Sunday, September 29, 2013

Doi Lang & Doi Angkhang - September 2013

Red-faced Liocichla (Liocichla phoenicea)

After our June birding trip to Kaeng Krachan, it is time for some birding in the north.  Although a bit early, we decided to try the recently opened western route up to Doi Lang which Uthai from Chiang Mai Birding had been and seen some specialties not found at the east side.  He picked us at Chiangmai airport and drove the 3 hour journey to Fang where he had booked us a chalet at Vien Kaew Resort for the night.  This is a small resort with 4-chalets each unit clean and comfortable.  The owner grows hydroponic vegetables in her garden and gave us fresh salads each day.  We started early 05.15 each morning as the drive to the base took 45 minutes, thereafter the uphill climb was easy and we stopped whenever we spot the birds.  Uthai knew of some sections where specific birds were seen and we would wait by the side, we thus had good views of the Giant Nuthatch and the Spot-breasted Parrotbill.  
Spot-breasted Parrotbill (Paradoxornis guttaticollis)
Although we had hoped for Mrs Hulme's Pheasant we only got the Mountain Bamboo Patridges crossing on 2 mornings but it was hard to get decent photographs, with poor early morning light, as they blend into the grassy sides.  At the summit we would rest and wait for frequent bird waves and had good views of the Red-faced Liocichlia, Spectacled Barwing and the ubiquitous Black-backed Sibia.  At this time there is still some light rain and mist but overall we were able to see 80 species with 20 lifers on this west side of Doi Lang.  Fang is a quiet town with little accommodation to offer so we had to get breakfast and lunch items from Tesco supermarket to bring for each day's trip. This inconvenience is compensated by the more comfortable way up as compared to our last February's trip to Doi Lang via the east road which was worn and full of pot-holes that only a 4-wheel truck could manouver making it a tiring and bumpy ride up.
Spectacled Barwing (Actinodura ramsayi)
 The high altitude with cool weather also makes birding less tiring and some of the birds found on this west side could not be seen at the east hence a trip to west Doi Lang via Fang is a must to see these specialties.  After 3 days of Doi Lang we drove to Ang Khang for an overnight stay at the Ang Khang Nature Resort which is next to the King's Project where we birded for a day.  Our last day back at Chiangmai was spent at the Mae Hia research site for a couple of hours of birding before our flight and here we got some nice birds - Wire-tailed Swallow, Yellow-eyed Babbler and the Chestnut-capped Babbler.