Bird watching in Mandalay and surrounding areas
(text compiled by Paul Bates, Harrison Institute)
Mandalay and surrounding areas
Mandalay is situated in the dry zone of central Myanmar. Together with its surrounding farmlands, wetlands and Ayeyarwady River, the area has a surprisingly rich bird diversity. A recent study recorded 48 bird species from the city and nearby paddy fields (further information). Numerous water birds are also known from a series of wetland habitats that lie within Mandalay and its suburbs. Principal amongst these are Peleik Inn and Taungtaman. Areas near the airport and Yemyet Inn, west of the Ayeyarwady, are also excellent for seeing large numbers of migratory Common Cranes.
Mandalay is the second city of Myanmar and has excellent national and international air links. It can also be reached easily and cheaply by road with numerous coaches travelling to and from Yangon. There are also regular, albeit slow, rail connections. Within Mandalay there are many hotels of all standards and a good and expanding choice of restaurants.
Peleik Inn (centred on 21°50’ 11”N, 96°03’ 13”E) is about a 45 minute car journey south of central Myanmar. It is an IBA (Important Bird Area) and comprises an area of inland wetlands covering 50 hectares. It is surrounded on all sides by man-made development, which includes Peleik village to the south, Myitnge village to the north and a railway line on the east. It is best visited between December and March, in the dry season, when the wetlands comprise shallow lakes and flooded paddy fields and are home to large numbers of wintering waterfowl that have migrated south from central Asia. There is a rich diversity of species. In the rainy season, the lakes are deep and the whole area is extensively flooded and of little interest. There are no facilities for bird watchers but no restrictions either. It is best to come early in the morning and wander around the area on the raised grassy dykes.
Taungtaman Inn (centred on 21°53’ 06”N, 96°03’29”E) is a lake and associated wetlands, which is situated in Amarapura (a township of southern Mandalay). It is surrounded by roads and urban development on its north, west and eastern margins and is crossed by the old teak U Bein Bridge, which is very popular with tourists. The extent of the water is dependent on the flow of the Ayeyarwady River and varies considerably between the dry and wet seasons. Despite on-going disturbance, the lake has a rich bird-life, especially on the lake margins on the south/south-east side. It is home to congregatory water birds such as the Ruddy Shelduck, Glossy Ibis and a variety of egret, heron and cormorant species. As with Peleik Inn, for bird watching it is best visited in the winter season (December to March).
Bird species include*: Threskiornithidae: Glossy Ibis. Falconidae: Shikra, Bonelli’s Eagle. Rallidae: Watercock. Collumbidae: Red Collared-dove. Psittacidae: Rose-ringed Parakeet. Cuculidae: Asian Koel. Strigidae: Spotted Owlet. Apodidae: Asian Palm-swift. Meropidae: Little Green Bee-eater. Upupidae: Common Hoopoe. Ramphastidae: Coppersmith Barbet. Artamidae: Ashy Woodswallow. Aegithinidae: Common Iora. Dicruridae: Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Hair-crested Drongo. Laniidae: Brown Shrike, Grey-backed Shrike. Nectariniidae: Olive-backed Sunbird. Estrildidae: Red Avadat, Plainbacked Sparrow. Sturnidae: White-vented Myna, Vinous-breasted Myna. Muscicapidae: Eastern Stonechat, Pied Bushchat, Taiga Flycatcher, Oriental Magpie-robin. Pycnonotidae: Streak-eared Bulbul. Hirundinidae: Asian House-martin. Phylloscopidae: Yellow-browed Warbler, Large-billed Leaf-warbler, Two-barred Warbler, Dusky Warbler. Timaliidae: White-throated Babbler. Cisticolidae: Common Tailorbird.
*list not complete and is for indicative purposes for Mandalay and environs only. It does not include species from wetlands or the Ayeyarwady River areas.
Tours (that include Mandalay)
Mandalay is not an international ‘hotspot’ for bird watching and there do not appear to be any prearranged birding tours of the city and its environs. However, if you are in Mandalay and you would like a morning of birding, it is easy to visit, by taxi, Peleik Inn and/or Taungtaman Inn or some other local area. It is not necessary to have a bird guide or tour guide.
In recent years, Mandalay urban area has expanded rapidly and this threatens wetlands, such as Peleik Inn and others that are located between the city and the international airport. Electro-fishing is also a threat at Peleik Inn as is unauthorised dredging of the wetlands to increase fish stocks but to the detriment of waterfowl. Pollution and littering with plastic waste are a particular threat at Taungtaman Inn.
There are no published reports of bird watching at Peleik Inn, Taungtaman Inn or other wetlands adjacent to Mandalay. There is one scientific paper on the bird fauna of Mandalay (further information).