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Doi Inthanon National Park



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B2A guided trip, mountains of northern Thailand, 15 – 23 November 2009.


Guests; Bob East & Bill Glanz


‘Another most enjoyable trip’, -and that could be the big summary-, so I don’t have to write any more…no, really, a small group of keen birders that put in a relaxed approach to birdwatching is the key to our success I believe. You know, we had been birding Doi Lang using the gaps in between big clouds of fog while on Doi Pha Hom Pok and Doi Ang Khan we got completely fogged out. I can clearly remember how another group of birders visiting at the same time, rather complained they did not see much… Well, we DID notch up an amazing 283 bird species, in little over a week while having visited only a limited area in NW-Thailand. Which means no long wader or water bird list, but also no long drives which is nice enough indeed.  Our 283 is pretty well done, and no such list would be possible without adding quite a few goodies. Lesser Rufous-headed Parrotbill, Pied Harrier, Amur Falcon, Black-tailed Crake, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Crimson-breasted Woodpecker, Dark-sided Thrush, Lesser Shortwing, White-crowned and Slaty-backed Forktail, Giant Nuthatch and Red Avadavat are a few nice ones to start with.

Black-tailed Crake Dark-sided Thrush

     Black-tailed Crake performance on Doi Inthanon!             Dark-sided Thrush, staked-out at Mr. Deangs.


So, how did we do this? Well, start at 5am on the first morning, which got us to the first birdwatching spot, km 13 on Doi Inthanon, minutes before it got light enough to start, and we had taken a quick breakfast en-route, so visit DI out of Chiang Mai is doable, and pretty conveniently so.

Km 13 quickly produced the targets, Black-headed Woodpecker and Collared Falconet most notable, before it got too hot, so we moved up higher on the mountain to visit the various and mostly famous birding spots along. We didn’t go to the summit on this first day as it’s best kept for an early morning before the crowds get in. A visit to the campsite for the Black-tailed Crakes always is a nice end to the day on Doi Inthanon, especially when they show well, as was the case for us.

The next day, fully dedicated to Doi Inhanon, got us on the summit early while after that we gradually birded our way down the mountain, via the km 37 track and Mr.Deangs to the Forktail and Redstart waterfalls (Sribibhum), down to the track at km 23, to end the day with.

A last morning on Doi Inthanon started with the Dark-sided Thrush ‘twitch’ at Mr.Deangs (it wasn’t showing that regular this December so had to go early) and we revisited the tracks at both km 34 and 37. After that, we made our way back to Chiang Mai and visited Doi Pui in the late afternoon. Night in Chiang Mai.

Next came the day with our second highest day count, 112 species, seen at the excellent Huay Tung Tao near Chiang Mai in the morning followed by Chiang Dao, where a brief visit was paid to the rice paddies before a long and tasty lunch at Mallee’s that also gave us time to apply for Doi Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary permits. The nearby temple grounds proved an excellent way to end the day. Relaxed birding @ 112! Mmm like it!

Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush
       Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, Doi Chiang Dao.             Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush, Doi Inthanon.


We got the taste of a high day list fresh still. So why not, after yesterday, usually comes today…but not always at 117 species! Doi Chiang Dao always is superb, beautiful open mixed forests and superb birds, yes that’s inclusive Giant Nuthatch. After that, we made our way to Thaton, mainly to get positioned perfect for our Doi Lang visit tomorrow but this also means a chance to visit the fields and paddies near the town. Pied Harrier and Small Pratincole and Citrine Wagtails…but also a surprise Amur Falcon.

Some of the best birding in NW-Thailand was scheduled for today but it didn’t look that good at first, thick fog and drizzle on the way up Doi Lang, in such that we almost decided to head back down halfway, but we persuaded and kept going instead, good we did, not that the weather improved a lot but at least some birding was possible in between clouds of fog. It resulted, for the site at least, in a somewhat lower day list (but still 83 species/mountain habitats only). On the other hand, we got a higher than average score on specialities which made it all perfectly worth the effort. We basically started with a superb group of 32 Grey-headed Parrotbills, after which Bob found us 5+ Lesser Rufous-headed Parrotbills, that was my first sighting in Thailand after I had encountered them first 13 years ago (Doi Ang Khan), no need to tell you how scarce they are, in Thailand at least that is. Well, I can continue for a while with other sightings on Doi Lang; Spot-winged Grosbeak, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Crimson-breasted Woodpecker…

Doi Pha Hom Pok for today, and it started again with fog and drizzle. But after yesterdays experience, we decided again to push forward and up the mountain. A superb Leopard Cat crossed the track while still at lower altitude but once up at the campground where one normally starts the walk up to the summit, things didn’t look good. Actually, a couple meters was all one could see through! A stroll around the campground was all we could do really and we amazingly scored on at least 1 good species as we found a couple Wedge-tailed Pigeons perched close-by enough to actually see them through the mist. On the way down we saw a Slaty-backed Forktail near the monastery before another visit to Thaton fields for the rest of the afternoon in cloudy and windy conditions.

Long-tailed Shrike Citrine Wagtail
              Long-tailed Shrike, Huay Tung Tao.                                    Citrine Wagtail, Thaton fields.


Pretty much the same story on the next day. Thick fog as we went up Doi Ang Khan where we birded, -yes in thick fog-, until mid-morning. We managed, luckily, the most important targets however, Crested Finchbill, Brown-breasted Bulbul and so on, before it was time for yet another change of plan. Not a whole lot of options really and some improvising later came up with a re-visit to Chiang Dao temple. Where we may well have put some records!!! No need to tell you more on this page, I’ve written an article on that so simply check it out here.

Bob had an early morning flight on the last morning but Bill and myself still had the time for an early morning visit to Huay Hong Kruay where we added yet another 7 species to the trip list inclusive Green Peafowl and Black Baza.


Not that this was the end of Bill’s trip yet, as after the short flight to Bangkok, as an extension (not covered in this reports trip list) he went on 1 of the numerous day and short trips out of Bangkok that we organize. For Bill, the day out to Pak Thale and Laem Pak Bia was a huge success, I believe at least. Who would not be happy to see Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Nordmann’s Greenshank, White-faced Plover and many more goodies in a single day…


Full trip list Thailand, Mountains of the North.


Little Bunting Rufous-bellied Niltava

                        Little Bunting, Doi Lang.                                  Rufous-bellied Niltava female, Doi Inthanon.


Eurasian Wryneck Wire-tailed Swallow

               Eurasian Wryneck, Huay Tung Tao.                         Wire-tailed Swallow, Chiang Dao paddies.



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