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Peter Ericsson | profile | all galleries >> Tripreports! >> Thailand tripreports! >> Northern and Central Thailand November 2015 tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Northern and Central Thailand November 2015

Northern and Central Thailand 3-14th of November, 2015

Participants: Jose Ramos Martin, Lidia Romero Amich, Álvaro, Isabel Álvarez Balvís and Marcos Manuel Freán Hernández.
Tour leader and guide: Peter Ericsson

The trip began several months back when Jose Ramos Martin from Spain approached me about a trip to Thailand for himself and some of his friends. After some deliberation we decided to spend 7 days in the North and 4 days in the Central region. This was based a lot on the fact that Central Thailand forest birding is not all that good in November but in contrast the birdlife in the North is already on the upswing.

The main objective was to see Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Asian Fairy Bluebird as the latter represents a new family for the group. Besides that, do general birding to cover and enjoy as much as possible.

In the end all objectives were reached with a total list of 325 species. Not bad for November.

In the North we hired a comfortable Toyota Commuter that I drove. I the Central part we did the same but with a driver.

Hotels were with A/C and hot water and of normal standard.

Only 2 of the 5 in the group ate spicy food. This meant we had 2 sets of every dish while dining.
I doubt anyone lost weight from this trip.

No one came down with any illness during the trip or even the slightest upset tummy.

Only Jose spoke good English and most of the time I simply sat back while driving listening to what seemed endless conversations in Spanish.

The group got along well and I can honestly say walked away very satisfied.

Day 1. We met up at the airport in Bangkok for a late flight to Chiang Mai. Was met at the airport by the van rental company and it didn’t take very long for us to be in bed a little before midnight.

Day 2. An early morning started with one of many breakfasts at 7-11. Then onwards to Doi Chiang Dao North of Chiang Mai. The lower temple grounds hold a lot of common forest birds and served as a good introduction to the birdlife to come. In quick succession we saw Blue-eared Barbet, Black-crested Bulbul, Scarlet Minivets, Purple-naped Sunbird, Blue-winged Leafbird, Asian Fairy Bluebird and best of all a Streaked Wren Babbler. The list was a lot longer but I won’t repeat in full details what we saw on each site.

Late morning we continued towards Doi Angkhang where we had a sumptuous lunch at a restaurant in Bahn Khum village. DAK is easily one of my favorite spots in the North with such a nice blend of culture, nature and bird life. The Royal Agricultural Project serves as a magnet for Thai tourists as they flock to see the many locally grown flowers and to sample the fresh vegetables and fruits.
We came across many good birds at DAK starting with good numbers of Crested Finchbills, Brown-breasted Bulbuls as well as Red-whiskered ones. At the border point with Myanmar an obliging male Daurian Redstart gave great views as we were taking in the views of mountain ridges on the Burmese side and a hill tribe community on the Thai side.

The night we spent in a decent hotel in the town of Fang. We were to branch out of here for the coming 4 days.

Day 3. Early morning departure and strait up to Doi Lang which is part of Doi Pahompok National Park. We drove up from the South side and reached the upper ridge as the sun started to rise about the horizon.

Up here one feels so detached from man’s little world down below and the sounds and sights of nature take on another dimension. I have a hard time conveying my sentiments but let’s just say that it is ‘awesome and inspiring’!

Grasslands interspersed with stands of both broadleaved trees and pines dominate up here. Only a few sections have more wet and dense broadleaved forest.

Our visit seemed to be perfect timing for Giant Nuthatch as we had several sightings of this huge and much sought after Nuthatch. It loves tall pines and once the call is learned is easily recognized.

Several pairs of Spot-breasted Parrotbills thrilled our hearts. I have yet to see a birder not impressed by these birds. Flycatchers were abundant: Sapphire, Slaty-blue, Slaty-backed, White-gorgetted and Rufous-gorgetted leading the way.

We had a pick-knick lunch and staying in the field till just before dusk when we went down to sample some genuine local food: barbeque chicken, sticky rice, papaya salad, chicken coconut soup.

Day 4. This morning we drove straight up to Doi Angkhang to a stake out for Hume’s Pheasants. The birds are best seen later on in the dry season when the grass has withered but I thought we should give it a try. Much to everyone’s delight we had 3 birds just when we thought it wasn’t going to happen. The birds came out on the road and actually flew strait at us for about 100m before they veered off into the vegetation again. A very cool experience!

