by Michael Rooney
Tuesday made the pre-dawn pilgrimage up to the DYK sub station at Chiang Dao, the first bird of the morning was a Blue-whisting Thrush which called from alongside the track. Just before the substation after the last of the switchback bends, a stunning male Hume's Pheasant walked down the track in front of the truck. We were then joined by three other birders who were delighted when within a few minutes I pointed out two Giant Nuthatch on a dead pine tree and it was still not even 630, we would later go onto see a total of four Giant Nuthatch and hear at least another four. One of the birders whom had joined use was from Turkey and he thought it likely that he was the first Turkish birder ever to see Giant Nuthatch!!.
We then spent the next hour and a half birding the rest of the track into the sub station, it was fairly busy, best birds four Grey-headed Parakeet, two Slender-billed Orioles, Maroon Oriole, three Greater Yellownape, Striped-breasted Woodpecker, 2 Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, three Blyth's Shrike Babbler, 2 Large Cuckooshrike, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Grey-chinned and Long-tailed Minivet and we also heard Bay Woodpecker and Long-tailed Broadbill. We had a quick breakfast and wander around the sub station grounds where there was a Dark-sided flycatcher, three Burmese Shrikes, several Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Orinetal Turtle Dove, Great Tit, Grey-backed Shrike, Gould's and Black-throated Sunbird and a flock of 15 Striated Yuhina. Large numbers of Fork-tailed Swift were noted overhead including at least a dozen of the distinct Cook's Swift. A skulking flycatcher in scrub was probably Slaty Blue but failed to show well enough to clinch id.
We then headed back down the track and arranged for the driver to meet us several hours later, by now birding was very quiet, which was not helped by low cloud occasionally drifting in. We did manage to see large numbers of phylloscopus warblers, including good numbers of Davidson's, half a dozen Claudia's and at least one Hume's. Amongst one flock of warblers we had good views of a Sulphur-breasted Warbler and during the morning we saw at least 5 Marten's and three Grey-crowned Warblers. With the sun eventually burning the cloud away the birding became even slower and our attention shifted to the good selection of butterflies present, more of these in later posts. We still encounted occasional birds including a female Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, several Little Pied flycatcher, Eurasian Jay, Orange-bellied Leafbirds, four Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, two Maroon orioles, Black-winged Cuckooshrike, Great Barbet, Flavescent and Black Bulbul, numerous Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Gould's Sunbird, Rufous-fronted and Puff-throated Babbler and heard Bar-backed Partridge calling loudly from several places and up to six Collared Owlets.
Lower down the track a stop near one of the villages produced a Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Japanese White-eye, White-crowed forktail, Ashy Bulbul, a dozen Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike, White and Grey Wagtail. We returned to Malee's by 5pm having seen around 80 species, it was here just before dusk that a huge Spot-bellied Eagle Owl flew into tall trees just above the garden.