Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dusky Broadbill

With two recent sightings of Banded Kingfisher from the nature trail/fence trail, a species which has so far eluded me at Chiang Dao, yesterday morning I headed back into the forest for much of the day. No Kingfisher but major surprise in the form of 3 Dusky Broadbill along the fence trail, one of only a handful of sightings from the area. Lots of other birds recorded with a similar selection of species to previous visit plus a few additions with 2 Grey-capped Pygmy, 1 Bamboo and a Rufous Woodpecker, White-browed Piculet, 5 Greater Yellownape, 2 Red-headed Trogon, 3 Green Magpie, 2 Maroon Oriole, Tickell's Blue Flycatcher, 2 Asian Stubtail, 2 Sulphur-breasted Warbler, 6 Greater Necklaced and 2 Black-throated Laughingthrush, 2 White-browed Scimiter Babbler, Eye-browed Wren Babbler and a Purple-naped Sunbird.

This morning 17 Large Woodshrike through the garden and a Violet Cuckoo over.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Black-tailed Crake

Yesterday spent the full day birding around the DYK sub station with Neil and Eunice Parks, great company and some decent birds, despite low cloud for much of the day and maximum temperatures of just 11 degrees. First bird of the day was a Large-tailed Nightjar on the track followed a little further along by a black billed Blue Whistling Thrush and soon after a White's Thrush which showed very well feeding along the track in the first glimmers of light.

Arriving at a very quite sub station where the only bird calling was a Bay Woodpecker, we headed to the pond in hope of Black-tailed Crake upon arrival one was heard calling and after a few minutes Eunice found one feeding in grass along the lake margins, after good views for a few minutes it soon disappeared. Though resident on the pond and nearby stream they are seldom seen here by visiting birders and the DYK pond is one of just a few sites in Thailand to hold this species.
Giant Nuthatch DYK
by Fred Rowe
The rest of the days was spent birding back along the track, the summit trail which was very birdy and around the campsite. Best birds of the day included 2 Giant Nuthatch, 4 Stripe-breasted Woodpecker, 3 Greater and 1 Lesser Yellownape, 4 Bay Woodpecker, Lesser Cocual, 2 Hoopoe, 4 Slender-billed Oriole, 2 Little Pied Flycatcher, Slaty-backed Flycatcher, 2 Rufous-bellied Niltava, White-bellied Redstart, 3 Japanese Tit, Aberrant Bush Warbler, 4 Grey-crowned and 2 Marten's Warbler, flock of White-necked Laughingthrush (heard), Rusty-cheeked Scimiter Babbler, Golden Babbler and 6 Mrs Gould's Sunbird. On the way out of DYK a Collared Owlet was flushed carrying prey, it gave excellent views as it perched next to the road with a not quite dead Small Niltava a potential new bird for one of the party!
Grey Bushchat
DYK by Fred Rowe

Common species included many leaf warblers with several flocks in excess of 50 birds mostly Davidson's with smaller numbers of Cluadia's and Yellow-browed, 4 Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, 3 Oriental Turtle Dove, 6 Orange-bellied Leafbird, 5 Eurasian Jay, Maroon Oriole, 8 Grey Bushchat, c30 Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Mountain Bulbul, many Chestnut-flanked White-eye, 12 Blyth's Shrike Babbler, 6 Grey-chinned and 20 Long-tailed Minivet, 6 Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, 4 Grey Treepie, several hundred Indochinese Swiftlets, Grey-backed Shrike, 4 White-browed Scimiter Babbler and 25 Striated Yuhina.

Nearly back at Chiang Dao a Grey Nightjar was seen feeding alongside the road.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Red-billed Blue Magpie and Little Grebe

A strange pair of species for a post title, but one was the best looking bird during a walk yesterday morning around ponds, scrub and dry forest just out of Chiang Dao and the other the rarest. A noisy flock of 7 very smart looking Red-billed Blue Magpie showed well in dry forest, whilst on one of the fish ponds a Little Grebe was a new Chiang Dao bird for me. Lots of Siberian Rubythroats recorded with 2 seen and a further 9 heard, also present in the area were 2 Rufous-winged Buzzard, 3 Eastern Buzzard, single Biakal Bush Warbler, 2 Grey Bushchat, 20 Green Bee-eater, 1000 Indochinese Swiftlet drinking at the ponds, single Pallas's Grasshopper, Lanceolated and Thick-billed Warbler, 10 Dusky and 2 Radde's Warbler and 15 Common Rosefinch.