The rest of the day we checked out different locations on DAK adding many good birds: White-capped Redstart, Yellow-streaked Warbler, Buff-throated Warbler, White-bellied Redstart, White-tailed Robin, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Blue-winged Minla, Spectacled Barwing, Siberian Blue Robin, Hill Prinia, Cook’s Swift etc

Lunch was at the Royal Project’s restaurant where the food simply is delicious!

Day 5. Another day up Doi Lang. I can’t really get enough of this place to be honest. We of course had many repeats but also several new birds. Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler, White-browed Laughingthrushes, Lesser Shortwing, Yellow-bellied Fairy Fantail, Gold-throated Barbet, Grey-capped, Stripe-breasted and Crimson-breasted Woodpeckers to mention a few.

Day 6. Back up to DAK for the morning and a long drive to Doi Inthanon in the afternoon. After dinner at a nice restaurant we did a little owling and an Asian Barred Owlet showed up well.
Before we dined we walked around the primacies of the resort and had great views of a Collared Falconet perched in a tree that also held Coppermith and Lineated Barbet.

Day 7. Doi Inthanon is the flagship of Thai mountains at 2565m above sea level. The road going up to the top is sealed and lots and lots of tourists find their way up to greet the sun rising out of the low lands below. In spite of the many people visiting the top the birds still seem to thrive.
There are several species you just can’t miss up there and neither did we: Chestnut-tailed Minla, Dark-backed Sibia, Ashy-throated Warbler, Buff-barred Warbler, Pygmy Wren Babbler, Rufous-throated Partridge, Silver-eared Laughingthrushes, Green-tailed and Mrs Gould’s Sunbird. We also had our only Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush of the trip and the ever so cute Eye-browed Tit.

A visit to the jeep track is a must and the area is a haven for Slaty-bellied Tesias. We had several birds giving us glimpse after glimpse till everyone had seen one well! Roadside birding at the checkpoint is always good but the amount of traffic is a bit worrisome and one has to be very careful.

We again tried a number of different spots inside the park thus expanding our list. Hume's Treecreeper being a great addition.

Day 8. Everyone wanted another morning at the summit so up again we went. Nice cool temperatures at 11C. The Spanish folks with jackets and double layered shirts and me (the Swede) still in my single shirt!

A long time was spent inside the bog, a small wetland area, which is unique in Thailand. Moss laden trees, a wooden walkway, mixed bird flocks and the many potential skulkers on the forest floor make it hard to leave the area. We did see White-browed Shortwing, well not everyone did, and had more views of Pygmy Wren Babbler.

In the afternoon we left for Chiang Mai but before embarking on our plane to Bangkok we visited the campus grounds of Mae Hia not far from the airport. Several open area birds were seen and I could hear the shutters go off rapidly.

A late arrival in Bangkok was followed by a drive to Petchaburi town where we arrived just before midnight. Glad I didn’t have to drive.

Day 9. Yeah! Wader day! My favorite! We found ourselves at Paktaley, renowned wader site where the ‘holy grail’; Spoon-billed Sandpiper, reside in small numbers in winter!

The birds arrive beginning mid Oct but often don’t settle their feeding habits during high tide until later as the salt pans are still being prepared for the upcoming dry season and water levels keep changing in the pans.

Beginning the day with waders is one of the best things one can do. The flocks often take to flight, stretching their wings, exercising their flight muscles, while flying in unison as if guided by an invisible hand. Their combined beauty while in a the sky is only matched by their individual beauty while seen well in the early morning light as they run around on the salt pans in search of prey.

Paktaley offers a great variety of wader species. It didn’t take long though before I found myself wrapped up in the intense search of the ‘king of them all’: Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Well, we did get a hold of one individual but it only lasted for half a minute. That was awesome for some and definitely a highlight. However, for me, I have grown a bit spoiled and demand longer encounters.

Anyhow, we had to go on as we had lots of target birds. 2nd best to the spoonies was a group of 21 Nordmann’s Greenshanks that we found in the Lampakbia area. A search for Asian Dowtichers left us empty handed. Huge numbers of Broad-billed Sandpipers, Great Knots and Black-tailed Godwits along with many other wader species.

