The west of Bhutan, Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and Wangdi phodrang districts offers a unique place both in terms of scenerary and bird watching. The pristine forests of hemlock, silver-fir, oak, magnolia, and rhododendrons offer a wealth of birds between Thimphu and Punakha.
The white bellied heron is seen in Wangdi district and it is also a nesting ground by the Puna-tsangchu river. Bird watching is along the highway depending to the season, one can spot varieties of birds, cuckoos, red starts, black headed sebia and many more. A full day enroute to Punakha/Wangdi is required for birding-watching, stopping along the way.
A highlight in this route includes, White Bellied Heron, Hill Partridge, Satyr Tragopan, Rufous bellied Bush-Robin, Golden-Naped Finch, Hoary Barwing, Edwards Rosefinch. Golden Bush-Robin, Cutia, Fire-tail Myzornis, and Nutcrackers. Lemon-rumped Leaf-warblers, Blue-bellied Flowerpeckers, Green Shrike-babblers, Olive-backed Pipits, Gold-billed Magpies, Plain –backed Thrush, Red Crossbills, and more.
Birding along the Mo Chu river towards Gasa in among the sub-tropical forest, past Punakha is truly paradise for the bird wartchers. There are chances of spotting Ibisbill, Bar-headed Geese, Great-headed Gulls, White-bellied Heron - one of Bhutan's most elusive specialties (rare and difficult), Tawny Fish Owl, River Lapwing, Red-headed Trogon, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Striated Bulbul, Little Niltava, all three tesias, Pygmy Blue Flycatcher, Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush, Red-faced Liocichla, Scarlet Finch, Spotted Wren-Babbler, Wedge-tailed Pigeon, Bay Woodpecker, Yellow-vented Warbler, Fire-capped Tit, White-gorgeted Flycatcher, and perhaps three species of forktails, Mrs Gould’s, Fire-tailed and Green-tailed sunbirds, Mountain Hawk-eagle, Northern Treecreeper, Slender-billed Scimitar-babbler, Golden Bush-robin, Fire-capped Tit, Little and Slatty-backed forktails, and Gold-napped Finch. You can also see a variety of skulkers including Lesser Shortwing, Spotted and Pygmy Wren-Babblers and all three species of tesias.
Phobjikha is a glacial valley on the Western slopes of the Black Mountain Range. Driving along the Central Highway 47 Kms from Wangdue, a 13 kms dirt track links the Probjikha Valley over the Gangtey la, 3140 m. The village of Gangtey is a fabulous spot is situated at the head of the Phobjika Valley, It is the winter home of a sizable population of Black-necked Cranes. The Gangtey Gonpa is the only Nyingma temple in the west of Bhutan, built by the grand son of pemalingpa. it leads through bamboo and rhododendron conifer forests, meadows and river valleys. On this stretch you are likely to spot the Himalayan Monal, Blood Pheasant, Satyr Tragopan, White-winged Grosbeak, Spotted Laughingthrush, Yellowish-bellied Bush Warbler, Rusty -flanked Treecreeper, and the prized Ward's Trogon. It is best to break journey at Gangtey, to get chance for early morning birding and a look at the Gompa.