Trip report: Myanmar 7.1.-27.1.2012

Trip report: Myanmar 7.1 – 27.1.2012

Compiled by Uku

This is a short report of our birding trip to Myanmar. Hopefully this is more informative than the previous reports available in the net and especially useful for independent (budget) travellers. We saw 351 species during our three weeks stay including all the endemics.

Route: Yangon – Hlawga Park – Heho – Inle Lake – Kalawi – Mt. Popa – Bagan – Mt. Victoria – Bagan – Yangoon- Kyayto – Mueyungy – Yangoon (Shwedagon pagoda)

Participants: Hannes Pehlak, Riho Marja, Rene Ottesson, Tarvo Valker, Uku Paal

Coordinate format: Google Earth.


Lonely Planet gives good overview of driving distances, public transport options, accommodation etc. If using public transport (what we did often) expect very long driving times. Road conditions vary from bad to awful. Around Yangon the roads are little bit better. Air is very dusty so protect your camera equipment, especially in rural roads. Traffic is very slow but also very safe. Car breakdowns are common problem (we had 4-5). Taxis were much more expensive than we presumed. The fuel costs have risen several times during last years and that’s probably the main reason behind that. Public transport can often be ten times cheaper and covers all the main roads. Beware that not all hotels accommodate foreigners and that’s problem outside touristy areas. Although the local food has bad reputation among tourists, we found it to be fairly good and sometimes very good. The quality varies a lot and so do the prices. We ate salads and everything else which tourists tend to avoid and didn’t have any stomach problems during the first 2,5 weeks. Some of us got some kind of bug during the last days in Yangon probably from some experimenting with street food. Electricity is available almost everywhere but sometimes there can be blackouts for a while. Please note that some names of the places can be twisted in many different ways by westerners.

Environmental problems

There’s no such thing as environmental awareness in Myanmar. First thing you notice is the amount of plastic waste. Seems that the whole country is drowning in plastic bags. We didn’t notice any rubbish dumps anywhere. The only form of waste management seems to be burning rubbish in the backyard. Unsustainable logging is very obvious in montane areas and coastal deciduous forests are replaced by rubber plantations. Also slash and burn agriculture destroys good habitats. Land-erosion is often visible in cut areas. Overfishing is considered a major problem in Burmese waters by some sources. At least some of the freshwater lakes we visited, were overcrowded with fishing boats (causes lots of disturbance to migrating waterfowl as well).Bird-hunting was witnessed in many sites, especially so in Chin State where it’s traditional pastime. Slingshots and guns are mostly employed, but also limesticks and trap-systems are widespread. That’s one of the main reasons why hornbills, trogons, grouse and other large birds are almost wiped out in many parts of the country. We also found one killed barwing and saw men hunting minivets, so smaller birds are under threat too. In coastal areas catching of waders threatens the last Spoon-billed Sandpipers wintering here.
National Parks are without any surveillance so hunting is especially concentrated in protected areas.

Hlawga Park

Access: the main gate of the park is at 17.043019,96.119295 and the track leads to the park.

North of Yangon (40 min drive from city center) is an easily accessible 6.24 sq km wildlife area. This is well-known stakeout for Pale-capped Pigeon (which we didn’t see).

This is a small wetland comprised of small lakes which are surrounded by different type of deciduous forests and secondary growth. Park is surrounded by fence and accessed through gates which open around 8:00 am. There’s a long boardwalk and some trails around the main lake. There is a small entrance fee.

There’s no hunting activity as animals and some birds are very approachable. Origin of some animals is unknown, at least two pelicans seemed to be ridiculously tame and were probably captive birds. Taxi from Yangon cost us 45000 MMK.

As we couldn’t enter the park before 8:00 a.m. we birded the surrounding secondary growth habitats (around 17.040865,96.111442) and there were many birds here. The large wetland south from here looks very tempting, but seems to be inaccessible for public.

