Bird Holidays is proud to be a BirdLife Species Champion.


By joining this tour you are contributing to the livelihoods of the local people and

also supporting the crucial conservation work of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force






Spoon-billed Sandpiper conservation tour




click here for a pdf version of this destination write-up  -  easier to print  -  no photos




The critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper is on the brink of extinction. Hunting   of   wading   birds   on   their wintering grounds has been identified as the primary cause of their decline. We are running this tour in conjunction with BANCA, Birdlife International’s partner in Myanmar. They predict that without help, they could become extinct within 10 years! Your help is greatly needed to save this wonderful bird by visiting its main wintering grounds in Myanmar. The coast of Arakhan in the west of the country hosts a good number. We will visit by boat and can expect to see several Spoon-billed Sandpipers. We are not just there to enjoy this charismatic wader; we are also helping to count them. Working with ArcCona and the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force, we will support the local people by paying a small entrance fee when entering the island, demonstrating the value of a living Spoon-billed Sandpiper compared to that of a trapped and killed bird. Already the local hunters have agreed not to trap any more Spoon-billed Sandpipers. We will meet these wonderfully friendly local people and encounter many more birds. Among them are many more waders, including Nordmann’s Greenshank, the rare Indian Skimmers and towering Sarus Cranes. Even the rare Irrawaddy Dolphins are possible at this spot. This tour includes a visit to the ancient site of Mrauk Oo, north of Sittwe and the famous Bagan on the Ayeyarwaddy River, where there are plenty of Myanmar’s rural birds including some Burmese endemics. 





On arrival in Yangon, the capital of the Union of Myanmar, we will meet our local partner who will take us to the Inya Lake Hotel. The eager ones among us can start birdwatching in the hotel grounds and at the lake. We will encounter bulbuls, jacanas, treepies and Brown Shrikes here. In the evening we will go to the Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the most prestigious cultural sites in Yangon. The pagoda also hosts an extraordinary wildlife spectacle, which we will encounter at dusk…. but we will keep this a surprise!



A day's excursion into the forest park north of Yangon offers a great opportunity to encounter forest birds such as Rosy Minivet, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Black-hooded Bulbul, Green-billed Malkoha and Pale-capped Pigeon. Later we will travel to the Moeyungyi Bird Sanctuary, a huge lake with plenty of freshwater vegetation surrounded by agricultural land. We obtain further insights into rural life, where ox and water buffalo are used to plough the fields. At dusk we get our first impression of the wetland, watching Pied and Eastern Marsh Harriers roosting in the reeds whilst thousands of egrets and herons fly to roost in nearby trees. We stay overnight in comfortable chalets and enjoy the dark starry nights, free of light pollution.


An early morning excursion by boat takes us around the lake with Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Lesser Whistling Duck, Purple Swamphen and Purple Heron. We will search for Painted Snipe among numerous Common Snipe and Wood Sandpiper. Asian Openbill Storks start soaring in late morning. With luck we will find some Painted Storks among them and several birds of prey joining in. Striated Grassbirds, Bluethroats and Thick-billed, Black-browed and Oriental Reed Warblers are common in lakeside vegetation. After lunch we leave to travel back to Yangon.



An early morning flight from Yangon will take us to Sittwe, the regional capital of Arakhan (Rakhine) in the west of the country. The Shwethazin Hotel is near a huge colony of Flying Foxes, which allow close views from the rooftop garden. In the afternoon we will explore the long white beaches near the town and visit the dunes to scan through the many waders. Long-toed Stint and Pintail Snipe can be found, and we have a chance to encounter Pied Harrier, Citrine Wagtail and Bengal Bushlark. Bicycle rickshaws replace cars in Sittwe, allowing us to explore this special town on the leisurely way to our restaurant.


The next morning we will take a boat to Nan Thar island. A few local people pursue subsistence fishing here and by visiting we demonstrate our interest in the island’s wildlife. This is the place to begin our search for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper. We can inspect the local people’s harvest of marine life. The different fish and crabs are amazing. We can walk around the island to encounter our first Spoon-billed Sandpiper among thousands of waders. Among the packed shorebirds we may record up to 35 different species! These include Broad-billed Sandpiper, Great Knot and, with some luck, also the sought-after Nordmann’s Greenshank. Evenings and mornings are spectacular as hundreds of Bar-headed Geese come to roost on the island.


