|Wat Chedi Luang
|Nong Buak Haad Public Park
Spent one morning at Nong Buak Haad Park, a small area of lakes, fountains and flower gardens. Among the usual suspects it was interesting to watch a pair of Wire-tailed Swallows visiting a probable nest site under an island pagoda and the huge hawk moth, Meganoton nyctiphanes (with the dubious English name Dull Double-bristled Hawkmoth), was an impressive beast.
There was also a Wire-tailed Swallow on the moat near the hotel and a huge roost of White Wagtails there in the evening.
|Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus
|Dull Double-bristled Hawkmoth Meganoton nyctiphanes
As planned we set off for Pai but on getting to the bus station found that the public bus no longer runs and minivans were now the only option. Memories of hideous van journeys through the Laotian mountains and the knowledge that the road to Pai is a notoriously windy one made us give up the idea and take a local bus to Chiang Dao instead. We'd visited here two years ago but only stayed four days and I was very keen to explore more. See here for that account.
Who knows what the journey to Pai would have been like but this one was ok until Karen sprained her ankle badly getting off the bus in the town. Managed to get a songthaew to the Chiang Dao Hut resort but once in our little cabin that's where she stayed for a week until she could limp across to the restaurant for meals. It took nearly three weeks before she was properly mobile again, and even then only with care.
The main birding areas are outlined below but we did also make trips to nearby Wat Tham Pakpiang, the main cave complex at Wat Tham Chiang Dao and the Hot Springs. At the latter we saw a fairly large snake but couldn't identify it. Fortunately no one else noticed it and it was allowed to go on its way undisturbed. Streaked Wren-babbler and Hill Blue Flycatcher were at Wat Tham Pakpiang but otherwise only common species noted. The only Mountain Hawk-eagle I saw was over Wat Tham Chiang Dao.
Chaing Dao Hut
Almost straight away I picked up a bird I must have overlooked on our previous visit here. Blue-throated Barbets were singing much of the time and showing well at times. Other birds common in the gardens were Spotted Dove, Coppersmith & Lineated Barbet, Common Iora, Common & Dark-necked Tailorbirds, Red-whiskered, Sooty-headed & Streak-eared Bulbuls, Yellow-browed Warbler, Oriental Magpie-robin, Taiga Flycatcher and Olive-backed, Brown-throated, Purple & Crimson Sunbirds. Brown Boobook, Asian Barred Owlet and Large-tailed Nightjar called in the evening and at night.
|Blue-throated Barbet Megalaima asiatica
At the hide the regulars were Olive-backed Pipit (<=4), Buff-breasted (<=2) & Puff-throated Babblers (<=2), Pin-striped Tit-babbler (<=5), Black-naped Monarch (male and female), White-rumped Shama (<=3), Little Spiderhunter (<=2) and Black-headed (<=2), Streak-eared (<=2), Sooty-headed (<=6) & Red-whiskered Bulbuls (<=5) and White-rumped Munia(<=8). Common but less frequent were Grey-crowned Warbler, Indian White-eye, Black-crested and Stripe-throated Bulbuls.
|Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni
|Buff-breasted Babbler Pellorneum tickelli
|Puff-throated Babbler Pellorneum ruficeps
|Pin-striped Tit-babbler Macronus gularis
|Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea
|White-rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus
|Little Spiderhunter Arachnothera longirostra
|Streak-eared Bulbul Pycnonotus conradi
|Sooty-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus aurigaster
|Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus
|Stripe-throated Bulbul Pycnonotus finlaysoni
|Indian White-eye Zosterops palpebrosus
|Grey-crowned Warbler Phylloscopus tephrocephalus
Scarcer visitors to the garden and hide included Bronzed & Greater Racket-tailed Drongos, Asian Emerald & Zebra Dove, Asian Palm Swift, Eurasian Hoopoe, Indochinese Roller, Scarlet Minivet, Black-hooded Oriole, Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Great Iora, Striated Swallow, Radde's & Two-barred Warbler, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Great Myna, Hill Blue & Indochinese Blue Flycatcher, Thick-billed, Yellow-vented & Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Crimson Sunbird, Streaked Spiderhunter, Blue-winged & Golden-fronted Leafbird and a splendid male Violet Cuckoo. Overhead there were occasional Crested Goshawks and Shikra and a single Black Baza. Banded Bay Cuckoo was also heard almost daily but only seen once in flight on the final day.
