Friday, December 7, 2018

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Hong Kong 13 May to 18 May 2016

Ruddy Cuckoo-dove and Purple-tailed Imperial Pigeon
Having enjoyed our November trip to Hong Kong it was an easy decision to revisit when we found a March promotional offer on SIA .
Although early summer may not yield the birds we saw in winter, we were quite happy to experience a different season.  We followed the November itinerary booking the same hotel Harbour Plaza Resort at Tin Sui Wai but opted for a shorter stay as we did not visit Maipo this time.  We booked Evergreen near Jordon as we found the area convenient to do some shopping and to visit one of the islands.   Lioe and Linda joined us for the trip but we split up for the second day as Lioe and Linda visited Maipo, while we visited Shek Kong and Kadoorie Farm.
From our previous trips we were familiar with the local buses and used them most of the trip.  On arrival at Hong Kong airport we bought the 8-day SIM card (HKD118) which was more than enough for our 6 days trip.  The bus E34A  at the public bus Ground Transport Center – HKD13.90 per pax was punctual and within 80 mins we arrived Tin Shui Wai Town Centre and walked next door to check into Harbour Plaza.
After a quick lunch at the shopping mall we took bus 276B opposite Ginza shopping centre to Sheung Shui, a 20 mins ride and crossed over at MRT station to the Minibus station for bus 51K, 15 mins ride (HKD5.40)  to Hor Sheung Heung.  We walked over the bridge to Long Valley.  During summer the vegetables grown were the “Kang Kong” not the “Water-cress" we saw in November.  The egrets and herons were there with a Brown Shrike on the wire.  Except for the Chinese Pond herons in breeding plumage we saw none of the migratory water birds that had been there in winter. 
 We went back to the hotel and met up for dinner which was a trip on the LRT to Tsuen Wan West;  took bus 234A to Sham Tseng, and had roast goose at Yue Kee Roast Goose restaurant.  There were other roast goose restaurants in the area but Yue Kee  was where we had previously eaten at and had found the food good.  

On Saturday 14th May while Lioe and Linda went to Maipo Nature Reserve , we we  took the LRT / MRT to Kam Sheung Lu Station.  It was then a taxi to Shek Kong Airfield Road (HKD45) a 10 min drive where we alighted near the canal and did our birding back to Kam Sheung Lu Station.  We were not disappointed as quite quickly we saw a few Red-billed
Red-billed Blue Magpie
Blue Magpies feeding on the papaya tree behind some bushes.
After walking back to Kam Sheung Lu we took mini 64K to Lam Kam Road, it was an uphill ride and the bus stop was just opposite the Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden.   As there was a queue we enquired, and it was to buy tickets for the shuttle bus up to the hill garden.   We bought the 11 o’clock bus and the bus stopped at the different sections of the hill for visitors to alight and explore.  You can then return to wait for the next shuttle to go further.
We decided to alight at the Raptor Sanctury and saw a few Black Kites in the sky.  There were a few raptors that were rescued and being cared in big avairies.

We walked down the hill and took our lunch at the one and only cafe which serves only vegetarian food.  We left at 1.30pm and took the bus to Tai Po Market to change to MRT back to Sheung Shui and bus 276B back to hotel for a rest before meeting up for dinner which was at Yuen Long, taking the LRT.   We tried another roost goose Tin Hung 天鴻燒鵝飯店 but had to wait as it was a small shop at Yan Yee Bldg, 88 Kin Yip St.   On our way
Masked Laughingthrush
back we bought wife biscuits from Hang Heung.

On 15 May – Sunday – we had dim sum breakfast at the Hotel’s restaurant and then took the bus 276B to Sheung Shui, followed by mini bus 51K to Hor Sheung Heung, to give  Lioe and Linda a preview of Long Valley. After birding at the farm land, we returned to Harbour Plaza for a 1 pm check out.  We took a taxi (HKD112) to our next hotel, Evergreen Hotel at Woo Sung Street.   
Harbour Cruise

Harbour Cruise

We then took a bus No.2 to the Star Ferry to buy our tickets for Duk Ling, a 1 hour harbour cruise with light show at 7.30 pm   Duk Ling is an authentic Chinese Junk restored to its original design  We also checked out information on the ferry to Lamma Island.  It was a late lunch before we took a slow walk to the Star Ferry, to wait for our 7.30 pm cruise.