We saw (9.01):
Arctic Warbler 2
Yellow-browed Warbler
Ashy Drongo
Spangled Drongo
Darter 10
Barn Swallow
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker 2
Black-crested Bulbul
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo 1
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater
Olive-backed Sunbird
Black-winged Cuckooshrike 2
Black-naped Oriole 2
Common Iora
Asian Palm Swift
Common Tailorbird
Spotted Dove
Brown Shrike
Verditer Flycatcher 1
Greater Coucal 1
Racket-tailed Treepie 2
Chinese/Indian Pond Heron
Stripe-throated Bulbul
Little Green Bee-eater
Thick-billed Warbler 3
Red-vented Bulbul
Two-barred Warbler
White-throated Kingfisher 2
Asian Brown Flycather 1
Taiga Flycatcher
Asian Openbill 1000 – huge roosting site on the main lake
Night Heron 200
Pied Wagtail ssp leucopsis
Red Junglefowl – are they real thing?
Little Cormorant
Violet Cuckoo 1 female
Black-naped Monarch 1
White-rumped Shama 1
Coppersmith Barbet
Ruby-cheeked Sunbird 2
Shikra 2
Little Egret
Ashy Woodswallow
Woolly-necked Stork 3 circling overhead
Red-rumped Swallow
Lesser Whistling Duck 200
Ruddy-breasted Crake 1 near the boardwalk
Moorhen 3
Little Grebe 2
Cotton Pygmy Goose 15
Common Kingfisher 1
Forest Wagtail 2
Cattle Egret
Red-whiskered Bulbul

Inle Lake

Access: Nyaungshwe village seems to be good place as a starting point

Altitude: 1300 masl

Accommodation: We stayed in Nyaungshwe village at Joy Hotel and it cost 7 USD per person. Very basic, but cosy place and friendly helpful staff.

This shallow lake is one of the most visited wetlands in Myanmar. Wetland Sanctuary was established here in 1985.

As this is touristy area there are many boatmen offering their service in the village (cost us 25000 MMK day). Although the locals know some of the best bird areas, we were slightly disappointed by the boat tour birdwise. We were expecting more birds so I think we didn’t get to real hotspots. These are most likely somewhere in NW part of the lake. The lake is crowded with fishermen, which causes lots of disturbance to overwintering waterfowl. Typical boat trip makes a circuit around the floating villages and some pagodas, which were very nice.

We saw 10.01:

Inle Lake trip
Tree Sparrow
Dusky Warbler 20
Brown-headed Gull 100
Common Kestrel
Striated Grassbird 10
Common Coot 200
Purple Swamphen 5
Tufted Duck 2
Stonechat 15
Black-browed Reed Warbler 5
Citrine Wagtail 5
Purple Heron 1
Wood Sandpiper 2
Ferrugineous Duck 40
Heuglin’s Gull 1 – presumably this species, id of large gulls in Asia is complicated
Garganey 5
Shoveler 1
Spot-billed Duck 4
Intermediate Egret 2
Jerdon’s Bushchat 1 male
House Swift 2
Grey Wagtail 10
Scaly-breasted Munia 20
Whiskered Tern 4
Black-shouldered Kite 5
White-vented Myna
Ruddy Shelduck 6
Black-winged Stilt 16
Black Drongo 30
Long-tailed Shrike 10

In the evening in surroundings of Nyaungshwe
Chestnut-tailed Starling 5
Lineated Barbet 5
Paddyfield Pipit 2
Collared Scops Owl 1 seen well
Grey-breasted Prinia 10
Asian Barred Owlet 6
Oriental Magpie Robin 2

In the morning of 11.01 in surroundings of Nyaungshwe
Oriental Turtle Dove
Olive-backed Pipit
Crested Bunting 3
Burmese Shrike 2
Black-capped Kingfisher 1
Blue Rock Thrush 1
Plain Prinia


Access: Yay Ayekan Forest Reserve reservoir is SW from Kalaw village at 20.598722, 96.530364 ‎and can be reached via trail starting from Kalaw (visible on Google Maps).

Altitude: Kalaw town approx 1380

Accommodation: we stayed at Golden Kalaw Inn and it cost 14 per person. Very basic but cosy place and friendly helpful staff. Son of the owner speaks good English. Hotel is close to train station. Ask him if you want to organise drive to reservoir (also accessible by walking but takes time).

This small montane town located in the Shan Plateau in East Myanmar is probably one of the most accessible and diverse forest areas in C Burma. Around the village you can find mostly secondary growth with some remaining open pine forests. Firstly we explored track, which goes to local monastery (starts at 20.636921,96.562861). Walk up from here and after 200 m turn right on the walkpath and keep right. The patch of mixed forest (20.639602,96.564503) was worth birding. The main birding area was at 20.646349,96.565506 and we saw good selection of secondary growth habitants here. Check Google Map for directions.

