Ang Khang, 2nd Mar 2002
Peter Ericsson and Bengt Legnell
from Bangkok Friday evening at 18:50. 600 Baht for sleeper.
in Chiang Mai 07:20 am Saturday. Met Bengt who brought rented vehicle
(600/day) from Boss rental company. Caught the train back to Bangkok
following day, Sunday at 18:00, allowing for 24 hours birding at Doi
Angkhang. Along the drive to DAK we stopped by Mae Taang
Irrigation Canal. Otherwise the drive is an easy drive for about 3
hours. Turn off to the left at km 137 a little before the town of
Fang. After the turn off, the road quickly starts climbing steeply.
Good tarmac road though so 4 wheel drive is not really needed.
The Irrigation Project was a quick stop to try to see some Buntings.
The Canal is located about 30 minutes drive North of CM. We crossed
the canal by foot and made our way through the brush on the other
side. Here at the end of a dry field we had a group of Crested
Buntings. My first lifer. Then a small bird perched on a smaller
stick and the scope revealed a Little Bunting.
2nd lifer. Other good birds here were Eurasian
Kestrel hovering over the field. Lots of Pied
Wagtails. Also saw my first Green Sandpiper
(jinx bird). Lifer number 3. Rufous-winged Bushlark,
Grey Bush Chat, Pied
Bush Chat, Pied Wagtail, etc was
other things seen. A Eurasian Kestrel
hovered over a field giving good views.
On the way in to the canal we saw 2 Grey-headed
Lapwings and a Snipe in a field.
Nearby Eurasian Jay gave away harsh calls.
Seemed to be a very birdy area and could easily keep one busy for
a full morning.
I have never really had a clear picture of what Doi Ankhang is like.
Only heard about its remoteness and good birds. It was actually very
easy to get to. Though steep the climb was far less time consuming
then going up Doi Inthanon. Most of the journey up though had to be
done in first gear. Once up, the road follows a mountain ridge until
it starts going down into a valley where the little town by the same
name is located. Here a few simple houses fight for space with some
upper class resorts and squeezed in between is a Royal agricultural
project. There are many mountain peaks around and looking over the
valleys, many are still covered in thick forest. The area we did our
birding is called km 21.5. Altitude must be around 18-1900m. Here
a jeep track goes off the road to the right. For about 100 meters
there is thick forest and then comes a clearing and grass/scrub land.
After that the road continues down to the left and apparently comes
out down at km 24 or Mae Peu water substation (a rather steep walk
down). We pitched our tents in the clearing near to a big tree. Here
we watched the grassy hillside in front of us. Brown-breasted
Bulbuls are everywhere here. They are quite an attractive little
Bulbul with their clean white throat and musical notes.
Someone had seen Spot-breasted Parrotbills
and Fire-capped Tits here the day before
so our expectations were immediately heightened. Several trails are
around here. Free walking mules live on the mountain and keep the
trails open through their constant walking. We did 80% of our birding
in this area. Saw Red-faced Liocichla
twice in low herbage near to the clearing. The bird is supposedly
in more moist areas but seeing how dry everything is this year it
may not have much of a choice. Ha!
Food was easy down in town. One cheap and tasty dish was called Khao
pat pet gai by kra pow sai kai dao (fried chicken with basil leaves
and chilies with a fried egg on top of rice).
The other hot-spot where Giant Nuthatch
has been seen is at the Mae Peu water substation at km 24. Park at
the flagpole and go down to the dirt road below. We followed the road
to the left and soon had a flock of Red-faced
Liocichlas, the main attraction of the mountain. Then on a
grassy hillside 500 meters down the trek a group of 4 Spot-breasted
Parrotbills came close. They have a strongly churring call
which is quite diagnostic. I had to search hard for the White-browed
Laughingthrushes. They finally caught up with me midday before
departure. It was generally hard to see birds. Density was rather
low to meet my expectations, except for a great abundance of Flavescent
and Brown-breasted Bulbuls soon considered
common. Could have to do with the fact that I was set on getting target
birds and so disregarded many of the more commoner species. There
actually are a great many very interesting birds one can see at length
here i.e. White-tailed Robin, Orange-flanked
Bush Robin, Common Rosefinches
and many, many Warblers.
I had a superb Violet Cuckoo at km 21.5.
Had a real hard time ID’ing the bird in spite of it being so
close. It was neither green as the Emerald, nor violet as the Violet.
It was shimmering blue. Bill was yellow/orange with no black tip to
it. My assumption is that it was Violet Cuckoo
even though I understand it is not normally recorded this high. In
either case it was an extremely handsome bird.
There is quite a bit of pine along the road. Many Flycatchers can
be seen here but we didn’t invest much time into it. Think I
saw a female Ultramarine Flycatcher but
A very nice surprise was a pair of Aberrant
Bush Warblers a bit up the steps on the peak to the right of
the clearing. One have to walk through the large pines (50 meters,
White-tailed Robin hangs around here
at the end of the pines) then follow the trail another 50 meters.
Steps start to the right. This bird kept calling after sitting waiting
for a while I saw the bird for a short moment by the trail side.
was only seen once
(supposedly common) and only by Bengt.
Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler was not seen
at all a bit disappointingly.
I had a hard time with the many Warblers around but managed to pick
out a Lemon-rumped Leaf-Warbler (Lifebird)
amongst the many species.
Temperature fell to around 15 Celsius at night and was very high daytime.
Was it worth 2 nights on a train plus hours of driving? Undoubtedly,
YES! Several lifebirds, many of which I have only dreamed off, great
fellowship with oldtime friend, plus a working knowledge of one of
Thailand’s many great birding hot-spots. Hopefully I will be
Ericsson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
for more information on Doi