In a brief walk to the nearby temple this morning 10 White-headed Bulbuls were the only birds of note. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

White-tailed Robins and Broadbills

Spent much of today birding the naturetrail and fence trail, despite a cold foggy start plenty of birds seen, best two White-tailed Robin with an immature in the dry stream bed at the start of the naturetrail and adult along the fence trail. Also a flock of 7 Silver-breasted Broadbill which showed well in bamboo at the start of the fence trail. Other noteworthy birds seen included 6 Bamboo Woodpecker with 2 seen and at least four others heard, 2 Red headed Trogon, Long-tailed Broadbill heard, 4 Green Magpie, 6 Eye-browed Thrush, White's Thrush, 2 Hainan Blue Flycatcher, Asian Stubtail, 5 Sulphur-breasted Warbler, Pygmy Wren Babbler and 3 Purple-naped Sunbird.

Commoner species recorded included a 2 Green-legged Partridge, 4 Red Junglefowl, single  White-browed and 2 Speckled Piculet, 2 Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, 8 Orange-breasted Trogon, 4 Blue-bearded Bee-eater, 6 Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, 2 Maroon Oriole, 8 Ashy Minivet, 5 Hill Blue Flycatcher, 4 Siberian Blue Robin, 4 Sultan Tit, 10 Claudia's Leaf Warbler, 6 Grey-crowned, 4 Marten's and 10 Yellow- bellied Warbler, 15 Lesser Necklaced and 6 Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush, 6 Buff-breasted Babbler, 4 White-browed Scimiter Babbler, 2 Grey-throated Babbler, 25 Striated Yuhina and 6 White-bellied Erponis.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

20th-22nd December 2013

On  Friday and Sunday morning I spent several hours birding around Wat Tham Pha Plong Chiang Dao, also walking along the first several hundred meters of the gully trail, plenty of birds around including a party of 6 Collared Babblers in the gully and in a large feeding flock a Pallas's Warbler, though not rare in Northern Thailand this is the first time that I have seen this species so low down. Other highlights over the two days included several Green-legged Partridge with a pair which showed well both mornings from the bridge over the gully, 3 Bay Woodpecker, White-browed Piculet, 2 Maroon Oriole, 3 White-throated Fantail, several Great Iora, 4 Siberian Blue Robin, pair of Northern White-crowned Forktail, 2 Sultan Tit, 3 Asian Stubtail, 10+ Claudia's Leaf Warbler, 3 Grey-Crowned Warbler, 5 Marten's Warbler, 6 Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush, 2 Streaked Wren Babbler, 4 Grey-throated Babbler, 3 Ruby-cheeked Sunbird and a single Purple-naped Sunbird.

Birds noted in a brief visit to the rice paddies yesterday included 2 Green and one Common Sandpiper, Rufous-winged Buzzard, Richard's Pipit and 5 Wire-tailed Swallow.


Due to a combination of four days of heavy rain, followed by a very short visit into Burma to renew my visa and family commitments, very little birding was done last week, but as always odd and ends were seen whilst traveling around. Both Himalayan Brown Wood Owl and Spot-bellied Eagle Owl were heard calling not far from Malee's during the wet spell and on the way to Mae Sai on the 17th two Eastern Buzzards were seen near Thaton and very close to Mae Sai a flock of at least 250 Open-billed Stork were noted soaring over the main road. On the 19th I managed a short walk around scrub just outside Lampang, recording Racket-tailed Treepie, Rufous Treepie, Rufous-winged Buzzard and a couple of Thick-billed Warbler.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Doi Lang and White-tailed Rubythroat

Early Wednesday morning myself, Kurt (my brother-in-law) and Uthai from Chiang Mai Birding headed to Doi Lang for a couple of days birding, we camped on the mountain by the army camp, the weather was mild, mostly overcast, with periodic low cloud and light patchy rain. Leaving at 5am and taking the western  route up from Fang, we were birding by 640am. An excellent list of species was noted over the two days, best bird was a very surprising Thai tick for me. Whilst scoping up a small group of Crested Buntings feeding on seed at the side of the road, a male White-tailed Rubythroat hopped into view. White-tailed Rubythroat is apparently a rare bird in Thailand, though possibly under recorded as ringing especially around Chiang Saen has recorded a few in recent years. After a minute or two the bird disappeared back into the roadside grass and despite waiting another 30 minutes never reappeared.  

