guide Thet Zaw Naing, your local Birdingpal guide
I have been running our ecotour company as a Birding Tour Leader and Ecotour Manager for a number of years, and I have been volunteering at Myanmar Bird and Nature Society as a Secretary and Asian Waterbird Census, Wetlands International as a Country Coordinator. For more than ten years I have taken part in many monitoring and other research scientific programs, concerning regional and migration studies on the avifauna throughout the whole country. I studied the montance birds for my Master of Science degree at Mount Victoria (Natmataung) National Park during 1996 to 1998. From 2001 to 2002 I studied again for ecology of Myanmar’s endemic and globally endangered White-browed Nuthatch Sitta victoriae. This research already published at Forktail 19 (2003): 57-62. And also I conducted the waterbird surveys with local birders along coastal Myanmar. This surveys result published at Indian Bird 2 (3): 65-71. I carry out not only bird studies, but also bird and nature conservation awareness programs in schools throughout the whole country. I set to show and help you to enjoy the best Birding in Myanmar.


Birding guide Lay Win Ko, your local Birdingpal guide
Bird research is become my professional inclination, though I graduated in economics. I have earned my living as a culture tour guide and spent my free time in birding. The then-involved in bird status survey across the country with Thet Zaw Naing and group of Myanmar Bird and Nature Society (MBNS) and working on environmental impact assessment in the north, population status and distribution of Spoon-billed Sandpiper Calidris pygmeus , population and distribution of Gurney’s Pitta Pitta gurneyi in Tanintharyi (Tenasserim) Region with the group of Biodiversity And Nature Conservation Association (BANCA). I am also led the birding tours from SST Tourism Co., Ltd. through Myanmar.


Testimonials.

Dear Mr Thet Zaw Naing,
We enjoyed very much our three weeks trip to Myanmar in December 2009. Thank you very much for all the arrangements, which were beyond all our expectations. We had a very good combination of birdwatching and culture with perfect balance (more on birds). After the trip we could not think of anything, which could have been done better. During the tour we had all the time a feeling that we were traveling with a friend rather than a hired guide. As a bonus the friend was an expert on birds especially on bird voices.
The sum of bird species in our trip list was 297. The result is more than satisfactory considering our trip was not only for birdwatching. The highlight of our trip was, of course, Mount Victoria with its endemics and the future endemic full species when all the splitting is done. In my opinion Mt Victoria can be compared to any of the well known hot spots of SE Asia. There were no crowds and hazzle in the mountain, which gave us the illusion that the whole mountain was just for us. After some years there will surely be many groups birdwatching at the same time.
Looking forward to see you next year.
Markku and Anne (Finland) markku.tunturi(AT)dnainternet.net
I wish to commend wholeheartedly Thet Zaw Naing as an excellent tour manager, and also to recommend him for tours into the remotest parts of Myanmar. From 2003 to 2007 my several expeditions to north, central, south and south-west parts of Myanmar to look for birds and their habitats which is organized by Thet. Without his sharp eyes and excellent knowledge of birds and nature we would not have been able to record so many different species. As well as being thoroughly professional in his work, Thet Zaw Naing is a most pleasing companion. The success of the expeditions and my enjoyment of it were due in no small measure to him. I recommend his service without reservation, and would be happy to discuss my experience with any who would like additional information regarding my personal experience with him.
Joost van der Ven, Daru Ltd. Netherlands, javdv(AT)kpnplanet.nl
It is my pleasure to express my great appreciation for the efficient and considerate service of Ko Thet Zaw Nyaing and to recommend him without hesitation. I have worked in Myanmar for ten years and have known Thet Zaw Nyaing since then. He was, in fact, a key component in the establishment of the Myanmar Bird and Nature Society and has continued to be a major influence in its good development. Thet Zaw Nyaing has accompanied me on numerous birding expeditions, including trips to search for endemic species (always successful), and in one instance, we discovered a species not before seen in the particular area we were visiting. Thet's knowledge of Myanmar birds and their habitat, his background, his ability to spot, and his always friendly attitude combine to make him among the best bird guides in the region. Thet Zaw Nyaing continues his scientific study of birds in Myanmar and has been awarded various grants by international organizations to continue his work. He devotes his time and energy not only to the scientific and birdwatching communities, but also to conservation and education among students and his fellow countrymen and women. It is my honor to give my full recommendation of this dedicated young man.
Brenda Davidson-Shaddox, San Antonio, Texas USA. stonflower(AT)aol.com
Thet Zaw Naing provided expert guidance for our birding trips to a number of sites across Myanmar (Burma) in 2006, including Mount Victoria in the Southern Chin State. He located numerous rare species for us, including a significant number of endemics and near-endemics. We were delighted to see several White-browed Nuthatches, and enjoyed an excellent view of Red-faced Liocichla emerging from low vegetation only a couple of feet away. In all we identified over 100 species, the majority of which were new to us. Without Thet's encyclopaedic knowledge, sharp eyes, and knowledge of both the terrain and the birds' habitual behaviours, we would have seen only a fraction of these birds. We quickly realized that Thet is a world class ornithologist (arguably the best in Myanmar) and we felt privileged to have him as our bird guide. We have no hesitation in saying that he is the perfect companion for the expert birder. One might reasonably expect him to be impatient with novice bird watchers, but this is not the case at all - even when bird names were forgotten for the fifth time, he patiently supplied the identification. In our view, whether you are a back-garden amateur bird watcher or an inveterate twitcher, Thet will ensure that you have an excellent time bird watching in Myanmar.
Anne Redston and David Earle, Devon, England. anne.redston(AT)virgin.net

