Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Green-backed elisae Narcissus Flycatchers

10/2/2008 Birding at my local patch - Taman Rimba Ampang

Today is the 4th day of our Chinese New Year. I have not been out to the field ever since I came back from my 10days birding at North Thailand. My skin needs to recuperate from all the wear and tear. My face re-act badly as being exposed to the single digit temperature at North Thailand.
Since I heard from one of my friend that someone had seen the Green-Backed Flycatcher at this local patch that I use to frequent. This morning I took out all my gears from my dry box and head to this place. When I start to mount my camera onto the tripod, only I realised that my tripod has a bit of damage from the mishandling of baggages.. Arrrrh... Aarrrh.. It can't mount my camera. :-( .. Decided that I would only use it as a support then, will hand it to my younger brother and hopes that he can help me to fix it later.
As I walked in I noticed this flycatcher but I seems to flash her away.... I continue to walk into the end of this park. Here I met up with George and his brother. It is good sometimes to met up with some friends during our birding trips. We exhange the latest sighting and catch up with each others. Here we stand for a while and we being greeted by an Asian Brown Flycatcher. As this bird is not really what I look out for, I just took a few glimpse and deep in my heart hopefully an Cuckoo would fly out.
As I walked out from the park, I noticed my target for day again. This is what I aim for this field trip. This individual bird seems to frequent back roughly the same spot but it is a very hard job to take some record shots of her cause my tripod is faulty. Anyhow I try to takes some pictures of this bird, cause Green Backed Flycatcher is something we hardy see. I also notice that this individual also dares to comes down on the road for a while.
To read more on this Green Backed Flycatcher aka Chinese Flycatcher click on

Friday, April 11, 2008

Birding at Doi Inthanon, North Thailand - 1st day

9/1/2008 - Birding at Doi Inthanon

Doi Inthanon is one the famous birding heavens in the north of thailand. This site is well documented and it's birdlife there are well survey by alot of birders. Doi Inthanon is a bird watching site can be visit it all year around. To makes the best of the trips we (11 of us) visit this place during their birds migrating period. Aiming with the hopes to be able to view some migrants from this himalayan region. During Dec till Febuary the temperatures up in this summit can be drop down to a single digit. With this in mind besides our normal birding gears from field guides birds of South East Asia, camera, tripod, binoculars we need to pack along gloves,wind breaker, thick woollen socks to let us able to endure the coldness.
We takes advantages of Air Asia that ply from LCCT to Chiangmai that pull out from LCCT at 8:45am arrival time at 11:30am Chiangmai airport. We were fortunate to know a thai birder friend to help us all the ground works for us. Once we arrived, we being picked up by 2 vans that we hired through out our 10 days birding trip. After lunch at chiangmai town we head to Tesco to shops for our 4 days breakfast.

Doi Inthanon National Park, situated at km marker 57 on highway 108. From chiangmai town take highway 108 in the direction of Chom Tom District, then turn right on the milestone mark 57 and proceed on highway 1009. There are clear signboard written in English to direct you to Doi Inthanon, therefore no need to worry much if you can't read thai. It takes approximately about 2.5hrs from chiangmai town to KM31 where the national park HQ is situated.

At KM8 lies the park entrance checkpoint 1, here we need to pay park entrance fees. With effective from november 2007 park fees for Foreigner is 400B, Local Thai 40B, each vehicle 50B. During our visit I notice there is one trees was flowering. As I was busy trying to sort out the park entrance for them, I yet to find time to scan at what bird that was feeding at that tree top. I heard some of them mumbling.. starling..what starling .

This is the brief map of the summit road that you can find/attach with those birding sighting reports that are being published in the internet. I use this map and read those trips reports to plan our trips. The trips reports are written in details up to what birds you would be expecting to see at which KM. The summit of this National Park is at 2156asl and it is the highest mountain in thailand. This national park as you ascend to the summit you would realised that this park comprises of dry dipterocarp forest, deforested area for agricultural purposes,villages , broadleaved evergreeen forest, deforested area, montane forest with a number of waterfalls in it that can be very easily explore. Every forest types seems to have highlight different spp. We did not hire any bird guides for our trips. I read a number of birds sightings reports that is being published in the internet to plan this trip.

