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Omkoi Wildlife Sanctuary: 1 - 3 Nov 2017


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1 - 3 Nov 2017
Dry and bright, with some scattered cloud. Temperatures ranged from 16°C to 32°C.
Omkoi and Omkoi Wildlife Sanctuary.

With Steve Tibbett. Despite being only a three and a half hour drive from Chiang Mai, the Omkoi area has been largely ignored by birders or naturalists. The last birding information we could find was from the 1980's! The lack of visitors is likely due to the proximity of the more easily accessible Doi Inthanon and other established areas of interest. The aim of this trip was to explore the Omkoi area, checking habitat and access, with a focus on birds and butterflies.

From its turnoff of Highway 108, after Ob Luang National Park, Highway 1099 is paved for 122 kilometres - passing through Omkoi after 50 kilometres and continuing through Omkoi Wildlife Sanctuary as far as the village of Ban Mae Tuen. We found several tracks and trails directly from the highway and were generally impressed with the state of remaining habitat, other than at the highest point of the road, at 1,200 metres, that is now almost totally cleared for agriculture.

1 Nov. Left Chiang Mai, driving to Omkoi in a little over three hours. The ten kilometre stretch of road before Omkoi was well forested with dry Dipterocarp and looked interesting. This small town is touristic to some extent, as at 800 metres altitude the cool winter weather attracts visitors, so a few resorts can be found in and around town, that additionally has stores, small restaurants and even a 7-Eleven - so logistics easy to come by. Having checked into the first accommodation we came across, we continued about 30 kilometres south of town, as far as the highest point of the road at the Doi Muser View Point with its Buddha statue. Rather windy, so butterflies not much in evidence, though the large extent of cabbage fields made for Small Cabbage White being abundant.

From here, a slow drive down toward the wildlife sanctuary, where hot by mid afternoon. We looked briefly at the stream by the sanctuary office and at a couple of short trails nearby before heading to the end of the road to check habitat. Discovered that once beyond the sanctuary boundary not worth bothering with, so drove the 70 kilometres back to Omkoi.

2 Nov. Initially tried the dry forest just south of Omkoi. Quite disappointing for both birds and butterflies, perhaps because of the relatively high altitude, above 800 metres, and cool weather. Again little around the view point other than a few Brown-backed Needletail and Long-tailed Minivet, so headed directly to the sanctuary headquarters area where we spent several hours, finding Black-headed Woodpecker, Greater Yellownape, Collared Falconet, Kalij Pheasant and Grey-headed Parakeet. Late afternoon, on the return, we checked a few dirt tracks randomly with varying success - best butterfly sighting being Club Silverline.

3 Nov. Headed a few kilometres north of Omkoi and tried a track at random. Seemingly good forest, especially for butterflies, and we ended up spending six hours walking a network of open trails through dry forest. Very good for butterflies but surprisingly poor birding. A mid afternoon return to Chiang Mai. All in all better than expected, with good habitat and easy logistics.

Black-headed Woodpecker
Black-headed Woodpecker

Kalij Pheasant
Kalij Pheasant

Club Silverline
Club Silverline

Common Gem
Common Gem

Species List

  Omkoi Count     Count
  Kalij Pheasant 3   Black-crested Bulbul 3
  Chinese Pond Heron 4   Red-whiskered Bulbul 3
  Eastern Cattle Egret 10   Sooty-headed Bulbul 4
  Grey-faced Buzzard 2   Barn Swallow 10
  White-breasted Waterhen 2   Asian House Martin 4
  Spotted Dove 4   Dusky Warbler 1
  Zebra Dove 3   Yellow-browed Warbler 3
  Greater Coucal 2   Hume's Leaf Warbler 2
  Asian Barred Owlet 1   Two-barred Warbler 3
  Brown-backed Needletail 15   Rufescent Prinia 2
  Indian Roller 2   Common Tailorbird 3
  Common Kingfisher 1   Pin-striped Tit-Babbler 4
  Blue-bearded Bee-eater 2   Buff-breasted Babbler 2
  Great Barbet 1   White-crested Laughingthrush 2
  Lineated Barbet 2   Great Myna 10
  Blue-throated Barbet 2   Common Myna 10
  Greater Yellownape 1   Oriental Magpie-Robin 2
  Black-headed Woodpecker 1   Hill Blue Flycatcher 2
  Common Flameback 2   Tickell's Blue Flycatcher 1
  Collared Falconet 1   Blue Whistling Thrush 2
  Common Kestrel 1   Taiga Flycatcher 2
  Grey-headed Parakeet 6   Grey Bush Chat 2
  Long-tailed Minivet 25   Mrs. Gould's Sunbird 2
  Brown Shrike 2   Streaked Spiderhunter 1
  Black Drongo 10   Eurasian Tree Sparrow 2
  Black-naped Monarch 3   White Wagtail 2
  Grey Treepie 4   Olive-backed Pipit 3
  Eastern Jungle Crow 10