Monday, February 18, 2008

14th - 18th Jan 2008 Trip Report at Doi Angkhang

14th - 18th of Jan 2008 Trip Report at Doi Angkhang

Angkhang is situated up north in Chiangmai and it is at the border of myanmar. The journey from Doi Chiang Dow takes only 1.5 hrs. We refurbish our breakfast stock for 5 mornings at a small Top supermarket on our way. We did a quick shopping only spend about 30 mins there. This is a fastest grocerries shopping that most of us have ever done. Up todate this good birding place in North Thailand is yet to be declared as a National Park, therefore no park fees of 400B being imposed.

How to get there :-

There are two choices.

1. Take Highway 107 to Chai Prakan district. At Km 137 near the Mae Kha market, take Highway 1249 to Doi Angkhang. It is 25 kilometres up the mountains.

2. Take Highway 107 (chiangmai - fang) and drive about six kilometres past Chiang Dao district. Turn left at Muang Ngai T-junction and drive on Highways 1178 and 1340 to the centre. Alternatively, from Chiang Mai take any public bus bound for Fang district and get off at Mae Kha market and hire a songthaew or motorcycle to Doi Angkhang. Due to the road heading up to this hill stations have alot lot hair-pin bends, a good experienced driver is required besides a good condition of vehicles. I do recall that most of the time we travel for at least 25 mins on gear one.

Doi Angkhang Royal Agricultural Station Project
Due to want to train/encouraged the hilltribe peoples to stay away from opium cultivations and to stop them for forest clearing this centre was established in 1969. His Majesty the King first summoned to duty Prince Bhisadej Rajani and later M.R. Chawanisanadakorn Worawan of Kasetsart University and several other lecturers to carry out this task. The border patrol police also volunteered to teach the hill tribe peoples there who lives in Barn Luang, Barn Khum, Barn Kop Dong, Barn Nor Lae and Barn Pang Mah on how to cultivate crops, fruits and vegetables. Researches and others experts are being called in from Taiwan, USA, Japan, Italy, Israel and Germany to help in the intensive research and development on temperate-zone corps, soil and water conservation, watershed management and reforestation. There is a research center there, the researchers continue experimenting new techniques for a better yield of crops.

This hill stations has specific plots to plant vegetables that suit this cold climate, peach, plum, kiwi, apricot, pear, strawberry, macadamia nuts, coffee, various flowers as well especially English Roses. Besides the Royal garden the Bonsai garden is also worth to pay a visit if you are there.

Below is the AK yai bungalow at Royal Project (yai means big in thai) that we spend our 4 nights here. This bungalow can comfortably fit 20 peoples with the cost of 4,000B per night. It has 3 rooms upstairs, a big hall downstairs. Separate mens, females toilets and bathrooms are attached at the back of this bungalow. The bathrooms are with hot showers. The washing basin and toilets are without hot water installed. Even with hot showers, bathing time with the outside temperatures of 4 celcius can makes one scream during put on clothings. This picture is taken by Mam.This is how the downstairs of the bungalow looks like. My teammates who pack along long lens, scopes seems to favour this place. We prefer not to have the hassel to lug our equipnments along to upstairs rooms. I also in this catergories of peoples. My teammates who are males took the right side and I took the left side. They provide a thick comforters but I also pack along one thin fleece blanket and a bedspread (thin comforter). To protect from the cold every night I cover myself with 3 blackets, put on a fleece sweater, 2 layer of pants, hand gloves, 2 layer of socks besides the normal clothings. Due to we occuppied all the upstairs rooms and downstairs hall our 2 van drivers have to convert their backseat of their van for a bed at night. This picture is taken by Lam. We did our birding sessions behind the Royal Project Restaurant, around govertment bungalow, Barn Luang - along the roads, Barn Luang Resort, Near Barn Nor Lae, near the first checkpoint, farmland at Km38 (angkhang - chiangdow), water substations, we also try for Brambling at the immigration Thailand and Myanmar. Angkhang besides being well visited by a normal visitors, it is also have alot of well maintain trails don't be surprised that some locals guys at the town are waiting for you to be hired as your bird guides if you don't have confidence to explore by your own.

