Mae Wong: 10-14 October 2011


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10-14 October 2011.
Cool to hot, partly cloudy. Mainly dry with light rain on last two days.
Mae Wong National Park.

10 Oct. With Steve Tibbett. Our first trip to Mae Wong, and initiated with some intrepidation, as the last couple of weeks had been some of the worst flooding in central Thailand for decades. We were aware that travel farther south than Nakhon Sawan was impossible, but figured we'd give it a try to drive to Mae Wong. The primary aim was to find any of the western specialities that Mae Wong offers. With less traffic on the roads - due to the floods no long distance busses travelling to Bangkok - we made good time, and about five hours after leaving Chiang Mai arrived on the outskirts of Mae Wong. Given the presence of a few resorts outside the park we didn't waste time reserving, but headed straight to the park. Staff at the checkpoint were slightly hesitant to let us in; checking ahead to ascertain if the park was open? Once at the HQ, securing the permit to allow the car up to Chong Yen took a while, but eventually was sorted. Apparently it's not possible to have a permit for more than one day/trip, so for tomorrow it looked like we'd have to hang around waiting for the office to open to get a permit. Arrived at Chong Yen quite late around 16:30. Weather pretty good but no hornbills in any of the valleys below, or around the campsite. Time of day meant few birds were in evidence, although Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler and White-browed Scimitar Babbler were heard. As our main aim this afternoon had been to reconnoitre the road up, which appeared in fair condition, we headed back out of the park after dark and secured a room at the Makbun Resort. One of the few restaurants in Khlong Lan was still open after 20:00.

Marbled Cat
Leopard Cat

treefall
Tree fall on Chong Yen road

bumble bee
blue bumble bee

Brown Gorgon
Brown Gorgon

11 Oct. Arrived at the checkpoint around 06:30 where the ranger kindly allowed us to proceed up to Chong Yen without a permit, simply logging us into his book on the proviso we returned today. A few stops en route, including the Kiew Krating Viewpoint, where several pairs of Large Scimitar Babbler were vocal and allowed brief views. Nearer the top a pack of five Dhole were encountered on the road - rather unexpected! We made Chong Yen about 08:00 and first off tried the old Umpang road. At this time of year it was more of a stream, and combined with the tall, wet vegetation and plenty of leeches this was not not ideal. The main target was Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler which had been heard the previous evening. However, these proved not to be, but a very welcome pair of Rufous-browed Flycatcher were vocal and enticed into view. Continuing on the Umpang road proved rather too difficult so we returned to the campsite where a pair of Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler were seen briefly behind the ranger's house. From here we walked several kilometres back down the road during the morning with a few feeding flocks containing Dark-backed Sibia, Olive Bulbul, Davison's Leaf Warbler and Striated Yuhina. Late morning a group of seven Wreathed Hornbill flew over. Best was Leopard Cat at close range. Lunch was taken at the Khun Nam Yen Viewpoint but other than rain showers, little was seen. A couple of hours then spent walking sections of road in this area, but nothing of note encountered, so returned to Chong Yen where a further pair of Wreathed Hornbill flew over. In the last hour of light returned to the viewpoint and added Dollarbird and Brown-backed Needletail to the list. Drove back to the lower checkpoint after dark to find the gate locked and staff gone home, so had to drive down the steep roadside bank - only possible with a 4x4. Dinner in town again.

12 Oct. Usual start to the checkpoint for Chong Yen. Different ranger on duty this morning, who wanted us to leave a driving licence at the checkpoint. However, this not a good idea as returning after dark would mean driving licence not returnable, so after a few minutes chat he let us in without ado and we drive to the Khun Nam Yen viewpoint where we spent the next three hours. Quite a lot of migration through the hills with numbers of Barn Swallow, Black-naped Oriole and Chinese Sparrowhawk. Other new species added to the list included Greater Flameback, Black-eared Kite and Rufous-throated Partridge. Around 10:00 left for Chong Yen, adding Crab-eating Mongoose slinking off the road. After doing the campsite area walked the first couple of kilometres downhill seeing Stripe-breasted Woodpecker and Pale Blue Flycatcher. Lunch at the viewpoint again - more for convenience than birds, and then walked the lower section between there and half way to Chong Yen, but not seeing a great deal. Late afternoon slogged up the new viewpoint trail above the campsite. Spectacular views from the top but leeches and biting flies bad. Late afternoon drove down, where again the checkpoint was locked so had to make the same detour around the barrier. Into town where we discovered the three fuel stations in Khlong Lan all close by 18:00.

13 Oct. Arrived at the usual lower checkpoint just after 06:00. Three days and three different rangers on the checkpoint and three different requirements to gain entry. Today it was simply a matter of signing the book and we were waved in. On the drive up a pair of Kalij Pheasant were disturbed. First stop the view point at Khun Nam Yen, but much quieter today, with little sign of migration other than a few Olive-backed Pipit and Black-naped Oriole. Around 09:00 proceeded to the Chong Yen campsite, again looking unsuccessfully for the Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler. Spent the best part of the morning walking the upper three kilometres of road adding Verditer Flycatcher as well as disturbing a group of partridges which were probably Rufous-throated Partridge. Between lunch and early afternoon we hung out at the campsite where several Gould's Sunbird were a surprise, being slightly out of range. Mid afternoon rain started, so we retreated to lower levels birding forest along the road finding Brown-cheeked Fulvetta and Ashy Minivet. Left the park slightly earlier in order to find fuel in town. Thereafter back to the accommodation to survey the damage to bodies, done by the insects of Mae Wong which after three days can be quite extensive!

