Bangladesh - 13th November - 19th December 2012

Published by Simon Carter (sjcarter AT

Participants: Simon Carter, Samiul Mohsanin, Sayam U. Chowdhury, Tani Khan, Munir Ahmed, Rafiq, Enam Ul Haque, Paul Thompson and Mohammad Foysal


Photos with this report (click to enlarge)

Small Minivet
Small Minivet
Brown-winged Kingfisher
Brown-winged Kingfisher
Nordmann's Greenshank
Nordmann's Greenshank
White-bellied Sea Eagle
White-bellied Sea Eagle
River Tern
River Tern
Spoon-billed Sandpiper
Spoon-billed Sandpiper


Between the 13th Nov and 19th Dec 2012, I travelled independently throughout Bangladesh, taking in many of the major birdwatching areas. These areas were the wetlands and forests in the north-east, Hatiya Island, Sonardia Island, Teknaf and the Sunderbans in the south. Spoon-billed Sandpiper was an obvious target bird.

Much of my time birding was spent with eminent conservationists and ecologists, who made an invaluable contibution to my experience. These people I first met at the Bangladesh Bird Club (Bbc) where Chris Bowden of the RSPB was coincidentally giving a lecture about the vulture crisis on the Indian sub-continent.

From here a plan for my trip was formulated with the guidance of Samiul Mohsanin, Sayam U.Chowdhury, Enam Ul Haque, and Paul Thompson. These good people are all dedicated ornithologists and environmentalists working professionally within Bangladesh. They kindly invited me to participate in their various projects around the country.

Tani and Munir, also dedicated conservationists and birders, invited me to see the invaluable work they are doing to conserve White-rumped Vultures near their home in the north-east of the country.

All transportation involved public transport, namely buses, trains, and boats. 2 surveys involved chartering a boat, and the Sunderbans trip used an official guide company, travelling by their own boat.


16th November - Samiul Mohsanin and I visited Jahangirnagar University 32km outside the capital Dhaka. This campus has significant wild habitat and wetland making it an important site, especially for migratory and wintering birds.

18th-21st November - Samiul and Sayam U.Chowdhury invited me to take part in an Indian Skimmer survey on Hatiya Island in the Bay of Bengal. We travelled by bus to Noakhali, and then on to Chaiman Ghat where we caught the launch to Hatiya Island, landing at Nolchira Ghat. We stayed in local accomodation on the island, and chartered a boat over two days to survey the waterways and mud flats around the southern tip of the island. This is a major wintering site for the Skimmers. Though whilst much else of interest was seen, the Skimmers had not yet arrived. (around 600 have since arrived in January). We were however rewarded with the rare Nordmann's Greenshank.

23rd November - 1st December - During this time I visited the north-east of the country. I stayed in Srimongal initially, which is ideally situated for the nearby wetland of Hail Haor, and the forests of Lawachara and Satchari. They can all be visited using local CNG's (Tuk-tuks).

Two visits were made to Lawachara National Park, a superb sub-tropical lowland forest. Along with the birds, it is an excellent place to see primates, in particular the endagered Western Hoolock Gibbon. Other species also seen were Northern Pig-tailed Macaques, Phayre's Leaf Monkey and Capped Languars.

Two visits were made to Baikka Beel, which is a protected part of the Hail Haor wetland complex. Here there are two observation towers and a visitor centre under construction. While I was about a month early for the huge numbers of wintering wildfowl, the area was noticeably alive with birds. In particular number were waders and warblers.

A separate visit was made to the northern edge of Hail Haor, locally known as 'warblers world'.

The 25th-28th Nov was spent staying a little further north at Moulvi Bazar. I was kindly invited to stay as a guest with Tani and Munir, the couple who operate the Vulture Project previously mentioned. The tea plantations that surround the area offer good habitat for many kinds of birds, especially wintering migrants. Many raptors were seen roosting in the region, and it is here that 3 pairs of White-rumped Vultures are breeding under the watchful eyes of Tani and Munir.

With Tani and Munir I also visited two other forest reserves, for which Munir is incidentally manager, namely Satchari and Adunpur Forests. These forests, along with their avifauna, provide home for most of the primate species of Bangladesh. All were seen including Western Hoolock Gibbons.

5th December - Destination Cox's Bazar in the south. Famed for the longest continuous beach in the world ! Here I re-met Sayam and fellow birder Foysal. They are both involved with a crucial project, the 'Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project' (see link below), on Sonadia Island. About 100 pairs remain in the wild, wintering in part, along this coast. This project involves monitoring numbers, and liaising with locals to change hunting practices that accidentally kill this endangered species.

From Cox's Bazar we travelled by boat out to Sonadia Island, and once there chartered a boat taking us out through the mangrove into open coastal stretches where we searched feeding and roosting sites for flocks of wintering shore birds. A roosting flock of about 4000 waders was found on a sandy island. Amongst these, 1 'Spoony' was eventually discovered.

7th December - I continued by bus down to the far south of the country to Teknaf. My visit to the Teknaf Game Reserve was a little dissappointing. The forest here, that I could access, was largely secondary. I did manage a few interesing sightings, and wild Elephants do occur here. I would probably have benefitted from a good local contact here.

13th - 16th December - The Sunderbans. The worlds largest mangrove forest, and with probably the largest single Tiger population.