The most important site to visit in Kalaw is the Yay Ayekan Forest Reserve (don’t mix it with the nearby village Yeya as we did and got taken to a totally wrong place first!). Tell the locals that you want to get to reservoir, which is the epicentre of the forest reserve. Taxi there cost us 20000. You can walk back to the village on this track. Took us about 8 hours (birding it very slowly). The reservoir is surrounded by evergreen forests, which lasts until the border of the forest reserve. The last 2 km or so pass fields, secondary growth, and open pine forests. This is one of the best places to find Burmese Yuhina in the world (we didn’t try and didn’t see any).

We saw:
The monastery trail in 11.01
Russet Sparrow 20
Black-headed Greenfinch 30
Grey Bushchat
Yellow-eyed Babbler 2 ssp. sinense
White-browed Scimitar Babbler 2 ssp. nuchalis
Long-tailed Minivet 2
Black-breasted Thrush 3
Grey Tit 1
Eastern Jungle Crow h

Kalaw Reserved Forest on 12.01
Black Bulbul 50
Blue-bearded Bee-eater 1 at nest
Dark-backed Sibia 10 ssp. castanoptera
Great Barbet 5
Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher 10
Bronzed Drongo
Black-throated Tit 4 ssp pulchellus
Chestnut-flanked White-eye 10
Grey-chinned Minivet 5
Oriental Honey Buzzard 1
Martens Warbler 1
Daurian Redstart 1
Flavescent Bulbul 5
Greater Flameback 1
Japanese White-eye 10
White-throated Fantail 2
Speckled Piculet 1
Scarlet Minivet 5
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch 10
Grey-cheeked Fulvetta 5
Maroon Oriole 10
Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike 1
Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker 1
Yellow-cheeked Tit 5
Silver-eared Mesia 10 ssp. galbana
Orange-bellied Leafbird 5
White-crowned Forktail 3
Mountain Bulbul 10
White-browed Laughingtrush 5
Sparrowhawk 3
Blue Whistling Thrush 1
Grey Sibia 5
Ashy Bulbul 10
Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker 1
Eastern Crowned Warbler 1
Chestnut Bunting 1

The monastery trail in 13.01
Brown Prinia 10
Eurasian Jay 2
Wryneck 1
Tickell’s Leaf Warbler 1
Eastern Jungle Crow 1
Slender-billed Oriole 5 – common here
Chestnut-capped Babbler 5 ssp intermedia
Rufous-fronted Babbler 2
Rufous-bellied Niltava 1
Yellow-eyed Babbler 5
Asian Barred Owlet 1
White-browed Scimitar Babbler 10
Daurian Redstart 1
Oriental Honey Buzzard 2
White-browed Laughingtrush 5

Thazi reservoir

Access: the track to pagoda starts at 20.85600, 96.02763. Head 1 km south from here.

On the way from Kalaw to Bagan you’ll pass a good wetland, which is worth a look and doesn’t take too much time. We saw good diversity of waterbirds here during 1 hour stop. There’s a track starting from the main road and leading to a small peninsula where’s a pagoda and some paddies. You can scope the reservoir from here. This is well-known stake-out for Grey-headed Lapwing.

We saw (13.01):
Pheasant-tailed Jacana 10
Pintail Snipe 2
Grey-headed Lapwing 18
Little Ringed Plover 18
Glossy Ibis 48
Common Snipe 1
Grey Heron 9
Yellow Wagtail 10
Ferrugineous Duck 2
Garganey 14
Great White Egret 8
Little Egret 20
Night Heron 40
Little Cormorant 30
Common Coot 1300
Lesser Whistling Duck 175
Shoveler 12
Wood Sandpiper 10
Common Kingfisher 1
Purple Heron 1
Little Grebe 5
Chinese/Indian Pond Heron 30

Mt. Popa

Access: the track (starts about here 20.931771,95.211391 and heads west) from village takes you to a shrine (20.923173,95.236495). We just wandered on the paths here.

Altitude: up to 1500 m

Accommodation: not many hotels here. We found only two overpriced government (?) hotels, which we refused to go. We ended up sleeping at the local monastery (cost us 8000MMK per person). Very nice and exotic experience. Local English teacher who is probably the only English speaking person in the village eagerly wants to offer you his guiding service. He’s very knowledgeable, but make it clear in the first place if you don’t need any guidance to avoid any misunderstandings.

