Bird watching in Meinmahlakyun, south-eastern Ayeyarwady Delta
(text compiled by Paul Bates, Harrison Institute)
Meinmahlakyun and the south-eastern Ayeyarwady Delta
The Ayeyarwady Delta is a vast complex of islands and waterways that covers an area equivalent to that of the Netherlands. As a result of the silting up of the shallow Gulf of Mottama, its size is constantly increasing. There are nine primary outlets of the Ayeyarwady. These range from the mouth of the Pathein River in the west to the Yangon River in the east, a distance of about 230 km. There are also numerous tidal creeks and extensive mangrove forests. These forests, which are increasingly under threat from clear-felling for charcoal, fuel wood and rice cultivation are considered of national and international importance for conservation.
The delta is rich in birds. Towards the end of the rainy season (October) a huge wave of migrant birds flies south from their breeding sites in Central Asia and Siberia to winter in Myanmar. Many of the waders make their way to the paddy plains, coastal mud flats and tidal creeks of the delta. They return north in March.
Meinmahlakyun Wildlife Sanctuary is best known for its Salt Water Crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus). It is also home to some 30 species of mangrove tree and over 150 species of bird (further information). However, it is only one of a number of sites that provide good opportunities for bird watching. Perhaps even better are the mudflats of Let Khoke Khone and of the small adjacent Myaseinthaung Island (see map and report below).
The town of Bogale (Bogalay) is the local administrative centre of the south-eastern delta region. It can be reached, relatively easily, by car or boat from Yangon. It has accommodation and places to eat (further information). There is also accommodation at Meinmahlakyun (further information). However, in general, the delta is not a place to travel without specialist knowledge. In order to visit birding sites such as Myaseinthaun Island, it is essential to have a good guide who can arrange accommodation and various transport and knows where to find the best areas for birds. This can be arranged by a Yangon-based tour operator and need not be expensive for a short visit.
Bird species include*: Phasianidae: Red Jungle Fowl. Anatidae: Lesser Whistling-duck, Ruddy Shelduck, Tufted Duck. Ciconiidae: Painted Stork, Woolly-necked Stork, Lesser Adjutant. Threskiornithidae: Black-headed Ibis, Glossy Ibis. Falconidae: Eurasian Hobby, Peregrine Falcon, Black Baza, Oriental Honey-buzzard, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Western Marsh-harrier, Eastern Marsh-harrier, Pied Harrier, Shikra, Indian Spotted Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle. Rallidae: White-breasted Waterhen, Ruddy-breasted Crake. Pluvialidae: Pacific Golden Plover, Grey Plover. Vanellidae: Red-wattled Lapwing. Charadriidae: Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Lesser Sand-plover. Scolopacidae: Pintail Snipe, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Terek Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Common Redshank, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Sanderling, Red-necked Stint, Long-toed Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone. Glareolidae: Oriental Pratincole, Small Pratincole. Sternidae: Little Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Caspian Tern, White-winged Tern, Whiskered Tern. Laridae: Heuglin’s Gull, Pallas’s Gull. Columbidae: Red Collared-dove, Green Imperial-pigeon. Psittacidae: Vernal Hanging-parrot, Alexandrine Parakeet, Red-breasted Parakeet. Cuculidae: Green-billed Malkoha. Strigidae: Collared Scops Owl, Brown Fish-owl, Brown Wood-owl, Spotted Owlet. Caprimulgidae: Large-tailed Nightjar. Alcedinidae: Brown-winged Kingfisher, Ruddy Kingfisher, Black-capped Kingfisher. Meropidae: Blue Tailed Bee-eater, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater. Ramphastidae: Coppersmith Barbet. Picidae: Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Streak-throated Woodpecker, Common Flameback, Greater Flameback. Pittidae: Mangrove Pitta. Campephagidae: Black-winged Cuckooshrike. Pachycephalidae: Mangrove Whistler. Oriolidae: Black-naped Oriole. Aegithinidae: Common Iora. Rhipiduridae: White-throated Fantail. Dicruridae: Spangled Drongo. Monarchidae: Black-naped Monarch, Asian Paradise-Flycatcher. Corvidae: Racket-tailed Treepie. Laniidae: Brown Shrike, Long-tailed Shrike. Nectariniidae: Brown-throated Sunbird. Olive-backed Sunbird. Dicaedae: Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker. Estrilididae: White-rumped Munia, Scaly-breasted Munia. Motacillidae: Richard’s Pipit, Red-throated Pipit. Sturnidae: Vinous-breasted Starling, Asian Pied Starling. Muscicapidae: Blue Rock-thrush, Pied Bushchat, Verditer Flycatcher, Red-throated Flycatcher, Dark-sided Flycatcher. Phylloscopidae: Greenish Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Dusky Warbler. Timaliidae: Oriental White-eye. Acrocephalidae: Clamorous Reed Warbler. Cisticolidae: Yellow-bellied Prinia and Plain Prinia.
*list compiled from various sources published online and from a report by Tim and Carol Inskipp (further information); it is not complete and is for indicative purposes only.
Threats to birds include a loss of mangrove forest and feeding habitats and persecution including harvesting of wild birds with nets.
There are no published reports of bird watching in Meinmahlakyun or elsewhere in the Ayeyarwady Delta. However, there is an unpublished report by Tim and Carol Inskipp who visited the area in 2003 with three staff from Yangon University (further information).