Bird watching in Hlawga (and Yangon)
(text compiled by Paul Bates, Harrison Institute)
Hlawga Wildlife Park
Hlawga Wildlife Park is 22 km north of Yangon city. Established in 1982, it comprises a wildlife park (331 ha), a mini-zoo (25 ha) and a buffer zone (267 ha). The habitat is primarily semi-evergreen forest, mixed deciduous forest, swamp forest and extensive lakes. It was established to protect the forest and vegetative cover of the catchment of Hlawga Lake. It is also an environmental education centre.
In addition to wild birds and reptiles, within the fenced park, there is a representative collection of Myanmar’s indigenous wild mammal species. These are kept in natural conditions but in such as a way that they can be readily viewed by visitors.
Visiting Hlawga Park is easy. It takes approximately 75 minutes by taxi from downtown Yangon (greatly depending on traffic conditions). It is about one hour and 40 minutes from Moeyungyi wetlands, which lies to the north-east. The Park opens at 08.00 and closes at 17.00 hrs. The entry ticket costs (January, 2017) 1,000 kyat (approx. $1) for the car and 3000 kyat ($3) for a foreigner. The road through the park is suitable for all types of vehicle. It is best to avoid midday and the weekends when it is very crowded. You do not need a tour guide. However, a specialist bird guide would be valuable. None are available at the park, so you either have to bring your own guide or travel as part of a specialist bird tour.
A wide variety of wild birds can be seen, depending on season, including*: Phasianidae: Red Junglefowl. Anatidae: Lesser Whistling-duck, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Spot-billed Duck. Podicipedidae: Little Grebe. Ciconiidae: Painted Stork, Asian Openbill. Ardeidae: Black-crowned Night Heron, Indian Pond-heron, Chinese Pond-heron, Eastern Cattle Egret. Phalacrocoracidae: Great Cormorant, Little Cormorant. Anhingidae: Oriental Darter. Falconidae: Osprey. Rallidae: White-breasted Waterhen, Common Moorhen. Vanellidae: Red-wattled Lapwing. Charadriidae: Little Ringed Plover. Jacanidae: Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Bronze-winged Jacana. Scolopacidae: Spotted Redshank. Columbidae: Pale-capped Pigeon, Thick-billed Green-pigeon, Spotted Dove. Cuculidae: Plaintive Cuckoo, Green-billed Malkoha, Greater Coucal. Apodidae: Asian Palm-swift. Alcedinidae: Black-capped Kingfisher, White-throated Kingfisher, Common Kingfisher. Coraciidae: Dollarbird. Meropidae: Little green Bee-eater, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater. Ramphastidae: Coppersmith Barbet. Campephagidae: Black-winged Cuckooshrike, Rosy Minivet. Oriolidae: Black-naped Oriole, Black-hooded Oriole. Aegithinidae: Common Iora. Dicruridae: Black Drongo, Ashy Drongo, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Hair-crested Drongo. Monarchidae: Black-naped Monarch. Corvidae: Racket-tailed Treepie. Nectariniidae: Olive-backed Sunbird, Purple Sunbird , Ruby-cheeked Sunbird. Dicaeidae: Thick-billed Flowerpecker, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker. Motacillidae: Forest Wagtail. Sturnidae: Common Myna. Muscicapidae: Blue-throated Flycatcher, Taiga (or Red-throated) Flycatcher, White-rumped Shama. Pycnonotidae: Red-whiskered Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, Black-headed Bulbul, Black-crested Bulbul, Stripe-throated Bulbul, Streak-eared Bulbul. Hirundinidae: Barn Swallow. Phylloscopidae: Two-barred Warbler, Greenish Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler. Timaliidae: Chestnut-capped Babbler, Puff-throated Babbler, White-crested Laughingthrush, and Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush. Acrocephalidae: Oriental Reed-warbler.
*list compiled from various sources published online; the list is not complete and is for indicative purposes only.
Eld’s deer (Thamin), Hog deer, Barking deer, Sambar deer, Rhesus monkey, pythons, and pangolin roam freely within the fenced Hlawga Wildlife Park. In the small zoo, there is a range of small mammals, birds, tigers, leopards, bears and estuarine crocodiles.
Since it is close to Yangon, Hlawga Wildlife Park is a popular spot for day-visits and picnics, especially on weekends. At times, there is considerable disturbance on the roads and in picnicking areas close to the lakes. However, in general, this probably impacts relatively little on the wildlife.
The larger mammals, especially the macaques are very attentive. Many are habitually fed by visitors and therefore they come seeking food. This can be quite disturbing. Children should be watched closely to ensure that there are no unfortunate accidents (scratching or biting).
