Ob Luang National Park: 22 June 2012






22 June 2012.
Humid. Mostly overcast with showers later.
Ob Luang National Park and Doi Inthanon National Park (in part).

22 Jun. With Steve Tibbett. Although known mostly for its prehistoric artefacts, local birders know Ob Luang as one of the few places in Thailand where Brown Dipper has been recorded. Whilst this bird is undoubtedly a winter vagrant, we decided to visit to check the place over and survey the habitats for potential future visits. The scenery is impressive, and the rocky gorge and boulder strewn river looks ideal for wintering dipper. The immediate surrounding forest is mostly dry Dipterocarp ranging from 350 - 450 metres altitude. Farther into the park are higher hills, but these are not readily accessible. We checked the river, the Prehistoric Nature Trail and a side trail along the river.

Ob Luang gorge
Ob Luang gorge

Black Rajah
Black Rajah

The drive from Chiang Mai took around an hour and a half, with us arriving around 08:30. Having paid the usual entrance fee we scanned the river which appears pretty attractive to Blue Whistling Thrush. Other than that the only birds present in the damp, overcast conditions were Eastern Jungle Crow and Common Tailorbird - not a very promising start. A short walk took us over the gorge bridge (not advised for those with a fear of heights as the handrail is only about half a metre high) to the start of the Prehistoric Nature Trail. This 550 metre loop trail held a number of interesting archeological artefacts, including 2,500 year old rock paintings, but very few birds;

Long-net Stinkhorn - Phallus indusiatus

Prehistoric Nature Trail
Prehistoric Nature Trail

White-rumped Shama, Blue-naped Monarch, White-crested Laughingthrush and some overhead Himalayan Swiftlet. On completing the loop we followed the trail downstream seeing additional Blue Whistling Thrush. The trail then turned inland, which we followed uphill for about 300 metres until it simply petered out. Returning to the main parking area we spent more time scanning the river. A Black Baza flew overhead.

Having pretty much exhausted the immediate area we decided to investigate one of the other mentioned waterfalls around Km 9, back toward the town of Hot. Whilst we found the trail OK, the stream here had no flowing water, so we decided to head back to Chiang Mai taking the back road via Mae Chaem to Doi Inthanon where we spend the last couple of hours in showers around the campsite and waterfalls at Mae Pan. It was interesting to note that access via this back road to Doi Inthanon National Park has no checkpoint so access through and into the park does not require an entrance fee. Despite the showers the birding was quite productive with Buff-breasted Babbler, Long-tailed Broadbill and a good flock of Striated Yuhina. Decided to spend the last hour up at checkpoint 2, but found it fogged in, raining and cold, so headed back to Chiang Mai.

Species List

  Ob Luang Count   Doi Inthanon Count
  Black Baza 1   Common Emerald Dove 1
  Asian Barred Owlet 1   Green-billed Malkoha 2
  Himalayan Swiftlet 15   Blue-throated Barbet 1
  Lineated Barbet 1   Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker 1
  Coppersmith Barbet 1   Stripe-breasted Woodpecker 1
  Common Iora 1   Scarlet Minivet 4
  Black-hooded Oriole 2   Bronzed Drongo 2
  Black-naped Monarch 2   Grey-eyed Bulbul 1
  Black-crested Bulbul 2   Ashy Bulbul 4
  Streak-eared Bulbul 2   Buff-breasted Babbler 1
  Striated Swallow 2   Striated Yuhina 35
  Common Tailorbird 2   Oriental White-eye 2
  White-crested Laughingthrush 2   Hill Blue Flycatcher 2
  White-rumped Shama 3   Streaked Spiderhunter 1
  Tickell's Blue Flycatcher 1      
  Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker 1