Mt. Popa is a forest-covered mountain in the middle of the Central Dry Zone. The main track to the mountain is the most easily accessed area for birding. Habitats here include evergreen, pine and dry deciduous forests mixed with some bamboo and secondary growth. The place can be crowded with tourists so birding is best at early hours and on the sidetracks. Definitely a good place if you have more time to find some good routes, which are not so visited. Disturbance around the main trail hampers birding although you can see good selection of commoner species. We would have preferred to spend an extra day at Kalaw and skipped this area though.

We saw:
Little Pied Flycatcher 1
Puff-throated Babbler 6 ssp. hilarum
Pin-striped Tit Babbler 10
Lesser-necklaced Laughingtrush 40
Blue-throated Barbet 10
Plain Flowerpecker 2
Red-billed Blue Magpie 6
Siberian Blue Robin 1
Little Bunting 10
Yellow-streaked Warbler 1
Grey-chinned Minivet 1
Streak-eared Bulbul
Oriental White-eye 5
Black-crested Bulbul
Long-tailed Minivet 10
Coppersmith Barbet 2
Little Green Bee-eater 2
White-browed Scimitar Babbler 10
Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike 1
Grey-backed Shrike 1
Japanese White-eye 10
Chestnut-flanked White-eye 10
Daurian Redstart 2
Red Junglefowl 1 h
Olive-backed Pipit 30
Slender-billed Oriole 2
Ashy Drongo
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo 1
Racket-tailed Treepie 1


Access: easily everywhere in the temple zone and shores of Ayeyarwaddy river can be scoped from various points in Bagan city.

Accommodation: plenty of to choose from and well listed in Lonely Planet. On the tourist season it’s worth to book ahead (we didn’t). Budget area is at Nyaung U city part. We stayed in two places. First at a reasonably priced Pan Cherry Guesthouse what cost us 5000 MKK per person. And then at a dirty and overprized hotel (forgot the name) costing us 5 USD per person. English is widely spoken in Bagan. Entering the city costs 10 USD per person. Lots of dust everywhere!

The temple area is one of the main tourist attractions in Myanmar and well worth the visit from birders viewpoint as well. Bagan city (comprises of 3 city parts) is lying at the east bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River. This is one of the richest archaeological sites in Asia and has over 2200 pagodas in a concentrated area. Well covered in Lonely Planet and in the web. Unfortunately this place is not very well kept. Both the earthquake in 1975 and military junta’s haphazard restoration actions and development projects have done some serious damage to this spectacular area.

The habitats here include semi-desert mixed with agricultural landscape, scrub and scattered trees. There are also some small ponds in the temple area, which hold some waterbirds. The temple area is easily accessible by bicycles but beware thorny bushes (we punctured at least 6 tyres with thorns!). There are many roads crisscrossing the area. We mainly concentrated our birding around …

Ayeyarwaddy riverbanks are easily accessible from Bagan city and some waterbirds can be scoped from the shores. There are large sand-dunes where waders and waterfowl stay.

Most birders also hire a boat trip to one part of the island (cost us 20 000 MKK). Not all the boatmen know the right place, so you should ask around. We started at 2:00p.m. and stayed on the river until sunset. Definitely worth visit although the grassy habitat on the island can be accessible by foot (for extreme birders only) as well at some places. White-tailed Stonechats and Striated Babblers are easily found here and many other good birds turn up here.

We saw:
Around Sulamani and Dhammayan-gyi pagoda
Laggar Falcon 1
Rain Quail 2+1
Hooded Treepie 2 becoming scarcer in the area
Barred Buttonquail 1
Burmese Bushlark – common
White-throated Babbler – common
Siberian Rubythroat 1
Red-wattled Lapwing 1 – rare bird, only one during the trip
Common Sandpiper 1
Temminck’s Stint 7
Baya Weaver 50
Wood Sandpiper 3
Little Ringed Plover 3
Cattle Egret 9
White-throated Kingfisher 1
Chinese/Indian Pond Heron 5
Little Egret 1
Citrine Wagtail 1
Tickell’s Warbler 5
Yellow-streaked Warbler 50
Spotted Owlet 1