We reached our bungalow at about 5pm. After we have settle down we head of to our first birding trail KM34.5. Sky is setting very fast, we only have about 1 hrs to have the 1st feel of our birding at Doi Inthanon. We heard alot of birds calls but very difficult to look out for them maybe we are a bit late. I heard a very melodious bird call seems to be quite near, follow the sound I managed to have it as my lifer. The Yellow Cheeked Tit. Woow.. what a beautiful bird.. As the sky is about to set dark we head off out from this trail. As I trek out I saw a ground bird, but due to the lightnings I could not positively ID it. Maybe it is the Blue Whistling Thrush. OOh only one lifer for today, I hope that tomorrow sightings would be better.


This morning is the official start of our birding trips. I make the wrong calculation as I have forgotten that sunrise is about 7:30am back home. I used to work 1 hrs later to match it with the thai times. I insist that we start our journey at 5am from our bungalow at KM 31. Well when we reached the summit it was very cold at about 4 celcius and dark. The sky up in the summit seems to be full of sparkling stars. This is indeed a very beautiful sights. Later only I aware as I walk up to the information center at the summit that this place is also use for astronomy. As it was about to have the first light I advised my friends to sit quietly behind the park's staff kitchen to try their luck for the Rufous-Throated Partridges where every trips reports seems to said that is the sure place to see them. We were told that this bird has been appearing rather regularly at this place to forage for food. Huuuh... today the birds did not turn up maybe due to to many visitors as we noticed there are at least 10 full loads of normal happy visitors comes up by "song theow" to takes advantage to visit this place during their winter.

Since I had tick these Partriges as my lifer I decided to walk into the Ang Ka Trail or many refer it as the marsh trail. This trail is a boardwalk, even though this is a very short trail but the birds seems to fly in and out from all directions for you to view. It is such an exciting to have this types of birding once a while but as you stay a bit longer here you would then realised that those birds are of about the same few species.

At the Summit definately you would able to see the Blue Whistling Thrush, they are not shy compare with the one that is found in Malaysia.

Silver-Eared Laughingthrush a sub-spp of the Chestnut Crowned Laughingthrush. The old field guides is still refering this spp to it's old common names. Well birding also need to up-keep our informations cause some researchers would off and on proposed this and that spp to break off from another spp cause due to some DNA diffrences. Phew.. lucky birding information are not fast changes like hand-phones, computers and cameras.
In the summit trail definately you would met up with the Yellow-Bellied Fantail. This is the small fantail compares with those White-Throated Fantail and Pied Fantail. Well this Yellow-Bellied fantail also behaves the same like those fantail that I mentioned. They loves to fan up their tail.

Ashy-Throated Warbler seems to fly in and out at Summit Ang Kar trail.
Green-Tailed Sunbird also would be there but I notice during April where some trees at Ang Ka trail flowering chance of seeing them are more. During my recent visit I notice that some trees at Ang Ka trail seems to experiencing winter where their leaves seems to drop off.

Mrs Gould's Sunbird also around. Why this bird is called Mrs Gould's? To find out one need to read the book - Birds name by who..
Chestnut-Tailed Minla apparently is recorded in the Craig Robson as some slight diffrence compares with the one found in Malaysia.. I have seen both spp I still could not see what difference of what we have in Malaysia compares to the one in thailand. For sure to see this one in thailand is very easy compares to in Malaysia.
Another look at it, If you notices the difference with the Malaysian one do email me. :-)
Sightings for this migrant bird I owe it to Mr Pinnet who was there to on that day. He was guiding his clients and we exchange some news. Mr Pinnet seems to know some of my birding friends in Malaysia.

