Chiang Dao 2nd
- 4th May 2006
Doi Chiang Dao
lies due north of Chiang Mai. From the city take route 107 north for
approximately 73km, as far as the town of Chiang Dao. There are two
main birding areas here:
The Temple area and temple trails - The Temple lies along
a minor road, 2km beyond the well-known tourist attraction of Chiang
Dao cave. There are two ways to get there from Chiang Dao –
either turn left in the centre of town towards the cave and “Malee’s”,
or alternatively take the almost-completed Chiang Dao by-pass and
turn left at the first major crossroads after the incomplete section.
Detailed maps and information on this area is already available in
the log book at Malee’s bungalows, and in other trip reports,
so I have not provided a map or instructions. I spent relatively little
time here, a total of one afternoon in the Gully near the Temple,
and one morning walking the Gully and North Trails.
The substations area - I make
no apologies for giving very precise directions and providing a
detailed map below, as I found very little good access information
for the substation, either on the Internet or in the bird logbook
From the cave
road/main road junction in central Chiang Dao, drive back towards
Chiang Mai for 5km. Look out for a green bus shelter on the left,
standing in the corner of a field by the road. Opposite this is
a concrete road with a sign in Thai. Proceed through the village
along this paved road. The road then crosses a stream and continues
through rice paddies. 3km from the main road junction, the paved
road ends. Bear left on the unmade track as it starts ascending
the mountain. This track is rough in places although there are a
few concreted sections. It continues through forest and then passes
two small villages.
["I noticed when passing along the main road past Chiang Dao
on 29th May 2006 that the "green bus shelter" indicating
the start of the road to the Den Ya Khat (DYK) substation, which I
have referred to in my site description and map, has disappeared.
The foundations of the old bus shelter are still visible, and of course
it may be rebuilt, but be warned that at the present time it no longer
exists!"] Approximately 12km from the start of the unmade track,
15km or so from the main road, you arrive at a checkpoint. Almost
immediately afterwards the track forks :
RIGHT FORK goes to the Den Ya Khat (DYK) substation. The route passes
along a ridge with mature pines (the best area for Giant Nuthatch),
and then climbs up some steep hairpins (Mrs Hume’s Pheasant
in the open forest) before arriving at the DYK substation approximately
5km from the track fork.
LEFT FORK ends up at another substation, which I have imaginatively
entitled substation 2. To get there, continue along the main track
from the junction, remaining on the higher trail and ignoring tracks
branching off to the left and right. Shortly before the substation,
you pass an area of well-maintained bungalows on a ridge to the right
of the track (is it possible to stay here?). 100 metres or so further
along, 3km from the track fork at the checkpoint, there is an obvious
open grassy area and group of buildings to the left. I left my motorcycle
here and continued along the track on foot for another 4km, seeing
plenty of birds including some species that are rarely or never reported
birders worry about the state of the access track and opt to hire
a 4WD vehicle and driver for the day from Malee’s. This option
was outside the scope of my budget so I had no choice but to attempt
the climb on an ordinary 125cc motorcycle. I really needn’t
have worried, as even after several days of heavy rain the track was
easily passable. It probably wouldn’t be so easy in a 2WD car
; ground clearance could be an issue along some of the rougher sections.
following rough map showing the access route to the substations may
- I stayed at Malee’s Bungalows, 1.5km beyond Chiang Dao cave,
for 250 baht per night for a simple room with shared bathroom. Unfortunately,
100 baht dormitory accommodation is no longer available. Excellent
food is served communally in the evenings so it’s ideal if
you’re on your own. The logbook provided plenty of information
about bird sightings but had not been updated since March. There
was also some good information in the log about Doi Angkhang for
birders proceeding to that area after Doi Chiang Dao. Malee’s
is within easy walking distance of the Temple and its birds.