Pond at (21.162817,94.880616)
snake sp 1
mongoose sp 1
Chinese Pond Heron 4
Little Ringed Plover 2
White-throated Kingfisher 1

Ayerrawaddy shores + island
Curlew 2
Pintail 10
Pied Kingfisher 3
White-tailed Stonechat 20
River Lapwing 1
Grey-throated Martin 30
Red-throated Pipit 10
Small Pratincole 4
Sand Lark 15
Striated Babbler 7
Greenshank 4
Red Avadavat 20
Kentish Plover 3
Pacific Golden Plover 3
Zitting Cisticola 5
Sterna sp 1
Little Cormorant 15
Common Sandpiper 7
Ruddy Shelduck 147
Little Ringed Plover 9
Spot-billed Duck 61
Temminck’s Stint 1
Barn Swallow 200
Little Egret 2
Grey Heron 6
Wood Sandpiper 1
Great White Egret 2
Pied Wagtail ssp 150+
small wader sp 70
Yellow Wagtail 10
Striated Prinia 10

Pond NW from Sulamani pagoda (21.16879,94.884624)
Green Sandpiper 3
Painted Snipe 2/1
Moorhen 1
Common Sandpiper 2
Wood Sandpiper 9
Little Ringed Plover 1
Lesser Whistling Duck 4
Little Grebe 7
Black-winged Stilt 1
Common Snipe 1 + 12 Gallinago sp

Sulamani and Dhammayan-gyi pagoda
Laggar Falcon 1
Rain Quail 20
Hooded Treepie 1
Common Iora 10
House Crow k300

At the river (21.184492,94.862069)
River Lapwing 1
Oriental Honey Buzzard 1

At the river (21.204498,94.889638)
Spotted Redshank 5
Small Pratincole 300

Indian Nightjar’s site

During a car breakdown we birded this nice area at 20.92617 94.75078 and flushed one Indian Nightjar. Also Rufous Treepie, Striated Prinia and Burmese Bushlark here. Very good habitat for Hooded Treepie and Jerdon’s Minivet.

Jerdon’s Minivet site

The only place where we saw this species was at 20.99914 94.42764 where we discovered flock of four birds from driving car. The birds showed very well. Habitat looks good here. They should be common around Bagan, but surprisingly we didn’t see them there despite of birding in the area for two days.

Collared Mynas

Just when we headed towards Inle Lake we found Collared Myna’s on the roadside near Heho Airport. Some nice flocks were noted also during a train trip from Inle to Kalaw (photographed from train window!). We didn’t try to find this species elsewhere.

Mt. Victoria

Access: complicated (or impossible) for independent traveller. The only place where we had to use local guide. You have to have a ground agent to get the permit to Chin State and organizing it can take up to 1 month. So book your trip well ahead. There are no budget options really. Our package cost us 486 USD per person.

Altitude: 1700 – 3000 masl

Accommodation: only two hotels in Kanpetlet which all the tour companies use. Good quality and cosy places. Electricity and warm water available. Subzero temperatures are possible here so bring very warm clothes!

Natmataung National Park is established in 1994 and covers 722.61 sq km including Mount Victoria (Natmataung) which is the highest mountain in W and C Myanmar (peak 3054 m). Birding takes place only around the road which goes from Kanpetlet village to Mt. Victoria. Habitats here include high elevation evergreen, open pine and mixed deciduous forests, also bamboo and secondary growth intermixing with some burnt areas in lower elevations.

Bird hunting is very obvious here (as previous visitors have also noted). Gunshots are often heard and hunters seen daily. All the larger birds (and mammals) have been wiped out by local Chin tribesmen during the last ten years, so seeing hornbills, magpies, trogons, grouse etc. is a matter of extreme luck.

Generally 4-5 days are spent here covering different elevations and habitats. Bird flocks readily react to the call of Collared Owlet, but do not overuse it please. Good track for secondary growth (“The Frogmouth track”) starts at 21.20359, 94.03006.