Snowy-Browed Flycatcher is there too, but I realised that they seems to be much more easier to noticed them during April where they are entering into their courtship and breeding period.
During this time of my visit we noticed we could not sight the White-Browed Shortwing. During April we seems to notice them nearly every corner. According to Mr Pinnet he told me that this spp may not able to withstand the cold temperature therefore they could have done short migratory.
Others birds sighted
A flock of Common Rosefinch, Black Crested Bulbul (for this I could not believe my eyes why this spp can witstand such temperature), Flavescent Bulbul
Time flies our stomach need to refills. We head down to Doi Inthanon Bird Center that is where Uncle Daeng is. Mr Daeng use to be a forest ranger at Doi Inthanon, ever since he retired he and his beloved wife set up a small grocery shop, restaurant and as well as offer budget accomodation for tourist. Birders normally makes his shop as a meeting place and there is recent bird sightings log books at his restaurant. I was surprised to met up with Mr Pinnet and his clients as well as another bird guide with his clients as well here.. During lunch also you can look out and ask for the latest bird sightings in Doi Inthanon from Uncle Daeng.. Here we have the Lesser Shortwing female and the Dark Sided Trush. To see this birds is a hard job, I need to squat down underneath the dinning table cause the angle is very small.
After lunch I told the drivers land us to a waterfall actually I'm having in mind to show them the Plumbeous Redstart and the River Chat.. Due to communications problems cause I speak very little thai they land me to Sribhume waterfall.. Hah.....;-( well never mind new place, others picnicners are also around.. but BUT Mr Pinnet and his bunch of clients is also here. To me with a place so busy with visitors is not a place for birds. Well we just do sight seeing but Madam Choo eyes is very sharp she shouted hei there is birds alot of them at the canopy of that trees. All put up our binoculars and scan that trees.. I shouted aaar white eyes.. Japanese White-Eye.. Mr Pinnet says.. Chestnut Flanked is also there...
Huh.. Huh.. Chestnut Flanked it would be my lifer ... HHHHHah.. OK I found it..
After a little while here we head off to the proper waterfall for the Riverchat. We park our vehicles at the road junction from the village to the summit road. We walk through some vegetables farms ascend down to reach the river. This sites is only access by their local birders no way a Bird Guides would want to takes the risk to lead their clients here cause we need to steps on some rocks, go through a very steep path to see this two birds. We inched down as I keep track that everyone in our teams makes it savely there. Well we makes it even most of them are in my parents age. Everyone is happy cause yes we saw the female Plumbeous Redstart and the lone White-Capped Water Redstart here.. We also noticed two Slaty-Black Forktail as well. After spending some good quality time to have a good looks at the river birds we trek out.. Wah.... what a rewarding and tiring day.. We head off back to our accomodations and called it a day.
For more Information regarding birding at Doi Inthanon

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Birding at Doi Inthanon, North Thailand - 2nd day

11/1/2008 - Birding at Doi Inthanon

Yesterday stop-over at Uncle Daeng restaurant, we been given the news of this birding site of 2nd checkpoint left junctions and drive for at least 10km. He told us in the morning this place should be good. Today after breakfast we head to this place and this road leads to Haui Sai Lueng Waterfall. I do recall been here last april, we were at this place towards lunch time, bird life was not very good then. This time we visit this place in Jan, during winter. I notice there are a few trees that seems to give me the atmosphere of Chinese New Year mood. The trees are with pink cherry blossom. Waaaw..this is my first time seeing it's real flowers. We look up the trees, we saw a few Green Tailed Sunbird.

Birding around this place during winter is the best experience that we ever have. We seems to have bird waves upon bird waves and it only ends at about noon time. It seems to be an easy birding just choose your favourite spots sit down and the birds just fly in and out for you to view.

Blue-Winged Leafbird seems to looks different in this new environment..:-)
Scarlet Minivet - Male and female would never seems to get tired to show up themselves to you.
He caught a moth, as usual he swing it left and right hit it on the hard surface before he consumed it.Bird in this plumage, was my lifer. I have never encounter Scarlet Minivet in this stage of their life.
Blue Rock Thrush seems to have mark her territory on the roof top of this bungalow.
Me and another birder friend decided to sat at the bench near the river looks somewhat like a drain as the bird waves near the car park seems to be end. We never expect to met up with this bird. White-Capped Water Redstart normally is a lone bird. It looks like their territory seems to be huge.
Red-Throated Flycatcher.
Until today I yet to be able to ID this flycatcher. I have never encounter Flycatcher in this plumage. I can only suspect that this would be a somewhat a female flycatcher.
At this place we sighted.