Behind of the Royal Project restaurant does not seems to fail to be visited by the migrants thrushes. This is one of it. Besides this Scaly Thrush the Black Breasted Thrush is also here. According to the restaurant manager this year they arrived after Christmas week. This Scaly Thrush think that it's appearance is quite camouflaged therefore when it feels quite confidence with the surrounding it would comes out from it's hide. Besides this Scaly Thrush we bump into a bird photographer friend from Singapore. I do wonder why we need to travel that far to met up with each other. Singapore and KL is just 4 hrs car drive. Scaly Thrush is indeed having a very camouflaged feathers it blends well with the dried leaves. If it was without movement it is quite hard to trace it. It comes down to the ground to feeds. I did try others trail near our bungalow on 14th evening maybe due to it is quite open forest we saw no birds but we enjoyed the walk around this beautiful place. Aiyah... that moments I do wonder I thought why everyone says Doi Angkhang is it one of the must to visit places for birders.. Am I at the right places.. ? why see no birds ...? This is one of it's favourite branch perched
Aaaah... hill prinia finaly.. this is one of my wanted birds to see.
Formerly treated as a subspecies of Common/African Stonechat Saxicola torquatus. Now considered a full species with subspecies maurus, stejnegeri, variegatus, armenicus, indicus, przewalskii Refs: Wittmann, U., Heidrich, P., Wink, M. & Gwinner, E., (1995) Speciation in the Stonechat Saxicola torquata inferred from nucleotide sequences of the cytochrome-b gene. Journal of Zoological Systematics & Evolutionary Research 33, 3 (1995): 116-122. Urquhart, E. (2002) Stonechats: A Guide to the Genus "Saxicola". London: Christopher Helm.

The common stonechat Saxicola torquata should be treated as 3 species. European Stonechat Saxicola rubicola, Siberian Stonechat Saxicola maura and African Stonechat Saxicola torquata...

pg 131 Stonechats published by Helm Indentification Guides

We were at this farmland at KM38 (roads to chiangdow - angkang) . Some teammates have a good look at the siberian rubbythroat but I yet to see them on the first morning.. must come back again yah... tommorrow morning please. Well packing along with 10 others birders deciding place to birds on where and when have to be agree by all.. Long-Tailed Shrike is also there. In thailand is is quite easy to see them. OOOPs what is the excitement here..? This is near Barn Nor Lae, as we travel along after the famous Yunnan mee we have a small glimpse of the Chestnut-Rock Thrush. With it's small glimpse we decided to stop for a while here. I track back to the spot but the bird does not wait for me. :-( Any how we have bird waves near to where we park our vans. This excitement of birdwaves makes us says to each othesr.... AAAH.. there is the red chilli - our nicknamed to the Red-faced Liochicla. aaaah I spoted a Spectacled Barwing.... AAAArraaah. Lau Lein....look there..look there.. Picture taken by Lam. Lam must be got excited not only on birds but as well as how we re-act during this birdwaves.
This is the Red-faced Liochila... birds at Doi Angkhang normally perched far from human. A record shots also can makes do lah. Besides those as I mentioned we also have this Sooty-Headed Bulbul. We have flocks of Silver-Eared Mesia as well.. But this flocks of Silver-Eared Mesia got us no interest on them..well can catch up with them at our montane forest in Malaysia Lau Lein....lau lein again... This is our second Daurian Redstart.. we first have this at Doi Inthanon. This spp is in our wanted list. For this we need to track a trail down to the valley near Barn Nor Lae. A few of us are rewarded with a flocks of Eye-Browed Thrush feeding on this fruiting trees. Thrushes are by nature very shy. We spotted them but once they saw some movements they flocks to another spot. We waited hide ourselves some distance away find a tree trunck to block out apperance, with less movements and for some moments of no conversations to wait for them to resurface again. Just the time we are about to give up.. Jason whisper...get ready they are coming back.
Well not one bird but a small flocks.. I only can capture 2 of them :-( This another looks of at them. Grey Bushat can be treated as a trash birds here nearly every corner you would see them.
The male of the Grey Bushchat. He is nicer looking than his counterparts. Don't you all agree ? Shades of brown seems to be quite bland in our eyes..Two thai birder from bangkok share to us that they sighted Mrs Hume Pheasant at KM40 the day before the sun rise. All of us wake up at least 30 mins earlier than yesterday we aim with hopes hopefully....hopefully...hopefully. Due to the raods are narrow we park our vans beyond it and trek back. The thai birders are there before us. I sat down on the ground hide behind their car. All of us find our own corners ...all sat on the ground ... no conversation ....all eyes starring on the road milestone of 40. We waited ...waited... AAArrrg what a torture to be a twicher...waited with agony until the sunrise but we sight no Phesant :-( We then decided to go back to KM38 for our second visit cause the day before some of us miss Siberian Rubythroat.