The mandatory boat ride out to the sand spit came with great rewards. We had no less than 3 White-faced Plovers, 10 Malaysian Plovers and 2 Chinese Egrets………….how awesome is that?

A late afternoon at the King’s mangrove project for photography followed suite and then back to the hotel in Petchaburi.

Day 10. Back to Paktaley. We had scheduled time for at least 2 days at this site as it is such an amazing place. This morning we had walk away views of the Spoonies as we had at least 5 sightings of the birds. We saw them feeding, preening and roosting. All one could ask for!

We also got on to 2 Asian Dowitchers so all the main rarities were in hand!

The hinter lands have a lot of birds as well and so we kept going in various wetlands and open fields. Some of the birds seen here: Bronze-winged Jacanas, Painted Storks, Grey-headed Lapwings, Oriental Skylarks, Pin-tailed Snipes, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Green Bee-eater etc.

In the evening we ended up at our resort: Baan Maka, the best place to stay when visiting Kaengkrachan National Park.

Day 11. Early rise again and off into Thailand’s largest National Park. Another set of birds were waiting for us as we slowly traveled into the park.

The sound of Gibbons accompanied us as we kept seeing new birds: Black-thighed Falconets, Greater Yellownape, Green-eared Barbet, Pied Hornbills, Great Hornbills, Thick-billed Pigeons, Fairy Bluebirds, Black-naped Oriole, Black-capped Kingfisher, etc….

Most of the day was spent in between the 3 streams past Baankrahng campground….birding can be very slow here but also have sudden eruptions. 1st bird was actually an Orange-breasted Trogons that gave great photographic opportunities, then little by little we got onto: Sultan’s Tit, Rusty-cheeked Hornbill, Common and Greater Flamebacks, a number of smaller passerines but in general it was pretty quiet.

In the late afternoon we drove out of the park but it was a bit too late to add anything note worthy.

Before dinner we managed to call out a Collared Scops Owl for full and photographic views.

Day 12. After having talked it over we decided to try another type of habitat on our last day.
A dry dipterocarp forest about an hour away from where we stayed was to be our 1st stop.
The forest was not as dry as usual and the trees laden with leaves. It was rather quiet and I started to wonder if we were going to see our targets or not. Then it all happened: suddenly the Black-headed Woodpeckers started to vocalize and once that happens it is only a matter of stalking them.

An Asian Barred Owlet gave cracking views but we were hoping more for Collared Owlet. Then, Bang!, a Collared Owlet flew in in front of us! Wow!

So with these two major ones we decided to move onwards to some wetlands in search of Pheasant-tailed Jacanas. It turned out futile as these birds seem to have dispersed after the breeding season and now are not showing much in the open but hiding in the thick wetland vegetation.
Instead we headed towards Bangkok and the wetlands at the Ancient City. Again the wetlands were overgrown being at the end of wet season. We still managed to see some new good birds: Striated Warbler, White-browed Crake, Asian Golden Weavers and Oriental Reed Warbler.

After that followed a stint to Bangphu pier for the spectacle of hundreds of Brown-headed Gulls that over winter there. To my pleasant surprise I found a Slender-billed Gull in with them and also managed to pick out a Common Black-headed Gull!

That was to be our last stop before we parted ways at the airport.

Again, it was a very pleasant trip with keen birders approaching the birding with joy and balance
It was a good experience for me!



PS. I can arrange more trips like this whether you are a couple or a group of friends. It is really quite affordable and rewarding in so many ways.

PPS. Not that many images in this gallery. I was busy helping the group to get on to the birds and I have done several previous trips with lots of images taken already.

