Black-Necked Cranes in the Phobjikha Valley
The Phobjikha Valley (also called Gangtey) in Western Bhutan is the winter home of around 350 Black-Necked Cranes. These rare and endangered birds arrive here from the Tibetan plateau towards the end of October each year (usually between 23 and 26 October) and remain until mid February. The Bhutanese revere the cranes, and refer to them as 'heavenly birds'; over the years many folk songs and stories have sprung up to celebrate their winter sojourn in Bhutan. There is a Black-Necked Crane Information Centre which has powerful telescopes to enable you to view the birds. This is operated by the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) and offers interesting information about the cranes and also about the Phojikha Valley in general. An annual Black-Necked Crane Festival is held here on 12 November with charming folk dances performed by local schoolchildren.
The best time to view the birds is in the early morning or at dusk so it is best to spend overnight in a hotel in Gangtey.