Northern Mountains: 14-24 January 2014


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14 - 24 January 2014.
Dry, very cold to warm depending on altitude, some early fog and haze.
Doi Lang, Doi Ang Khang and Doi Inthanon National Park.

With, in parts, Howard Jolliffe, Simon Buckingham, Malcolm Goodman and Phil Hansbro. A few days in the northern mountains targeting various specialities and winter visitors.

14 Jan. Collected Howard, Simon and Malcolm at Chiang Mai, and headed to Fang, with a brief stop at Chiang Dao paddies late afternoon. With little time, only a few highlights, including Grey-headed Lapwing, Lanceolated Warbler heard and Citrine Wagtail. Overnight in Fang town.

Fire-tailed Sunbird
Fire-tailed Sunbird

Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush
Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush

15 Jan. Arrived early morning at the entrance barrier on the west side of Doi Lang. Despite the early hour, staff were present demanding 400 Baht entrance fee. Challenging this, pointing out that last week it was 200 Baht, the fee was immediately dropped to 200 Baht. Something fishy going on here!

The first bird on the road up was Mountain Bamboo Partridge, giving close, extended views. Next stop was one of the major photoshoot places, but with the cold temperatures activity was virtually non-existent, so instead we spent a couple of hours walking the more forested section before the upper checkpoint, which in the early sun was very productive with Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Black-throated Bushtit, Pallas's Leaf Warbler, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler, Spot-breasted Parrotbill, White-tailed Robin, Giant Nuthatch heard, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Large Niltava, Slaty-blue Flycatcher and Sapphire Flycatcher.

With only a full day available in the mountain we pressed on, past the summit to the San Ju viewpoint area where a good collection comprised female Blue-fronted Redstart, at least eight Fire-tailed Sunbird, Common Rosefinch, Red-flanked Bluetail, and Golden Bush Robin.

Grey Bush Chat
Grey Bush Chat

The remainder of the day spent along upper elevations beyond the top army camp with Grey-sided Thrush, White-gorgeted Flycatcher, White-necked Laughingthrush, Scarlet-faced Liocichla, Spectacled Barwing and Whiskered Yuhina. On the return we stopped again on the drier slope with Crested Bunting giving some frustrating views.

16 Jan. Started again on Doi Lang, with Mountain Bamboo Partridge in the same spot as yesterday, and a group of Crested Bunting on the road beyond the checkpoint. Most of the morning then spent looking for the recently reported Long-tailed Thrush but without success.

We did however record Barred Cuckoo-Dove, Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, Black-eared Shrike-babbler, Yellow-browed Tit, Chestnut-headed Tesia, Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler, White-necked Laughingthrush, Rufous-backed Sibia and Whiskered Yuhina in the process. Ultramarine Flycatcher still present as we left the mountain. Drove to Doi Ang Khang, arriving around 14:30. In the Ban Luang Resort garden we found Grey-winged Blackbird, White-headed Bulbul and Crested Finchbill. Much cooler here, and we started in the cemetery area, with Buff-throated Warbler, Aberrant Bush Warbler and a female Slaty-blue Flycatcher. At dusk we tried the Arunothai road for nightbirds, but with only a single Mountain Scops Owl calling.

17 Jan. Early attempts to rustle up Russet Bush Warbler were partially successful, being seen by two of the four present. A short trip along the Arunothai road didn't locate any Mrs. Hume's Pheasant, but we did obtain great views of Collared Owlet. Next up we tried the Km 21 trail with more partial success, locating a singing Spot-throated Babbler which remained singing but unseen - typical for this ulta-skulker. Birding here, as far as the Ridge Trail, we found Rufous-throated Partridge, Scarlet-faced Liocichla, Spectacled Barwing, Common Rosefinch and a Chestnut Bunting. A walk along the length of the Mae Phur valley produced nothing much of note. An evening attempt birding here was as equally unproductive as yesterday.

18 Jan. A last try for Russet Bush Warbler, with one bird calling briefly, but unseen. Returned to Chiang Mai for drop off at airport.

19 Jan. Collected Phil and drove to Fang, arriving late.

20 Jan. Taking the western road up Doi Lang, pre dawn, our first surprise was a Common Palm Civet running across the road, even before we arrived at the park entrance. This time, no mysterious 400 Baht entrance fee - just the standard 200 Baht. As cool and early, no Ultramarine Flycatcher performing, so we continued as far as a large group of photographers in the road waiting for Mountain Bamboo Partridge, which we also gave a miss and headed to drier forest higher up.