Some facts about Myanmar.

The Land: – Myanmar, known as The Golden Land in the olden days for its fertile land and rich natural resources is the largest country in the South East Asia sharing borders with Bangladesh, India, China, Laos and Thailand. With a total land area of 676577sq.km, it is about the size of Texas and the size of United Kingdom and France combined. The country stretches over 2090 km from north to south and over 925 km east to west. It has a 2832 km long coastline on the Indian Ocean. Over 50 percent of the total land area is covered with forests.
Climate: – Generally, Myanmar has three seasons. The monsoon or rainy season is from May to October, the cool dry season from November to February, and the hot season from March to May.
Historical Back Ground: – Early civilization in Myanmar dates back to the 1st century with archaeological evidences of the Pyu Kingdoms of Thayekhittaya (Sri Ksetra), Beithano (Vishnu) and Hanlin. The first Myanmar Empire was founded in early 11th century by King Anawrahta who unified the country through his strong leadership and intellect. The Empire with it's capital at Bagan lasted until the end of 13th century with the invasion of the Mongols. This was more than 20 years before the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. The Second Myanmar Empire with its capital in Bago (Pegu) was found in mid – 16th century by King Alaungpaya in 1752. In the 19th century, during the peak period of colonialism, Myanmar was annexed in three stages by the British after three Anglo – Myanmar Wars in 1825, 1852, 1885 and became a British colony. During the Second World War, Myanmar was occupied by the Japanese for nearly three years until the Allied Forces’ reoccupation in 1945. Myanmar became a sovereign independent state on the 4th of January 1948.
People: – Myanmar is a Union of over 135 ethnic groups with the name Myanmar embracing all the ethnic groups. The major ethnic groups are the Myanmar, the Chin, the Kachin, the Kayar, the Mon, the Rakhine and the Shan. Myanmar is the largest group forming 69% of the total population of over 54 million.
Language: – The official language is Myanmar. English is widely spoken and understood.
Religion: – 89% of population are Buddhists and the rest are Christians, Muslims, Hindus and some Animists.
Economy: – Since 1988, Myanmar has moved from a centrally planned economy to a market oriented economy and has liberalized domestic and external trade, promoted the development of the private sector and opened up foreign investment. Agriculture being the main sector of the economy, measure is being taken to increase productivity, promote crop diversification, increase agricultural exports and develop agro-based industries.
Passport and Visa: – Valid passport with Visa is required for all visitors. Tourist Visa is valid for 28 days. A Business Visa allows a stay of 10 weeks. Tourist and Business Visa are available at Myanmar Diplomatic Missions abroad.

More facts about Myanmar.

Guide books and CD’s recommended:

Robson C. Birds of South-East Asia (2005) New Holland, London which is an excellent field guide covering all the birds of Myanmar.

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Last update 20/02/2014