Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Doi Inthanon and Chang Mai, Thailand 2013, part 1

In Novembre, when I had a break between classes I payed a short visit to the north of Thailand.
I had been birding in the south of this country when we visited the islands between Malaysia and Phuket with our sailing yacht Alishan in 2007-2009 as well as at Khao Sok National Park, but never at a high elevation. On this trip I was looking forward to renew old acquaintances and meet some new wings at Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest mountain.

I flew to Chang Mai and stayed in Baankaew Guesthouse, located at the edge of the busy night market district, outside the old city and very close to the river. My hopes of a nice garden were met. There were some high trees and even a fruiting one that saw many common lowland birds.

Coppersmith Barbet


Red-whiskered Bulbul

Chestnut-tailed Starling

                                        White-vented Myna

I was particularly happy to see the Red-whiskered Bulbul. I had seen the bird often in the south, but only in cages as pets and singing contestants. I thought they had completely disappeared and when I saw my first couple I presumed them to be escapees J

I walked around town that first day to buy supplies on the markets and eat some authentic Thai curry.

The big bowl on the right contains coconut milk with sweet stuff like beans, jellies, corn and some fruit.
I thought that was a nice start on today’s menu.

All those exotic foods, too much to try out on 1 day.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Doi Inthanon and Chang Mai, Thailand 2013, part 2

On the second day I drove to the national park of Doi Inthanon in a rented car. I was supposed to meet up with a Birding Pal, but the man put his back out and couldn’t move. He had given me some info over the phone and so I went straight to "checkpoint 2" and was welcomed by the brightly colored minivets.

Small-billed Minivet

male                                                                female


Yellow-cheeked Tit

Spectacled Barwing

I found the entrance to a narrow trail, hiked up a bit but returned after a few hundred meters, thinking it would not be safe if I got out of telephone reach and nobody knew I was here I saw some interesting birds there like many warblers, bulbuls and babblers and a Mountain Tailorbird peeked out from dense bush for just a few seconds. (no pix)

Grey-cheeked Fulvetta

Black-crested Bulbul

Blue-winged Minla

Mountain Bulbul


Back at the car I drove further up to the top as far as the road went and strolled around that area a bit. The sky had been clear most of the day with little periods of overcast and I didn't need a jacket, but here the clouds increased and the temperature was considerately lower: 12 C compared to Chang Mai’s 26 C it felt freezing! There is a bit of a park and a sign marking 2565 m, the highest point of Thailand. A small shop selling hot snacks had put a bowl of rice on their veranda. Several by passers stopped for a bite!

Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush  G.e. melanostigma

Also an open air kitchen at the back of the staff quarters had a few visitors.

Blue Whistling Thrush  M.c. eugenei

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Doi Inthanon and Chang Mai, Thailand 2013, part 3

The books say these birds are quite shy, but not on this mountain. To the contrary; they are active, cheeky, cute and very entertaining: Chestnut-tailed Minla,

Also very cheeky: Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush 

Suddenly the clouds packed, the sky turned grey and raindrops blurred my vision. Just then a female sunbird came to sit right in front of me. I quickly took its picture thinking it probably was a Green-tailed Sunbird - the very bird I came to see! There was no sign of a male around and I was getting cold. Thinking I had another chance the following day I walked on...

female Green-tailed Sunbird

As I was about to head back downhill I met a small group of birders who were going on a trail leading to a small swamp. I asked if I could come along. They had been there a few times over the last days and were hoping to see the White-browed Shortwing... And we did, too! A very shy bird that lingers in the undergrowth and doesn’t show itself often. The place was too dark for any kind of photography. I don’t use flash for the birds’ sake, so no images. The picture stays in my memory. We also ran into a Dark-sided Thrush. Same story, no photo. At one stage a large flock of wagtails, yuhinas and other small birds flew over. I managed to capture some later on.

Yellow-bellied Fantail

Time to move on, or rather down hill again. While driving I spotted this Verditer Flycatcher in a very tall tree at a great distance. 

And 4 Sibias around a flowering tree, not too far.  Dark-backed Sibia

At the end of the afternoon I drove down and checked in with Mr. Deang who runs a small eatery with accommodation for birders. He organized a local guide for me for the following day.

We left the next morning at 7am and Mr. Tana showed me a few more points. The sky was clear and there was little wind. The kind of weather that's actually too good for birding. It was awfully quiet, but we managed to see some.

At a large distance a tree full of White-headed Bulbuls, apparantly a rare sight.

 Looking pretty between the pink flowers.

On a campsite near the Huai Sai Lueang Waterfall: Blue Rock Thrush M.s. pandoo

Sooty-headed Bulbul  P.a. klossi