Cattle Egrets
16th May morning we went to Star Ferry Pier 4 and took the Ferry to Lamma Island  choosing to land at Yung Shue Wan pier.  It was a 30 mins ferry ride (HKD20)
As we walked onto the island, very noticeable were the Black Kites flying around the hill.  Its a small village and a stroll through the narrow street we were soon at the small Tin Hau Temple.  There were some Japanese White-eyes in the trees and Black Crown Night Heron and Little Egret on the rocks waiting to catch their breakfast.  We had coffee at the Green Cottage and later Lunch at the dim sum restaurant near the pier .   There are many places where you can stay, and it seems a quiet and tranquil place for a future stay as there are no vehicles on the island.  In the afternoon we took the 12 noon ferry back to Central and took bus 15 to Pacific Plaza and went up the escalator to Hong Kong Park which is behind the Island Shangri-la Hotel.
At the aviary the birds were so close and friendly, we stayed for 3 hours before going off at 4pm.
We then went back to the hotel to drop off our equipment and took the MTR to Sham Sui
Little Egret 
Po, Exit A1 for some outdoor wear shopping at 
Nam Cheong Street.   Bought a few things at shop 133 Hengchanghang and at 133C Anata Fashion. We then took the MTR to Northpoint, Exit A1 cross over to Java St market for dinner at Tung Po restaurant, another revisit for us to this local eatery.

Black-crowned Night Heron
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            On the 17th we visited the Yuen Po Street Bird Market and Flower Market and it was then a day looking at shops in Mongkok for cameras and outdoor wear.
While Lioe and Linda left that evening, we stayed another night, before we came home on 18th. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Birding in the Highlands of West Malaysia - Fraser's Hill, Bukit Tinggi and Genting - April 2016

Our last visit to Fraser’s Hill was 2 years ago during the 2014 Bird Race June 20-23 so it was time to revisit the Hill Station and it seemed a good idea for a respite from the hot weather. We decided to include a new site, Kuala Selangor Nature Park in the April 3-7 trip. As usual we started early and were on the road at 5.30 am. With a short coffee stop at Pagoh R and R, we arrived Exit 601 Shah Alam at 10.05 am. Following the signs we arrived in Kuala Selangor town at 11.30 am. As it was too early to check into Sun Inns, we had lunch at the nearby coffee shop before driving to the Kuala Selangor Nature Park (KSNP).

Coppersmith Barbet
Mangrove Blue Flycatcher 
As we arrived at the car park, we saw monkeys sitting around. It was next morning that we saw vendors’ signs selling food to feed the monkeys. No wonder the animals were waiting to be fed. The office was open and the lady who attended to us was friendly and said if we wanted to enter early in the morning we could come at 7 am while the office will not open till 9 am, and we can pay the entry fee on our way out. As we were already at the park we decided to explore the front part and return next morning for the wetland section. As we entered we saw 2 birds fighting on the ground and they turned out to be 2 Coppersmith Barbets using their beaks grabbing each other’s beak but did not peck at any other parts of each other. The behaviour seemed like a friendly match of trying to hold each other’s beaks as long as possible. Other than this unusual pair, there were not many birds around that afternoon. So we left for look at the town and checked into Sun Inns for a rest from the drive.

Next morning at 6:30 am we had breakfast at MacDonald's, which was on the way to KSNP. We arrived 7:15 am at KSNP and walked into the forest track and saw some bulbuls and monkeys grooming each other. We crossed the bridge and walked along the bunds towards the wetlands. The call of the Abbot’s Babbler was very loud but we could not see the bird. The mangrove forest was dry and it was already humid in the morning. At the pond only a couple of egrets were in the water.
Laced Woodpecker
We walked onto the boardwalk and saw 3 Laced Woodpeckers and a couple of Yellow-bellied Gerygones. On our way out we saw the Mangrove Flycatcher and some Tailorbirds. By 10:30 am it was too hot already and we returned to check out from the hotel. On the way to Fraser's we stopped by the Sekichan ricefields. Although there were munias and some herons flying about, no other birds were seen. We continued to Sungai Burong, a coastal village and saw a nesting Collared Kingfisher but the weather was hot and the birds seemed to be hiding.