In a few hours here, including a lengthy walk, we recorded an impressive range of birds including Giant Nuthatch, Hume's Treecreeper, Spot-breasted Parrotbill, Slaty-blue Flycatcher, Large Niltava, White-gorgeted Flycatcher, White-browed Laughingthrush, and Rufous-backed Sibia. A couple of stops at open areas higher were largely unproductive, though did include an Asian Fairy-bluebird at 1,640 metres. Around the San Ju viewpoint were at least seven Fire-tailed Sunbird, Golden Bush Robin, Blue-fronted Redstart and Red-flanked Bluetail.

Ultramarine Flycatcher
Ultramarine Flycatcher

Grey-winged Blackbird
Grey-winged Blackbird

Black Forester
Black Forester

White-browed Laughingthrush
White-browed Laughingthrush

Most of the afternoon in the wetter forest from San Ju to the upper army camp with Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, Maroon Oriole, Crested Finchbill, White-necked Laughingthrush, Scarlet-faced Liocichla, Long-tailed Sibia and Spectacled Barwing. On the return trip to Fang, Ultramarine Flycatcher and Crested Bunting were notable.

21 Jan. In strong contrast to yesterday, it was thick fog all the way up Doi Lang. Our first stop was to successfully peer through the mist at Mountain Bamboo Partridge feeding along the road edge, where we also heard a distant calling Giant Nuthatch. Continuing upward, the main photoshoot locations were packed with photographers, so decided to try some areas up the mountain for some peace and quiet. We stopped at a very degraded open area to look at scrub and fields and were very surprised with a flock of six Speckled Wood Pigeon passing.

Having successfully found most of the drier habitat species yesterday we concentrated efforts on the eastern side, which for much of the morning was overcast, windy and cold. A series of longer walks slowly racked up many interesting species including Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Red-headed Trogon, Black-eared Shrike-babbler, Whiskered Yuhina, Hume's Treecreeper, Eyebrowed Thrush, Grey-winged Blackbird and Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher. At the upper army camp new arrivals at the feeding areas were Grey-winged Blackbird and Chestnut Thrush.

Chestnut Thrush
Chestnut Thrush

22 Jan. Although planning to drive to Doi Inthanon, so as to make use of the early daylight we deviated to Doi Ang Khang, arriving at the King's Project shortly after first light. Along the road up a small weasel ran across the road that, from the pale throat, was most likely a Stripe-backed Weasel; a seemingly rarely recorded species. Birds at the photoshoot feeding station seemed somewhat lethargic, but with improving light came several Black-breasted Thrush, White-tailed Robin, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Hill Blue Flycatcher and Oriental Magpie-Robin. The plum trees at this time were in full flower, with an invasion of White-headed Bulbul; at least 200, as well as scores of Black Bulbul. On upper stretches of the Arunothai road we had Chestnut Bunting, Grey-crowned Warbler, Mrs. Hume's Pheasant and Daurian Redstart.

With time pressing, we left for Doi Inthanon, arriving mid afternoon. With our luck continuing, the first bird was a Dark-sided Thrush in the gully behind Mr. Daeng's. The remainder of the day along the Km 34 track, recording Mountain Bamboo Partridge, Speckled Piculet, Clicking Shrike-babbler, Buff-throated Warbler, Hume's Leaf Warbler, Grey-crowned Warbler, Aberrant Bush Warbler, White-tailed Robin and Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush.

Brown-breasted Bulbul
Brown-breasted Bulbul - Doi Inthanon

23 Jan. Very cold overnight. We started at summit where the crowds were enjoying the heavy frost and ice covering. Rufous-throated Partridge was found relatively easily, but the usually common Green-tailed Sunbird took almost three hours to track down. Down to the Royal Garden Siribhumi, where fruiting and flowering trees had attracted Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker, many Eyebrowed Thrush, and a range of bulbuls, including many White-headed Bulbul and the first ever Brown-breasted Bulbul for Inthanon.

The afternoon on the Km 37 track with even more Eyebrowed Thrush, Scaly Thrush and a Rusty-naped Pitta bounding down the track. Late afternoon along the Km 34 track with Black-throated Parrotbill the pick of the bunch. Overnight in the freezer again.

