Saturday, November 30, 2013

Streaked Wren Babbler

After a three day non birding break in Chiang Mai, yesterday we returned to Chiang Dao and this morning I was back birding at the temple. On limestone along the temple steps a pair of Streaked Wren Babbler showed well by the rest area. A pair is often present in this area but had been absent for sometime. Bay Woodpeckers were much more vocal than recently with at least three calling around the temple, with one seen briefly as it flashed across the temple steps.

Two good feeding parties were bumped into which included 2 Speckled Piculet, 2-3 Sulphur-breasted Warbler, several Great Iora, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, 2 White-throated Fantail and 3 Claudia's Leaf Warbler. Despite inappropriate footwear, I walked up the first couple of hundred metres of the gully trail, it was fairly quite but I did mange good views of an Asian Stubbtail, male and female Siberian Blue Robin, a pair of very noisy White-crowned Forktail and the arse end of a pair of Green-legged Partridge.

Other species recorded included several Great Barbet, 2 Orange-breasted Trogon, 2 Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Drongo Cuckoo, 15 Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Crested Goshawk, Maroon Oriole, 6 Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, 4 Grey-crowned Warbler, 20 Striated Yuhina, 2 Purple-naped and a Ruby-checked Sunbird.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Rosy Pipit

The last couple of hours yesterday was spent wandering around the rice paddies south of Chiang Dao Town, where best birds were three Rosy Pipit which flew over calling just before dusk. The standard local species were all recorded with 21 Grey-headed Lapwing, 6 Wire-tailed Swallow and 4 Oriental Skylark. Just before dusk many birds were heading to roost including a total of 125 Chestnut-tailed Starling in three flocks, 18 Green Bee-eater, 40 Red-throated Pipit and at least 100 White Wagtail.

Black-collared Starling
by Fred Rowe

Other species also recorded included a Wryneck, Eastern Marsh Harrier, Rufous-winged Buzzard, 9 Pintail, 7 Common and a single female Painted Snipe, 2 Green Sandpiper, Bluethroat, 2 Siberian Rubythroat, 3 Black-collared Starling, 6 Richard's Pipit and a single Citrine Wagtail.   

Recent sightings by other birders around DYK included male and 2 female Hume's Pheasant, male Daurian Redstart by the toilet block, but unusually no Giant Nuthatch despite three separate lots of birders looking.        

Friday, November 22, 2013

Out and about at last!

Beginning to feel better, yesterday morning I wandered up to the temple, I spent around an hour watching a fruiting tree by the temple gates, though only a relatively small tree a huge number and variety of birds were noted feeding in it, most giving incredibly close views. Four species of barbets were noted with at least 6 Blue-eared, 3 Blue-throated, 2 Coppersmith and a brief Linneated. It was hard to work out how many Asian Fairy Bluebirds were using the tree but at one point 3 males and 2 females were present, with others calling from nearby trees. Large numbers of bulbuls were always present including Grey-eyed, Puff-throated and Black-headed. Other species also noted in the tree included Yellow-vented and Thick-billed Flowerpecker, a fast moving flock of 25 Striated Yuhina and a Verditer Flycatcher.

Other birds around the temple car park included 2 Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Violet Cuckoo, 2 Buff-breasted Babbler and 20 Brown-checked Fulvetta.

Spent this morning catching up on a few jobs, but did record two Crested Serpant Eagle displaying over the garden and at least two Violet Cuckoo. Later afternoon I took a walk along the checkpoint road it was fairly slow birding, but a pair of Northern White-crowned Forktail were present on the stream, a male Grey Bushchat was present along the road and has now been present for nearly two months and at around 5pm three Oriental Pied Hornbill flew towards the temple.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Rubbish Week

Ten days ago I developed a sore leg, which at the time I though was pulled muscle, during last Tuesday evening my leg began to swell and within an hour became red, hot and inflamed, followed by me feeling increasingly unwell, after a quick dash to hospital in Chiang Mai where within ten minutes of arriving I was diagnosed with cellulitis probably from a mosquito bite on my ankle which I had scratched. A few minutes later I  was hooked up to a huge dose of IV antibiotics with another course the next day after which I was sent home with a shopping bag full of medication including another ten days of heavy duty antibiotics. The infection soon cleared but the side effects of the medication left me feeling really rubbish, all apart from the antibiotics were finished yesterday and today is the first day in a week that I feel like I am not dying! I dusted down the bins for the first time in over a week and sat in the garden, seeing a couple of Crested Serpant Eagles and a Violet Cuckoo. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to walk up to the temple.

