Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Chiang Saen Lake

Between the March 3rd and 4th we spent an afternoon and a full day birding around Chiang Saen Lake. As usual most of the ducks on the lake were very distant, frustratingly we were unable to arrange a boat trip, though we did have distant views of 9 Ruddy Shelduck and amongst the many of hundreds of Lesser Whistling Duck and Spot-billed Duck were at least 20 Northern Pintail and 40 Garganey. A few waders were also noted including a 2 Small Pratincole, 4 Oriental PratincoleGreen Sandpiper, three Little Ringed Plover, 6 Spotted Redshank and several Common Snipe. Several hundred Purple Gallinule were present, as was a White-browed Crake and good numbers of Moorhen, Coot and Pheasant-tailed Jacana. We spent one evening at the Wat Bamakno harrier roost where at least 265 birds came into roost, with around 165 of these Pied Harriers and the rest Eastern Marsh Harrier. Several Purple Heron were noted, along with at least 175 Open-billed Stork, several Yellow Bittern and Night Heron. Six Great Cormorants came into roost on the island in the center of the lake and in scrub around the lake none of the numerous Racket-tailed Treepie sat still enough for a good photo.

Additional species noted included a Barred Buttonquail which we nearly ran over, Freckled-breasted Woodpecker, White-browed Piculet, Lesser Coucal, Bluethroat, Black-collared Myna , 230 Chestnut-tailed Starling, Straited Grassbird, Dusky Warbler, Black-browed Reed Warbler, Ruby-cheeked Sunbird and several Citrine Wagtail.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Fang Hot Springs

On Monday morning before leaving for Chiang Saen we popped into Fang Hot Springs in the hope of finding  Spot-winged Grosbeak, it did not take long before the first small group were spotted flying over, these joined by two other groups and eventually a total of 14 birds settled to feed in distant trees. Other birds present around the springs included Hoopoe, Blue-whistling Thrush, Blue Rock Thrush and two Eurasian Jay.

Doi Lang

Hodgson's Frogmouth
simply stunning

Chestnut-headed Tesia

Himalayan Bluetail
Blue-fronted Redstart
Three full days were spent birding at Doi Lang Feb 28th-Mar 2nd, time was spent visiting the various photo stakeouts as well as walks along the road, and despite it being a weekend we virtually had the place to ourselves. The birding was excellent and the highlights were many, a few which where especially memorable included a Hodgson's Frogmouth sat on a nest right next to the road, a Chestnut-headed Tesia which fed at the roadside inches from our feet, a stunning male Himalayan Bluetail, several dazzling male Sapphire Flycatchers, a Blue-fronted Redstart and two Fire-tailed Sunbirds.

Three Rufous-throated Partridge were seen feeding around the army camp, with many others heard calling from within the forest. Early one morning a Spot-bellied Eagle Owl was flushed from roadside trees and raptors included a Mountain Hawk Eagle, two Black Baza and an Oriental Hobby. Several Grey Treepie were seen and heard and up to 5 Slender-billed and 4 Maroon Oriole were noted. Apart from several Blue-whistling Thrush the only other thrush seen was a male Grey-winged Blackbird.
Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher
White-gorgeted Flycatcher
Ultramine Flycatcher
Flycatchers were very much in evidence with two Rufous-gorgeted, male Slaty-backed, 2 White-gorgeted, 5 Little Pied, male Ultramarine, Slaty-blue and 3 Sapphire Flycatcher, 5 Large Niltava and 3 Rufous-bellied Niltava noted.

Orange-flanked Bush Robin
White-tailed Robin
A great selection of chats and robins were also seen including two Siberian Rubythroats, 2 Orange-flanked Bush Robin, 10 Himalayan Bluetail, 2 Golden Bush Robin, 2 White-bellied Redstart and a very tame female White-tailed Robin. Two Giant Nuthatch were present in pines on the western side including a very vocal and obliging male, two Hume's Treecreepers were also seen and Yellow-cheeked Tits were seen daily. There was a good scattering of Crested Finchbill and Brown-breasted Bulbul on both sides of the mountain.
Hill Prinia
Hill Prinia was also fairly common as were phylloscopus warblers which included Buff-throated, Buff-barred, Pallas's, Hume's and very many Davidson's.
Silver-eared Laughingthrush
Scarlet-faced Liocichla

White-browed Laughingthrush
Both Silver-eared Laughingthrush and Scarlet-faced Liocichla were fairly common and at least one group of White-browed Laughingthrush were seen most days.
Rusty-cheeked Scimiter Babbler
Rusty-cheeked and White-browed Scimiter Babblers were common and other babblers included Chestnut-capped, Golden and Blyth's Shrike Babbler. Several small groups of Blue-tailed Minla were noted and on the higher parts of the mountain Whiskered Yuhina were relatively easy to find, as were Spectacled Barwing and our final morning we did well for parrotbills with two Spot-breasted and up to 20 Grey-headed showing well. Finch's included several Common Rosefinch and a male Spot-winged Grosbeaks. Chestnut Bunting were fairly common in open scrubby hillsides with up 50 seen and at least 20 Little Buntings were feeding in fields near one of the army checkpoints.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ban Luang Resort

Grey-winged Blackbirds
We left Chiang Dao early Thursday morning and headed towards Fang, via Ban Luang Resort Doi Ang Kang where in the garden, we hoped to see some of the thrushes recently reported. We spent the all morning sat on the balcony at the back of the restaurants and enjoyed amazing views of birds coming into to drink and feed. A variety of thrushes were on show throughout, with totals of 5 Grey-winged Blackbird, 4 Black-breasted Thrush, 4 Eye-browed Thrush and a Grey-sided Thrush.

