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Doi Angkhang, 2009

Doi Angkhang 7-9/2/09

As the dry and cold season begins in Nov/Dec in Northern Thailand I always feel the urge to visit. This year it took until beginning of February for me to be able to realize the urge.

I went with my youngest daughter and a friend of herís. We decided to do an interactive
English school program at 3 schools in Chiang Mai as well as donate educational
Materials to the schools before our actual time of relaxation. The programs went well and we headed for Doi Angkhang. Bahn Luang resort is an ideal place to stay for birders. The resort has a smaller waterfall which held Riverchat, White-tailed Robin, Black-breasted Thrush and a few other things.
A small marsh at the resort also has a single Black-tailed Crake, a rare crake of mountains.

My target for the trip was to photograph Thrushes behind the restaurant inside of the Royal project. This turned out to be terrific as many birds fed of the food scraps.
A pair of Grey-winged Thrushes was a pure bonus. I have only seen this birds once before and to see the female as well was great joy.
4 male and 2 female Black-breasted Thrushes joined in the frenzy as did a pair of Eye-browed Thrushes. Some Thai photographers were there as well and kept feeding worms to the birds. It was very interesting to see how the male Eye-browed Thrush fought off all other birds and laid claim on the worms. He did face competition with a pair of Magpie Robins who would take over whenever the Thrushes decided to take a break. Otherwise it was only the female Grey-winged that could outdo the male Eye-browed. She being bigger got the best of him at times.

My favorite bird was not the turdus Thrushes but a single zoothera: Dark-sided Thrush.
This bird has a different feeding behavior as it simply stays put in one spot, resolutely removing all leaves while digging in the dirt with its long bill for worms. Not an easy bird to spot while birding, let alone getting a picture of.

There were other birds around. A female Rufous-bellied Niltava showed interest in the worms. A Yellow-billed Whistling Thrush (resident bird) would show up at times but it was all about the Thrushes. I visited 3 days at different times and they would always show up.

I also wanted to target some needed lifebirds. I have never with confidence ticked off Pallasís Leaf Warbler (we have a lot of Leaf Warblers here) but this time I managed to pick one out. I also had short views of a Fire-capped Tit which also was new.

Sitting in a blind by the waterfall produced some sessions with the Riverchat and the Robin. Very tricky to take shots without flash in the dark at low shutter speeds. Managed to play around a bit with different settings.

One morning I drove along the ridge at km 35-33 in search of something different.
Suddenly my eyes caught sight of a pair of Humeís Pheasants crossing the road. I quickly got a reference shot and drove as fast as I could up to the birds. One remained in the roadside vegetation and I came away with some images. Joy overwhelmed my heart.
There was another more brightly red colored bird deep inside the vegetation.
I decided to return to the spot the next day. Parked the car 50m away and waited.
Then I saw a male coming out wanting to cross the road when he suddenly jumped up (alarmed) and quickly returned into the scrub not to come out again. I am not sure what caused it but it helped me all the more to realize how special it was to have gotten an image the day before.

As for food, best place in town is definitely the first restaurant on the right hand side as one enters Bahn Koom village next to the Royal project. Try some stir fried mixed vegetables in oyster sauce. Lovely stuff!

On the way back I birded along the way and stopped at some pine trees. There, rather high up a Sapphire Flycatcher popped up giving me my 3rd new bird for the trip.

Surely, I must go back again.
Baan Luang Resort
Baan Luang Resort
Hume's Pheasant, male
Hume's Pheasant, male
Eye-browed Thrush, male
Eye-browed Thrush, male
Eye-browed Thrush, male
Eye-browed Thrush, male
Eye-browed Thrush, female
Eye-browed Thrush, female
Eye-browed Thrush, female
Eye-browed Thrush, female
Black-breasted Thrush
Black-breasted Thrush
Black-breasted Thrush
Black-breasted Thrush
Black-breasted Thrush
Black-breasted Thrush
Grey-winged Blackbird
Grey-winged Blackbird
Grey-winged Blackbird
Grey-winged Blackbird
Dark-sided Thrush
Dark-sided Thrush
Dark-sided Thrush
Dark-sided Thrush
Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush
Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush
Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush
Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush
White-tailed Robin
White-tailed Robin
White-tailed Robin
White-tailed Robin
Riverchat (White-capped Redstart)
Riverchat (White-capped Redstart)
River Chat (White-capped Redstart)
River Chat (White-capped Redstart)
Black-tailed Crake
Black-tailed Crake
Rufous-bellied Niltava, female
Rufous-bellied Niltava, female