Campbell's Hill Partridge

At 2pm we arrived at Kuala Kubu Bharu’s Wong Ng Kee for lunch. After lunch we continue to Fraser’s Hill stopping by the waterfall but did not see the Chestnut-naped Forktail. At the Gap we saw a group of 5 photographers and later we found they were from Hong Kong with a local guide who was friendly. We met them the next couple of days and the guide told us some sites to check out. We also met Durai who has opened a shop at Shahzan Inn. He gave us some tips where to look for the Campbell's Hill Partridge also known as the Malayan Hill Partridge, and we were lucky to see a female with 5 young ones near Richmond Bungalow which has recently closed for business.

Buff-breasted Babbler

Mountain Imperial Pigeon

The next day we were up early at the Selangor side and saw the Verditer Flycatcher and other birds feeding near the roof of the Selangor Bungalow. Back at Shahzan Inn for breakfast we ran into Valerie and Jerry, whom we had met during our Mt Kinabalu Park trip in December. They were visiting for a week with Val’s sister and friend. During our 3 days we birded at the Telecom Loop, Jeriau Waterfall, the abandoned Jelai Resort and High Pines and found fewer birds than we had seen in previous trips. Durai thought the hot weather was the reason for the lack of birds.

             Kuala Selangor Bird Photos                        Fraser's Hill Bird Photos

                Birds Seen At Kuala Selangor Nature Park

Forest Wagtail
Olive-winged Bulbul
2)Coppersmith Barbet7)Mangrove Blue Flycatcher
3)Oriental Magpie Robin8)Asian Brown Flycatcher
4)White-throated Kingfisher9)Laced Woodpecker
5)Pied Thriller

                Birds Seen At Fraser's Hill

Pacific Swallow
Rufous-browed Flycatcher
2)Silver-eared Mesia21)Pygmy Wren Babbler
3)Buff-breasted Babbler22)Crested Serpent Eagle
4)Streaked Spiderhunter23)Striped-throated Bulbul
5)White-throated Fantail24)Mountain Fulvetta
6)Javan Cuckooshrike25)Orange-breasted Leafbird
7)Mountain Bulbul26)Mugimaki Flycatcher
8)Large Niltava27)Black-throated Sunbird
9)Little Cuckoo Dove28)Long-tailed Sibia
10)Black & Crimson Oriole29)Blue-winged Minla
11)Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo30)Campell's Hill Partridge (Lifer)
12)Grey-chinned Minivet31)Fire-tuffed Barbet
13)Asian Brown Flycatcher32)Black-crested Bulbul
14)Sultan Tit33)Barn Swallow
15)Golden Babbler34)Black & Crimson Oriole
16)Chestnut-capped Laughing Thrush35)Golden Babbler
17)Mountain Imperial Pigeon36)Yellow-vented Bulbul
18)Black-browed Barbet37)Orange-bellied Leafbird
19)Verditer Flycatcher38)Oriental Magpie Robin

After a couple of weeks home we drove to Bukit Tinggi which we last visited 3 years ago. During this trip, April 18-21, we also visited Genting’s Awana bird site but found there was construction going on and could not drive into the forest trail. Near the golf course we found a Blue Whistling Thrush and at the garden just outside Awana’s car park we saw a young Black-browed Barbet being fed by its parents.
Blue Whistling-thrush

Black-browed Barbet

At Bukit Tinggi we stayed at the Colmar Tropical which was convenient for the morning drive up to the Botanic Garden and Japanese Garden where we visited early at 7 am. Although it was quiet and the birding site to the forest trail was blocked due to a mud slide, we were lucky to see a rare visitor, a Blue-capped Rock Thrush at the Japanese Garden. While there were no sign of nests of the Silver-breasted Broadbill we were happy to see 2 pairs fly into the trees at the nursery, the same tree we last saw the nests.
Blue-capped Rock Thrush

Silver-breasted Broadbill

In the afternoon on the second day we drove to Janda Baik and saw the Spectacled Spiderhunters and Sunbirds feeding on the flowering trees near the river. We also visited the Hutan Lipur Konifer nearby Kampong Bukit Tinggi and were surprised to see the Sultan Tit at this low level forest.
Spectacled Spiderhunter 