Grey-Backed Shrike, White Capped Water Restart, White Wagtail, Scarlet Minivet, Artic Wabbler, Verditer Flycatcher, Grey-Headed Flycatcher, Black-naped Monarch, Blue-Winged Leafbird, Asian Brown Flycatcher,Ashy Drongo, Greater Racket-Tailed Drongo, Red Throated Flycatcher, Black-Naped Oriole, White Bellied Yuhina, Grey Wagtail,Blue Rock Thrush, Green Tailed Sunbird, Flavescent Bulbul,Slaty-Back Forktail, Bar Winged Flycatcher Shrike, Black-Throated Sunbird.
For Lunch we head up to the Doi Inthanon Park HQ at KM31. There are alot of stall at this food court. All seems to serves local thai food. The price are reasonable cheap compares with Malaysia food stalls. After lunch we head to Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail at 42km on the summit road. Most birders commented that this trail is not productive for birds. It is worth also to trek into it's 5 km walk (moderate level of trek) at least 2 hrs that would leads you through prestine forest, and then to the clift where you can have very nice scenary view of the mountain . Here Rhododendrons (one thousand years roses) blooms from november till march is worth to have a look. To trek into this trail a nature guide need to be accompany you in with the rate of 200Baht per group. This fees is to up-keep the trail and to ensure peoples no pouching and hunting of animals inside this trails.

In this trail we sighted.
Brown-Throated Treecreper, Yellow-Bellied Fantail, Ashy-Throated Warbler, Bronze Drongo, Hume Warbler, Black-Headed Sibia. I could not believe my eyes that me and a few friends bump into 2 Rufous-throated Partridges here.

Wah....wooow.. this trail is not unproductive for birds as being commented by alot of birders, cause we did not sighted the Rufous-Throated Partridges at the Summit but we have it here. With this sightings it really makes my day, as I trek down my brain habour with the thoughts of I need to have "Soom tham" -papaya salad down there once I get out from this trail.. Did not realised that the stall owner are in the midst of closing her stall once I get out from the trail.. :-(.. I have to leave having my Soom tham on halt then...
One thousand Rose inside Kew Mae Pan Trail..

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Birding at Doi Inthanon, North Thailand - 3rd day

12/1/2008 - 3rd day birding at Doi Inthanon

Times flies today mark as the 3rd day of our birding at this "Birding Heaven". During winter due to the drastic temperature difference from the town center and the Mountain, their local also likes to takes advantage to have their weekend holiday up in the mountain. As we are staying at the Electrical Government Authority staff's accommodation during our stay and their staff wish to have our chalet to night, we have to to check out today. After breakfast at about 6:30am we line our baggage with not valuable contents at EGAT with the help from our van drivers. After hand back to them the 2 bungalow keys we head to KM37.5. This place is usually refer to the 2nd checkpoint. The jeep trek trail seems to have good quality of birds in the recent sightings recorded at Uncle Daeng restaurant. Someone found a fruiting fig tree at about 600m and they saw Purple Cochoa, Green Cochoa...etc..etc. We park our vehicles outside the milestone of 37.4. We waited for more lightnings before we enter to the jeep trail. At the entrance of this trail we have flocks of Grey-Checked Fulveta feeds on this fruiting trees. Silver-Eared Mesia, Golden Babbler also flocks in.

