FW: Three weeks in Thailand 2.

To: birding-aus <>, birdchat <>, "Ebn " <>
Subject: FW: Three weeks in Thailand 2.
From: Vader Willem Jan Marinus <>
Date: Fri, 18 Mar 2011 10:34:26 +0000

                                                                  THREE WEEKS 

 . In my first piece I forgot to mention our first experience with mealworms, 
'behind the men's room' at one of the campings we found shamas, a Chinese Blue 
Flycatcher, and the rare  Rufous-tailed Robin , and at another stake-out the 
colourful Mugimaki Flycatcher. And how could I forget our greatest sucess of 
all in Khao Yai, point blank views of the rare and seldom seen Eared Pitta, new 
even for our leader! Where? Oh, close to where the two Smooth-coated Otters 
were sunning.

 After Khao Yai we returned to Bangkok for the domestic flight to Chi an g Mai; 
even though  I  stupidly had left my passport in my suitcase, which the vans 
had taken directly to Chiang Mai, I still was allowed to come on the 
plane---the first time the copy of the relevant  passport pages turned out to 
be useful.   Next mornng the first order of the day was a visit to one of the 
many 'King's projects', this one an area of dry forest where the  spectacular 
and  by now quite rare Green Peafowl still can be found. in the afternoon we 
samples the dry fields around our hotel, with Rollers, White-throated  K 
ingfishers, Little Green Bee-eaters, and even Hoopoes (which I consistently 
missed). Drongos were common also here, and as usual, there were a few new 
bulbuls to get to know.  In the evening, acting on tips received, we visited a 
roosting area for Blossom-headed Parakeets---beautiful birds, with a Burmese 
shrike as dessert.

The next morning we drove up very early to the summit of Doi Inthanon, with 
2500m the highest mountain in Thailand , and reputedly very cold indeed (not 
for somebody from N.Norway, though) . In the morning twilight Dark-backed 
Sibias were the first birds to start singing, and  Silver-eared laughing 
Thrushes turned out to be quite accustomed to people her.  There is a beautiful 
boardwalk and nature path here, and we walked this several times , through 
marshy area s , and gnarled  rhododendron trees with red and white flowers. 
Lots of new birds here, some conspicuous, others only  discoverable   by  
sharper eyes than mine. Finally many babblers: fulvettas, yuhinas, minlas, 
sibias, and as special treat the comic and endearing Pygmy Wren-Babbler, 
belting out its song with all the gusto of our Winter Wren.  Thrushes were 
among the birds that were hard to discover, but with so many sharp eyes they 
'fell' one after the other, and we got good views of Grey-sided and Dark-sided 
Thrushes and of the White-browed Shortwing. Snowy-browed Flycatchers and 
Himalayan Bluetail were easier, as they were much attracted to the mealworms 
that Mike and Dion had brought

 We also walked the famous Jeep  T rail, a bit further down the mountain, but 
here it was already harder to entice the birds to show themselves. White-necked 
Laughing Thrushes belted out a highly spectacular medley of sounds all around 
us, but we never saw them, nor could the niltavas be enticed to show 
themselves. We had much better success , eventually,  with the Slaty-backed 
Tesia, again a hugely endearing almost tailless small bird, with an 
orange-lined mouth conspicuous every time it sang. On the way back a 
treecreeper, and the stylish Yellow-cheeked Tit also showed themselves .The 
next day we did it all again and saw basically the same birds, although this 
time we had an up close meeting with another endearing sprite, the Mountain 
Tailorbird and came across a very young Eye-browed Wren Babbler. And we saw two 
different forktail sopecies near two different waterfalls (this area has many 
scenic waterfalls).  In the afternoon we visited an area of rice paddies where, 
in addition to the expected herons and egrets, there also were Grey-headed 
Lapwings, Pintail Snipe, a Green Sandpiper and even a Painted Snipe. 
Black-collared Starlings augmented the many White-vented Mynahs, a Citrine 
Wagtail was found besides the many White and Yellow Wagtails, and a majestic 
Pied Harrier confirmed once more that this is one of the most stylish raptors; 
stylish were also the Black-shouldered Kites. This area was invaded by a 
probably African Acacia, which may well cause serious problems, if unchecked.

The next area was Doi Ang Khang, close to the Burmese border. Here we visited 
i.a. an area with dry teak forest, said to be excellent for woodpeckers, but on 
this trip we had very little luck with woodpeckers, although we did glimpse a 
Common Flameback here. We did see the Collared Falconets, though, albeit at 
scope distance, and we were lucky and watched a nice Black-hooded Oriole. Also 
here there were new Bulbuls (I would see 15 species all in all, and I missed at 
least two), and as in all forested areas, barbets were calling all the time; 
one wonders when they eat! In another King's project here we profited 
enormously from the newest bird-finding technology, i.e. feeding regularly with 
mealworms, so that the birds get accustomed to connect people with field 
glasses with food. At one place we saw that way the reportedly 'more often 
heard than seen' White-tailed Robin as much as we wanted; the birds seemed to 
have been waiting for mealworms for a long time already! At another place in 
the same project, behind the kitchens of the restaurant, there was already much 
to find, and the mealworms just augmented this; here we saw rarities like 
Scaly, Eye-browed and Black-breasted Thrushes, as well as the Blue whistling 
Thrush and the Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush. Mammals there were not all too 
many here (heavy hunting pressure), mainly various squirrels and once a 
Stripe-backed Weasel crossing the road.

The last area in the north was Doi Lang. here we finally sonme a few 
woodpeckers, ranging from the diminutive White-browed Piculet, via the uncommon 
Crimson-winged Woodpecker, to the as always hard to see Bay Woodpecker.  A 
Maroon Oriole did not give itself up easily, but the rare White-bellied Green 
Pigeon, once discovered, could be watched at leisure. Also here there was a 
'mealworm station', again with astounding success, This time the 
Rufous-gorgeted and the notoriously shy White-gorgeted Flycatchers could be 
watched extensively.

the last day in the North brought a very different scenery, as we visited 
Chiang Saen lake, a large lake in the extreme north, where we had a nice boat 
trip. Thailand has generally few ducks, except the common Lesser Whistling 
Ducks, but here there are many wintering ducks. the whistlers dominate also 
here, but there are considerable numbers of Spot-billed Ducks, Garganey and 
Ferruginous Ducks, and a few each of Tufted Duck, Shoveler, and cotto Pygmy 
Goose. Eurasian Coots were here too, as well as Moorhens, many Little Grebes, 
Purple Swamphens, and Pheasant-tailed Jacanas. An Osprey was a nice surprise, 
and Eastern Marsh Harriers hunted over the lake, where the introduced 
Eichhornia absolutely dominated the marsh vegetation.

After this rested only a quick lunch along the Mekong River---with River 
Lapwings, Little Pratincoles, Temminck's Stints and Ruddy Shelducks as 
additions to our ever growing lists, and a more touristy stop at the Golden 
Triangle, the spot where Laos, Burma and Thailand meet. this time i remembered 
my passport, so the flight from Chang Rai back to bangkok was routine.

the last bit will deal with our days South of Bangkok.

                                           Wim Vader, Tromsø Museum

                                           9037 Tromsø, Norway


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