Doi Lang (Pahompok), Fang, Chiang Mai, Thailand
13-18th of May, 2006
Participants: Peter Ericsson and Martin Daniel, British, living in Singapore.
Martin came up to fill in a few gaps in his Thai list and though all migrants by now had left we still had some very exciting target birds to aim for.
Day 1. Arrived at Chiang Mai airport in the evening. Car hire company delivered a Caribian Suzuki 4WD for 800Baht/day. Headed straight to Prince Hotel, 600/night/room, and clean, good-sized rooms and not far from the night market.
Had excellent local foods before spending a couple of hours watching the FA Cup final at an Irish Pub. Having routed for Liverpool since childhood it was one “Heaven of a game” and the roof was about to rise as the final outcome emerged!
Day 2. Drove straight for Doi Saket some 30 km outside of CM towards Chiang Rai. Had some flight views of a single Green Peafowl over a lake to calmly settle on the opposite side.
Then headed to Chiang Dao, got the required permission and booked a room at Malee’s. Our timing had coincided with a typhoon in the South Chinese Sea and we were not to see the sun until our last day. It drizzled pretty much throughout our stay in the North.
The drive up the mountain wasn’t as arduous as expected, though definitely a rough ride. We had the Giant Nuthatch only in flight but were not 100% positive so opted to revisit following morning.
Day 3. Very misty but connected well with the Nuthatch along the trail just pass Den Yakat substation. No signs of Hume’s Pheasant. We met British birder/artist Adam Bowley with spouse who had received an e-mail from a friend saying that a Green Cochua was showing well at Doi Inthanon. We decided to do the long drive and found ourselves at km 34.5 at Doi Inthanon in the early afternoon. Only one bird around and sure enough, a male Green Cochua had made this area its territory for the time being. Though visibility was poor the bird still managed to show us its deep colors and the stint was a success. After a visit to the summit where birds were quite active we went down to Inthanon Highland Resort outside the park gates for the night. Excellent food as usual and large air-conditioned rooms at 1000/room.
Day 4. We left early for the long drive back to CM, on towards Fang and what is known as Doi Lang. Doi Lang is actually part of Doi Pahompok but easier referred to as Doi Lang to help differentiate the two.
There are two ways up the mountain. First turn off is at Mae Ai, right after a Kodak shop. Better road and easer to find is to continue to Tah Torn another 8 km down the road. About 3-400 meters before the bridge in town there is a turn off to road 1314. This is the road to Doi Lang. Follow it till an army post where you turn right.
Continue on till another smaller guard post on the right hand side with a single soldier. Here a smaller road turns straight right. Turn in here. From here on you will travel a further 10-11 km till there is an obvious valley with paddy fields and bamboo cottages. Here at about 1187m above sea level is a more or less sure area for Jerdon’s Bushchat.
Adam and spouse had gone up the mountain before us and located a female bird feeding young. No male around. We went up a dirt track and managed to find another pair with an immature bird feeding in brambles.
From this point on you drive up and up and carry along a ridge. We were engulfed in rain, mist and wind and didn’t see much for starters. Still, we felt very satisfied having gotten the Bushchat so quickly.
We lodged at Garden Home Resort at Tha Torn. Nice bungalows with hot water and fan for 300/room. Good food and friendly staff. Resort located to the left right after the bridge.
Day 5. Spent the whole day on the top. Looked desperately for Crimson-breasted WP between 1800m-2000m elevations but to no avail. (It had been photographed with young in a nest the month before)…Lots of migrants were no longer around i.e. Scarlet Finch, White-bellied Redstart, Bush Warblers and Leaf Warblers. Some other birds recently seen we also didn’t connect with were Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker and Red-tailed Laughingthrushes.
There is a Border Police Point at the top. First one is called Than Pahompok. From there the road carries on for another 6 km until another BPP by the name of Than Chao Payah. This stretch is between 2000-2100m above sea level. The forested road is healthy and views spectacular.
Our best birds for the day were a pair of Spot-breasted Parrotbills that gave great views. Such odd looking creatures. Big heads and a lower mandible that looked larger then the upper.
Grey-headed Parrotbills crossed the road in flight. Several big flocks of Black-throated Tits. Very charming little birds. A flock of half a dozen Whiskered Yuhinnas. Red-faced Liocichlas showed in the low bushes behind the BPP.
All our birding was done along the road as we couldn’t find any trails. This may be the main drawback of the place as the roadside vegetation is rather thick.