As the lightnings are more promising inside the trails we trek into this well mark trail. Through out the trail you would notice 100m, 200m, 300m, 400m,500m.... signboard. With this would enable birders to record at which junction they have the bird sightings. This trail the trees here is very tall and it has thick undergrowth. We heard birds call but yet could not sight them. A few of us sighted a small Babbler, but it's keeps hopping around those thick undergrowth. We have at least 4 person trying to trek down this small ground babbler but yet we could not make up our mind what spp cause none of us have a good view of it. This is one of the signboard that you would notice as you trek inside.
This is inside the jeep trek trail. This trail reminds me of some trail in Taman Negara. Good quality birds would be there but have to work very hard to see one cause the trees are tall and thick forest. Finally I found where is the fruiting fig trees but what a disappointment cause the tree is very high. I have to use my bino on a 180 degrees looking up, yes I saw alot of birds flock in and out around that area but I could not figure out what are there.
Outside this jeep trek I spotted this pair of Flavescent Bulbul. They perched very closely to each other. Noticed one of the bird use it's bill to scrub the other bird. The other bird just enjoy this intimate moments. I think this is called bonding behaviour.
This is another look of the Flavecents Bulbul feeding outside the 2nd checkpoint.
Black-Headed Sibia also feeds on this fruit
Finally one of the van driver came back from Chom Tom with Mam. She told me that she have collected all our baggage from EGAT and transfer them to Karen Eco-lodge as well as she pack along "kaw man kai" for us. We head to Haui Sai Lueng Waterfall to have picnic lunch while we can spend sometimes to do birding there. Chicken rice from chiangmai is very yummy maybe because it was wrapped with banana leaves.
Here we sighted.
White Capped Water Restart, White Wagtail, Scarlet Minivet, Artic Wabbler, Verditer Flycatcher, Grey-Capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Dark-necked Tailorbird, Great Iora, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Black-naped Monarch, Common Tailorbird, Blue-Winged Leafbird, Asian Brown Flycatcher,Ashy Drongo, Greater Racket-Tailed Drongo, Grey Backed Shrike, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Little Spiderhunter, Red Throated Flycatcher. One of the members saw Speckled Piculet..
A few Velvet-fronted Nuthatch keeps circling this tree trunk.
This is the Grey-Capped Pygmy Woodpecker that resemble so much like the Sunda Pygmy. Sunda Pygmy are normally found at mangrove while Grey-Capped are found in the secondary forest. I have the Grey-Capped as my neighbourhood therefore I do managed to ID them here

As we have travel all the way to Chiangmai for birds, we also like to do some twitching. No doubt Haui Sai Lueng Waterfall birdlife is very good from morning till about noon time. Maybe it would be active again from 4pm but it looks like most of the birds here can be sighted in Malaysia. After some rest we head down to KM23 to another Jeep Track Road. There is a big river down the valley along the Jeep Track Road. We heard White-Capped Water Restart.. Here we wait..and wait for birds but hardly any interesting character turn up except Ashy Drongo, some warblers. We called end of our birding day at about 6:30pm.

Birding at Doi Inthanon, North Thailand - 4th day

13/1/2008 - The final day of birding at Doi Inthanon

I thought that we can escapee the cold as we shift from EGAT at KM30 to the Karen Eco-Lodge at KM26 last night. Towards to the late night till to the early morning the cold breeze is indeed let me able to experienced what is the meaning of COLD. Office and Data Center air-con coldness is nothing compare to the real coldness at that Doi. Due to Karen Eco-Lodge do not have the facilities of hot shower many of my friends skip bath, but I did have a brief quick bath with 3 scoops of water to wash hair and 2 scoops of water with little body foam. Finish off with 2 scoops of water to rinse off. Every scoops of water indeed a real struggle that makes me keeps mumbling "AAARGh.... Coooold". Anyway after the struggle inside the bath room it makes me feels good and smells good.. :-)

VERY.. cooooold... through out the night, I keeps wonder when is 5am cause due to the coldness I could not have a good rest even though I'm very tired. At last 5am arrived, this morning I have to skip bath even though is my normal routine after I jump out from bed.