Sultan Tit

Birds Seen at Bt.Tinggi, Genting, Janda Baik and Hutan Lipur Konifer

Rhinoceros Hornbill
Black-browed Barbet
2)Striped-throated Bulbul14)Blue Whistling Thrush
3)Ochraceous Bulbul15)Scaly-breasted Munia
4)Yellow-vented Bulbul16)Crested Serpent Eagle
5)Black-crested Bulbul17)Oriental Honey Buzzard
6)Red-eyed Bulbul18)Blue-winged Leafbird
7)Scaly-breasted Bulbul19)Brown-throated Sunbird
8)Blue-capped Rock Thrush (Lifer)20)Common Tailorbird
9)Silver-breasted Broadbill21)Dark-necked Tailorbird
10)Sultan Tit22)Tiger Shrike
11)Streaked Spiderhunter23)Brown Shrike
12)Spectacled Spiderhunter

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Tanjung Tuan Raptor Watch & Lesser Adjutant nesting at Muar

Oriental Honey Buzzard
Our first visit to Tanjung Tuan for the Raptor Watch was 5 years ago when it was held in the grounds of the PNB Ilham Resort.  It was an exciting experience seeing the kettles of raptors using the hot afternoon air gliding with the rising updraft.   This year we decided to revisit but found the event had moved to the hill at the base of the Rachado Lighthouse. During the walk uphill we stopped to check out the various booths that had been set up about recycling, health products and nature conservation.   At the base of the steps to the lighthouse there were exhibitors of optical instruments - binoculars, scopes, event t-shirts, mementos, crafts, etc and drinks.  


There were lots of visitors enjoying this fun event.
Oriental Honey Buzzard
By 11 am the day was getting hot and the raptors started flying in. Oriental Honey Buzzards seem to be the main raptors that day. The Raptor Watch ( had organised volunteers to do the counting of the raptors at the lighthouse.  On normal days the Lighthouse will be off-limit to the public but this day, one could enter and enjoy the view of the cape.  Some other volunteers were busy guiding members of the public on forest trails below the hill. It was a good day checking out the exhibitors’ products and meeting up with friends.
The drive from Singapore to Tanjung Tuan near Port Dickson took 4 hours and some friends we met had come for a day-trip, while we stayed a night at Port Dickson. One of booths was gathering signatures for a petition to save the trees in Muar town where colonies of Lesser Adjutants had been nesting for years.  On our way home we went to check out the nests.

Lesser Adjutant

On 13th March we drove early and as we approached the area we could see the Lesser Adjutants in the sky. The tall tree was behind a row of terrace houses at Jalan Hj Yunos and their nests high in the branches were at staggered levels almost like an apartment block of 5 or 6 stories in the sky.

Lesser Adjutant Nesting


                     Here’s the link to the petition for more information

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Yilan & Taipei 23 Feb to 2 Mar 2016

We had planned for a birding trip after the Lunar New Year family activities. We decided on Taiwan to enjoy the cooler weather and, from some reports, we chose Yilan county with its coastal wetlands for 3 days and Taipei for 5 days. We planned to start our birding in Yilan which was an hour’s drive from Taipei and seemed easy to explore on our own. Unlike our previous trip in Oct. 2013 to the Dasueyshan and Kenting, we decided not to engage a bird guide and do it on our own with notes from the internet. Yilan is situated in the Northeastern part of Taiwan and is mostly mountains with flat rice fields and coastal wetlands. Birding north of the Lanyang River would be from ponds, fields and drainage channels. The Nanyang Estuary Plains was reported to be an ideal habitat for all kinds of water fowl and wild ducks during the September to May migration. After Yilan we would go to Taipei for downtown birding in the various parks and nearby wetlands.

Grey Heron

Having researched accommodation in Yilan we decided on Toucheng (first town) which is an hour’s drive through the mountain tunnel road from Taipei, and nearby the highland area, Shuanglienpi, which at 400 meters elevation has some wetlands and small lakes, a site we intend to explore. There is a town more popular with visitors, Jiaoxi, famous for its hot springs and spa hotels. One evening we visited, and this town was better established than where we stayed. It was bustling with shops, restaurants full of visitors.  