All agreed we go back there again. This morning we ask the permission from the farm owner to allow us into his private properties.. Being an Asian there are very nice peoples.. Korp Kun Mah Kar...

Whahh the Black-Headed Greenfinch is back.. aiyoh the tree is full of them. Nice decor isn't it.
Hei what is that bird that makes such calls.. Grey treepie ??? One of the teammate shouted looks the GREAT BARBET.... sighting of this birds make me jump for joy.. Lucky we makes our decision to come back here again. We scan at this dried tree and we spotted a Raptors. These birds are very far and that moments of our sightings is quite cool and misty.. Based on the posture of the perched of the raptor we suspect it is the Common Buzzard.
Little Bunting is also there.
Wish that this is Black- Faced Bunting looks like this one stage of the Black-Headed Greenfinch.
I only being rewarded with a flocks of White Browed Scimitar Babbler. Lam have Rusty-Cheeked Scimitar Babbler. Looks like I have to place that Rusty-Cheecked into my wanted list on my next trip to Doi Angkhang.
Flavescent Bulbul is quite common in their montane forest.
Long-Tailed Shrike spotted by Madam Choo at Barn Luang Resort.. This bird perched far.
White Wagtail is a normal winter migrants, normal it is a two birds. Here at Barn Luang Resort this bird perched on the roof top.
Now it is not the ground. At Barn Luang we have the Plumbeous Redstart and the Riverchat near the streams there.

We are here at the 1st checkpoint of Angkhang, having in mind to see Red-Tailed Laughingthrush. We saw none. We waited and suddenly Lam spotted a bird, ask me to ID looked through his scope... AAAAhrrrrggg....Chesnut Bellied Rock Thrush... one of my wanted list.

This is another of my record shots.. Well birds are far away.. better with digiscoping.. My camera tends to focus all the branches instead ...:-(

This picture is taken by Lam using Digiscoping..
Golden Throated Barbet enjoy it's meal at this fruiting tree. As we steps nearer to this tree, it hide behind the leaves.. Birds here in this Doi is more shy than in Doi Inthanon.. We have Giant Nuthatch, Chestnut Vented Nuthatch, flocks of Grey Cheeked Fulveta, Great Tit and a number of confusing Warblers.
Before we head down to ends our birding at Doi Angkhang we did another session at the Goverment Bungalow. Here we have Japanese White-Eye, Chesnut Flanked White Eye, Mrs Gould Sunbird, Olive Backed Pipit, Giant Nuthatch.. Two Barred Warbler, Artic Warbler, Black-Headed Sibia, Yellow Cheeked Tit, Marron Oriole.

My record shot of the Chesnut-Flanked White Eye
Suspect this is the Two Barred Warbler
Some birds we have to let go cause we could not ID them. Below is what we sighted, some we manged to photographs some we just look at them with our pair of binoculars.

White Browed Piculet, Great Barbet, Golden Throated Barbet, Himalayan Swiflet, Moutain Scops Owl (heard), Common Buzzard, Long Tailed Shirke, Grey Backed Shrike, Ashy Drongo, Black, Bronzed Drongo, Grey Treepie, Maroon Oriole, Long Tailed Minivet, White Throated Fantail, Chesnut-Bellied Rock Thrush, Blue Whistling Thrush, Scaly Thrush, Black Breasted Thrush, Eye-Browed Thrush, Verditer Flycatcher. Rufous-Georgeted Flycatcher, Snowy-Browed Flycatcher, Hill Blue Flycatcher, Siberian Rubbythroat, Oriental Magpie Robin, White-Capped Water Redstart (Riverchat), Plumbeous Redstart, Daurian Redstart, Grey Bushchat, Chestnut Vented Nuthatch, Giant Nuthatch, Great Tit, Yellow Cheeked Tit, Striated Swallow, Barn Swallow, Little Pied Flycatcher, Black Headed Bulbul, Scotty Headed Bulbul,Flavescent Bulbul,Mountain Bulbul, Hill Prinia, Artic Warbler, Chestnut-Flanked White Eye, Japanese White-Eye, Chestnut Crown Warbler, Grey Cheeked Warbler, Red-Faced Liocichla, White-Browed Scimitar Babbbler,Rusty-Cheeked Scimitar Babbler, Golden Babbler, Silver-Eared Mesia, Grey Cheeked Fulvetta, Black Headed Sibia, Spectacled Barwing, Streaked Spiderhunter, Mrs Gould Sunbird, Olive Backed Pipit, White Wagtail,Grey Wagtail, Black-Headed Greenfinch, Little Bunting, Blue Winged Minla, Bar Winged Flycatcher Shrike, Yellow Bellied Warbler, Black Throated Sunbird, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Short-Billed Minivet, Hume Warbler, Green Tailed Sunbird, Spooted Dove.

