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A Report from

Doi Angkhang, Thailand  2/3/02,

Peter Ericsson

Participants: Peter Ericsson and Bengt Legnell

Transportation: Train from Bangkok Friday evening at 18:50. 600 Baht for sleeper.

Arrived in Chiang Mai 07:20 am Saturday. Met Bengt  who brought rented vehicle (600/day) from Boss rental company. Caught the train back to Bangkok following day, Sunday at 18:00, allowing for 24 hours birding at Doi Angkhang.

Along the drive to DAK we stopped by Mae Taang Irrigation Canal. Otherwise the drive is an easy drive for about 3 hours. Turn off to the left at km 137 a little before the town of Fang. After the turn off, the road quickly starts climbing steeply. Good tarmac road though so 4 wheel drive is not really needed.

The Irrigation Project was a quick stop to try to see some Buntings. The Canal is located about 30 minutes drive North of CM. We crossed the canal by foot and made our way through the brush on the other side. Here at the end of a dry field we had a group of Crested Buntings. My first lifer. Then a small bird perched on a smaller stick and the scope revealed a Little Bunting. 2nd lifer. Other good birds here were Eurasian Kestrel hovering over the field. Lots of Pied Wagtails.   Also saw my first Green Sandpiper (jinx bird). Lifer number 3. Rufous-winged  Bushlark, Grey Bush Chat, Pied Bush Chat, Pied Wagtail,  etc was other things seen. A Eurasian Kestrel hovered over a field giving good views.

On the way in to the canal we saw 2 Grey-headed Lapwings and a Snipe in a field. Nearby Eurasian Jay gave away harsh calls. Seemed to be a very birdy area and could easily keep one busy for a full morning.

I have never really had a clear picture of what Doi Ankhang is like. Only heard about its remoteness and good birds. It was actually very easy to get to. Though steep the climb was far less time consuming then going up Doi Inthanon. Most of the journey up though had to be done in first gear. Once up, the road follows a mountain ridge until it starts going down into a valley where the little town by the same name is located. Here a few simple houses fight for space with some upper class resorts and squeezed in between is a Royal agricultural project. There are many mountain peaks around and looking over the valleys, many are still covered in thick forest. The area we did our birding is called km 21.5. Altitude must be around 18-1900m. Here a jeep track goes off the road to the right. For about 100 meters there is thick forest and then comes a clearing and grass/scrub land. After that the road continues down to the left and apparently comes out down at km 24 or Mae Peu water substation (a rather steep walk down). We pitched our tents in the clearing near to a big tree. Here we watched the grassy hillside in front of us. Brown-breasted Bulbuls are everywhere here. They are quite an attractive little Bulbul with their clean white throat and musical  notes.

Someone had seen Spot-breasted Parrotbills and Fire-capped Tits here the day before so our expectations were immediately heightened. Several trails are around here. Free walking mules live on the mountain and keep the trails open through their constant walking. We did 80% of our birding in this area. Saw Red-faced Liocichla twice in low herbage  near to the clearing. The bird is supposedly in more moist areas but seeing how dry everything is this year it may not have much of a choice. Ha!

Food was easy down in town. One cheap and tasty dish was called Khao pat pet gai by kra pow sai kai dao (fried chicken with basil leaves and chilies with a fried egg on top of rice).

The other hot-spot where Giant Nuthatches has been seen is at the Mae Peu water substation at km 24. Park at the flagpole and go down to the dirt road below. We followed the road to the left and soon had a flock of Red-faced Liocichlas, the main attraction of the mountain. Then on a grassy hillside 500 meters down the trek a group of 4 Spot-breasted Parrotbills came close. They have a strongly churring call which is quite diagnostic.

I had to search hard for the White-browed Laughingthrushes. They finally caught up with me midday before departure. It was generally hard to see birds. Density was rather low to meet my expectations, except for a great abundance of Flavescent and Brown-breasted Bulbuls soon considered common. Could have to do with the fact that I was set on getting target birds and so disregarded many of the more commoner species. There actually are a great many very interesting birds one can see at length here i.e. White-tailed Robin, Orange-flanked Bush Robin, Common Rosefinches and many, many Warblers.

I had a superb Violet Cuckoo at km 21.5. Had a real hard time ID'ing the bird in spite of it being so close. It was neither green as the Emerald, nor violet as the Violet. It was shimmering blue. Bill was yellow/orange with no black tip to it. My assumption is that it was Violet Cuckoo even though I understand it is not normally recorded this high. In either case it was an extremely handsome bird.

There is quite a bit of pine along the road. Many Flycatchers can be seen here but we didn't invest much time into it. Think I saw a female Ultramarine Flycatcher but not positive.

A very nice surprise was a pair of Aberrant Bush Warblers a bit up the steps on the peak to the right of the clearing. One have to walk through the large pines (50 meters, White-tailed Robin hangs around here at the end of the pines) then follow the trail another 50 meters. Steps start to the right. This bird kept calling after sitting waiting for a while I saw the bird for a short moment by the trail side.

Crested Finchbill was only seen once (supposedly common) and only by Bengt.
Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler was not seen at all a bit disappointingly.
I had a hard time with the many Warblers around but managed to pick out a Lemon-rumped Leaf-Warbler (Lifebird) amongst the many species.
Temperature fell to around 15 Celsius at night and was very high daytime.
Was it worth 2 nights on a train plus hours of driving? Undoubtedly, YES! Several lifebirds, many of which I have only dreamed off, great fellowship with oldtime friend, plus a working knowledge of one of Thailand's many great birding hot-spots.