Black-breasted Thrush

Eye-browed Thrush

Grey-sided Thrush
Other species noted included 5 Black-headed Greenfinch, Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, White-caped Redstart, Little Bunting, 6 Common Rosefinch, Blue-whistling Thrush, 5 Grey Bushchat, 2 Brown-breasted Bulbul and a male Verditer Flycatcher. Mid afternoon we left and headed for Fang and three days birding on Doi Lang.
Blue-whislting Thrush
Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush

Brown-breasted Bulbul

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Chiang Dao

We spent a couple of days at Chiang Dao on the 25th-26th it generally seemed quiet and birding was at times hard. On the 25th we made an early start for DYK, all was going well until just after the second checkpoint where a huge tree had fallen down in the night, blocking the road. We spent the next couple of hours birding back down the track from the checkpoint seeing very little, by 930am the road was cleared and reopened, we headed straight up to camp ground. Though we were nearly three hours late we did manage to see a decent selection of birds, best was a pair of  Pale-blue Flycatcher  and 3 Giant Nuthatch. Other species noted included Stripe-breasted Woodpecker, several calling Large Hawk Cuckoo, Oriental Cuckoo, 3 Pin-tailed Green Pigeon, Oriental Turtle Dove, Black Eagle, 4 Long-tailed Broadbill, 3 Eurasian Jay, 3 Slender-billed Oriole, 4 Rosy Minivet, 2 Slaty-backed Flycatcher and 2 Japanese Tit.    

The 26th was spent birding around the temple and along the checkpoint road, where highlights were few, best birds Bay Woodpecker, two Pin-tailed Green Pigeon and singing Black-throated Laughingthrush. In the afternoon we visited the rice paddies south of Chiang Dao, where there were 40 Grey-headed Lapwing, 3 Wire-tailed Swallow and 4 Citrine Wagtail.

Doi Inthanon National Park

February 21st-24th was spent birding at Doi Inthanon National Park, in the past I have stayed outside the park and driven in each day, a trip of 30-40 kilometers, this time i decided we would stay at Mr Deang's near the HQ, this was a great choice, the accommodation was fine and Mr Deang and his family were great and friendly hosts. The only downside was that our visit coincided with the weekend, which meant there was lots of traffic along the road in the mornings and the summit was very busy and noisy. Despite all this we managed to see some excellent birds.

Grey-cheeked Fulvetta
by Fred Rowe
Large Niltava
by Fred Rowe
Much of the time was spent birding around the second checkpoint and at a small feeding station nearby, where a Pygmy Wren Babbler showed ridiculously well, at times feeding out in the open at the side of the road down to a few feet. Also coming into worms and bananas was a male Small Niltava, female Rufous-bellied Niltava and several Grey-cheeked Fulvetta. Best birds in trees and scrub along the roadside were several calling Rufous-throated Partridge, 3 Ashy Woodpigeon, 3 Pin-tailed Green Pigeon, male Asian Emerald Cuckoo, 4 Maroon Oriole, Short-billed and Grey-chinned Minivet, several Eye-browed Thrush, Slaty-backed Flycatcher, 5 Little Pied Flycatcher, 2 Vivid Niltava, 3 Large Niltava, 2 Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, 3 Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Silver-eared Laughingthrush, 3 Silver-eared Mesia, Black-eared Shrike Babbler, 2 Spectacled Barwing, male Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker and several Black-throated and Gould's Sunbirds.

Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker
by Fred Rowe
Our initial visit to the summit and boardwalk coincided with several noisy groups of non birding tourist, but on a return on our final morning we had the place to ourselves, where there were 3 Rufous-throated Partridge, Eurasian Woodcock, 2 Yellow-bellied Fantail, Snowy-browed Flycatcher, 2 Dark-sided Thrush, Ashy-throated Warblers, 2 Pygmy Wren Babbler and several Green-tailed and Gould's Sunbirds.

Despite the Siriphum Waterfall being very busy, a Slaty-backed Forktail showed well and a Northern White-crowned Forktail was seen briefly. Back at Mr Deang's a White-browed Shortwing was seen several times feeding in the gully at the back of the restaurant, as well as a female Siberian Blue Robin and Blue-whistling Thrush.         

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Mae Ping National Park

On the 21st and 22nd we spent a day and a half birding at Mae Ping National Park, spending all our time along the road to the Tung Kik campsite and around the campsite. Despite the forest being very dry and much of it having been burnt through, we did eventually catch up with most of the parks specialities. The star bird for both Fred and Marian was a very obliging Red-billed Blue Magpie (one of six seen) which fed in fruiting trees at the campsite and then on the ground just a few feet in front of us. Other favourites included a pair of Collared Falconet and several Black-headed Woodpecker feeding along the roadside.

Other woodpeckers recorded included 2 White-bellied, Greater Yellownape, Common and Greater Flameback and a Great Slaty. At least 100 Grey-headed Parakeet were seen along with at least 6 Blossom-headed in scrub beyond the campsite.

Other species noted included 5 Yellow-footed Green Pigeon, Oriental Turtle Dove, Burmese Shrike, 4 Rufous Treepie, 6 Rosy Minivet, 4 Small Minivet, Large Woodshrikes and 2 Burmese Nuthatch.