Friday, February 15, 2008

What can be found at Doi Angkhang besides birds

Doi Angkhang 14th - 18th January 2008

This is morning clouds where most of us cannot resist to comes down from the van to take this scenic shot. My prosumer camera batteries does seems to function well at 4 celcius, therefore this shots are not taken by me. Due to I wish to remember the very moments we stand there on top of this mountain amazed with this beautiful scenery, I post her photo here.
The Royal Arigcultural Station Angkhang never fails to attract alot of casual vistors besides bird-watcher during winter due to the blooming flowers there. This place play an important role in tourism in North Thailand. Angkhang visitors can see plants being cultivate in this cool climate including apricots, peaches, plums, carrots, salad greens and beautiful flowers such as carnations, roses, asters and chrysanthemums. This place is often referred to as the Switzerland of Thailand. Temperature here at night during winter can drop to 2 celcius. Barn Luan Resort Owner told me that there is one year it was so cold that that there is ice being caked up at his resort ground.

This garden would be packed with alot of visitors after sun rise, everyone here seems to pose in their favourite corner to have some pictures taken . This photo taken by one of our friend in the very early morning when the visitors are yet to arrive.
This signboard describes the species of bamboo, OOps how to read?... they are all in written in thai.
This is the only food stalls in Barn Luang (Barn in thai means hse or a village). Peoples over here are the migrants from china from the district of Yunnan. Their parents are from Yunnan who sought refuge in Thailand after Mao Ze dong and his communist party came to power in China. People in this village still able to speaks mandarin. I and a few team-mates have no problems to communicate with them cause we also can converse in mandarin. This small stall sells khao soi yunnan - egg noodles with 2 super small curry chicken without coconut milk, with the local vegetables that are not planted in malaysia, clear based soup with additional cordinments of fry egg noodles. This bowl of noodles are serve with some vegetables pickles - cabbage, shallots, chillies and lime. Fish sauce and others types of chilies are place on the dining table for you to spice up the bowl of mee as one delite. Salapao Yunnan - steamed Chinese bun with stuffing or without stuffing for you to choose from. Pao seems to be found in every corner in the world that are with chinese. :-)