Day 6. Back up the mountain again but only a few additional birds seen in spite of it being clearer skies and no rain. Best bird was both male and female Orange-bellied Rock Thrush. A Rusty-naped Pitta kept calling some 5 meters from the roadside but, as usual, didn’t pay any attention to play back. Passed a couple of Mountain Bamboo Partridges along the road going up.
The road is sealed all the way and it only takes 45 minutes going down from the top. Lots of species on their most southern most range makes this an attractive place to visit. We definitely were happy with the outcome and hope to revisit during the dry season next year. The weather conditions probably added to the low density of birds seen but we did connect with many of our target species, Martin getting 14 lifers and myself 3. That brings my total Thai birds to 701 for which I am very happy. If you need assistance on a tailor made trip I may be able to help.
PS. I revisited on the 6th of December 2006 and found 4 male and one female Jerdon's Bushchat...
Bird list from Doi Lang, 1187m-2100m above sea level.
1. Jerdon’s Bushchat – single female feeding young, pair with immature male
2. Grey Bushchat – common along the ridge on top
3. Pied Bushchat – same paddy fields as Jerdon’s
4. Siberian Stonechat – resident subspecies seen at summit
5. Long-tailed Shrike – several along the way
6. Burmese Shrike –several at moderate level
7. Japanese White-eye – in brambles near paddies
8. Velvet-fronted Nuthatch – once at around 1500m
9. Chestnut-vented Nuthatch – one behind BPP1
10. Yellow-cheeked Tit – once at around 1500m
11. Black-throated Tit – 3 different flocks of up to 15 birds
12. Grey-breasted Prinia – common
13. Hill Prinia – common on high grounds
14. Drongo Cucko – once around 1500m
15. Plaintive Cuckoo – in paddies
16. Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush –commonly heard and seen once
17. Red-faced Laocichla – seen well behind BPP1
18. White-necked Laughingthrush – heard only
19. Grey-capped Woodpecker – pair on moderate elevation
20. Greater Yellownape – 3 birds seen on high grounds
21. Bay Woodpecker – pair at the top
22. Stripe-breasted Woodpecker – most common on top
23. Speckled Piculet – seen once
24. Spot-breasted Parrotfinch – pair showing very well before BPP1 at 1950m
25. Grey-headed Parrotfinch – 3 flying across the road
26. Blue-winged Minla – seen twice
27. Whiskered Yuhinna – flock of half a dozen at 1900m
28. White-tailed Leafbird – common
29. Blyth’s Leaf bird – common
30. Chestnut-crowned Warbler - once
31. Mountain Tailorbird –common
32. Spot-throated Babbler – heard only
33. White-browed Shrike Babbler – common
34. Rusty-naped Scimitar Babbler – pair seen at higher grounds
35. White-browed Scimitar Babbler – heard often and seen once
36. Spectacled Barwing – once only
37. Grey-chinned Fulvetta - common
38. Grey Treepie – once
39. Large Niltava – female at the top
40. Grey-headed Flycatcher – a few seen
41. Asian Brown Flycatcher – a few seen
42. Pied Flycatcher – common at high levels
43. Yellow-bellied Fantail – several at the top
44. White-throated Fantail – once
45. Blue-winged Leafbird - once
46. Orange-bellied Leafbird - once
47. Fire-breasted Flowerpecker – once high up
48. Ashy Wood Swallow
49. Barn Swallow – over paddies
50. White-tailed Robin – crossing the road at the top
51. Rusty-naped Pitta – calling at 10 am next to road at top
52. Large Cucko Shrike – several at the top
53. Indochinese Cucko Shrike – once at 1500m
54. White-throated Kingfisher – near paddies
55. White-vented Myna – near paddies
56. Sooty-headed Bulbul – common
57. Striated Bulbul – twice on higher ground
58. Crested Finchbill – once
59. Flavescent Bulbul – common
60. Crested Goshawk – perched on high grounds
61. Crested Serpent Eagle – in flight
62. Black-headed Sibia – a few seen
63. Barred Buttonquail – at 600m on our way up
64. Mountain Bamboo Partridge – seen on both mornings on our way up
65. Rufous-throated Partridge – heard
66. Djungle fowl – along the way
67. Ashy Drongo – common
68. Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo – common
69. Gold-throated Barbet – seen well once
70. Orange-bellied Rock Thrush – pair seen at BPP1