On 23 Feb morning we took Cathay Pacific to Taipei with a stopover in Hong Kong.  The fare of S$466.40 per pax was a promotional fare worth taking even though we had to transit in Hong Kong.  We had planned to take public transport on this trip and on arrival in Taoyuan Airport at 1.40 pm we proceeded to B1 to buy the tickets for the Kuo Kuang Bus 1819 to Taipei Main Station (TMS) and intended to transfer to either a train or bus to Toucheng.   We bought a 10-day SIM card for NT$500 which served very well for our needs.  Then it was down to B1 to take the Kuo Kuang Bus 1819 (NT$125 per pax) there was a long queue for the 3pm bus.  We got into the 2nd bus and while the journey was within 60 minutes to TMS it was 4.30 pm by the time we arrived, so we took a taxi instead to Toucheng.
Taiwan Barbet 
It was was an hour’s ride through the mountain tunnel Freeway #5 before arriving at Qi Hua Zhen Ju Home Stay, and we were warmly welcomed by Mrs Luo the owner.  The family lives in the unit next to the home stay which has 3 floors, with a lift, which was one reason we chose this place.   Mrs Luo was very hospitable offering to give us lifts to the train station or town whenever we need as it would take at least half an hour to walk to town and there is no public transport as the area is still in its development stage with numerous plots of vacant land at the time of our visit.    The room was spacious and the bed clean and amenities well-stocked. It was a comfortable 3-nights spent at Mrs Luo’s home.

On 24 Feb after a sumptuous breakfast prepared by Mrs Luo the taxi we booked the day before, arrived.  Our 1st destination was Shuanglienpi and on the way the driver stopped at Lung Tan Lake which proved a good location as there were ducks, moorhens and egrets on the lake.  Our next destination was the Lanyang estuary which seemed difficult for the driver to locate.   Nevertheless he understood we were looking for birds so he brought us to the ponds and drainage channels south of Toucheng Town and drove along the roads #2 and #191 where we saw egrets, herons, moorhens and coots. 
Brown-headed Thrush
The weather was not on our side, it drizzled the whole day but we had our rain jackets and umbrella and braved the drizzle to bird in the rain.   Some shrikes and wagtails were also seen feeding in the fine drizzle.   Shuanglienpi was a disappointment, as the only bird we saw in the rain was the Daurian Redstart.  

On 25 Feb we engaged the taxi again since the weather has not changed and this time he drove along the coastal route going to Su’ao and Luodong area and covering Yongzeng Seashore Park, Jhuan River Park where we saw a few more species. It was still raining at 4pm so it was an early finish for the day and we took a lift from Mrs Luo to explore Toucheng Old Town. Earlier in the day, the driver had taken us to Toucheng Train Station where we bought train tickets for our next day’s trip to Taipei. We decided on the 10.44 am route a coastal scenic ride at NT$184 per pax.

Taiwan Scimitar Babbler

On 26 Feb after breakfast Mrs Luo drove us to Toucheng Train station and it was a pleasant train ride passing the mountains and towns before arriving TMS at 12:20 pm.  We walked to the MRT information desk and bought our Easycards at NT$100 each that was not refundable and topped up NT$200 for our rides.  Our next accommodation, Chaiin Hotel is located above the Dongmen MRT station. We took exit 8 to the ground floor and round the Post Office was the entrance to Chaiin.  We were happy with this hotel, the location, spacious room, clean bed and their breakfast selection for western and Asian tastes.  After checking in we went for lunch across from the hotel and it was still drizzling.   As we explored the area, we found Daan Park nearby where many water birds were easily seen in the ponds, the herons, egrets well-used to visitors. We would return with camera another day.

On 27 Feb after breakfast we took the MRT to Siaonanmen Station and walked to Taipei Botanical Garden (TBG).  It was still drizzling, but we managed to take photographs of the Malayan Night herons, Taiwan Blue Magpie and Grey Treepies, they were well used to visitors and feeding in the light drizzle.   After TBG we took the MRT to CKS Memorial Park and checked out the ponds.   The park was crowded with visitors but the garden area had less people. The Malayan Night Heron and a couple of Thrushes were out feeding in the light rain.  After lunch we went to Daan Park and this time the rain had stopped so we had better photos of the birds and a Crested Goshawk was easily seen on a tree drying its wings.