Hopefully I will be back again!


Spot-breasted Parrotbill

Paradoxornis guttaticollis

Seen 500m in along the trail from Mae Peu

White-browed Laughingthrush

Garrulax sannio

Km 21.5 to the right after pines, low bushes

Crested Finchbill

Spizixos canifrons

2 birds 400m down trail to the left at 21.5

Brown-breasted Bulbul

Pycnonotus xanthorrhous

Abundant at km 21.5

Red-faced Liocichla

Liocichla phoenicea

Seen once at km 24, twice at 21.5

White-tailed Robin

Cinclidium leucurum

One in the pines to the right of 21.5

Orange-flanked Bush Robin

Tarsiger cyanurus

Same as above

Large Niltava

Niltava grandis

Same as above

Rufous-bellied Niltava

Niltava Sundava

Pines, before check point going down

Blue-winged Minla

Minla cyanouroptera


Spectacled Barwing

Actiondura ramsayi

One in scrub at clearing km 21.5

Mountain Bamboo Partridge

Bambusicola fytchii

Hill at km 21.5  flushed twice

Mountain Tailorbird

Orthotomus cuculatus

800m down the trek at km 24, also heard elsewhere

Rufous-fronted Babbler

Stachyris rufifrons

Very common

White-browed Shrike-Babbler

Pteruthius melanotis

Along hillside on right side of 21.5

Grey-chinned Fulvetta

Alcippe morrisonia

Big flock at km 21.5 to the right

Aberrant Bush Warbler

Cettia flavolivacea

A pair  up the steps on the ridge to the right of 21.5. Calls incessantly.

Common Rosefinch

Carpodacus erythrinus

Trees to the right at 21.5. Flock of 10.

Striated Bulbul

Pycnonotus striatus

One flew into tree to the left of 21.5

Mountain Bulbul

Hypsipetes mcclellandii


Flavescent Bulbul

Pycnonotus flavescens


Red-whiskered Bulbul

Pycnonotus jocosus

Roadside on the way down

Violet Cuckoo

Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus

Magnificent male at 21.5 Iridescent shining blue color.

White-throated Fantail

Rhipidura albicollis

One at 21.5

Little Pied Flycatcher

Ficedula westermanni

Common, both sexes

Verditer Flycatcher

Eumyias thalassina

Km 21.5

Red-throated Flycatcher

Ficedula parva

In the little town of DAK.

Grey-backed  Shrike

Lanius tepronotus

Along the road on high ground

Burmese Shrike

Lanius collurioides

On wire on ridge

Grey Treepie

Dendrocitta formosae

Km 21.5 as well as 24

Maroon Oriole

Oriolus traillii

Heard at km24

Chestnut-vented Nuthatch

Sitta nagaensis

Km 21.5 as well as 24

Long-tailed Minivets

Pericrocotus ethologus

Big flock at km 21.5

Short-billed Minivets

Pericrocotus brevirostris

A pair at 21.5

Japanese White-eye

Zosterops japonicus

One in brush at 21.5

Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo

Dicrurus remifer

One at 21.5

Ashy Drongo

Dicrurus leucophaeus

One at 24

Black-throated Sunbird

Aethopyga saturata

One in mixed flock at 21.5

Streaked Spiderhunter

Arachnothera magna

One along trail at km 24

Grey Bush Chat

Saxicola ferrea

One along the road

Great Tit

Parus major

One at km 21.5

Crested Serpent Eagle

Spilornis cheela

Male at km 24



Seen twice but no positive species ID

Common Buzzard

Buteo buteo

One going up the mountain

Black-headed Sibia

Heterophasia annectens

Common at km 21.5 also 24

Magpie Robin

Copsychus saularis

In the town


Delichon dasypus

Huge flock on the way up

Pacific Swift

Apus pacificus


Himalayan Swiftlet

Aerodramus brevirostris

High ground

Hill Prinia

Prinia atrogularis

Easy at km 21.5


Gallus gallus

Along the road

Tree Sparrow

Passer montanus

Common  in the town


Turdus obscurus

Presumably Eye-browed. Flock at 21

Radde's Warbler

Phylloscopus schwarzi


Greenish Warbler

Phylloscopus trochiloides


Blyth's Warbler

Phylloscopus reguloides


Lemon-rumped Warbler

Phylloscopus proregulus

One at 21.5

Golden-spectacled Warbler

Seicercus burkii

Along hillside to the right of 21.5

Inornate Warbler

Phylloscopus inornatus


Pygmy Wren Babbler

Pnoepyga pusilla

One heard at 21.5 inside moist area by the pines to the right

Grey-headed Flycatcher

Culicicapa ceylonensis

Commonly heard at km 24

Silver-eared Mesia

Leiothrix argentauris

Commonly heard

Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush

Garrulax erythrocephalus

Commonly heard at 21.5

Black-throated Laughingthrush

Garrulax chinensis

Heard at km 24

Grey Nightjar

Caprimulgus indicus

Heard at night km 21.5

Great Barbet

Megalaima virens

Heard at 21.5

Golden-throated Barbet

Megalaima chrysopogon

Heard at 21.5

67 species


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