Using a tour company is the only realistic way I found to visit the Sunderbans. Choosing a company that takes only a small number of tourists at a time is important. From Khulna we travelled by river down through the Sunderban Forest. From our main boat we took out a small row boat paddling up small creeks. Highlights were the wonderful close views of various Kingfishers, and a rare Masked Finfoot (see link below). Fresh tiger tracks were spotted, Wild Boar, Spotted Deer, Otter, Water Monitor, Rhesus Macaques and Estuarine Crocodile were all seen.

Finally, I returned to Dhaka travelling by river on the paddle steamer, The Rocket.

This is the link to an important video regarding the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Project. (

Link to Masked Finfoot Project video.(

Finally I would like to thank Samiul Mohsanin and Sayam U. Chowdhury for supplying the photos in this article.

Please e-mail me at the above address if any further information is required. It may be possible to put you in touch with local bird guides.

Species Lists

Note. This list excludes some of the commoner species.

Red Junglefowl - Lawachara (LW)
Fulvous Whistling-duck - Baikka Beel (BB)
Lesser Whistling-duck - BB, Jahangirnagar University (JU)
Ruddy Shelduck - Hatiya Island (HI)
Cotton Pygmy-Goose - BB
White-browed Piculet - Adanpur Forest (AP)
Rufous Woodpecker - AP, Sunderbans (SB)
Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker - HI, SB
Lesser Yellownape - LW
Greater Yellownape - LW
Black-rumped Flameback - JU
Greater Flameback - SB
Lineated Barbet - Satchari Forest (SF)
Blue-throated Barbet - SF
Coppersmith Barbet - SF, JU
Oriental Pied Hornbill - LW, AP
Blue-eared Kingfisher - Teknaf (TF)
Brown-winged Kingfisher - SB
Black-capped Kingfisher - SB
Collared Kingfisher - SB
Blue-bearded Bee-eater - LW
Green Bee-eater - BB
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater - LW
Common Hawk Cuckoo - JU
Plaintive Cuckoo - Hail Haor, north (HH)
Asian Koel - JU
Green-billed Malkoha - SF, TF
Greater Coucal - JU
Vernal Hanging Parrot - SF
Plum-headed Parakeet - SF
Red-breasted Parakeet - SF
Brown Wood Owl - LW
Asian Barred Owlet - Moulvi Bazar (MV)
Red Collared Dove - MV
Emerald Dove - SB
Yellow-footed Pigeon - JU
Masked Finfoot - SB
Purple Swamphen - BB
Nordmann's Greenshank - HI
Terek Sandpiper - HI
Red-necked Stint - HI, Sonardia Island (SI)
Spoon-billed Sandpiper - SI
Broad-billed Sandpiper - SI
Greater Painted Snipe - BB
Great Thick-knee - SB
Pheasant-tailed Jacana - BB
Bronze-winged Jacana - JU, BB
Pacific Golden Plover - SB
Lesser Sand Plover - HI
Greater Sand Plover - HI
Yellow-wattled Lapwing - JU
Pallas's Gull - HI
Brown-headed Gull - HI
Gull-billed Tern - HI
River Tern - HI
Whiskered Tern - HI
Black Baza - SF
Black-shouldered Kite - HH
White-bellied Sea Eagle - HI, SB
Pallas's Fish Eagle - BB
Grey-headed Fish Eagle - HH
White-rumped Vulture - MV
Himalayan Griffon - MV
Crested Serpent Eagle - SB
Shikra - SB
Pied Harrier - HH
Greater Spotted Eagle - HI
Imperial Eagle - MV
Darter - BB
Purple Heron - BB
Little Heron - SB
Malayan Night Heron - LW
Black-headed Ibis - HI
Painted Stork - HI
Asian Openbill - BB
Lesser Adjutant - SB
Asian Fairy Bluebird - LW
Golden-fronted Leafbird LW
Common Green Magpie - AP, SF
Ashy Woodswallow - HI, MV
Black-naped Oriole - HI
Black-hooded Oriole - LW, SF, AP
Black-winged Cuckooshrike - LW
Rosy Minivet - LW
Ashy Minivet - LW
Swinhoe's Minivet (prob) - LW
Small Minivet - JU
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo - SF
Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo - LW
Spangled Drongo - AP
Black-naped Monarch - LW, AP
Blue Rock Thrush - MV
Blue Whistling Thrush - TF
Orange-headed Thrush - AP
Black-breasted Thrush - LW
Little Pied Flycatcher - SF, MV
Verditer Flycatcher - TF, LW, SB
White-tailed Rubythroat - HH
White-rumped Shama - SF
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch - AP
Black-headed Bulbul - AP
Black-crested Bulbul - AP, LW
White-throated Bulbul - AP, LW
Ashy Bulbul - AP
Grey-bellied Tesia - AP, LW
Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler - HH
Paddyfield Warbler - BB
Blyth's Reed Warbler - BB
Clamarous Reed Warbler - BB
Striated Grassbird - BB
Dusky Warbler - BB
Blyth's Leaf Warbler - LW
Yellow-browed Warbler - JU
Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush - LW
Abbot's Babbler - LW
Striped Tit Babbler - SF, TF
Striated Babbler - HH
White-bellied Yuhina - LW
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker - LW, AP
Purple-rumped Sunbird - JU
Ruby-cheeked Sunbird - LW
Purple Sunbird - JU
Little Spiderhunter - SF, AP
Rosy Pipit - HH
Baya Weaver - HH