Bird watching in Kyaikhtiyo Wildlife Sanctuary
(text compiled by Paul Bates, Harrison Institute)
Kyaikhtiyo Wildlife Sanctuary
Kyaiktiyo Pagoda/Golden Rock in Mon State is the third most important centre of pilgrimage in Myanmar, after the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon and the Mahamuni Pagoda in Mandalay. It is also a popular tourist attraction. Perched on top of Kyaiktiyo Hill, on a ridge of the Eastern Yoma Mountains, Golden Rock has an elevation of 1,100 metres above sea level and, according to legend, is balanced on a strand of the Buddha's hair.
Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda is within Kyaikhtiyo Wildlife Sanctuary. Nominally this has an area of 156 km2. However, much of the broadleaf subtropical forest within the sanctuary is disturbed, whilst some has been lost to agriculture, roads, urban development and unproductive wasteland. That said, the area does have some interesting biodiversity including an endemic snake, Python kaiktiyo, which was described in 2011. Relatively few birders visit the area.
Kyaikhtiyo is 210 kilometres from Yangon and can be reached by car or bus. There is a wide range of hotels and guest houses available. The route from Kinpun village, at the base of Kyaiktiyo Hill, to the summit can be very crowded (further information). It is not possible to hire an expert bird guide locally.
Bird species include*: Phasianidae: Kalij Pheasant. Falconidae: Crested Serpent-eagle, Mountain Hawk-eagle. Columbidae: Pin-tailed Green-pigeon, Wedge-tailed Green-pigeon. Psittacidae: Vernal Hanging-parrot. Cuculidae: Violet Cuckoo. Apodidae: Brown-backed needletail, Crested Treeswift. Coraciidae: Indian Roller. Meropidae: Chestnut-headed Bee-eater. Ramphastidae: Blue-throated Barbet, Blue-eared Barbet. Picidae: Speckled piculet, Fulvous-breaster Woodpecker, Rufous Woodpecker. Oriolidae: Black-hooded Oriole, Maroon Oriole. Dicruridae: Bronzed Drongo, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Japanese Paradise-flycatcher. Nectariniidae: Olive-backed Sunbird, Green-tailed Sunbird, Streaked Spiderhunter. Dicaeidae: Plain Flowerpecker. Chloropseidae: Blue-winged Leafbird, Golden-fronted Leafbird. Irenidae: Asian Fairy-bluebird. Sittidae: Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Chestnut-bellied nuthatch. Muscicapidae: Blue-throated Flycatcher, Verditer Flycatcher, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Vivid Niltava, Asian Brown Flycatcher, White-rumped Shama. Stenostridae: Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher. Pycnonotidae: Himalayan Black Bulbul. Phlloscopidae: Grey-crowned Warbler, Radde’s Warbler. Timaliidae: Striated Yuhina, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, Grey-throated Babbler, White-browed Scimitar-babbler, Golden babbler, Pin-striped Tit-babbler, Buff-breasted Babbler, Puff-throated Babbler, Black-throated Laughingthrush, White-crested Laughingthrush, Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush. Megaluridae: Lanceolated Warbler and Dark-necked Tailorbird.
*list compiled from various sources published online; the list is not complete and is for indicative purposes only.
Tours (that include Kyaikhtiyo)
With a rapidly expanding number of tourists and pilgrims visiting Kyaikhtiyo, there is an ever increasing pressure on the fauna and flora of the surrounding wildlife sanctuary. Waste management and litter is a particular problem but so too is the increasing traffic, road building and urban expansion.
There are few published reports on birding at Kyaikhtiyo. Johannes Fischer provided a short report from the rainy season, July-August, 2013 (further information). Tim and Carol Inskipp and others provided a bird list from a day trip on 23 November, 2003, during the dry season, which included winter migrants (further information).