We saw:
Mt. Victoria 2250-2700 m
Grey Nightjar 1
Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush 1
Ashy Woodpigeon 10 – not all of them are killed
Hume’s Treecreeper 2
Stripe-throated Yuhina 15
Whiskered Yuhina 10
Bar-throated Minla 30
Black-eared Shrike Babbler 1
Darjeeling Woodpecker 5
Himalayan Bluetail 4
Rufous-winged Fulvetta 20
Green-tailed Sunbird 10
Buff-barred Warbler 40
Ashy-throated Warbler 10
White-tailed Nuthatch 5
Yellow-browed Tit 10
Collared Owlet 2 (h)
Fire-tailed Sunbird 10
White-browed Fulvetta 20
Red-tailed Minla 6
White-browed Nuthatch 10 – very vocal and easy to find
Green Shrike Babbler 1
Assam Laughingthrush 20
Brown-capped Laughingthrush 10
Streak-throated Barwing 5
Chestnut-vented Nuthatch 2
Rufous-bellied Woodpecker 2
Blue-winged Siva 5
Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler 1
Fire-breasted Flowerpecker 1
Black Eagle 1
Burmese Tit 5
Snowy-browed Flycatcher 1
Grey-sided Thrush 15
Blue-fronted Redstart 1
Hodgson’s Frogmouth 1 h – at the stake-out near the hotel
Savanna Nightjar 1 – very unexpected here at the altitude of 2000+ masl, but we saw the bird relatively good and can’t turn it into any other species
Golden-throated Barbet 5
Mountain Scops Owl 1 h
Asian House Martin 10
Striated Bulbul 30
Slaty-backed Flycatcher 1
Great Barbet 5
Dark-backed Sibia 20
Olive-backed Pipit 10
Long-tailed Minivet 1
Slender-billed Oriole 1
Yellow-cheeked Tit 1
Grey Bushchat 5
Ashy Drongo 5
Accipiter sp 1
White-browed Scimitar Babbler 2 ssp mearsi

Mt. Victoria approx 2000 m
Black-bibbed Tit 8
Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker 4
Common Rosefinch 3
Eye-browed Thrush 10
Bar-tailed Treecreeper 8
Chinese Babax 4
Black-throated Prinia 1
Chin Hills Wren Babbler 1
Large Hawk Cuckoo 1
Green-backed Tit
Maroon Oriole 2
Spangled Drongo 2
Flavescent Bulbul
Little Bunting 20

Mt.Victoria 1800 – 2400 masl
Greater Yellownape 1
Grey Treepie 5
Crested Finchbill 40
Rusty-fronted Barwing 5
Large Niltava 1
Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird 2
Stripe-breasted Woodpecker 2
Golden Babbler 20
Grey-hooded Warbler 2
Black-faced Bunting 1
Spotted Forktail 2
Red-faced Liocichla 5
Collared Falconet 2
Green-billed Malkoha 1
Yellow-billed Blue Magpie 1
Yellow-bellied Warbler 1
Rusty-capped Fulvetta 50
Bay Woodpecker 2
Spotted Wren Babbler 1 s
Blue-winged Laughingtrush 1
Hill Myna 40
Large Hawk Cuckoo 1
Slaty-backed Flycatcher 20
Chestnut-flanked White-eye 10
Silver-eared Mesia 5
Grey-chinned Minivet 1
Great Barbet – a flock of 25!
Spangled Drongo – a flock of 12

Mt. Victoria 1700-2200 masl
Himalayan Griffon 2 – 2 birds photographed, rare here
Yellow-bellied Fantail 1
Fork-tailed Swift 2 – rare here
Besra 1
Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler 1
Grey-winged Blackbird 3 – well seen, rare here
Striped Laughingthrush 1 (h)
Chin Hills Wren Babbler 1
Blue-winged Laughingthrush 3
Bay Woodpecker 1
White-throated Fantail 2

A forest few km west from Saw 21.11918 94.22659

We did short stop when leaving from Mt. Victoria on 20.1. This is a lowland deciduous forest mixed with some bamboo.

Grey-headed Woodpecker 2
White-crested Laughingthrush 2
Crested Serpent Eagle 1
Blue-throated Flycatcher 1
Brown-cheeked Fulvetta 5 ssp. phayrei
Black-hooded Oriole 3
Alexandrine Parakeet 10
Grey-headed Parakeet 5
Pin-striped Tit Babbler 2
Rufous Treepie 2
Greater Flameback 1

Kyaykto (Kyaiktiyo) (Martaban delta mudflats)

Access: complicated, read below

Accommodation: there are no hotels for foreigners in Kyaykto town. The only option is Mountain View Resort (5 km from town) which cost us 10 USD per person and was very comfortable and clean. Hotel can arrange taxis.