Breakfast with only a Cup of thai instant noodles is very yummy. Thai instant noodles taste more better than those from Malaysia.: -) After that we pack our gears and head back to KM30. We wish to have a glimpse of the Black Tailed Crake near a small marsh lake near the campsite. As we are aware that Crake normally is a very shy bird, each one of us choose our own corner to try our luck. I and a few choose to stand near the bird hide. If the cold breeze is unbearable the hide can shed it away. We wait and wait... we have a lone blue flycatcher appears not far from me. Scan it with my binoculars. Me, Mam, Siew Ping, Kim and Lam determined it is the Hill Blue Flycatcher. Still no activities near the marsh yet. Waiting for bird who do not understand what is appointment is really an agony.
This is the marsh land all our eyes are set to this little place, waiting for any movements around this spot. We have no sign of Crake but we have Olive Backed Pipit. :-( Anyway that would gives us all the reason to comes back to Doi Inthanon cause in Birding lifers cannot be keeps pouring. A few young children in their hand a few bunch of flowers keeps pestering us to buy from them. This young children can speak very good American English, therefore don't bully them. They just want to earn some pocket monies. A bunch of flowers is only 10baht. Uncle B bought a bunch of flowers from them and he then hand this flowers to me. As of today this bunch of flowers are in my house living hall.

We then head to Royal Project to try our luck having in mind to met up the Common Rosefinch. Setting goals for able to tick this spp and that spp is norm but able to see them is another stories. That morning I realised that Agricultural Royal Project is indeed very huge.
Coincidentally we bird near Ling's Farm that morning. That site can gives us a good view on the valley with rows and rows of vegetables plots. Mam our thai birder friend met some farmers and as they exchange some greetings she asked about the Daurian Redstart, a good quality migrants that we wish to tick. That farmer replied Daurian Redstart oooh is actually now at my come.. come.. We all rush from all directions to Daurian Redstart. The farmers normally would spread some seeds as an offering to the bird. Daurian Redstart would linger at his farm until the migrant season is over. He mentioned that it has been a few years already that this same Daurian Redstart would be wintering at his farm. A few of my friends use the tree trunk to hide of their present. I sat on the ground with less movements to view and takes it's photos. This bird I realised behave alittle bit cautions of it's surrounding as we try to aim for a better pictures. Someone in our group says.. let try with no flash/lower down the flash as to not to scared it.
While waiting for the Daurian Redstart to appear to feeds again, I noticed Olive Backed Pipit and some warbler. None of my friends bother them cause everyone wish to have a better glance of the Daurian Redstart. I point my lens to one of the character (The Olive Backed Pipit).
Everyone is with good smile on their face as we never could expect to be able to tick Daurian Redstart. At about 11am we head down to KM26 to check out. The weather is a bit warm now. Now in the daylight I have a better looks at this small kampung type of accommodation that we spend a night. Inside this hut, it lay 2 very big hand made hard mattress. Each mattress can fits 3 person laying down like corpse. The bathroom and toilet is attached outside of this hut. The rental of this hut is not cheap, 1000Baht per night.
This is one of the van that we hire together with it's driver for our birding trips. Very cozy van and the drivers is a very skillful driver.
After I have settled the bill at Karen Eco-Lodge we head down to KM14 - Doi Inthanon National Park Information Center, overlooking the Mae Klang river on the left. The road passes through open dry dipterocarp forest. Aim to hunt for the Collared Falconet by scanning on those tress as show at the picture below. This is my second time stop-over at this spot, we scan on every tree tops to look out for a bird like the Black-Thighed Falconet. We sighted no Falconet :-(
This is how they keeps this national park clean. This is how the maintenace worker do their jobs. They use hand to pick up any unwanted rubbish. I was quite impress on their attitudes towards their jobs.
The information centre at KM14 is worthwhile to walk in. The poster of Birdlife at Doi Inthanon inform us that at the top those are the amount of birds that can be found years back as the times past the amount of birds is at the bottom chart. Well birdlifes gone due to habitat lost is one of the factors. :-(

Here we sighted a Grey Headed Canary Flycatcher.
2 lovers bird - Black Crested Bulbul keeping each other company.
A flock of Eurasian Jay. This bird perched very high.
We also sighted Orange-Fronted Leafbird, Coppersmith Barbet.
I can conclude that Doi Inthanon is indeed a must place to go for every birders, here is the foothill of the himalayan range. Bird life here is very different from what Malaysia can offer. I would come back again Doi Inthanon and hopes to be able to pick up more lifers.
If you are planning for a birding trips to Doi Inthanon, do click on the url link below.