Black-crowned Night Heron
On 28 Feb we visited Guandu Nature Park but were disappointed as there were no waders in the wetlands.  While walking in the tracks near the entrance we heard and had clear views of a pair of Black-naped Monarchs and two Pale Thrushes up the trees.  We left Guandu and had lunch nearby. We took the MRT to Shilin station for a bus to Yangmingshan.  The ride up was tiring as the bus was full and we had no seat and it was a winding road to the bus terminal.   We followed the signs and walked uphill to the Visitor Center and enjoyed some good views along the way but it was hot walking up in spite of the cool air and it was also crowded due to the holiday.   The only bird we found at the car park was a Daurian Redstart, which we came across many times on the trip.   In the late afternoon we took the bus back to Shilin and encountered even more people, especially when walking to the famous night market where we had our dinner in the basement food center.

Taiwan Blue Magpie
On 29 Feb although it was a Monday we found it was quieter when we took the MRT to Xindian.   The weather was sunny and when we took the bus to Wulai it was full, because 29 Feb was a public holiday.  Wulai lies south of Taipei at the northern extremity of the Syueshan range, the altitude being around 200 m rising to 1,000 m.  When the bus arrived at the terminal station we followed signs and walked to the bridge over the Tunghou River. The area was busy and we saw the Plumbeous Redstart easily and further along the river bank a Muscovy Duck was preening itself.  We wanted to take the mountain railway but on enquiring the rail was under maintenance due to damage from last year’s typhoon so everyone was walking uphill. We walked along and heard the Crested Serpent Eagle calling and sure enough scanning the rocky mountain side we saw the raptor perched on a faraway tree.  Another was seen drifting high in the sky looking for prey.   We left Wulai and queued for the bus and instead of Xindian we took the bus to TMS a long ride but it was only NT30.   We were tired and returned to the hotel for a rest.  It was a quick dinner of “meat rice” at Formosa Chang, another nice place for simple local food.
Grey Treepie

For our last day, 1 March, we decided to revisit TBG in the morning and then do some shopping in the afternoon before leaving the next day. The birds we had seen on Saturday 27th were not seen but it was a nice sunny day and we managed better shots of the Taiwan Barbet and Japanese White-eyes.   We also got to see the Collared Scops Owl family of 3 resting on a tree.  The afternoon was spent at Ximenting and an IT Mall at Zhongxiao Xinsheng.

Our self-birding trip yielded 7 lifers.

Pale Thrush

Plumbeous Water Redstart-Juv

                          Link to Yilan and Taipei Bird Photos 

 Birds Seen:

1) Olive-backed Pipit
26) Black Drongo
2) Daurian Redstart27) Grey Wagtail
3) Common Teal28) Taiwan Scimitar Babbler (Lifer)
4) Long-tailed Shrike29) White-breasted Waterhen
5) Light-vented Bulbul30) Common Kingfisher
6) Grey Heron31) Grey Treepie
7) Brown Shrike32) Spotted Dove
8) Eastern Yellow Wagtail33) Oriental Magpie Robin
9. Common Moorhen34) Tiger Shrike
10) Little Grebe35) Brown-headed Thrush (Lifer)
11) Taiwan Blue Magpie (Lifer)36) Japanese White-eye
12) Tufted Duck37) Pale Thrush (Lifer)
13) Cattle Egret38) Eurasian Magpie
14) Emerald Dove39) Crested Goshawk
15) Little Egret40) Black-winged Stilt
16) Great Egret41) Black-naped Monarch
17) Eastern Spot-billed Duck42) Oriental Turtle Dove
18) Black-crowned Night Heron43) Pale-legged Leaf Warbler
19) Common Greenshank44) Plumbeous Water Redstart
20) Black-faced Spoonbill45) Mallard
21) Black-tailed Gull46) Crested Serpent Eagle
22) Black-faced Bunting (Lifer)47) Muscovy Duck (Lifer)
23) Great Commorant48) Collared Scops Owl
24) Osprey49) Taiwan Barbet
25) Hoopoe50) Japanese Sparrowhawk
51) Malayan Night Heron (Lifer)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Doi Angkhang, Doi Lang, Chiang Saen Lake & Chiang Rai 11 -16 January 2016