24 Jan. Our coldest morning yet - just about zero degrees at Mr. Daeng's, with ice on the vehicle. With only a couple of hours available we opted for the parakeet conservation just outside the park, where we arrived at 07:00. As still cool, no parakeet activity, but with the rising sun and warming conditions, a total of 15 Blossom-headed Parakeet were observed, as well as less than usual Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Peregrine Falcon and Long-tailed Minivet. A short look for Black-tailed Forktail was, as usually, unsuccessful. Mid morning return to Chiang Mai.

Species List

  Doi Lang Count   Chiang Dao paddies Count
  Rufous-throated Partridge 8   Eastern Cattle Egret 50
  Mountain Bamboo Partridge 7   White-breasted Waterhen 1
  Red Junglefowl 1   Grey-headed Lapwing 1
  Crested Serpent Eagle 2   Common Sandpiper 1
  Mountain Hawk-Eagle 1   Spotted Dove 10
  Shikra 1   Himalayan Swiftlet 80
  Speckled Wood Pigeon 6   Coppersmith Barbet 1
  Spotted Dove 6   Black Drongo 4
  Barred Cuckoo-Dove 4   Streak-eared Bulbul 2
  Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon 2   Barn Swallow 10
  Mountain Imperial Pigeon 12   Yellow-browed Warbler 1
  Greater Coucal 6   Grey-crowned Warbler 1
  Collared Owlet 5   Lanceolated Warbler 3
  Cook's Swift 168   Zitting Cisticola 2
  Red-headed Trogon 1   Great Myna 20
  Great Barbet 3   Common Myna 10
  Golden-throated Barbet 5   Stejneger's Stonechat 5
  Blue-throated Barbet 11   Pied Bush Chat 2
  Speckled Piculet 1   Taiga Flycatcher 1
  Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker 1   Eastern Yellow Wagtail 1
  Stripe-breasted Woodpecker 5   Citrine Wagtail 4
  Bay Woodpecker 16   White Wagtail 6
  Rusty-naped Pitta 1   Paddyfield Pipit 3
  Large Cuckooshrike 2      
  Black-winged Cuckooshrike 2   Doi Inthanon Count
  Grey-chinned Minivet 2   Rufous-throated Partridge 3
  Long-tailed Minivet 2   Mountain Bamboo Partridge 4
  Short-billed Minivet 4   Chinese Pond Heron 3
  Scarlet Minivet 4   Oriental Honey Buzzard 3
  Long-tailed Shrike 2   Eastern Buzzard 1
  Grey-backed Shrike 3   Peregrine Falcon 1
  Blyth's Shrike-babbler 3   Ashy Wood Pigeon 1
  Black-eared Shrike-Babbler 3   Spotted Dove 15
  Maroon Oriole 2   Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon 1
  Ashy Drongo 8   Banded Bay Cuckoo 2
  Hair-crested Drongo 14   Collared Scops Owl 1
  White-throated Fantail 2   Asian Barred Owlet 2
  Eurasian Jay 1   Asian Palm Swift 10
  Grey Treepie 17   Cook's Swift 10
  Yellow-bellied Fantail 1   House Swift 1
  Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher 4   Red-headed Trogon 1
  Yellow-browed Tit 3   Great Barbet 3
  Yellow-cheeked Tit 7   Lineated Barbet 1
  Crested Finchbill 39   Golden-throated Barbet 3
  Striated Bulbul 4   Coppersmith Barbet 4
  Black-crested Bulbul 4   Speckled Piculet 1
  Red-whiskered Bulbul 2   Stripe-breasted Woodpecker 2
  Brown-breasted Bulbul 30   Rusty-naped Pitta 1
  Sooty-headed Bulbul 22   Grey-chinned Minivet 4
  Flavescent Bulbul 26   Long-tailed Shrike 8
  Mountain Bulbul 26   Blyth's Shrike-babbler 2
  Ashy Bulbul 35   Clicking Shrike-babbler 1
  Black Bulbul 19   Black-hooded Oriole 2
  White-headed Bulbul 15   Ashy Drongo 2
  Mountain Tailorbird 4   Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo 2
  Chestnut-headed Tesia 3   Hair-crested Drongo 12
  Black-throated Bushtit 4   Greater Racket-tailed Drongo 1