I am not the first birder in Thailand to be hit with this and it is worth trying not to scratch any bites and keeping any open wounds especially on your legs clean and covered

Monday, November 11, 2013

Night Herons

It has been a busy few days, with Malee's full daily, due to combination of a nearby wedding, birthdays celebrations and visits by two different hiking groups, as a result birding has been pretty minimal over the last few days. In the previous post I forgot to mention that on the way  back down the DYK road, we saw a flock of at least 25 Night Herons these were a new bird for me at Chiang Dao and may be an addition to the areas list.

Yesterday over the garden a group of 5 Oriental Honey Buzzards were noted presumably late migrants along with a wintering Eastern Buzzard and a local Crested Serpant Eagle. Also present around the garden most days have been at least three Grey-crowned Warbler, at least one flock of Striated Yuhina and the Spot-bellied Eagle Owl most evenings.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Blue Pitta 2

Today I was joined by Uthai from Chiang Mai Birding (, we decided  that we would try birding along the lower levels of the DYK road, parking at the first checkpoint and walking up hill for several kilometers. One of the first birds we heard and saw briefly was a Blue Pitta my second in two days. The habitat along at least the first five kilometers of the track all looked suitable for Blue Pitta and may be worth, visiting birders putting a bit of effort in to see this species here, this is the third time I have seen them along here, the other two times were birds in the road when returning from the DYK sub-station.

A bird which I seldom if ever see or hear around the temple is White-crested Laughingthrush, whilst walking along the track we heard or saw at least three different groups. Several other species were also relatively common throughout the morning with at least 15 Yellow-bellied Warbler, 13 Grey-crowned Warbler (including several in song), 9 Rufous-fronted Babbler,7 Puff-throated Babbler and numerous Hill Blue Flycatchers. The only raptors seen was a displaying male Crested Goshawk and what was probably a distant Changeable Hawk-eagle. Other species present included Maroon Oriole, 2 Linneated and 2 Blue-throated Barbet, Large Cuckooshirke, 2 Lesser-racket Tailed Drongo, 3 Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, 6 Ashy Minivet, White-browed Piculet, 3 Great Iora, 2 Claudia's Leaf Warbler, 12 Brown-cheeked Fulvetta and several Plain Flowerpecker.  

Blue Pitta

Monday to Wednesday has been very busy at Malee's and I was needed to help, I did manage to squeeze in a couple of short walks to the temple. Best bird by far was a Blue Pitta which hopped cross the temple steps between the limestone outcrops yesterday morning. Also new was a Large Hawk Cuckoo and two Green Magpies. Usual species present included Orange-breasted Trogon, 2 Sultan Tit, 25 Striated Yuhina, Violet Cuckoo and 2 Blue-bearded Bee-eater. Tuesday a Grey-headed Parakeet flew over the garden and on both Monday and Tuesday, the Spot-bellied Eagle Owl flew over the garden just before dusk, a Large-tailed Nightjar was also heard yesterday evening.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Doi Ang Khang

Most of Saturday was spent at Doi Ang Khang with Kurt, my brother-in-law, Peter my nephew and Me one of the family dogs. It was not really a birding trip, the idea was to do some hiking and show Kurt some of the trails in the area, despite this I did manage to see plenty of birds including some of the Ang Khang specialities.

