Thursday, 23 February 2012

North Thailand Jan 18th 2012

We began another exciting day in the mountains parked along the road waiting for the sunrise and our date with Mrs Hume’s Pheasant. Sure enough a rustling in the leaf litter near our parked vehicle resulted in good views of a superb male and a little later a female as well. Leaving here we drove back up to the ridge and as the sun’s rays slowly lit the hillside more and more birds were on the move, beginning with a few Little Buntings that flew into a bare tree and several Brown-breasted Bulbuls. Across the road a fine male Daurian Redstart was found and then several Pallas’s Warblers appeared in a close tree. An abrupt alarm call from the dense vegetation beside us was made by an extremely skulky Aberrant Bush-warbler which never really gave us a good look. So we walked along the road to scan a much warmer and very scenic sun-drenched hillside where we were privileged to get close views of a calling Spot-breasted Parrotbill that used a small leafless sapling for his song perch. As well as this superb bird, we also saw Greater Yellownape, White-browed Scimitar-babbler and a pair of Grey Treepies.  Then we hit the trails and almost immediately came across a Himalayan Bluetail on the path in front of us before finding a bird wave that held a White-browed Piculet and Rufous-backed Sibia amongst more common species. We also had a Grey-backed Shrike, calling Pygmy Wren-babbler, Rufous-bellied Niltava. Then we drove a short distance and visited a special site in one of the tourist complexes where a small feeding station had been set up so we made our own contribution with some mealworms and sat on the ground and waited patiently. Well for five minutes at least! As all of a sudden a White-tailed Robin flew in and perched right out in the open just a few metres away and we were all suitably stunned. As if that wasn’t enough a Black-breasted Thrush then came in and scared the robin away and began feeding. To cap it all off a male Hill Blue Flycatcher appeared and just sat there looking at us! Behind the nearby restaurant we again waited for a few minutes and this time a Scaly Thrush appeared and began to feed amongst the leaf litter allowing the most extraordinary views. So after an oversized lunch which we spent watching white-eyes, a quick walk nearby produced Blue-winged Minla and Yellow-bellied Warbler before we headed back to some trails and at the first one found a large bird wave below us but it was moving away, although we managed to pick out a Lesser Rufous-headed Parrotbill before the flock disappeared. Then everything went quiet and our walk only produced Striated Bulbul, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher and another Rufous-backed Sibia so we drove to a new trail. Immediately we found Slender-billed and Maroon Oriole which we watched at eye-level as we were standing at the top of a steep slope. Also here was Velvet-fronted Nuthatch. Moving on down the light wasn’t so good as the sun had dipped over the surrounding hills but found a nice Slaty-backed Flycatcher, Bianchi’s Warbler, Ashy and Mountain Bulbuls and heard a Bay Woodpecker before returning to the vehicle.

White-tailed Robin

Spot-breasted Parrotbill

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