White-bellied Heron Ardea insignis
White-bellied Heron, Punakha Chu, Bhutan, March 2008 - click for larger image Punakha Chu, Bhutan
March 2008

The White-bellied Heron is found in the southern foothills of the eastern Himalayas. It is classified as Critically Endangered by Birdlife International and they estimate that there are less than 250 birds left.

White-bellied Heron, Punakha Chu, Bhutan, March 2008 - click for larger image It is a large heron with grey head, neck and upperparts and white underparts. Both males and females have white plumes on the nape which you can just make out in photo 2.

The small Bhutanese population winters mainly on the Pho Chu river but, by the time we had arrived there in late March, the birds had already dispersed to their breeding grounds.
White-bellied Heron, Punakha Chu, Bhutan, March 2008 - click for larger image They appear to breed up small streams in broad-leaved forest and we came across this bird just upstream of a confluence with the Punakha Chu. The bird was on a tributary about 1 kilometre away on the far bank so it was difficult to get a good photo. Photo 1 was the best I could do with my Canon 1D Mk3 and the other 3 photos were taken digiscoping with my Canon Ixus through Will Carter's scope.
White-bellied Heron, Punakha Chu, Bhutan, March 2008 - click for larger image
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