Last year we did a trip to the Doi’s and enjoyed birding in the cold weather so this year we arranged another trip coincidentally on the same dates as last year.  A change to the itinerary was to include Chiang Saen Lake which is further north towards Chiang Rai.  We contacted Uthai Cheummarung Chiang Mai Birding  for his availability. 
Rusty-naped Pitta
As it turned out he had recently visited Doi AngKhang and had seen the Rusty-naped Pitta which last year we had a poor view of as it had kept itself partially hidden in the bamboo groves. 
On 11th we flew into Chiangmai and Uthai picked us at 2 pm and drove to Doi AngKhang.  He told us the accommodations at the mountain were tight with the "cold snap" and the flowers in full bloom, many visitors were there photo-taking and enjoying the cold weather.  The only accommodation he managed to book was Ang Garden Resort which is behind the town.  As it turned out, Ang Garden is just next to AngKhang Villa where we stayed last year. Here the room is bigger but similarly basic conditions of the local hotels outside of the AngKhang Nature Resort.

Chinese Blue Flycatcher 

The next day 12th at 6.30 am we left after a quick breakfast and entered the King’s Project and headed to the bamboo garden.  The White-tailed Robin was flying out to check out the morning’s business.  There were 4 WT Robins and they were engaged in territorial fights with each other and disturbed other birds like the Siberian Blue Robin and the Chinese Blue Flycatcher that came to investigate the hide’s offerings.  To our surprise not too long after, the Rusty-naped Pitta appeared and being bigger size, the Robins backed off.   Then another Pitta showed itself to our delight, to see 2 of them together.
An hour later as we were leaving the hide, we saw 3 Thrushes feeding among the bamboo nursery boxes and they turned out to be an Eye-browed Thrush with 2 Grey-sided Thrushes. Uthai was excited as the Grey-sided is considered a rare sighting.  Unfortunately the thrushes were skittish and moved further into the bamboo and did not return.   We left to try the area near the restaurant kitchen for the Black-breasted Thrush.  Indeed a pair was feeding in the garden among the rose bushes. 

Grey-sided Thrush 
We walked around the garden and back to the restaurant platform area overlooking the trees where White-eyes and Bulbuls were feeding among the flowers.  This is one of the best areas for good photos of these fast moving species.  In the afternoon we went to the Thai-Burmese border for the Daurian Redstart which seems to be a regular winter visitor here. 

On Wed 13th  it was another early morning to the mountain roads to check out the pheasants but there was burning of rubbish near the cemetery area and no sign of any pheasant crossing.   We returned to the King’s project to take in the flowers and checked for the thrushes but they did not show at the bamboo groves.   After lunch we left Doi AngKhang for Tatton to check out the Jerdon’s Bushchat at the rice fields.  Someone had seen this rare species but it did not show although we saw a Blue-throat which is also a rare visitor.  Then it was an hour's drive to Fang and we checked into Vieng Kaew’s Resort before going for dinner by the river.
Daurian Redstart
On Thu, 14th it was an early drive at 6.15 am to Doi Lang.  As we reached the mountain road we were surprised we were not the earliest, 3 vehicles were already parked by the road side and photographers were having their breakfast in the early dawn light.  Further along another photographer had put up his hide by the side, they were all at different stages waiting for Mrs Hulme's Pheasant to cross.   Thus we decided to move further to the shrine area and waited for the morning to light up.   During the half hour's wait a few more vehicles passed so we decided to go where they were headed which was the Cutia area.   As we arrived we were lucky to see the White-browed Laughing Thrush and stopped to take some photos.   We then walked up the slope and along a long path to a clearing higher up where at least 10 photographers were sitting comfortably in their foldable stools waiting for the Cutia to come feed at one particular tall tree.
   Indeed after 20 mins of waiting, the flock of birds came, it was a quick wave and the Cutias were obscured from view behind the leafy tree.   A second wave came 10 mins later and preceding the Cutias were a small flock of Blue-winged Minlas.   After this second wave it was another long wait but most of the photographers who had taken the Cutia the day before had now their “best or better” shots and left.   We stayed for a while and went down to the main road to look for the Sapphire Flycatcher which had also been sighted but high in the trees.   We did not see it but got good shots of the Siberian Rubythroat, Rufous Gorgeted and White Gorgeted Flycatcher and the Slaty-blue Flycatcher.   Later in the afternoon it was quiet and we walked to the army post where the Chestnut-flanked White-eyes and Mrs Gould Sunbirds were feeding on the pink flowers.

