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Northern Thailand with Paul

This trip kicked off with a 5am start driving from Bangkok to Chiang Mai airport to pick up a good friend, Paul. We arrived at Phumanee Resort in Fang at around 5pm and after a bite to eat and a few cold ones, we turned in to await the next day.

Day 1. For the first day, we decided to head for Doi Lang on the west side. The first stop off landed us; Hume’s Pheasant, Mountain-Bamboo Partridges, Ultramarine Flycatcher, Chestnut-Bellied Rockthrush and Japanese Tit amongst many other good birds. We proceeded along the road bagging many more species until we finally reached the army checkpoint. Species of note along the way included; Crimson-Breasted Woodpecker, Black-Throated Tits, White-Gorgeted Flycatcher, Hill Prinia and White-Bellied Redstart. At the checkpoint area we also added Brown-Breasted Bulbul, Spectacled Barwing, Little-Pied Flycatcher and Crested Finchbills.

A total of 51 species were recorded for the day.

Ultramarine Flycatcher at Doi Lang
Ultramarine Flycatcher
White-Gorgeted Flycatcher at Doi Lang
White-Gorgeted Flycatcher

Day 2. After a good night of great food and the usual “cold ones”, we kicked off at 5:30 to Doi Lang on the east side and up to Doi Sanju viewpoint. The first main port of call was the army checkpoint stakeout area for the Scarlet-Faced Liocichla, White-Tailed Blue-Robin, Himalayan Bluetail and for me, long awaited pictures of a Spectacled Barwing. Again, as always in my previous visits the Barwings didn’t show for pictures, although they were clearly seen in a tree nearby. We were, however rewarded with Paul’s eagle eyes picking out a male Hodgson’s Frogmouth sitting on a nest… What a spot that was… We also got great views of Yellow-Bellied Fantails, Golden-Throated Barbets and Whiskered Yuhinas. Up at Sanju Viewpoint we picked up Gould’s Sunbird, Blyth’s Shrike-Babbler and Yellow-Cheeked Tits. On the way back, I tried again for the Barwing, but still a no show… (This bird really has it in for me, although I have seen it many times, photographs have always eluded me..)

A total of 34 new trip species were recorded for the day. (Excluding those seen on previous days)

Hodgson's Frogmouth at Doi Lang
Hodgson's Frogmouth

Day 3. After the usual evening antics, we kicked off again just after 5am and headed for Doi Angkang. Roadside birding turned up some nice species including: Silver-Eared Mesia, Spectacled Barwings (finally, some pics..) and Burmese Shrike. At the beginning of the Firebreak Trail, a Rusty-Naped Pitta put in an all but brief showing. The Kings Project area is a fantastic birding area where many birds have found safety and refuge. During our trip around the area, the best birds were Black-Breasted Thrush, Durian Redstart, Gould’s Sunbird, Oriental White-Eye and Chestnut-Vented Nuthatch. For the rest of the day and the drive back we picked up more species including Striated Yuhinas, Striated Bulbul, Mountain Bulbul and Chinese Leaf-Warbler. A total of 35 new trip species were recorded for the day. (Excluding those seen on previous days)

Spectacled Barwing
Spectacled Barwing

Day 4. We had made plans to drive to Chiang Rai for the Rusty-Naped Pitta, but decided to head back to Doi Lang west side to try to bag a few missed targets from Monday. The main targets for the day would be Parrotbills and the Himalayan Cutia. Arriving at a likely spot, almost immediately after a little playback, a single, confiding Spot-Breasted Parrotbill sat less than 2 meters from our lenses!! After a wait, eventually the Himalayan Cutia put in a show, and what a great looker this bird is. A pair of Black-Throated Tits were busy feeding chicks nearby and the Grey-Headed Parrotbill also put in a good show in a tree above. Amazingly, in the same Erythrina tree, feeding from the red flowers we saw Rusty-Cheeked Scimitar Babblers, White-Browed Laughingthrush, Orange-Bellied Leafbird, Dark-Backed Sibia, various Bulbuls and even a Stripe-Breasted Woodpecker !! We headed off to the checkpoint area for a spot of lunch where we got glimpses of the Crimson-Breasted Woodpecker again. A slow drive back bagged more birds with the last species being a Long-Tailed Broadbill.

A total of 11 new trip species were recorded for the day. (Excluding those seen on previous days)

Himalayan Cutia at Doi Lang
Himalayan Cutia

Day 5. Our final day together kicked off at 5am to head to Mueang Khong for the Crested Kingfisher. After setting up the hides on the river bank, it wasn’t long before in flew the female with fish in beak. Around 40 minutes later the male turned up to take over the feeding role. What an absolutely awesome kingfisher this one is….. Along the river we also saw White-Throated, Common and Black-Capped Kingfishers, White Wagtails and Little-Ringed Plover. On the drive back we picked up on the call of a Bay Woodpecker, which we managed to get fleeting views of. We headed back to Chiang Mai where Paul was dropped off for his flight back home and I carried on to Mae Ping for a bit of solo birding the next day.

A total of 15 new trip species were recorded for the day. (Excluding those seen on previous days)

Crested Kingfisher
Crested Kingfisher
Crested Kingfisher
Crested Kingfisher

Day 6. I arrived in Mae Ping National Park at first light where I immediately latched on to Black-Headed Woodpeckers by their very characteristic calls. Along the road Common and Greater Flamebacks showed well, as well as the awesome White-Bellied Woodpecker. An Indian Cuckoo posed nicely in a tree and a flock of Grey-Headed Parakeets topped the drive up to the campsite. I hunted around the campsite area for the White-Rumped Falcon, but sadly dipped on this one. The drive out turned up a few more species, but by this time the constant buzzing of Cicadas was beginning to get too much… All that remained was the 7+ hour drive home. A total of 19 new trip species were recorded for the day. (Excluding those seen on previous days)

Grey-Headed Parakeet at Mae Ping NP
Grey-Headed Parakeet

What a fantastic trip this had been with 95%of targets seen and over 150 different species recorded. Great company with Paul, new friends made and old friends met, this truly was a trip to not forget…

If anyone is interested in doing a similar trip, drop me a line at Checklists;

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