Burma Tour Summary 2013

Paul Cardy writes after our Burma tour this year - Having spent much time in South-east Asia, and the Subcontinent, I had always been keen to visit Burma and ‘bridge the gap’ between the two. On the recce I found a fascinating country with very friendly and welcoming people, so pleased to see visitors. We were very careful to make sure only non-government hotels were chosen, and used a private tour company as ground agents.

A country bursting with temples, in Rangoon the Schwedagon Paya the most stunning of all, and at Bagan some 4,000 stretching across the plains. Here in the dry zone, rich in butterflies and with the special endemic birds White-throated Babbler and the stunning Jerdon’s Minivet. An afternoon boat trip along the Ayeyarwady provided a great contrast, fine views, and a selection of waders, waterfowl and grassland species, notably White-tailed Stonechat. Moving a little higher, an excellent resort on the isolated Mt.Popa afforded fine views of the plains below and a much visited temple complex, amid broadleaf forest, many butterflies, and the highlight a troop of Phayre’s Langurs.

A longish drive west through dry zone grasslands, and dry dipterocarp forest, took us to the centrepiece of the tour, Mount Victoria in the Chin Hills. The only place on our itinerary that required a permit, this was straightforward to arrange through the ground agents as long as plenty of time was allowed. The mixed bird flocks on Victoria had to be seen to be believed, many containing a fine array of babblers, perhaps the bird highlight the superb endemic White-browed Nuthatch found only on this mountain. Here the Rhododendron arboreum was in stunning flower, attracting a selection of birds such as Fire-tailed Sunbirds.

Back via Bagan we next visited the romantic sounding Mandalay, although the city is rather industrial. A bonus on the tour was the discovery of a wetland that added several birds to the list.

The much more serene Shan State saw the end of our visit, where a superb wooded reservoir near the hill station of Kalaw had fine birding and was the best butterfly area of the tour after Mt.Popa. The small hotel here in colonial style gardens and pines was very pleasant. Nearby a stay in a stilt hotel on the large Inle Lake was a fine experience, producing many water birds, and the highlight the usually elusive Jerdon’s Bushchat seen superbly.

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