Sunday, 20 January 2013

Thailand - at last!

A quick walk around the hotel this morning in a very pleasant temperature resulted in some decent birds to kickstart the tour. I think pride of place goes to a small group of Java Sparrows knocking about in a dead tree. Although not native to Thailand they have been here for many years and probably what we in the UK would term a Category C species. Nice! Several Asian Koels were around and pretty vocal, whilst Common and White-vented Mynas, Zebra Dove, Spotted DoveRed Collared-dove and Common Iora were all more expected. A male Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker lent a touch of exotic to proceedings before it was time to head inside, have breakfast and finish packing. A walkway took us into the airport and an almost uneventful flight got us to Chiang Mai just before midday.

After loading the luggage into our minibus we set off towards Doi Ang Khang, a journey of almost 3 hours. A few Indian Rollers, a Rufous-winged Buzzard, Striated Swallow and a flock of Fork-tailed Swifts were the only birds of note before the road began to wind its way up into the mountains. We made a quick rest stop alongside the road and had a brief Black-throated Sunbird and a Hair-crested Drongo before continuing ever higher. At the Chinese Cemetery we spent a pleasant couple of hours in the late afternoon sunshine. First up was a pair of Large Cuckooshrikes, followed by Chestnut-flanked White-eye, a stunning male Mrs Gould’s Sunbird and a White-browed Laughingthrush showed briefly. Further along the road we found the first of several Yellow-browed Warblers to be seen today, as well as Himalayan Swiftlet, White-throated Fantail, Hill Prinia, Grey Bushchat, Japanese Tit, Ashy and Bronzed Drongos and a Long-tailed Shrike. A bit more perseverance was necessary to get decent views of a White-browed Scimitar-babbler, and even more for Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-babbler. Our bulbul list began to grow with Sooty-headed, Brown-breasted and Himalayan Black Bulbuls seen well, along with a Red-whiskered as well. At the rubbish dump we also had Silver-eared Laughingthrush, and whilst trying to tease out a male Siberian Rubythroat that did show to some of us, also picked up a few Olive-backed Pipits. So not a bad start at all and with news of  a few goodies to stake out tomorrow we retired to bed eager for the next day to come quickly….

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