Wednesday, January 30, 2008
26th January, 2008, Doi Inthanon, NW Thailand
Doi Inthanon is the highest mountain in Thailand, and also an extensive national park. The road from the park entrance to the summit (2,565m or 8,415ft) is about 40km long. It is a highlight of many birders visits to Thailand, as the range of altitudes and habitats provides a home for a large number of bird species.
I arrived late on the 25th, and put up at the legendary Mr Deang's. Before retirement Mr Deang was a forest ranger in the park. Guiding foreign birders around the mountain ignited his own passion for birding, and he has set up a 'Birding Centre' which functions as a guest house and general meeting point for birders, both foreign and Thai.
My first full day was a Saturday, which meant that the summit was awash with daytrippers. Nevertheless, I got a good introduction to some of the commoner species.
I started at dawn at the 37km checkpoint and birded along the road.
One of my favourites was Spectacled Barwing, which had a contact call I transcribed as "Doom on you!" (just like the dodos in Ice Age 2!).
The summit has a stunningly beautiful boardwalk trail through mossy forest, sphagnum bog and many-coloured rhododendrons, which is advertised as the 'Gateway to the Himalayas'.
At the summit, Dark-backed Sibias sounded and behaved just like the Long-tailed Sibias I'm familiar with at Fraser's Hill, but were decidedly more attractive!
A couple of species which are rather rare in Malaysia (not many places high enough) but common at the summit here are Chestnut-tailed Minla and Rufous-winged Fulvetta.
Here's the minla, common in noisy flocks.
And this is the fulvetta, also common in noisy flocks! They were so preoccupied with looking for food that they seemed oblivious to my presence; one actually landed briefly on my leg (no jokes about legs like tree trunks please!), and this one was about 5 feet away!
Mrs. Gould's and Green-tailed Sunbirds abound, though getting a good picture is another matter! This is the Green-tailed.
Worth another look!
Any idea what this is? Me neither! Blyth's and White-tailed Leaf Warblers both occur at Doi Inthanon. They look almost the same, they have similar calls and even similar songs. Apparently White-tailed is the commoner of the two - not that that means this is one! Whichever it is, it's a pretty-looking warbler.
In the late afternoon I went down to about km 30 near the Park HQ. This photo was taken at km 26, where there is a hill tribe village and an area of paddyfields.
Oddly enough, Striated Swallows were the only hirundine in evidence - no swifts either. Striated Swallows look very similar to Red-rumped, but have a dark rather than pinkish nape and broader streaks below. I also think their wings look broader and the tail streamers don't seem to curve inward as much as on Red-rumped.
While photographing the swallows I saw this flock of white-eyes fly past and managed to grab this single shot. It's a great illustration of the difference between my new camera and the old one - my old Konica Minolta would never have been able to focus quickly or accurately enough to get this picture. The Canon not only gets it in focus, but the resolution is so good I can identify two species in this flock!
Here's a Chestnut-flanked White-eye (a new species for the trip)- cropped from the right of the original...
... and here's a crop of the left hand most bird, revealed as an Oriental White-eye by the pale yellow stripe down the centre of the belly!