Flavescent Bulbuls
by Fred Rowe

We started on the trail which begins at kilometre 21, carried on along the firebreak trail and then onto the Mae Phur Valley trail and back along the road to the car, the hike included a very steep downhill section were I ended up on my backside a dozen times, followed by a paddle across a stream and then a section were I had to crawl on my hands and knees through bamboo! Birds on this section of the hike included remains of a male Silver Pheasant,3 Bay  and 2 Stripe-breasted Woodpecker, Golden-throated Barbet, 2 Oriental Turtle Dove, Grey-backed Shrike, 4 Grey Treepie, 15 Long-tailed Minivet, male Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, White-gorgeted Flycatcher, 4 White-bellied Redstart, 2 Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, Yellow-browed Tit, 7 Crested Finchbill, 15 Brown-breasted Bulbul, 4 Aberrant Bush Warbler, 5 Silver-eared Laughingthrush, 9 Blue-winged Minla and 35 Striated Yuhina.

Swallowtail Moth Lyssa macleayi
flushed from roadside trees Doi Ang Khang

After lunch we drove to the Ang Khang Pagoda and spent sometime exploring  the trails and firebreaks in the area, best birds were a male and 3 female Silver Pheasant flushed by the dog. Also seen in the area were 2 Rufous-backed Sibia, Mountain Hawk-eagle, 25 Cook's Swift and 50 Asian House Martin.

The Thai Burma Boarder Doi Ang Khang
Burmese Encampment
After a brief sightseeing visit to the Thai/Burma boarder we then walked the first part of the trail up to the Ang Khang summit (1900m) near the army camp, birds were few here but did include 5 very obliging Crimson-faced Liocichla and a big party of at least 35 Silver-eared Media.

View from main army camp
Also seen during the day was a Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Hopooe, Eastern Buzzard, Blue Whistling Thrush, many Ashy, Flavescet, Mountain and Black Bulbul, several Mountain Tailorbird, 2 Rusty-checked Scimiter Babblers, hundreds of Chestnut-flanked and Japanese White-eye, 8 Gould's Sunbird, plenty of Fire-breasted Flowerpecker and numerous Davidson's Leaf Warblers.

Friday Nov 1st

On Friday I was joined by a couple of birders from Sweeden, we spent the morning around the temple and mid afternoon till dusk at the rice paddies, as it was their first time birding in Thailand and Asia virtually everything we saw was new for them, and despite the temple being much quieter than the previous day we eventually saw around 80 species.

Best birds at the temple were a flock of 16 Pin-tailed Green Pigeon, a perched Crested Goshawk  which allowed extended scope views, a pair of Orange-breasted Trogon, excellent views of Banded Bay Cuckoo, Bay Woodpecker and 2 Sultan Tit. Also present were Blue-throated Barbet, 3 Mountain Imperial Pigeon, 2 White-throated Fantail, Violet Cuckoo, 2 Grey-crowned Warbler and a dozen Brown-checked Fulvetta.

Brown-tailed Rat Snake
Whilst watching Crested Treeswifts and Brown-backed Needletails from the restaurant back at Malee's, a 2.5 meter Brown-tailed Rat Snake jumped out of a nearby tamarind tree and nearly into the restaurant causing quite a stir!

Wire-tailed Swallows
Chiang Dao by Fred Rowe

Despite the rice paddies being completely covered with waist heigh rice, we did manage to see most of the local specialties including 11 Grey-headed Lapwing and 6 Wire-tailed Swallow. As we walked along a track two Barred Buttonquail flushed in front of us and workers flushed several Pin-tailed Snipe and single Green and Common Sandpiper. Raptors included Rufous-winged Buzzard, Grey-eyed Buzzard and as we headed back to the car two Eastern Marsh Harrier. Towards dusk lots of birds were noted heading to roost including 29 Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, 15 Little Green Bee-eater and 25 Chestnut-tailed Starling. Other species recorded included a Wryneck, Linneated Barbet, 5 Red-collared Dove, Long-tailed Shrike, Sand Martin, 3 Siberian Rubythroats heard, 4 Pied Bushchats, 8 Eastern Stonechat, 6 Black-collared Starling, 3 Dusky Warbler, 5 Richard's, 2 Paddyfield and 30 Red-throated Pipit.