Your chance to see the Critically Endangered Masked Finfoot





21st - 29th January 2025

4th - 12th February 2025

Leader: Sayam Chowdhury

This tour is all about going in search of the Critically Endangered Masked Finfoot. A bird regularly seen in Thailand and Malaysia up until the turn of the century, it has since become one of the least-known and seldom-seen Asian species due to its steep decline – with fewer than 300 birds remaining, the majority of which are resident in the Bangladeshi Sundarbans. It’s also known to breed in out-of-bounds areas of northern Myanmar and Cambodia, the only accessible site where the bird can be readily encountered is the Sundarbans of Bangladesh. In fact, it's so rarely-seen, even Rob and James have only seen it twice between them!

Here, by boat, we travel down quiet tributaries and rivers in search of the bird during its breeding season with the help of researchers who study the bird here. In addition, we also search for Cachar Bulbul, a recent split from Olive Bulbul and one of Asia's most seldom-seen bulbuls. This bulbul is so seldom-seen, that we have only seen it once on any previous tour (in Myanmar, several years ago).

On our inaugural Bangladesh tour in February 2022, and again in 2023 (two tours) and 2024, we were successful in seeing 1-3 different Masked Finfoot, giving views for over an hour.

Please note: profits from this tour go towards local Bangladesh bird conservation projects.

Day 1:
International arrivals into Dhaka International Airport. Night in Dhaka., from airport we drove to Satchari National Park in time for late afternoon birding. We plan to visit a bathing pool that regularly hosts Cachar Bulbul in the late afternoon, along with a selection of other bulbuls, and flycatchers. Night outside the park.

Day 2:
After morning birding close to Dhaka for both resident and wintering passerines, we head to Khulna, the starting point of our Sundarbans adventure, jumping onto our private houseboat, our home for the next five nights. Night houseboat.

Days 3-6:
Four full days inside the Sundarbans, living on our private houseboat as we go in search of Masked Finfoot, inside the flooded forest. The finfoots feed in the quiet, shallow, narrow waterways, but can also be found wandering across the muddy edges, or even perched up on low hanging branches. The Sundarbans are the only accessible site that gives a good chance of seeing the species anywhere. Other species could include Indian Spotted Eagle, Mangrove Pitta, Brown-winged Kingfisher and Buffy Fish Owl, among others. Mammals here include Asian Small-clawed Otter, Ganges River Dolphin and both Jungle and Fishing Cat, while the area is famous for its healthy Tiger population, though the chances of seeing either cat is very slim! Nights on houseboat.

Day 7:
Arriving back on land in the early hours, where we disembark and drive out towards the northeast of the country. Visiting the Satchari National Park in search of the little-known Cachar Bulbul, where outside of Bangaldesh it's been seen by very few birders due to it largely being restricted to the border areas of Myanmar and the South Assam Hills - both largely off-limits to foreigners. In addition, White-cheeked Partridge is possible, and while we will probably hear Blue-naped Pitta, it is typically very difficult to see.

Day 8:
Full day at Satchari National Park. Early morning from the watchtower is fun birding, while rest of the morning, once it heats up, inside the forest searching for the more difficult species. In addition, the park is home to a number of primates, including Westen Hoolock Gibbon and Phayre's Leaf Monkey.

Day 9:
After final morning birding, we head back to Dhaka, arriving in the evening for international departures.

Conservation commitment

We collaborate with local conservation and research projects in Bangladesh. Much of the profits from our 2022-2024 tour have been donated to buy satellite/GSM tags, and to cover associate costs. The shorebird tracking project aims to (a) identify key sites used by migratory shorebirds, (b) the environmental features that characterise them, (c) modelling the impacts of sea-level rise on globally threatened shorebird populations in Bangladesh and (e) identify migration routes and critical stop-over sites across the flyway. Photos from the work can be seen by clicking the links below.

We continue to honour our commitment of supporting conservation programs in Bangladesh, and as such, we will continue to donate profits from our Masked Finfoot tours to such projects, which are coordinated with Sayam.

Tour details

Cost: £ TBC or $ 3,370

Deposit: £ 500 or $ 700

Single room supplement:
£ TBC or $ 150

Maximum group size: 6-7

Tour cost includes: all accommodation, main meals, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, entrance fees, drinking water,  guide fees and donation to local conservation projects.

Tour cost excludes: International flights and departure taxes, visa, travel insurance, drinks, tips, and other items of a personal nature.

Accommodation: comfortable twin-bed, and single rooms, all with private facilities on five nights. On the boat, either single or twin cabins with basic facilities and shared bathroom.

Walking difficulty: easy throughout. For several days remaining on houseboat.

Expected number of species: 150+ species.

Number of endemics or range-restricted species: The tour is specifically concentrated to see Masked Finfoot, a species that is unlikely to be seen outside of this remote area of Bangladesh.

Map of the tour

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