- These are available from the forestry headquarters a short distance
along the road from Malee’s to the Temple. A permit is needed
to access the substations beyond the checkpoint, and also to proceed
along the road beyond Malee’s, but is not required to visit
the trails around the Temple. The cost is 200 baht for foreigners,
but it is valid for as many days as you want (mention at the office
that you want to go to the substation and specify how many days
you would like). Despite dutifully buying my permit it was never
checked, but if the guards decide to do so at the substations checkpoint
it’s a long way to come back and get one!
Hume’s Pheasant – male showed superbly in the
open forest between the hairpin bends, near the DYK substation.
Piculet – 1, 50m before substations checkpoint.
Woodpecker – common beyond substation 2.
Yellownape – 2 on North Trail.
Woodpecker – 2 along track before substation 2.
– 3 along DYK ridge.
Bee-eater – several near the small villages along access
road to substations, also 1 on North Trail.
Swiftlet – flock over road behind Malee’s, beyond
Treeswift – 3 around temple on two dates.
Needletail – 5+ over DYK ridge.
Imperial Pigeon – 1 on North Trail, 1 along substations
access road, many others heard.
Turtle Dove – 3 singles along track beyond substation
Green Pigeon – 3+ in fruiting tree along Gully Trail.
Green Pigeon – 1 with above birds.
Dove – common along access road to substations in the
early morning, also seen along Gully Trail.
Baza – 2+ along North Trail.
Broadbill – 1 along track before substation 2.
Leafbird – 2, DYK ridge.
Treepie – seen in several places along the tracks to
DYK and substation 2.
Oriole – 2, DYK ridge.
Oriole – 1 along track before substation 2, 2 along
Oriole – pair frequently seen at the start of the track
to the park headquarters.
Cuckooshrike – 2 singles along DYK ridge.
Minivet – 2 pairs, DYK ridge.
Paradise-flycatcher – fairly common.
Woodshrike – several flocks along DYK ridge.
Flycatcher – 1, just before DYK substation.
Pied Flycatcher – 2 along DYK ridge but it was very
common in the pine forest beyond substation 2.
Blue Flycatcher – 1 pair DYK ridge and 1 pair beyond
Blue Flycatcher – common.
Forktail – pair and 1+ juveniles in Temple Gully, 1
near small villages along track to the substations.
Nuthatch – pair with juvenile along DYK ridge and 1
further single bird near the hairpins, also 1 in mature pines just
before the substations checkpoint.
Nuthatch – almost all sightings were beyond substation
2 where it was very common.
Nuthatch – common.
Bulbul – 2 beyond substation 2.
Finchbill – 1 in scrub along track close to substation
2, a species rarely recorded along the DYK track.
necklaced Laughingthrush – flock of 6+ including juveniles
on North Trail.
Babbler – common along Gully and North Trails + nest
Babbler – 1 beyond substation 2 just beyond first track
Babbler – common, North Trail.
Babbler – temple steps.
Babbler – temple steps and along road outside Malee’s.
Tit-babbler – fairly common.
Scimitar-babbler – 4 in scrub close to substation 2.
Scimitar-babbler – fairly common beyond substation
Shrike-babbler – common.
Shrike-babbler – 1, DYK ridge.
Minla – several along DYK ridge and also beyond substation
Mesia – 3 beyond substation 2.
Yuhina – common.
Parrotbill – 4, DYK ridge.
Parrotbill – 2 in bird-wave beyond substation 2, a
species not previously mentioned in the log book at Malee’s.
Flowerpecker – several beyond substation 2.
Flowerpecker – 1, North Trail.
Sunbird – 1 at end of Malee’s drive.
Sunbird – several beyond substation 2.
Sunbird – seen several times in temple area.
Spiderhunter – several.
Spiderhunter – regularly seen near temple.
Birds Seen (Including
a brief visit to rice paddies near Chiang Dao)
Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker
Asian Barred Owlet
Crested Serpent Eagle
Chinese Pond Heron
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo
Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher
Asian Brown Flycatcher
Blyth’s Leaf Warbler
White-tailed Leaf Warbler
species seen at Doi Chiang Dao : 110
Le Croissette can be contacted at email@example.com