October 6, 2015: Kalaw, Myanmar — Gideon and I hopped a quick flight early this morning to Heho with a brief stopover in Mandalay—the former Burmese capitol and namesake of Las Vegas' famous Mandalay Bay Hotel, among other things. On arrival in Heho, we drove a short distance to Kalaw, Gideon's hometown in Myanmar's eastern highlands. By midday we were sitting down at his house for a home-cooked lunch, prepared by his wife, which powered a solid session of birding in the nearby hills.
We took Gideon's motorbike this afternoon to a valley where Spot-breasted Parrotbills, White-browed Laughingthrushes, and a lightning storm kept things interesting. Many of the birds in these hills are shared with neighboring Thailand, where I'll be birding in a couple of weeks, but might as well knock 'em out while I'm here! One thing I've learned this year is not to count on birds ahead of time. When someone says, "Don't worry, we'll see a [insert bird name] later," anything might happen, and I've begun to cringe whenever I hear that phrase. A bird in hand really is worth two in the bush, so I'll take these birds in Myanmar and worry about Thailand when I get there.
This area is a popular destination for guided hiking trips, so there are a few tourists kicking around town, mostly young backpacker types. Tomorrow I should get a better taste of the landscape. Meanwhile, it's a heavy, thunderstormy evening in Kalaw.
New birds today: 20
Year list: 4676