is not exactly a time when foreign birders flock to Thailand to
fill up their bird lists. (Many migrants are not here yet and some
who have arrived are still only in small numbers.) However, Rich
Waldrop of the US, formerly Ecuador, was to attend an International
conference in Pattaya and so asked me if I could organize a trip
for him. He had been to Nepal, southern Malaysia and Khao Yai years
ago so I deemed it best to go to the North to get as many new ticks
as possible. We did not allow for very long stays at each site and
so missed out on some normally seen birds but by incorporating more
sites he would get more lifers this way. He has a list of over 4000
and added 68 from this trip. I myself had my secret wishes but had
to be satisfied with one new bird: Pale-footed
Bush Warbler at Doi
Headed to Beung Borapet some 3 hours drive North of Bangkok. No
surprises but a good variety of wetland birds, which included a
flock of White-shouldered, and Chestnut-rumped
In the afternoon
we entered Mae Ping National Park with its fabulous dry dipterocarp
forest. The main reason for going here is the Black-headed
Woodpecker, a favorite of mine. It didn’t let us down
but even let us see 4 birds simultaneously on one tree. A treat
was to have a Changeable Hawk Eagle
obligingly perched some 25 meters away. A Crow-billed
Drongo was a rare sight.
We stayed at
a hotel right by the T-junction at Jom Thong town. This is only
a few kilometers before the entrance to Doi
Inthanon and the hotel offers clean beds, hot showers
and there is a nice restaurant across the road.
The lower levels of Doi Inthanon was a disappointment. I prefer
Mae Ping, which has the same type of forest but is more alive.
We stayed at
Doi Inthanon for the day. Got most of the normal things but were
set back by the news that just the day before a local hill tribe
boy had tried his sling shot on the endangered Black-trailed
Crakes and succeeded in killing two of them. No wonder the
remaining 4 birds didn’t show up as usual. We camped for the
night, as the park bungalows have to be booked in advance from Bangkok.
An alternative is to use the Eco lodge run by local hill tribes
a few kilometers before headquarters. Their accommodations looked
better then previous years and definitely would be considered an
alternative from the long drive back down to Jom Thong.
We waited in earnest at the second checkpoint in the wee hours of
the day. Birds often come to feed on insects that have died while
being attracted to the neon lights at the checkpoint. We were not
to be let down but such normally elusive specie as the Large
Niltava decided to come out fully in the open. The graveled
road at km 34.5 has a gulley that produced its normal Slaty-bellied
Tesia. Great bird! The Summit had most of the common birds
but also included Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird
which was a surprise to me seeing that it is still early in the
In the afternoon
we drove to Chiang Mai town and dropped by Mae Hia agricultural
research station. Not far from here we found some Wire-tailed
Swallows, which thrilled our hearts.
Chiang Dao where we stayed at Malees guesthouse. She
has built another two bungalows and is ready to take on more birders.
Did the temple grounds in the morning but nothing unusual.Decided
to take the scenic route to Doi
Angkhang. Follow road signs to the left not far after
Chiang Dao town. This road has a good number of checkpoints and
is well guarded by the Thai Army. We arrived at Angkhang at noon
and checked into Bahn Looang resort. This is the most price friendly
resort and offers newly built bungalows. Everything else is pricey
except for at Mae Pleu watershed station where accommodations are
cheaper. Also possible is camping and a number of Thais were doing
is always a challenge as the birds there have been hunted out and
so what remains tend to be shy end elusive. Never the less, so many
species are not found else where and being surrounded with unfamiliar
calls is a thrill. This was my first time to have very good looks
of Crested Finchbills, a specialty
of the mountain. My only lifer came here as mentioned above. We
did dip on some other things but still felt we had a worthwhile
Drove to Chiang Mai but passed by Mae Taang Irrigation project where
we enjoyed some lowland birds. This included Wire-tailed
Swallows and Sand Martins feeding
over the flowing waters.
Stayed at Prince Hotel in town, which is of good standard and comes
at 600 Baht for a double room. The night market is only 10 minutes
walk away and I had the local specialty, Khao Suay for dinner.
Visited Huay Krong Krai some 20 minutes drive out of town. Immediately
picked up a flock of Green Peafowls
as well as an Asian Barred Owlet.
Then we started
the long drive to Khao Yai. Tried for Limestone
Wren Babbler at a temple but failed. We got a room at a resort
to the right, right before the park gates. Very spacious and inexpensive.
Yai has undergone a major face-lift as far as infra
structure goes. Over a million annual visitors makes the park very
attractive for tourism. Still, birding is as good as ever and the
vast majority of visitors are seldom seen on any of the trails.
Forktails were feeding at Wang Jumpee. No
Pheasants at the radar station. We found a flowering tree
at Pah Gluai Mai campsite, which held Thick-billed,
Buff-rumped, and Yellow-vented
Flowerpeckers. That night we stayed in a tent in pleasant
After a morning
in the park we headed to Khok
Kham at Samut Sakorn where we had a good variety of
waders. Terek Sandpiper, Broad-billed
SP, Great Knots etc. (No
Spoon-billed SP has been seen yet this season).