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A Report from

Doi Inthanon, 25-28th Jan 2002,

Peter Ericsson

At Doi Inthanon there is a nature trail called Geo Mae Baan, at around 2000m alleviation. This trail takes you through some of the best preserved primary evergreen, broad-leaved forest in the country.  It leads to a natural meadow and steep cliffs overlooking valleys and mountain peaks below.

Here the national flower of Tibet, a red blossoming Rhododendron, flourishes. Its flowers attract a myriad of Green-tailed Sunbirds, Chestnut-tailed Minlas, Chestnut-crowned Laughing Thrushes and Black-headed Sibias. If you are blessed enough you may even spot a very rare serow, a mountain dwelling goat like animal that still survives in the remote western mountains of Thailand. Having spent quite some time in these wonderful surroundings , we (8kids, 6-11 years old) and a couple of adults started heading back down the trail.  This is when I had the most outstanding experience of this year's visit to Doi Inthanon.  The clear and attractive call of a Brown-throated Tree-creeper penetrated the air. Having wanted to see this bird for a long time I was 'ready for a rendezvous'. Sure enough, here in the middle of a fantastic forest of tall and erect mountain dwelling tree species, a single bird kept working its way towards us. It has a peculiar habit of sort of 'dropping it's head' side ways, falling down a bit and then climbing up the same trunk again. Then off to another tree, starting all over from down below, working it's way up. Colors drap, but oh so well blended. Simply a gorgeous bird!

As much as this was the highlight of the trip it also was the greatest let down. Too my despair I discovered the film in my camera was finished and realized my other films were in the car far away!

The Summit was windy and cold. About 6 degrees Celcius, but the wind made sure that non prepared tourists barely got out of their cars before climbing back in and heading down for warmer and lower grounds.   We actually found a grass patch free from the biting wind and here the highly unusual encounter with frost was a first for many of us.

This year, the military radar station opened up their doors for us (came in company with Thais) and I had a first look at what's on the 'other side of the fence'. Disappointingly there were no visiting Thrushes in sight but a very handsome Chestnut-bellied Rock-Thrush entertained us for almost an hour.

The road to Mae Baan waterfall was deemed driveable and so we went for an adventurous dip

in the cold waters there. The natural pool, formed by the continual dropping of cold, icy water, took our natural senses by storm as we emerged ourselves. A stream, Huay Sai Leuang, near the lodging facilities at the sub station, held both male and female Plembous Redstarts.

A River Chat was kind enough to put on a display for all the kids at the bottom of Vatchiratan waterfall on our day of arrival. Inspite of tourists being present in the fall it had decided to greet us warmly before it flew off down the cascading waters.

The famous Black-tailed Crake now has grown to 3-4 individuals, all according to Mr Daeng at the birding shop. My first Crake was viewed standing some 40 meters away, hiding in the surrounding pine trees, as Mrs. and Mr. Crake gently and quickly crossed the little path next to the small bridge in the marshy area behind campground by headquarters. Here also a Great Tit kept feeding each day and close views of Hill Prinia was a delight.

Our two days ended quickly. A long drive all the way from Bangkok but for the kids a memorable experience.

Birds seen in order of event at Doi Inthanon

River Chat
White-rumped Shama
Magpie Robin
Grey Bush-Chat
Olive-backed Pipit
Hill Prinia
Ferruginous Flycatcher
Hill Blue Flycatcher
Great Tit
Blue Whistling Thrush
Golden Spectacled Warbler
Pied Wagtail
Grey-backed Shrike
Green-tailed Sunbird
Black-headed Sibia
Rufous-winged Fulvetta
White-tailed Warbler
Ashy-throated Warbler
Chestnut-tailed Minla
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush
Flavescent Bulbul
Black-crested Bulbul
Ashy Wood Pigeon
Silver-eared Mesia
Yellow-cheeked Tit
Chestnut-vented Nuthatch
Black-headed Bulbul
Black-tailed Crake    Lifer
Grey-headed Flycatcher
White-throated Rock-thrush
Slaty-backed Forktail
Plembous Redstart
Rufous-backed Sibia
Verditer Flycatcher
Grey-chinned Fulvetta
Brown-throated Treecreeper   Lifer
Pygmy Wren Babbler
Large-billed Crow
Barn Swallow
Grey Wagtail
Black-throated Sunbird
Mountain Bulbul
White-throated Fantail
Chestnut-bellied Rock-Thrush
White-browed Shortwing
Bronzed Drongo

Birds heard but not seen

Golden-throated Barbet
Blue-throated Barbet
Red-throated Flycatcher
Slaty-bellied Tesia
Golden Babbler
White-browed Shrike-Babbler
Asian Barred Owlet
Inornate Warbler
Buff-bellied Flowerpecker

The Birds of Thailand
Craig Robson: Buy from

  • At last, the quality of field guides for the Far East has caught up with those of Europe and America. Craig Robson's "Birds of Thailand" is a tour de force...950 mouth watering species all beautifully illustrated and expertly described, each with its own distribution map. The natural riches of Thailand make it an ever more popular birding destination and this indispensible guide will set the standard there for years to come.

A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia
Craig Robson: Buy from or

  • A new flexi-cover edition of this superb and influential book is now available (UK) making it far more useful in the field. The birds of South-East Asia details the identification, voice, breeding, status, habitat and distribution of the 1250 species and distinctive sub-species of the region covering Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, West Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. The illustrations are excellent and Craig Robson's text reflects his position as one of the foremost ornithological authorities of S.E.Asia. Indispensable for anyone visiting the area.

Peter Ericsson

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