  Buff-throated Warbler 3   White-throated Fantail 4
  Buff-barred Warbler 7   Black-naped Monarch 2
  Pallas's Leaf Warbler 29   Yellow-bellied Fantail 4
  Yellow-browed Warbler 30   Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher 2
  Hume's Leaf Warbler 3   Yellow-cheeked Tit 4
  Claudia's Leaf Warbler 1   Black-headed Bulbul 4
  Davison's Leaf Warbler 56   Black-crested Bulbul 4
  Grey-crowned Warbler 8   Red-whiskered Bulbul 4
  Martens's Warbler 3   Brown-breasted Bulbul 1
  Chestnut-crowned Warbler 7   Sooty-headed Bulbul 4
  Hill Prinia 15   Flavescent Bulbul 10
  Rufescent Prinia 4   Streak-eared Bulbul 8
  Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler 15   Mountain Bulbul 20
  White-browed Scimitar Babbler 8   Ashy Bulbul 6
  Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler 2   Black Bulbul 20
  Buff-chested Babbler 10   White-headed Bulbul 15
  Golden Babbler 8   Barn Swallow 4
  Rufous-winged Fulvetta 50   Asian House Martin 12
  Yunnan Fulvetta 45   Pygmy Wren-babbler 2
  Puff-throated Babbler 1   Yellow-bellied Warbler 4
  White-necked Laughingthrush 22   Aberrant Bush Warbler 3
  White-browed Laughingthrush 32   Buff-throated Warbler 6
  Silver-eared Laughingthrush 27   Buff-barred Warbler 3
  Blue-winged Minla 25   Pallas's Leaf Warbler 2
  Scarlet-faced Liocichla 9   Yellow-browed Warbler 20
  Spectacled Barwing 20   Hume's Leaf Warbler 4
  Rufous-backed Sibia 10   Blyth's Leaf Warbler 20
  Dark-backed Sibia 70   Claudia's Leaf Warbler 2
  Long-tailed Sibia 5   Davison's Leaf Warbler 20
  Grey-headed Parrotbill 8   Grey-crowned Warbler 3
  Spot-breasted Parrotbill 4   Martens's Warbler 1
  Whiskered Yuhina 10   Hill Prinia 6
  Chestnut-flanked White-eye 50   Common Tailorbird 1
  Japanese White-eye 10   White-browed Scimitar Babbler 4
  Asian Fairy-bluebird 1   Rufous-fronted Babbler 4
  Chestnut-vented Nuthatch 8   Chestnut-capped Babbler 3
  Velvet-fronted Nuthatch 2   Rufous-winged Fulvetta 30
  Giant Nuthatch 3   Yunnan Fulvetta 40
  Hume's Treecreeper 6   Eyebrowed Wren-Babbler 2
  Grey-winged Blackbird 1   Puff-throated Babbler 1
  Chestnut Thrush 3   White-necked Laughingthrush 4
  Grey-sided Thrush 1   Silver-eared Laughingthrush 10
  Eyebrowed Thrush 1   Blue-winged Minla 14
  Siberian Rubythroat 4   Bar-throated Minla 15
  Red-flanked Bluetail 4   Silver-eared Mesia 10
  Himalayan Bluetail 32   Rufous-backed Sibia 4
  Golden Bush Robin 1   Dark-backed Sibia 20
  Blue-fronted Redstart 2   Black-throated Parrotbill 5
  White-bellied Redstart 2   Chestnut-flanked White-eye 10
  White-tailed Robin 5   Hume's Treecreeper 3
  Blue Whistling Thrush 27   Great Myna 4
  Siberian Stonechat 4   White's Thrush 1
  Grey Bush Chat 21   Dark-sided Thrush 1
  Blue Rock Thrush 2   Eyebrowed Thrush 40
  Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush 5   Lesser Shortwing 1
  Slaty-backed Flycatcher 1   White-browed Shortwing 1
  Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher 4   Siberian Rubythroat 1
  Ultramarine Flycatcher 2   White-capped Redstart 1
  Slaty-blue Flycatcher 2   White-tailed Robin 1
  Sapphire Flycatcher 3   Blue Whistling Thrush 10
  White-gorgeted Flycatcher 3   Grey Bush Chat 5
  Rufous-bellied Niltava 5   Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush 1
  Large Niltava 13   Slaty-backed Flycatcher 2
  Blue-winged Leafbird 4   Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher 3
