Birding: As birdwatching gains popularity among Bhutanese, new birds are being recorded every few months, and the latest being the Temminck’s tragopan (Tragopan temminckii).

Considered one of the most beautiful pheasants in the world by many, Temminck’s tragopan was recorded from Larjab in Lauri gewog of Samdrupjongkhar.

A forester of Jomotsangkha Wildlife Sanctuary (JWS), Tashi, sighted the Temminck’s tragopan in a photograph captured by a camera trap during the national tiger survey in 2014.

Though Tashi had the photograph of the bird since 2014, it was confirmed as a new sighting only a week back.

While sources in the past have predicted its presence in Bhutan, the Temminck’s tragopan wasn’t recorded until Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE) birder, Sherub, confirmed its presence in Bhutan.

The Temminck’s tragopan is found across the eastern Himalayas that covers eastern India, Myanmar, Vietnam and Bhutan.

“I had the bird’s image since 2014 but couldn’t verify with professional birders since I had no access to the internet to share the pictures,” Tashi said.

While the male Temminck’s tragopan is coloured a bright orange-crimson, females are dull coloured mottled with black, brown and grey. But the striking feature of the male Temminck’s tragopan is a pair of blue horns like flesh above its eyes, pale-blue skin on the face and a bib-like wattle hanging from the throat.

Meanwhile, Sherub said that the total number of birds in Bhutan has shot up to 715 from an earlier official number of just 702 last December as per latest review of the checklists.

UWICE in collaboration with “Birds of Bhutan” authors Carol Inskipp, Tim Inskipp and Richard Rimmett from Britain are currently reviewing the checklist.

“Since they didn’t have access to my lists and I didn’t have access to their list, we are now reviewing the checklist. With the combined lists, the number of birds in Bhutan would rise to around 715,” Sherub said.

Some of the birds missing from the lists were Rusty-capped fulvetta, Greater white-fronted goose, Indian spotted eagle, Rusty-bellied shortwing and Asian short-toed lark.

“But the numbers could rise by two or three when the review of the lists are completed,” Sherub said.

As of now Tashi who is a keen birder has recorded around 182 bird species in the Jomotshangkha Wildlife Sanctuary. “More new records could still be out there since the Jomotsangkha dungkhag shares a border with the Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh in the east and Assam on its south,” Tashi said.

Tempa Wangdi