Sunday, November 11, 2012

There and Back Again

White-headed Bubul
Chiang Dao
Having been visiting Chiang Dao since 2000, it was becoming embarrassing that I had never climbed the mountain, Friday was the day this changed. Three of us set of at 6am and returned at 4pm, taking 6 hours to reach the summit and four back down, with lots of birding breaks along the way. The higher areas of Chiang Dao are seldom visited by western birders and having spoken to a birder who had done the trip the previous day there was obviously plenty of birds up there.

The first part of the trail was very steep and slippery, birds along this section included two Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, three Grey-headed Parakeet, 30 Striated YuhinaOriental turtle Dove, Grey Treepie, a flock of 30 Long-tailed Minivet and a male Large Niltava.

The rest of the trail passed through a mixture of forest and open scrubby grass covered slopes. Black Bulbuls were very common in fruiting trees with around 300 present along with smaller numbers of Mountain Bulbul, two Maroon Orioles, several Orange-bellied Leafbirds and many Spangled Drongo. Higher along the trail relatively few Black Bulbuls were seen, instead higher altitudes bulbuls dominated with Crested Finchbills seemingly everywhere with at least 100 noted, also present were half a dozen Brown-breasted Bulbuls, several Straited and near the summit at least 60 White-headed Bulbuls all of which were flycatching from treetops. Seven White-bellied Redstarts were either seen or heard, Hill Prinias were abundant in tall grass along with four Abberant Bush Warblers, several Grey Bushchats, two Spot-throated Babbler, three Chestnut Buntings, up to a dozen Buff-throated Warblers and seven Grey-crowned Warbler. In the same habitat there was also three species of scimiters babblers, with many White-browed, four Rusty-cheeked and two Red-billed seen along with 15 Spectacled Barwings and several Silver-eared Laughingthrush.

Where the trail passed through patches of forest, several large feeding flocks were encounted with Rufous-winged and Grey-cheeked Fulvetta being common and one large flock included 20 Silver-eared Mesia, four Yellow-cheeked Tit, a Yellow-browed Tit, several Buff-barred Warblers and a Pallas's Warbler. Also recorded in these forest patches were two Pygmy Wren Babblers, a Slaty-bellied Tesia, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Little Pied Flycatcher and a Slaty Blue Flycatcher. Gould's Sunbirds were everywhere especially near the summit, where many Straited Swallows fed overhead along with a few Cook's Swifts and hundreds of Himalyan Swiflets.

Others species seen along the trail included two Mountain Bamboo Partridge, several Bay and Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Great and Golden-throated Barbet, Collared Owlet, a Slender-billed Oriole, White-throated Fantail,Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, several Hume's Warblers, three Mountain Tailorbirds, hundreds of White-eyes with those seen well all appearing to be Japanese and both Rufous-fronted and Grey-throated Babblers.  

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