Spot-breasted Parrotbill
 Most of the Doi Lang specialties were seen included 6 Rufous-throated Partridge feeding by the main army camp on Wednesday evening, with many others heard calling, Crimson-breasted Woodpecker, Rusty-naped Pitta one calling just before the first army checkpoint, 2 White-gorgeted Flycatcher, Slaty-blue Flycatcher, male Sapphire FlycatcherGolden Bush Robin, White-tailed Robin, 2 Giant Nuthatch, 12 Black-throated Tit, 20 Crested Finchbill, 15 Brown-breasted Bulbul, Chestnut-headed Tesia, 6 Scarlet-faced Liocichla, Black-eared Shrike Babbler, 8 Whiskered Yuhina, 6 Long-tailed Sibia and 2 Spot-breasted Parrotbill.

Female Himilayan Bluetail
Male Himilayan Bluetail
Male Chesnut-bellied Rock Thrush
An impressive list of high altitude and other scarce species were also seen  including 4 Mountain Bamboo Partridge, 2 Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Stripe-breasted woodpecker, White-browed Piculet, 5 Speckled Piculet, 2 Lesser Yellownape, 6 Greater Yellownape, 5 Bay Woodpecker, 2 Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, Slaty-backed Flycatcher, 2 Little Pied Flycatcher, 3 Large, 2 Small and 3 Rufous-bellied Niltava, c20 Himilayan Bluetail, 4 White-bellied Redstart, 4 Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, 6 Yellow-cheeked Tit, 3 Slaty-bellied Tesia, 4 Buff-throated, 2 Buff-barred and 30 Pallas's leaf Warbler, Chestnut-crowned Warbler, 2 Bianchi's Warbler, 10 White-browed Laughingthrush, 8 White-necked Laughingthrush, 4 Rusty-cheeked Scimiter Babbler, 2 Pygmy Wren Babbler, 5 Golden Babbler,  c20 Spectacled Barwing, 4 Rufous-backed Sibia, 100 Gould's Sunbird, 60 Common Rosefinch, 30 Crested, 10 Little, 5 Chesnut and a single Yellow-breasted Bunting.
Dark-backed Sibia
Common species recorded included Golden-throated, Blue-throated and Great Barbet, Lesser Coucal, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Oriental Turtle Dove, Emerald Ground Dove, Eastern Buzzard, Mountain Hawk EaglePeregrine, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Grey-backed and Long-tailed Shrike, Eurasian Jay, Grey Treepie, Maroon Oriole, Large Cuckooshrike, Long-tailed, Short-billed and Grey-chinned Minivet, Yellow-bellied and White-throated Fantail, Northern White-crowned Forktail, Grey Bushchat, Striated, Mountain and Black Bulbul, Mountain Tailorbird, Claudia's, Hume's and Davidson's Leaf Warber, Chestnut-flanked White-eye, Marten's and Grey-crowned Warbler, Silver-eared Lughingthrush, Chestnut-capped and Yellow-eyed Babbler, Blue-winged Minla, Grey-cheeked and Rufous-winged Fulvetta and Dark-backed Sibia.   

The department of national parks have put up a number of signs in Thai and English forbidding the use of tapes, photography of nesting birds and feeding, these rules were widely ignored during our visit, with numerous feeding areas in operation and some appalling use of tapes, at a photographers stakeout for Chestnut-headed Tesia tapes were being played from dawn to dusk over the two days we were there. Elsewhere parts of the mountain echoed to the taped calls of Rusty-naped Pitta and Spot-breasted Laughingthrush

Species seen by other birders whilst we were there included several Hume's Pheasant, male Scarlet Finch and Ultramine Flycatcher.      
Doi Lang west side
View into Burma from Doi Lang east side


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Red Avadavat

This morning I decided to wander around fields, scrub and secondary growth around Chiang Dao in search of Freckled-breasted Woodpecker which has yet to be recorded in the area, no woodpeckers but plenty of other birds. One large overgrown field was very productive, where best bird was a Red Avadavat a new Chiang Dao species for me. With the grass being very wet following heavy overnight dew a number of normally skulking species showed well as they dried themselves in the sun, at least 8 Siberian Rubythroats being either heard or seen, along with 6 Thick-billed Warbler, 5 Radde's Warbler, 2 Yellow-bellied Prinia and several hundred Scaly-breasted and White-rumped Munia. A small group of half a dozen Yellow-eyed Babblers also showed well, but two Chestnut-capped Babblers took an age to get decent views of. A single male Chestnut Bunting showed briefly, but frustratingly several other unidentified buntings dropped into long grass and were not seen again. All morning the loud raucous calls of several Chinese Francolin could be heard but typically none were seen, a Barred Buttonquail showed better as it ran down a track in front of me.

