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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1) Ashy Wood Swallow
38) Japanese White-eye
|2) Black Bulbul||39) Large Niltava|
|3) Black-breasted Thrush M & F||40) Lesser Whistling Duck|
|4) Black-collared Starling||41) Little Grebe|
|5) Blue-throat||42) Long-tailed Shrike|
|6) Blue-winged Minla||43) Maroon Oriole F|
|7) Bronze Drongo||44) Mountain Bulbul|
|8) Brown Shrike||45) Mountain Imperial Pigeon|
|9) Brown-breasted Bulbul||46) Mrs Gould Sunbird|
|10) Buff-throated Warbler (Lifer)||47) Olive-backed Pipit|
|11) Burmese Shrike||48) Oriental Magpie Robin|
|12) Chestnut-flanked White-eye||49) Oriental White-eye|
|13) Chestnut-tailed Starling||50) Pied Bushchat M & F|
|14) Chestnut-vented Nuthatch||51) Pied Harrier|
|15) Chinese Blue Flycatcher (Lifer)||52) Plaintive Cuckoo|
|16) Cinnamon Bittern||53) Purple Sunbird|
|17) Collared Falconet||54) Purple Swamphen|
|18) Common Iora||55) Red-faced Liocichla|
|19) Common Moorhen||56) Red-whiskered Bulbul|
|20) Coppersmith Barbet||57) Rufous Gorgeted Flycatcher (Lifer)|
|21) Cutia (Lifer)||58) Rusty-naped Pitta|
|22) Dark-backed Sibia||59) Siberian Blue Robin F|
|23) Daurian Redstart||60) Siberian Rubythroat|
|24) Eastern Marsh Harrier,||61) Silver-eared Laughing Thrush|
|25) Eastern Stonechat||62) Slaty Blue Flycatcher|
|26) Eurasian Coot||63) Sooty-headed Bulbul|
|27) Eurasian Pochard (Lifer)||64) Spot-billed Duck|
|28) Eyebrow Thrush||65) Taiga Flycatcher|
|29) Flavescent Bulbul,||66) Western Osprey|
|30) Gadwall (Lifer)||67) White Gorgeted Flycatcher|
|31) Green Bee-eater||68) White-bellied Redstart M & F|
|32) Grey Bushchat M and F||69) White-browed Laughing Thrush|
|33) Grey Wagtail||70) White-headed Bulbul|
|34) Grey-sided Thrush (Lifer)||71) White-tailed Robin M & F|
|35) Hoopoe||72) White-throated King Fisher|
|36) Hulme's Leaf Warbler (Lifer)||73) Yellow-cheeked Tit|
|37) Indian Peafowl|