Rufous-throated Partridge
Green-legged Partridge
Mountain Bamboo Partridge
Red Junglefowl
Mrs. Hume's Pheasant
Grey Peacock-Pheasant
Lesser Whistling Duck
Cotton Pygmy Goose
Little Grebe
Painted Stork
Asian Openbill
Black-headed Ibis
Yellow Bittern
Striated Heron
Chinese Pond Heron
Javan Pond Heron
Eastern Cattle Egret
Grey Heron
Purple Heron
Great Egret
Intermediate Egret
Little Egret
Pacific Reef Heron
Chinese Egret
Spot-billed Pelican
Little Cormorant
Indian Cormorant
Western Osprey
Black Baza
Oriental Honey Buzzard
Black-winged Kite
Black-eared Kite
Brahminy Kite
Crested Serpent Eagle
Crested Goshawk
Japanese Sparrowhawk
Grey-faced Buzzard
Common Buzzard
Collared Falconet
Black-thighed Falconet
Peregrine Falcon
White-breasted Waterhen
Ruddy-breasted Crake
White-browed Crake
Common Moorhen
Black-winged Stilt
Pied Avocet
Grey-headed Lapwing
Red-wattled Lapwing
Pacific Golden Plover
Grey Plover
Little Ringed Plover
Kentish Plover
White-faced Plover
Malaysian Plover
Lesser Sand Plover
Spoon-billed Sandpiper
Broad-billed Sandpiper
Red-necked Phalarope
Oriental Pratincole
Brown-headed Gull
Common Black-headed Gull
Slender-billed Gull
Heuglin's Gull
Gull-billed Tern
Caspian Tern
Little Tern
Common Tern
Whiskered Tern
White-winged Tern
Rock Dove
Oriental Turtle Dove
Red Turtle Dove
Spotted Dove
Zebra Dove
Thick-billed Green Pigeon
Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon
Mountain Imperial Pigeon
Vernal Hanging Parrot
Red-breasted Parakeet
Greater Coucal
Lesser Coucal
Green-billed Malkoha
Asian Koel
Asian Emerald Cuckoo
Banded Bay Cuckoo
Moustached Hawk-Cuckoo
Collared Scops Owl
Collared Owlet
Asian Barred Owlet
Spotted Owlet
Large-tailed Nightjar
Grey-rumped Treeswift
Himalayan Swiftlet
Germain's Swiftlet
Pacific Swift
Cook's Swift
House Swift
Orange-breasted Trogon
Indian Roller
Oriental Dollarbird
Stork-billed Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher
Black-capped Kingfisher
Collared Kingfisher
Common Kingfisher
Blue-bearded Bee-eater
Green Bee-eater
Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater
Tickell's Brown Hornbill
Oriental Pied Hornbill
Great Hornbill
Great Barbet
Lineated Barbet
Green-eared Barbet
Golden-throated Barbet
Blue-throated Barbet
Blue-eared Barbet
Coppersmith Barbet
Eurasian Wryneck
Speckled Piculet
Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker
Stripe-breasted Woodpecker
Crimson-breasted Woodpecker
Greater Yellownape
Black-headed Woodpecker
Common Flameback
Greater Flameback
Bay Woodpecker
Golden-bellied Gerygone
Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike
Large Woodshrike
Ashy Woodswallow
Common Iora
Large Cuckooshrike
Black-winged Cuckooshrike
Rosy Minivet
Swinhoe's Minivet
Grey-chinned Minivet
Long-tailed Minivet
Short-billed Minivet
Scarlet Minivet
Brown Shrike
Long-tailed Shrike
Grey-backed Shrike
White-bellied Erpornis
Black-naped Oriole
Maroon Oriole
Black Drongo
Ashy Drongo
Bronzed Drongo
Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo
Hair-crested Drongo
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
White-throated Fantail
Pied Fantail
Black-naped Monarch
Asian Paradise Flycatcher
Eurasian Jay
Common Green Magpie
Rufous Treepie
Grey Treepie
Racket-tailed Treepie
Eastern Jungle Crow
Yellow-bellied Fairy Fantail
Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher
Japanese Tit
Yellow-cheeked Tit
Yellow-browed Tit
Sultan Tit
Oriental Skylark
Crested Finchbill
Black-headed Bulbul
Black-crested Bulbul
Red-whiskered Bulbul
Brown-breasted Bulbul
Sooty-headed Bulbul
Stripe-throated Bulbul
Flavescent Bulbul
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Streak-eared Bulbul
Puff-throated Bulbul
Ochraceous Bulbul