Siberian Rubythroat

White-gorgeted Flycatcher

We left Doi Lang at 1 pm for our 3-hour drive to Chiang Saen and on arrival at the lake Uthai inquired about getting the boat next morning for the trip on the Lake.  It was arranged for 9 am.   We checked into the Serene Hotel next to the river for the night.   On Fri 15th we went earlier to the Lake for a walk around the boardwalk area for other birds.  Two other photographers had also booked the boat for an earlier slot but as there was only one boat it was suggested we go together.   We boarded the boat with one of the lake’s staff and it was enjoyable to be able to see the ducks quite close with the boat stopping now and then for better views.  We saw raptors – Osprey, Eastern Marsh Harrier and Pied Harrier trying to catch their breakfast too.  The Lesser Whistling ducks were making a lot of noise as the boat approached and they took flight.  While the lake is full of Spot-billed ducks we had sightings of the Gadwall, Northern Pintails and Garganey. 
Spot-billed Duck

We left Chiang Saen in the afternoon for another 1.5 hour's drive to Chiangrai where we checked into the Nak Nakara Hotel for our final night. On the way we visited the Nam Kham Nature Reserve, a private park but there were not many birds in the hot afternoon. We also checked out a private hospital for the Javan munia that was seen recently but none was found. We bid goodbye to Uthai who will take a 3-hour drive back to Chiangmai. We visited the Chiang Rai Flower Festival (23 Dec 15 to 14 Feb 16) on our way to dinner. It was a relaxing end to our birding trip seeing the beautiful flower and orchid displays.

 Birds Seen:

1)     Ashy Wood Swallow
38)  Japanese White-eye
2)     Black Bulbul39)  Large Niltava
3)     Black-breasted Thrush M & F40)  Lesser Whistling Duck
4)     Black-collared Starling41)  Little Grebe
5)     Blue-throat42)  Long-tailed Shrike
6)     Blue-winged Minla43)  Maroon Oriole F
7)     Bronze Drongo44)  Mountain Bulbul
8)     Brown Shrike45)  Mountain Imperial Pigeon
9)     Brown-breasted Bulbul46)  Mrs Gould Sunbird
10)  Buff-throated Warbler (Lifer)47)  Olive-backed Pipit
11)  Burmese Shrike48)  Oriental Magpie Robin
12)  Chestnut-flanked White-eye49)  Oriental White-eye
13)  Chestnut-tailed Starling50)  Pied Bushchat M & F
14)  Chestnut-vented Nuthatch51)  Pied Harrier
15)  Chinese Blue Flycatcher (Lifer)52)  Plaintive Cuckoo
16)  Cinnamon Bittern53)  Purple Sunbird
17)  Collared Falconet54)  Purple Swamphen
18)  Common Iora55)  Red-faced Liocichla
19)  Common Moorhen56)  Red-whiskered Bulbul
20)  Coppersmith Barbet57)  Rufous Gorgeted Flycatcher (Lifer)
21)  Cutia (Lifer)58)  Rusty-naped Pitta
22)  Dark-backed Sibia59)  Siberian Blue Robin F
23)  Daurian Redstart60)  Siberian Rubythroat
24)  Eastern Marsh Harrier, 61)  Silver-eared Laughing Thrush
25)  Eastern Stonechat62)  Slaty Blue Flycatcher
26)  Eurasian Coot63)  Sooty-headed Bulbul
27)  Eurasian Pochard (Lifer)64)  Spot-billed Duck
28)  Eyebrow Thrush65)  Taiga Flycatcher
29)  Flavescent Bulbul,66)  Western Osprey
30)  Gadwall (Lifer)67)  White Gorgeted Flycatcher
31)  Green Bee-eater68)  White-bellied Redstart M & F
32)  Grey Bushchat M and F69)  White-browed Laughing Thrush
33)  Grey Wagtail70)  White-headed Bulbul
34)  Grey-sided Thrush (Lifer)71)  White-tailed Robin M & F
35)  Hoopoe72)  White-throated King Fisher
36)  Hulme's Leaf Warbler (Lifer)73)  Yellow-cheeked Tit
37)  Indian Peafowl