The Lingkana Palace sits next to a serene stretch of the Wangchu, with the magnificent Tashichhodzong looming on the opposite side. Originally built by His Late Majesty the Third Druk Gyalpo, the cottage in the verdant gardens are now the Royal Residence of His Majesty The King.
The grounds are familiar and beloved to the Bhutanese, who are often invited to tea. Many new annual traditions have begun between Their Majesties and the people- children are received on Nyilo, different groups visit to offer wishes on Their Majesties’ Birthdays and other occasions, and His Majesty often invites various sections of people on pleasant afternoons.
“Linka” translates to “garden”, and connotes a haven of peace and natural beauty. Due to His Majesty’s deep enthusiasm for nurturing such spaces, beautifully illustrated in His Majesty’s message for the Royal Bhutan Flower Exhibition: “Where we live must be clean, safe, organized, and beautiful, for national integrity, national pride, and our bright future. This too is nation-building,” and with His Majesty personal efforts, Lingkana Palace is an enchanting garden, true to its name.
Bhutan’s leading ecologist, Rebecca Pradhan, has counted over 42 species of birds living in the Lingkana Palace. “There are more and more birds each year,” she says with manifest happiness. She attributes this to the increased plants and flowers in the grounds.
It has been a joy to put together this collection of pictures of birds in Lingkana, and we are excited to share them here.
A White Collared Blackbird gathers twigs for a nest. Blackbirds are thrushes, and this species is found across the Himalayan belt. They make cone-shaped nests lined with mud, and like all Beatles fans will know, sings beautifully.
A female House Sparrow balances gracefully on a branch. House Sparrows are the most widely distributed wild bird in the world, as they have been deliberately or accidentally introduced to various continents over the course of history. They are closely associated with human habitation- nesting where people are, and living on seeds, grains, and also worms and grub. They are social birds, who love to build nests together. A group of Sparrows is called a quarrel. It’s common to see a quarrel of sparrows singing all together in a bush!
A male Russet Sparrow shows off its lovely colours in the morning light. Russet sparrows are found in the Himalayan belt, and are well known enough to have local names. The Japanese Edo artist Hokusai (of the 36 views of Mount Fuji fame) depicted this delightful little bird in some of his paintings.
A pair of lovely Grey Backed Shrikes flit among the willows. Grey Backed Shrikes are found in the Himalayas, and usually inhabit higher altitude regions, occasionally migrating to warmer climates in winter.
Black Bulbuls are found in South Asia, and easily recognisable by their bright red beaks. They have a range of calls, and sometimes makes calls resembles the bleating of a goat kid!
A White Browed Wagtail feeds its young. White Browed Wagtails are so called because of the distinctive white colour above their eyes. They live near freshwater, and can fly at speeds of 40kms per hour. In the past, they were not very commonly seen at higher altitudes, but several families nest around the Lingkana Palace grounds.
Plumbeous Redstarts are named for their grey/blue colour, which resembles lead (which is Plumbum in Latin). As with all birds, the males are more ostentatiously coloured, with slate-blue bodies and rusty red tail-feathers, while females are more grey.
A female Plumbeous Water Redstart hops over some river stones. These birds live near rivers and streams, and feed mainly on mayflies.
A Green Backed Tit enjoys some wormy breakfast. Common in the Himalayas and other parts of South Asia, this colourful little bird makes a sweet twittering call, and nests in tree hollows.
The house crow is also known as the Indian Crow or the grey necked crow, and identifiable from its other crow cousins by the lighter grey colouration of neck and underparts. Originating from the Indian subcontinent, it is a scavenging animal, and thrives wherever humans are. Considered to be invasive, and regarded as a pest, it has been exterminated in places like Australia, where it arrived via ship, along with humans.
The Turtle Dove has feathers of a lovely, earthy colour, and a soothing murmuring call. These birds belong to the pigeon and dove family, and are found commonly across Asia.
The Hoopoe is named onomatopoeically, which means that its name resembles the sound that it makes. These distinctive looking birds are found across the world, and were sacred in ancient Egypt; they are depicted on the walls of tombs and temples. They also feature in numerous scriptures and ancient texts.
The Blue Whistling Thrush strikes a dignified pose as it perches on some river-stones. Blue Whistling Thrushes have dark blue feathers with stylish, shiny spangling over their bodies. They live near streams and rivers, building nests in hollows nearby, and feeding on snails and insects, and mice, when they can catch one. Their distinct call sounds eerily like a human whistling.
The warmly coloured White-Throated Laughingthrush is a fuzzy, cuddly looking bird, with an interesting call that sounds like laughter. It is commonly found in the Himalayan region.