Blue-bearded Bee-eater
Blue-bearded Bee-eater

14 Oct. Waved through the checkpoint and straight up to the Khun Nam Yen viewpoint, seeing a further Leopard Cat. First bird was a distant perched Oriental Hobby which caught and ate two passerines with ease. Other birds of interest included Siberian Rubythroat, Lanceolated Warbler and Brown-backed Needletail. With it quietening down by 09:00 we continued up to Chong Yen where a fruiting tree held the odd collection of Greater Yellownape, Lesser Yellownape, Stripe-breasted Woodpecker and Long-tailed Sibia. A further couple of hours here and along the road failed to produce the desired Burmese Yuhina and Rufous-necked Hornbill and by lunchtime we sadly had to leave for the drive north.

A very memorable trip, not least due to some great mammals as well as the constant struggle to keep the biting flies at bay. Wonderful to have had the whole national park to ourselves for the week - the lack of disturbance probably accounting for our mammal encounters. Highly recommended.

Species List

  Common Name Count
  Rufous-throated Partridge 4
  Bar-backed Partridge 2
  Kalij Pheasant 4
  Oriental Honey Buzzard 4
  Black-eared Kite 1
  Shikra 3
  Chinese Sparrowhawk 22
  Besra 1
  Black Eagle 2
  Mountain Hawk-Eagle 3
  Common Kestrel 1
  Oriental Hobby 1
  Red-wattled Lapwing 3
  Rock Dove 4
  Red Turtle Dove 1
  Spotted Dove 1
  Pin-tailed Green Pigeon 20
  Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon 4
  Mountain Imperial Pigeon 50
  Greater Coucal 2
  Lesser Coucal 1
  Green-billed Malkoha 3
  Collared Owlet 5
  Asian Barred Owlet 2
  Large-tailed Nightjar 1
  Brown-backed Needletail 6
  Asian Palm Swift 100
  Indian Roller 2
  Oriental Dollarbird 2
  Blue-bearded Bee-eater 4
  Wreathed Hornbill 29
  Great Barbet 20
  Golden-throated Barbet 10
  Blue-throated Barbet 10
  Blue-eared Barbet 2
  Speckled Piculet 2
  White-browed Piculet 4
  Stripe-breasted Woodpecker 4
  Greater Yellownape 1
  Lesser Yellownape 2
  Greater Flameback 1
  Bay Woodpecker 15
  Blue Pitta 4
  Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike 10
  Common Iora 1
  Large Cuckooshrike 20
  Black-winged Cuckooshrike 5
  Ashy Minivet 2
  Grey-chinned Minivet 12
  Short-billed Minivet 10
  Scarlet Minivet 4
  Brown Shrike 2
  Grey-backed Shrike 1
  White-bellied Erpornis 4
  Blyth's Shrike-babbler 1
  Black-naped Oriole 40
  Black Drongo 1
  Ashy Drongo 25
  Bronzed Drongo 8
  Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo 2
  Hair-crested Drongo 30
  Greater Racket-tailed Drongo 4
  White-throated Fantail 4
  Black-naped Monarch 2
  Blyth's Paradise Flycatcher 1
  Grey Treepie 30
  Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher 10
  Yellow-cheeked Tit 3
  Black-headed Bulbul 2
  Black-crested Bulbul 10
  Sooty-headed Bulbul 4
  Stripe-throated Bulbul 2
  Flavescent Bulbul 40
  Olive Bulbul 2
  Mountain Bulbul 10
  Ashy Bulbul 20
  Black Bulbul 30
  Barn Swallow 20
  Asian House Martin 4
  Striated Swallow 2
  Yellow-browed Warbler 30
  Greenish Warbler 2
  Davison's Leaf Warbler 20
  Alström's Warbler 2
  Chestnut-crowned Warbler 1
  Baikal Bush Warbler 2
  Lanceolated Warbler 4
  Hill Prinia 2
  Common Tailorbird 2
  Dark-necked Tailorbird 1
  Large Scimitar Babbler 8
  White-browed Scimitar Babbler 6
  Red-billed Scimitar Babbler 3
  Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler 4
  Grey-throated Babbler 4
  Spot-necked Babbler 6
  Rufous-fronted Babbler 2
  Golden Babbler 10
  Pin-striped Tit-Babbler 25
  Brown-cheeked Fulvetta 10
  Yunnan Fulvetta 30
  Streaked Wren-Babbler 2
  Collared Babbler 6
  Abbott's Babbler 5
  Puff-throated Babbler 2
  Buff-breasted Babbler 2
  White-necked Laughingthrush 6
  Black-throated Laughingthrush 4
  Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush 6
  Dark-backed Sibia 2
  Long-tailed Sibia 4
  Striated Yuhina 40
  Oriental White-eye 50
  Velvet-fronted Nuthatch 2
  Common Hill Myna 2
  Common Myna 1
  Blue Whistling Thrush 4
  White-rumped Shama 3
  Stejneger's Stonechat 1
  Blue Rock Thrush 3
  Dark-sided Flycatcher 4
  Asian Brown Flycatcher 2
  Taiga Flycatcher 50
  Verditer Flycatcher 3
  Pale Blue Flycatcher 1
  Hill Blue Flycatcher 10
  Rufous-browed Flycatcher 6
  Blue-winged Leafbird 1
  Orange-bellied Leafbird 1
  Plain Flowerpecker 3
  Olive-backed Sunbird 1
  Mrs. Gould's Sunbird 3
  Black-throated Sunbird 12
  Little Spiderhunter 3
  Streaked Spiderhunter 30
  White-rumped Munia 15
  Forest Wagtail 1
  Grey Wagtail 6
  Richard's Pipit 2