|Asian Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica
|Great Iora Aegithina lafresnayei
|Hill Blue Flycatcher Cyornis banyumas
|Streaked Spiderhunter Arachnothera magna
|Blue-winged Leafbird Chloropsis cochinchinensis
|Golden-fronted Leafbird Chloropsis aurifrons
|Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus
|Black Baza Aviceda leuphotes
|Asian Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx maculatus
(photo by Suntan)
Wat Tham Pha Plong (วัดถ้ำผาปล่อง)
Concentrating on the highlights. Up to 3 Scaly-breasted/Green-legged Partridge showed on three visits always in roughly the same area (and the same as my previous visit here in 2018), an Asian Emerald Dove on one occasion. A flock of up to 10 Pin-tailed Green-pigeon regularly feeding at a tree near the foot of the steps had a Thick-billed Green-pigeon with them on one day. Mountain Imperial Pigeon showed on a couple of occasions, as usual flying over high A female and an immature male Violet Cuckoo made it three individuals including the full adult male at Chiang Dao Hut.
|Thick-billed Green-pigeon Treron curvirostra
with Pin-tailed Green-pigeon T. apicauda
|Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus
|Silver-breasted Broadbill Serilophus lunatus
A fabulous male Banded Kingfisher showed in the gully on 7th March. Up to 2 Great Barbet heard on several occasions but not seen. Single Speckled Piculet seen once along the steps and once in the gully. A Silver-breasted Broadbill also along the gully once. Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike also only seen once. Blyth's Paradise-flycatcher showed rather well. Grey-backed Shrike seen twice and a Eurasian Jay heard just once. Thick-billed Warbler also on two days, one Radde's Warbler, 2 Yellow-bellied Warbler, 2 Grey-throated Babbler. White-throated Fantail seen around the carpark a couple of times. Black Bulbul often feeding along by the steps and one sighting of Mountain Bulbul.
|White-throated Fantail Rhipidura albicollis
|Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush Pterorhinus pectoralis
A single Black-throated Laughingthrush and, on four visits, up to 6 Greater Necklaced Laughingthrushes. The latter definitely a lifer and the former maybe as well since only previous encounter was in Luang Prabang and I strongly suspected captive origin.
Single Black-throated Sunbird on two days near the temple and a Purple-naped Spiderhunter was my first for some years.
|Black-throated Sunbird Aethopyga saturata
Best find though was a Brown-breasted Flycatcher, which showed on 10th & 11th March in a wider part of the river bed where both the the Broadbill and the Trogon had showed. Probably pretty scarce in Thailand.
|Brown-breasted Flycatcher Muscicapa muttui
Pha Tang Road
Although my main focus was on the garden hide and temple areas I also made the walk up to the checkpoint at Pha Tang twice, which yielded a few species not seen elsewhere.
|Radde's Warbler Phylloscopus schwarzi
A pair of Bay Woodpeckers moving noisily and low through bamboo thickets were hard to get good view of but a welcome lifer. 2 Eurasian Jays heard along here were the only ones of the trip. On on of the last days we picked up a Baikal Bush Warbler in a small grassy area - as with most Locustella warblers, also incredibly hard to see well. Also single sightings of Grey-backed Shrike, Grey-breasted Prinia, Thick-billed, Radde's and Dusky Warblers. A pair of skittish Black-backed Forktail proved very difficult to relocate and only gave brief views.
Chill Chiang Dao
|Siberian Rubythroat Luscinia calliope
|Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach
|Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla
Chiang Dao Hut 2 Hiking Area
|Rufescent Prinia Prinia rufescens
|Crested Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus
|Crested Kingfisher Megaceryle lugubris
Eating overlooking the Mae Khong river added Little Ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper, Rufescent Prinia and Wire-tailed Swallow were notable and the hospitality, food and drink here were second to none. Otherwise birding interest centred around a stop along the forested road climbing back into the mountains.
|Orange-breasted Trogon Harpactes oreskios
|Himalayan Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus
|Northern Treeshrew Tupaia belangeri
|Grey-bellied Squirrel Callosciurus caniceps
|Many-striped Skink Eutropis multifasciata
|Argiope versicolor (Multi-coloured St Andrew's Cross Spider)
|Chocolate Pansy Junonia iphita
|Common Archduke Lexias pardalis
|Common Earl Tanaecia julii
|Common Hedge Blue Acytolepis puspa
|Common Jay Graphium doson
|Common Map Cyrestis thyodamas
|Circe Hestina nama