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


nickupton said...

The summit of Doi Inthanon is a superb place for bird photos and you seem to have captured all the regular species there.

You should try the lower elevations too for some other great birds.

Wong Chor Mun said...

OOOhh Nick hi,
thanks for drop in to my blog.
Hmmm Lower elevations for some other great birds. Me and friends tried KM37.5, 34.5 43, 23, Uncle Daeng place, Royal Project, Huai Sai Leung Waterfall, Siriphun Waterfall. Anymore lower good trails.. Maybe during the time of my visit the great/uncommon birds went for a hide.. Will go back there again in the future to look out for them... :-) Anyway Doi Inthanon, Doi Ang Khang, Doi Chiang Doa is indeed a good birding grounds.. Me and my teamates owe it to you for your generous sharing at