Kyaykto is probably one of the very few places from where you can reach the endless mudflats of Martaban delta. This area is very important wintering area of waders including Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

The idea was to make explorative trip to local mudflats in the hope of seeing good concentrations of waders and hopefully some Spoon-billed Sandpipers. The operation was bit of a failure as we didn’t arrange anything beforehand. Improvising here takes lots of time and finding good boatman seemed impossible task at first as there are not many English speaking people here. Hotel staff arranged us a boat trip (cost us 50 000 MKK) which proved to be failure. We were taken to the wrong area and the boatmen couldn’t manouver the high tide waters as necessary to reach the waders feeding areas. We saw a flock of Black Bazas here for a consolation. After that we managed to find some people who were aware of Spoon-billed Sandpipers and knew the technique how to reach the mudflats (the boat trip cost us 250 000 MKK). It is necessary to go out from Kyaykto during high tide and spend the night at the mudflats (sleeping in the boat or on some island) and wait for the change of tides when waders are best seen. The exact concentration spots remain unknown as the landscape here is in constant change and it is impossible to cover in few days. We managed to see much less than expected and the surveying strategy needs some serious refining and exploring the area takes several days. There are many boats at the river port of Kyaykto but none of the fishermen speak English. We managed to get the things going through a person in city council (the guy was wearing a Spoon-billed Sandpiper T-shirt!).

We saw at 17.0343, 96.91321 on 26.1:
Grey Plover 1
Dunlin 2
Black-headed Ibis 3
Redshank 170
Black-tailed Godwit 12
Lesser Sand Plover 500
Curlew Sandpiper 16
Terek Sandpiper 2
Great Knot 10
Bar-tailed Godwit 4
Blue-tailed Bee-eater 1
Whiskered Tern 320
Little Ringed Plover 5
Kentish Plover 200
Curlew 38
Whimbrel 11
Little Egret 2
Marsh Sandpiper 20
Greenshank 10
Spotted Redshank 60
Pacific Golden Plover 11
Temminck’s Stint 10

Mountain View Resort wetland at Kyaykto (Kyaiktiyo)

Access: the track starts at 17.330617,97.028674. Walk approx 300 m and then turn right and continue 400 m passing a small plantation until you reach some houses and see the wet rice paddies in front of you (17.338062,97.029398).

This small wetland was found near our hotel (Mountain View Resort) just over the road. It held some commoner waterbirds and the surrounding rubber plantations had some low elevation woodland birds including fly-over Pale-capped Pigeons. Not the best birding area, but if you stay at the hotel then it’s worth visiting. Local kids were interested in what we were doing but as always they were very friendly.

We saw:
Mountain View Resort wetland and plantation
Grey-headed Lapwing 1
Pheasant-tailed Jacana 23
Little Grebe 2
Lesser Whistling Duck 26
Cotton Pygmy Goose 7

Red-breasted Parakeet 2
Common Iora 2
Shikra 2
Brown Shrike ssp lucionensis 1
Oriental Magpie Robin 1
Pale-capped Pigeon 1 ü
Germain’s Swiftlet 1 ü
+ many other commoner species

Golden Rock Pagoda trail near Kinpun

Access: 25 minute drive from Kyaykto (Kyaiktiyo), the Kinpun village is at 17.399654,97.07838 and if you can’t find the starting of the footpath ask the locals (keyword “pagoda”). Motorcycle ride from Kyaykto cost 2000MMK.

Altitude: up to 1100 masl

This is definitely not a prime birding site but if you happen to be here then maybe this information helps. Golden Rock Pagoda is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in S Myanmar. As I couldn’t join the “wader survey” at Kyaykto I decided to explore this area on my own on two days.

The pagoda can be reached by foot (the option for birders) or by vehicle. The footpath leading to the mountain starts at 17.401381,97.081013 and is about 8 km. I birded only first few kilometres. Good thing about this place is, that birds are used to people and are easily approachable. The downside is that there are many noisy Myanmar tourists here and there are lots of small shops on the trail. So walking around with bins and camera draws lots of attention by locals. Try to find some sidetracks (not many here) if possible to avoid the crowds. I found some tracks leading to bamboo habitat and birding was pretty good there. There should be some better forest areas somewhere near the pagoda, but I didn’t have time to go there. Surfing Google Earth may help.