  Golden-fronted Leafbird 5   Taiga Flycatcher 3
  Orange-bellied Leafbird 19   White-gorgeted Flycatcher 2
  Fire-breasted Flowerpecker 5   Rufous-bellied Niltava 2
  Mrs. Gould's Sunbird 36   Vivid Niltava 2
  Black-throated Sunbird 11   Large Niltava 6
  Fire-tailed Sunbird 15   Small Niltava 1
  Streaked Spiderhunter 12   Golden-fronted Leafbird 5
  White Wagtail 1   Orange-bellied Leafbird 2
  Olive-backed Pipit 53   Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker 1
  Spot-winged Grosbeak 1   Fire-breasted Flowerpecker 5
  Common Rosefinch 14   Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker 2
  Crested Bunting 15   Purple Sunbird 2
  Little Bunting 20   Mrs. Gould's Sunbird 20
        Green-tailed Sunbird 4
  Doi Ang Khang Count   Black-throated Sunbird 4
  Rufous-throated Partridge 2   Streaked Spiderhunter 4
  Mountain Bamboo Partridge 4   Eurasian Tree Sparrow 30
  Spotted Dove 14   Scaly-breasted Munia 2
  Mountain Imperial Pigeon 2   Grey Wagtail 3
  Greater Coucal 2   Common Rosefinch 12
  Mountain Scops Owl 1      
  Collared Owlet 3      
  Asian Barred Owlet 1      
  Cook's Swift 120      
  Great Barbet 5      
  Stripe-breasted Woodpecker 4      
  Greater Yellownape 1      
  Large Cuckooshrike 1      
  Long-tailed Shrike 2      
  Grey-backed Shrike 1      
  Ashy Drongo 3      
  Bronzed Drongo 8      
  Hair-crested Drongo 12      
  White-throated Fantail 4      
  Grey Treepie 5      
  Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher 3      
  Japanese Tit 2      
  Red-whiskered Bulbul 6      
  Brown-breasted Bulbul 20      
  Sooty-headed Bulbul 16      
  Flavescent Bulbul 10      
  Grey-eyed Bulbul 3      
  Mountain Bulbul 12      
  Ashy Bulbul 15      
  Black Bulbul 75      
  White-headed Bulbul 210      
  Mountain Tailorbird 6      
  Aberrant Bush Warbler 4      
  Buff-throated Warbler 5      
  Pallas's Leaf Warbler 14      
  Yellow-browed Warbler 40      
  Claudia's Leaf Warbler 2      
  Davison's Leaf Warbler 40      
  Grey-crowned Warbler 3      
  Martens's Warbler 2      
  Russet Bush Warbler 2      
  Hill Prinia 6      
  White-browed Scimitar Babbler 8      
  Buff-chested Babbler 4      
  Yunnan Fulvetta 20      
  Spot-throated Babbler 1      
  White-necked Laughingthrush 4      
  White-browed Laughingthrush 20      
  Silver-eared Laughingthrush 10      
  Scarlet-faced Liocichla 4      
  Spectacled Barwing 6      
  Dark-backed Sibia 20      
  Spot-breasted Parrotbill 2      
  Chestnut-flanked White-eye 20      
  Japanese White-eye 23      
  Grey-winged Blackbird 1      
  Oriental Magpie-Robin 2      
  Daurian Redstart 1      
  White-tailed Robin 3      
  Blue Whistling Thrush 9      
  Siberian Stonechat 2      
  Grey Bush Chat 6      
  Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush 2      
  Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher 2      
  Taiga Flycatcher 3      
  Little Pied Flycatcher 4      
  Slaty-blue Flycatcher 1      
  Sapphire Flycatcher 5      
  Hill Blue Flycatcher 4      
  Rufous-bellied Niltava 1      
  Orange-bellied Leafbird 4      
  Mrs. Gould's Sunbird 24      
  Black-throated Sunbird 3      
  Streaked Spiderhunter 4      
  Eurasian Tree Sparrow 20      
  White-rumped Munia 10      
  Grey Wagtail 3      
  White Wagtail 5      
  Olive-backed Pipit 9      
  Spot-winged Grosbeak 5      
  Common Rosefinch 2      
  Chestnut Bunting 4