Soaring Through the Sky

Giant Hornbills in Khao Yai National Park

Embark on a program that leads deep into the rugged jungle and stunning landscapes of Khao Yai National Park in central Thailand. Just a couple of hours drive away from Bangkok, this sensational national park is home to an array of wildlife including a number of endangered species. The beautiful Giant Hornbill is so named after its large horn-like bill and is one of 13 species of hornbill found in Thailand alone. The body is mostly black with a white neck, wing coverts and flight feathers.

A few days trekking in Khao Yai may lead to a sighting of a Great Hornbill, or other hornbills such as the Oriental Pied, Wreathed Hornbills or the rare Austen’s Brown Hornbill. An extensive system of hiking trails means there is plenty of opportunity to explore the forest and see not only birds, but also larger mammals too, while also enjoying a colorful selection of flora. Many of the trails were originally elephant tracks and therefore lead past watering holes and dug outs in the soil where they take a dust bath. Did you know that the Giant Hornbill form monogamous pairs, staying together for their entire lives.

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Bird-watching at Napa Lake in China

This immense seasonal lake is part of the Napahai Nature Reserve, located 10 km northwest from Shangri-La County in Yunnan province. Yunnan is one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet and the Napahai Nature Reserve bears testament to that. Lying at an elevation of over 3000 meters, the reserve offers travelers unique vistas during each season of the year. During the dry season, the waters recede, turning the “lake” into a huge meadow of green grass and wildflowers. In autumn, farmers bring herds of yaks, horses and sheep to graze upon the lush pasture. In early summer, snowmelt from the surrounding mountains then flows into the basin, turning it into a vast body of water. From September to March, rare birds such as the black-necked crane, bar-headed goose and mallard flock to the area to spend the winter here. A visit here during any season will capture your imagination.

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Dongtan Bird Sanctuary in Chongming

Located some 45 miles from downtown Shanghai and encompassing 750 square miles, Chongming is the world’s largest alluvial island. Its rich soils and extensive estuarine wetlands, abundant with fresh and saltwater marshes, tidal creeks and inter-tidal mudflats, provide a safe haven for a diversity of birds and fish along spawning or migration routes. Around 3 million birds encompassing over 100 species migrate across Chongming Island, stopping on their way between Siberia and their wintering grounds in the Southern Hemisphere. Another 100 species, like the spoon-billed sandpiper and the oriental stork, actually winter on the island. Dongtan is a pristine, biologically diverse wetland park. Vast expanses of green, laced with curving streams, stretch as far as the eye can see. The best time to observe the greatest variety of birds is between March and November.

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On the Lookout in Danum Valley

Situated on the beautiful island of Borneo, Sabah is one of the 13 states which Malaysia is made of. Sabah is the second largest state in Malaysia and shares the island of Borneo with Sarawak, Brunei, and Indonesian Kalimantan. The Island has plenty to offer to visitors from lush rainforests, to sub-aquatic splendor, magnificent mountains and colorful cultures. A birdwatcher’s journey in Southeast Asia is not complete without a visit to the Danum Valley Conservation Area in the east Malaysian state of Sabah.

The Danum Valley is one of the few places in the region that is still teeming with bird life. This preserved rainforest with its pristine rainforest environment is home to an eclectic range of bird life. To date over 275 species have been recorded and the list is still growing. The lowland dipterocarp forest of Danum Valley is home to several species of birds that are endemic to Borneo. These include the Bornean Bristlehead, Bulwer’s Pheasant, Bornean Ground-Cuckoo, Bornean Wren-Babbler, Black-throated Wren-Babbler and Dusky Munia. It is also home to all eight species of the Bornean Hornbills and six species of Pitta, including the impressive Giant Pitta. Destination Asia Malaysia can make arrangements for an expert ornithologist to join travelers, helping spot and identify birds in the area.

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