Habitats here include secondary growth and bamboo and some small patches of dry deciduous forest. All the surrounding forests are cut or turned into plantations.

We saw:
Golden Rock Pagoda trail, Kinpun (Uku) 25.1
Asian Fairy Bluebird 1
Swinhoe’s Minivet 1/
Vernal Hanging Parrot 4
Radde’s Warbler 5
Dark-sided Flycatcher 1
Grey-eyed Bulbul 10
Hill Blue Flycatcher /1
Arctic Warbler 1
Thick-billed Warbler 1
Bay Woodpecker 1
Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker 1
Coppersmith Barbet 5
Blue-throated Barbet 5
Asian Palm Swift 50
Common Iora 2
Racket-tailed Treepie 1
Black-hooded Oriole 2
Black-naped oriole 2
Ashy Drongo 20 – both light and dark morphs
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo 1
Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher 5
Black-naped Monarch 2
Eye-browed Thrush 1
Taiga Flycatcher 20
White-rumped Shama 1
Oriental White-eye 20 kollased
Black-crested Bulbul 20
Red-whiskered Bulbul 3
Red-vented Bulbul 10
Common Tailorbird 10
Yellow-browed Warbler 10
Two-barred Warbler 10
Puff-throated Babbler 10 ssp subochraceum
White-bowed Scimitar Babbler 10 ssp olivaceous
Pin-striped Tit Babbler 20
Crimson Sunbird 1
Olive-backed Sunbird 10
Grey Wagtail 1
Rufous-fronted Babbler 2
Oriental Honey Buzzard 2
Brown-cheeked Fulvetta ssp karenni 1
Blue-throated Flycatcher 1/

Golden Rock Pagoda trail, Kinpun (Uku)
Yellow-vented Flowerpecker 2
Little Spiderhunter 1
Abbott’s/Buff-brested Babbler 1
Plain-tailed Warbler 1
White-crested Laughingtrush 3
Scarlet Minivet 1
Brown Shrike 1
Shikra 1
Bronzed Drongo 5

Moeyungyi Wetland

Access: The access to the reservoir is at 17.592751,96.564585. Read below.

Accommodation: only one overpriced hotel here just on the shores of the reservoir. We stayed at Bago, which has more options and is a 45 minute drive from here. Also easily reached from Yangon (112 km) but drive can take up to 3 hours.

The first Ramsar Site of Myanmar, which is situated close to Bago next to Yangon- Mandalay highway is one of the best freshwater wetlands in southern part of the country. The reservoir was constructed here in 1878 for the flood control of Sittaung River. The whole water body is 103.6 sq km in size and established in 1988 as a wetland wild sanctuary for the protection of waterfowl. Fishing is important livelihood for the local people.

The access to the reservoir is at 17.592751,96.564585. Follow that road 500 m W until boardwalk starts and you reach the shores of the reservoir and the small jetty (17.589826,96.579692) is here as well. From here you can watch birds from the boardwalk and hire a boat (2 hour trip cost us 10 USD per person). The boat goes through floating vegetation and you’ll see good concentrations of Pintails, Openbills, Swamphen, Whistling Ducks, egrets etc. The morning roost flight of egrets is very impressive. Lots of photo-opportunities.

We saw:
Yellow Bittern 1
Oriental Reed Warbler 3
Long-toed Stint 1
Grey-headed Lapwing 21
Black-capped Kingfisher 2
Little Cormorant 200
Wood Sandpiper 6
Little Ringed Plover 9
Cattle Egret 6000
Little Egret 1000
Chinese/Indian Pond Heron 300
Black Drongo 320
Glossy Ibis 90
Yellow Wagtail ssp 3
Red-throated Pipit 2
Common Sandpiper 6
Spotted Redshank 26
Common Kingfisher 2
Great White Egret 25
Gallinago sp 20
Whiskered Tern 110
Pintail 1850
Pheasant-tailed Jacana 28
Plaintive Cuckoo 10
Asian Openbill 220
Purple Heron 14
Darter 11
Lesser Whistling Duck 330
Purple Swamphen 434
Garganey 8
Blue-tailed Bee-eater 8
Little Grebe 6
Temminck’s Stint 2
Black-hooded Oriole 1
Barn Swallow 200
Plain Prinia 2
Pied Harrier 1 + 3 harrier sp