Racket-tailed Treepie
by Fred Rowe
In scrub two pairs of Racket-tailed Treepies, 30 Chestnut-tailed Starling, a Violet Cuckoo and a Rufous-winged Buzzard were noted. A patch of forest and bamboo supported a low number of species, but in high densities, with at least 17 Grey-crowned Warbler, 11 Radde's Warbler, 9 Rufous-fronted Babbler and 5 White-rumped Shama. Also in the area were three Red-billed Blue Magpie, female Siberian Blue Robin, 2 Golden-fronted Leafbird and a Verditer Flycatcher.

Other species recorded during the morning included Linneated Barbet, Green Bee-eater, Plaintive Cuckoo, Indian Roller, Long-tailed Shrike, Black-hooded Oriole, Pied Bushchats, Eastern Stonechat and Olive-backed Pipit.


Yesterday morning I walked along the road to the checkpoint and a little beyond, it was a cold morning, the first of the dry season and thick fog stubbornly hung around well into the morning, as a result bird activity was subdued. A pair of Northern White-crowned Forktail and a single Slaty-backed Forktail were both present along the stream just before the checkpoint. On the same stream a Little Heron and a Common Kingfisher were also present. Little else of note was seen, with 3 Grey-crowned Warbler, 8 Black Bulbul, Violet Cuckoo, 5 Thick-billed Green Pigeon and a Purple-naped Sunbird were easily the best of the rest.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Bamboo Woodpecker

Most of the morning was spent birding on the nature trail, or the mosquito trail as it should be renamed, as there were clouds of the buggers. Best bird was a Bamboo Woodpecker which was seen well but briefly in the mature bamboo at the summit of the trail, another bird drumming nearby was also presumed this species. Other birds were few and far between, but in the bamboo a male and two female Red Junglefowl showed well, along with 4 Yellow-bellied Warbler, several White-rumped Shama, Hill Blue Flycatcher, Rufescent Prinia and two Radde's Warblers. Birds elsewhere along the trail included 3 Siberian Blue Robins, 2 Buff-breasted Babblers, Black-throated Sunbird, 2 Sultan Tit and a Banded Bay Cuckoo, meagre pickings for about four and half hours birding.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Drongo Cuckoo
A scruffy looking individual which showed well this morning

Banded Bay Cuckoo
By Fred Rowe
This morning was spent birding the temple and gully trail, lots of birds around especially form the steps where several large feeding parties. Though not rare best birds were excellent views of Drongo Cuckoo and Banded Bay Cuckoo feeding in the canopy at eye level from the rest area on the steps. Green-legged Partridge were heard calling from at least four localities, and amongst the good numbers of warblers seen were at least 7 Claudia's Leaf Warbler, 5 Marten's, 3 Grey-crowned Warbler and in roadside grass single Radde's and Thick-billed Warbler. Species noted in the bird waves included single Speckled and White-browed Piculet, 2 Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, 3 Great Iora, 4 White-throated Fantail, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, 2 Purple-naped, male Ruby-cheeked and Black-throated Sunbird. At least three Bay Woodpeckers and in trees by the temple gates two Orange-breasted Trogons and a pair of Blue-bearded Bee-eaters showed well. Best birds from the highest point of the temple was a female Maroon Oriole and a stunning male Asian Emerald Cuckoo. In a quite corner of the temple car park an Asian Stubtail showed very well down to a few feet and a flock of around 10 Necklaced Laughingthrush were typically tricky to get decent views of, but did include at least one Greater.

The gully trail was very quiet, with the only birds seen the usual pair of Northern White-crowned Forktail, 2 Marten's Warbler and a pair of Buff-breasted Babbler

Other common species noted this morning included Great, Blue-throated and Blue-eared Barbet, Green-billed Malkoha, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Emerald Ground Dove, Crested Goshawk, Spangled Drongo, Verditer Flycatcher, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, Yellow-vented Flowerpecker and Olive-backed Pipit.