Thursday, 22 February 2018

Thailand...again - 3

We were not disappointed by Malee’s Nature Lovers Bungalows; it was a very pleasant place to stay and the beds were indeed comfortable as promised.  However, a 5.30 a.m. departure on our first morning meant that we didn’t get to linger long in them.  We were taken by 4x4 pick-up truck to a well-documented birding site, Den Ya Khat sub-station, where we spent the morning walking trails in the forest and looking for birds around the campsite.  The road up the hillside was steep and rough in places and a high clearance vehicle was a must.  The bird most enjoyed was a Collared Owlet.  Like the bird at Doi Lang it was very vocal but we did manage to find this one after a brief search.  Other highlights were Grey-headed Parrotbill and Slender-billed Oriole and there was a first proper look at a Mountain Imperial Pigeon, up to now seen only as a flyover.


 A Nature Lover at the door of her bungalow

 Collared Owlet

Mountain Imperial Pigeon

From Malee’s we were able to walk to the nearby temple, which was quite interesting in itself and also produced a few birds along the way, such as Pin-tailed Pigeon, Orange-breasted Trogon and Hill Blue Flycatcher.  There were 500 or so steps up to the temple so regular stops to look at birds were very welcome!  The same walk also gave the opportunity to photograph Brown Shrike and a couple of the common bulbul species.

 Words of wisdom at the temple

 Sooty-headed Bulbul

 Red-whiskered Bulbul

Brown Shrike

Another excursion from Malee’s was to some rice paddies south of Chiang Dao town where the ‘star’ species were Glossy Ibises and Eurasian Starlings!  Neither of these species that are common in Europe was to be expected in Northern Thailand but from our point of view it was a rather disappointing outcome to say the least.  There were also a great many Eastern Cattle Egrets but they too had a somewhat familiar look about them.

 Rice paddies near Chiang Dao

Eastern Cattle Egret

The best birding in this area was on Doi Ang Khang, a mountain that peaks at 1,928 metres and, we were told, offers some wonderful scenery.  Unfortunately, once again we were blighted by the weather.  During the journey the fog became thicker and thicker with light rain, and by the time we arrived visibility was just a few metres.  Our first stop was at a Chinese Cemetery, again apparently a well-known birding site.  Here in the fog and drizzle we saw Brown-breasted Bulbuls, a species with a very limited range in Thailand and White-browed Laughingthrush.

Conditions for birding around the Chinese Cemetery were less than ideal!

We quickly moved on to Ban Luang Resort where over breakfast we enjoyed great views of Eyebrowed & Black-breasted Thrushes, Oriental Magpie Robin, White-capped Redstart and some very obliging White-headed Bulbuls but the light was still very poor.  A wander around the grounds produced Streaked Spiderhunter, Mrs Gould’s & Black-throated Sunbirds and a female Daurian Redstart.  On a better day it would have been good to spend more time here.

 Eyebrowed Thrush

 Black-breasted Thrush

 White-headed Bulbul

 Oriental Magpie Robin

 White-capped Redstart

 Streaked Spiderhunter

Despite continuing poor weather, we managed to see some decent birds in and around a nearby army camp.  What we wouldn’t have given for some sunshine as we peered into the gloom looking at, or more often looking for, Scarlet-faced Liocichla, Common Rosefinches, Mountain Bulbuls, more White-browed Laughingthrushes and a Pallas’s Warbler.  Even a poor view of the last of these was pleasing as our absence from the Algarve had recently resulted in us missing a Pallas’s Warbler at Fonte da Benémola.

 Mountain Bulbul

 Camping in the fog!

It was amusing (bemusing?) to see scores of Thai tourists arriving to Doi Ang Khang, many of them setting up tents with the intention of camping there on the mountain for the weekend.  Apparently, the cold and particularly the prospect of experiencing frost are the attractions for those who live in the heat of Bangkok.  It takes all sorts…

More to follow…

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