At her stall we order "man tow and mein". We have no problem to informed her "low pan niang wor yow toer ye wan mein .. cheah tor chai ar.." (lady boss I want one more bowl please add more vegetables for me).
One of the local man there wonder how come this visitors can coverse in mandarin.. look at us with a curious looks. He even ask the lady boss.. "thar men chong nar le lai der" (these peoples come from where?..) .. Well being a chinese I do understand that it is such a joy able to find someone who can speaks your own mother tongue.
I can read her mind.. as she prepare all this bowl of mee, she must be smilling all the way cause she is now having a groups of hungry peoples craving to taste her home-cooked mee.
While we are waiting to be serve, we heard mules start to walk pass. The mee lady told us there are still a few more mules on the way up. This mules are use as a mode of carrier for their fire-woods and for the local to ride on as well. This lady is drying up this vegetables to makes "kiam chai" - preserve vegetables dry up by the sun. Never taste this before wonder how does it taste, even though consuming all types of preserve vegetables sale in malaysia is nothing new to me.
The chinese over here most of them are muslim but I notice there is a church nearby too. This is Al-Agso mosque build with the chinese taste.
This is the village of Barn Luang.
Today is teacher's day where the kids are not required to go to school. These two brothers are given the task to cut this types of reeds to makes broom for their house. This reeds is then place on the ground to be dried up. They stay nearby at Barn Nor Lae.
Branches that are fallen down in the forest are not put to rot. The locals here would collect it, chop it into the required lenght, buddle them up, bring it back home for fire-woods.
This is a three generation of ladies, (grandmother, daughter and grand-daughter). We noticed this 3 ladies as they walked to tender their farm.. We picked up our cameras to takes a number of their photos. We gives them some souvenier after their photos session.. We told them..Tai root.. Tai root.. (take photo... take photo).. We admire their outfits..
This a group of kids at the immigration - border of myanmar and angkhang. We are not sure for what occassion that they are here... but this is our first time seeing peoples in this outfits.
The ladies here are selling some souveniers here. Some of the product are perishable goods and some are not.
Every stalls seems to display the same range of goods.. I strolled from one stall to another and then back again carefully look at those small unperishable souvenier that I can buy from them. It is indeed quite a hard decision to makes. If I buy from this lady the others lady would ask .."why she don't like my goods..." Anyway I only can afford one sourvenier for myself.
This boy of course is not mean for sale. He has to be pack along cause mah-mah have to tender her stall.
This is one of the scenic shots taken from this place.
The white bulding on top of the hill there is myanmar.
There are some soldiers there across the border.
This is still in thailand.
Smile... Now I'm at thai border.
The reason why we touch our feets there is to try our luck to look out for brambling. We ask the soilders have they seen brambling lately. :-) The soldiers here are fully aware what is brambling. This is a photo hang up there given by one of the thai bird photographer. Now we have a good looks of how a brambling looks like. Thank you for who ever you are for contributing this photos. This would makes sure every birders would not leave empty handed not able to look at brambling..
This is another corner at this small immigration grounds.
Coffee break for the coffee fans. There is only 3 of us who are non-coffee fans.
This how normally we ends our birding day.. we get out from AK yai before the sun rise and we only start to pack our gears just before the sun set.
This is worms cracker. Thanks to David for introduce this bamboo worms. It looks yucky but Hmmmmm.. it taste nice. A good source of protein by the way..
This is Ban Luang Resort. Angkhang Villa and Barn Luang resort owner are brother and sister.
If you wish not to stay in town request them stay at their resort at Ban Luang. To booked by phone call them at +66 53 450010, fax +66 53 450022. Ask for the Ban Luang branch. They also can be contacted by email:
As of the time of our visit they are selling the chalet with hot shower that can fit
10pax for peak period - 2,500 - 3,500B Non-peak 1,500 - 2,000B.
Chalet that can fit 2-4 pax peak period - 1,200 - 1,500B Non-peak 800 - 1,000 B
To have a rough idea how the accomodations looks like, click on the url link below.
The first photo looks more like one of the chalet at Ban Luang branch.
During winter this type of tree will blooms., peach, plums or apricot ? well I not good at tree ID..
This is how the tree looks like from far.
Another view of this.. well we don't have this in Malaysia.
Another types of plants.
Eggs and more eggs even at the last night dinner together at Doi Angkhang Royal Project Restaurant. Just discovered from this trips that one of my birding friend is a eggs fan. He has introduced us a full eggs course... This is one one of his favourite dish - tomatoes with eggs.. Well yummy though.
Part to the dishes we ate that night. Salad made from fresh vegetables plant in Angkhang a must to taste. This salad is the courtesy from Mam and the rest of dishes are from David and Alagan. Burp... thank you very much.. everything is SOoooo delicious here. Aiyak I nearly forgotten Kim bought us desert too chocolate fudge. Thank you ...thank you for the kindness of you guys and gay.
Korp kun mah kar... Aroi mak-mak..
Starting form the photos below are the scene we would see at the tourist center of the Royal Project. Many local female and children would sit on the ground to display their goods for sales. Those gloves are from china.. they are much more better quality than what I packed along from malaysia. OOOi where is the saleswoman ? They normally would turn their face away or walk away when you point your camera at them. Sorry I can't archive their sweet faces here in my blog.
OOOH... what a beautiful sight...alot of flowers here that can melt alot of hearts. This garden at the tourist center would have english roses, poppy flowers to orchids. Are they for sales ? I doubt I recall they are tag with a prize. There are others Angkhang products that are label with a prize tag waiting eagerly on the display racks. If I can recall there are dry kiwi, tea, honey...etc..etc but no T-Shirt for sales.

This is Uncle B in action.. All tourist here walks in with a camera all seems to point their lens and says.... CHEEZE.

Below are the contributions from Lam.. We cannot pack this back as well as we also cannot afford to let it accidentaly drop into our pockets or bags. We only can have this in our camera.