Grey-eyed Bulbul
Buff-vented Bulbul
Mountain Bulbul
Ashy Bulbul
Black Bulbul
Barn Swallow
Wire-tailed Swallow
Asian House Martin
Red-rumped Swallow
Pygmy Wren-babbler
Yellow-bellied Warbler
Mountain Tailorbird
Slaty-bellied Tesia
Dusky Warbler
Buff-throated Warbler
Yellow-streaked Warbler
Radde's Warbler
Buff-barred Warbler
Ashy-throated Warbler
Pallas's Leaf Warbler
Yellow-browed Warbler
Hume's Warbler
Greenish Warbler
Two-barred Warbler
Pale-legged Leaf Warbler
Blyth's Leaf Warbler
Claudia's Leaf Warbler
Davison's Leaf Warbler
Bianchi's Warbler
Chestnut-crowned Warbler
Oriental Reed Warbler
Striated Grassbird
Zitting Cisticola
Hill Prinia
Yellow-bellied Prinia
Plain Prinia
Common Tailorbird
Dark-necked Tailorbird
Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler
White-browed Scimitar Babbler
Grey-throated Babbler
Rufous-fronted Babbler
Buff-chested Babbler
Golden Babbler
Pin-striped Tit-Babbler
Rufous-winged Fulvetta
Brown-cheeked Fulvetta
Southern Grey-cheeked Fulvetta
Streaked Wren-Babbler
Abbott's Babbler
Puff-throated Babbler
Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush
White-browed Laughingthrush
Silver-eared Laughingthrush
Blue-winged Minla
Bar-throated Minla
Spectacled Barwing
Rufous-backed Sibia
Dark-backed Sibia
Spot-breasted Parrotbill
Chestnut-flanked White-eye
Japanese White-eye
Asian Fairy-bluebird
Chestnut-vented Nuthatch
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch
Giant Nuthatch
Hume's Treecreeper
Common Hill Myna
Great Myna
Common Myna
Black-collared Starling
Pied Myna
White-shouldered Starling
Chestnut-tailed Starling
Blue Whistling Thrush
Lesser Shortwing
White-browed Shortwing
Siberian Blue Robin
Oriental Magpie-Robin
White-rumped Shama
Daurian Redstart
White-bellied Redstart
White-capped Redstart
White-tailed Robin
Northern White-crowned Forktail
Stejneger's Stonechat
Pied Bush Chat
Grey Bush Chat
Blue Rock Thrush
Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush
Asian Brown Flycatcher
Slaty-backed Flycatcher
Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher
Taiga Flycatcher
Little Pied Flycatcher
Slaty-blue Flycatcher
Sapphire Flycatcher
Verditer Flycatcher
Hainan Blue Flycatcher
Pale Blue Flycatcher
Hill Blue Flycatcher
Tickell's Blue Flycatcher
White-gorgeted Flycatcher
Rufous-bellied Niltava
Large Niltava
Blue-winged Leafbird
Golden-fronted Leafbird
Orange-bellied Leafbird
Plain Flowerpecker
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker
Purple Sunbird
Ruby-cheeked Sunbird
Brown-throated Sunbird
Purple-naped Sunbird
Olive-backed Sunbird
Mrs. Gould's Sunbird
Green-tailed Sunbird
Black-throated Sunbird
Little Spiderhunter
Streaked Spiderhunter
House Sparrow
Plain-backed Sparrow
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
Asian Golden Weaver
White-rumped Munia
Scaly-breasted Munia
Grey Wagtail
White Wagtail
Richard's Pipit
Paddyfield Pipit
Olive-backed Pipit
Spot-winged Grosbeak

Brown-breasted Bulbul
Brown-breasted Bulbul
Oriental Turtle Dove
Oriental Turtle Dove
Yellow-bellied Fairy Fantail
Yellow-bellied Fairy Fantail
Sapphire Flycatcher
Sapphire Flycatcher
Saphire Flycatcher
Saphire Flycatcher
Slaty Blue Flycatcher
Slaty Blue Flycatcher
Pale Blue Flycatcher
Pale Blue Flycatcher
Buff-throated Warbler
Buff-throated Warbler
Yellow-streaked Warbler
Yellow-streaked Warbler
Pied Bushchat
Pied Bushchat
Sultan's Tit
Sultan's Tit
Spot-breasted Parrotbill
Spot-breasted Parrotbill
Orange-breasted Trogon
Orange-breasted Trogon
Brahimy Kite
Brahimy Kite
Collared Scops Owl
Collared Scops Owl
Spotted Owlet
Spotted Owlet
Brown-headed Gull
Brown-headed Gull
Slender-billed Gull
Slender-billed Gull
Spanish 'armada'!
Spanish 'armada'!