SST Travel Tour 1
Travel Expert Tour 1
Shan Yoma Travel and Tours Co. Ltd Tour 1
Tours (Hlawga as part of a tour to other areas of Myanmar)
SST Travel Tour 1, Tour 2, Tour 3, Tour 4
Wings Birding Tours Worldwide Tour 1
Authentic Myanmar Tour 1
Bird Quest Tour 1
Birdingpal Tours Tour 1
Marco Polo Travels and Tours Tour 1
Sunbird Tour 1
Asia Central Link Tour 1
Ideal Travel Land Tour 1
Yangon Tours Tour 1
Golden Pagoda Travel Tour 1
Visitor Reports to Hlawga and Yangon
“A pre-dawn departure on the following morning took us the relatively short distance to Hlawga Park on the outskirts of Yangon. This is a fairly extensive area of secondary woodland, bushy country and small lakes, with numbers of introduced (or perhaps re-introduced) Sambar, Hog Deer, Wild Pig and Rhesus Macaque. We were treated to a good range of typical South-East Asian birds, with activity continuing well into late morning. Although we struggled with our main targets - the highly distinctive endemic davisoni form of Stripe-throated Bulbul (a likely future addition to the list of Burmese endemics) only showing very briefly and Pale-capped Pigeon not at all - this was made up for somewhat by great looks at Swinhoe’s and Rosy Minivets, and Forest Wagtail, as well as Indochinese Cuckooshrike, numerous Two-barred Warblers, a showy pair of Ruby-throated Sunbirds, and Radde’s Warbler amongst other species.”
Craig Robson - report extracted from a field trip to various locations in Myanmar that took place between 28 December and 10 January, 2012 (further information).
“Next morning a visit to Hlawga Wildlife Park gave us our first taste of forest birding. Red Junglefowl were seen from the roadside, Green-billed Malkoha, Racket-tailed Treepie and Greater Racket-tailed Drongo lurked in the shrubbery, Black-naped and Black-hooded Orioles and Black-headed and Black-crested Bulbuls all disported themselves in the treetops while Green, Blue-tailed and Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters chased butterflies over the lake.”
Duncan Brooks et al. – report from a field trip to various birding localities in Myanmar, 1-19 March, 2003 (further information).
“We were on our way in a taxi to Hlawga Park just north of Yangon (9th December). We paid a small entrance fee eager to start birding. We soon made the first stop along the loop gravel track running through a small part of the northern parts of the park. Our target was primarily the endemic subspecies davisoni of Stripe-throated Bulbul. After a few stops with commoner species we stayed a little longer at a wooden bridge over a small creek. Here we had a nice flock of Rosy Minivets with one Swinhoe's Minivet mixed in. Also Forest Wagtail, a pair of Crested Goshawks and a larger unidentified pigeon... A few leeches were also encountered. Next stop gave a party of Racket-tailed Treepie, Greater Necklaced and White-crested Laughers. A Besra perched for quite a while and our first Dusky Warbler skulked in a thicket. A few other birds were found and not seen later in the trip among them: Asian Brown Flycatcher, Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, Olive-backed Sunbird and Chestnut-headed Bee-eater. Activity dropped naturally mid-day and by 13.30 we headed back to the airport for the afternoon flight to Heho.”
Mans Grundsten et al. – report from a field trip to various birding localities in Myanmar, 9-21 December, 2012 (further information).
“We were treated to a good range of typical South-East Asian birds, with activity continuing well into late morning. We struggled again with our main target - Davison’s Bulbul (currently considered a form of Stripe-throated, but soon to be added to the list of Burmese endemics), but at least it was scoped this time. A calling Green Peafowl was unexpected, but apparently some were also (re- )introduced here over 12 years ago. A good variety of waterbirds were present, with Good numbers of Lesser Whistling-ducks, Indian Spot-billed Ducks and Asian Openbills, as well as Black-crowned Night heron, Little Cormorant, and Oriental Darter. Red Junglefowl were common, and a single Osprey was good. Watercock and Asian Brown Flycatcher were both write-ins, and other good birds included Black-winged Stilt, Blossom-headed Parakeet, Rosy Minivet, Black-winged Cuckooshrike, Racket-tailed Treepie, Rubycheeked Sunbird, Two-barred Warbler, Jungle Myna, White-rumped Shama, Puff-throated Babbler, Whitecrested Laughingthrush, and Dark-necked Tailorbird."
Craig Robson - report extracted from a field trip to various locations in Myanmar that took place from 10-23 March, 2013 (further information).
"I called in on Hlawga on my way back from a wonderful visit to Moeyungyi, arriving at 13.10 (Hlawga is about 1 hour 40 minutes from the Moeyungyi wetlands). With the maximum heat of the day, this is not a good time to visit and in consequence I saw comparatively few birds, although I did have good views of several large mammals, notably Hog Deer, Sambar, some Eld’s deer. They are semi-tame as the visitors feed them. They also feed the Rhesus Macaques whose population appears to be expanding fast! I left the Park area at 14.45 and was back in downtown Yangon by 16.00 hrs."
Paul Bates- short visit took place on 21 February, 2017
A recent bird list (26 February, 2017) is available on ‘ebird’ posted by Grant and Albert Connette (Checklist 1).
Report of a visit within Yangon
“After we all met up at the hotel in Yangon, our guide Ren took us to Yangon University Boat Club. It was surprisingly birdy as usual, with quite a few different species from the previous year. Singles of Brahminy Kite and Streaked Weaver were both tour write-ins (though the latter perhaps of dubious origin), and Himalayan Buzzard and Bronzed-winged Jacana were also unusual. More typical species included Purple Heron, Little Cormorant, Oriental Darter, two resident Black Kites, and Taiga Flycatcher. A Chinese Pond-heron was coming into breeding plumage. Our first Irrawaddy Squirrels and a nice Ornate Flying-snake entertained those with more varied interests.”
Craig Robson - report extracted from a field trip to various locations in Myanmar that took place from 10-23 March, 2013.