Our boat tour also takes us further inland along the mangroves of the Kaladan River delta in pursuit of the rare Indian Skimmer and the enigmatic Irrawaddy Dolphin. Further inland we pass along villages and rice fields with four species of kingfishers, Long-tailed Shrikes and Pied Harriers. There is a good chance to spot the tall Sarus Crane before reaching the town Mrauk Oo. We stay for two nights in this ancient city and explore birds and temples. Our journey continues to Sittwe the next day, birding through agricultural areas returning to Yangon the next day.



From Yangon we will fly to the ancient temple town of Bagan and spend two nights at the Thande Hotel, by the Ayeyarwaddy River. We will start birding on the shores of this majestic river. Here we will focus on Burmese endemics such as Burmese Bushlark, Hooded Treepie, White-throated Babbler and many others. With a little bit of luck we can get a glimpse of the shy Laggar Falcon. A leisurely boat trip along the Ayeyarwaddy River should yield River Lapwing and Small Pratincole. The wonderful Pied Harrier and the pretty White-tailed Stonechat are highlights among the grassland specialities here. We also hope to see Rain Quail, Burmese Shrike, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater and Spotted Owlet. Our birdwatching is enjoyed among the magical setting of 2000 pagodas and temples and many ancient buildings. The charm of rural Myanmar is the scarcity of motorcars. Ox-carts and horses are the main form of local transport. We have one last night back in Yangon before our return flight home. There is an option to extend your tour to visit Mount Victoria.



On most days breakfast will be at 7am, giving us plenty of time in the productive morning period. It may be earlier at Sittwe or Nan Thar, when we visit sites for Spoon-billed Sandpiper, as we are governed by tide times. The climate is mostly hot in the day and cool at night. It is the dry season, so there is only a small chance of rain. Most of our wetland birding will be done from the luxury of a boat. We will walk on the mudflats on Nan Thar Island in our search for Spoon-billed Sandpiper. In parts the mud is ankle deep and you may prefer to paddle bare foot or in wet-shoes. During the rest of the trip, a little walking is involved at a sensible pace.



Full board accommodation is provided, with one night at the Inya Lake Hotel, Yangon, one night at the Moeyungyi Resort, one night at the Inya Lake Hotel, one night at the Shwe Thazin Hotel, Sittwe, one night at Nan Thar, two nights at the Nawaratt Hotel, Mrauk Oo, one night back at the Shwe Thazin Hotel, Sittwe, two nights at the Bagan Thande Hotel, and one night back at the Inya Lake Hotel, Yangon. All except Nan Thar are of a high standard, with en suite bathrooms. At Nan Thar, the local people have built brand new chalets especially for our visit. They are basic with shared toilet and bathroom facilities. 



All birdwatching excursions with expert leader and local guide, full-board accommodation (starting with lunch on 22nd, ending with breakfast on 1st), soft drinks at meal times, local transport by coach, boat trips, reserve entrance fees, international flights, and airport taxes. We also pay a US$100 fee per person towards a local community trust fund that protects the Spoon-billed Sandpipers in the area.



Travel insurance. Tourist visa (currently about £15). Personal items, tips, alcoholic drinks.



Return flights from London Heathrow (via Bangkok) to Yangon using the scheduled services of Thai Airlines. Outbound flight departs late morning, arriving back in the UK early evening. Domestic flights from Manchester and other UK airports are available on this tour. See booking form for details.




12 nights including

one overnight flight:


Principal leader:


SBS Recovery Group Representative:


Local guide:


Maximum group size:


Cost with discount

(if you book before

8th October 2012):


Full Cost:





Single supplement:






21st Jan. to 2nd Feb. 2013


Phil Palmer


Dr Christoph Zöckler



Dr Tony Htin Hla (BANCA)


12 clients with one leader

and a local guide



£3680 per person sharing


£3830 per person sharing


A ground only price is available. Please contact our office












click here to see the photographs in our Myanmar Album






By joining this tour you are contributing to the livelihoods of the local people and

also supporting the crucial conservation work of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force.


 Spoon-billed Sandpiper news & photo page CLICK HERE 



the birders sunshade constructed by locals as an area from which to view the bay

local people erected a sign to say that the area is protected with the hunting of birds & turtles banned.

For more info see



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Christoph Zockler head of the Spoon-billed Recovery Team

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