James Huntington and Keith Camburn are two high ranking birders from the ABA list.
They were on their way to Bhutan and wanted to do some birding in Thailand as well.
Someone else had arranged a tour of Central Thailand for them but they wanted to see the North also so contacted me. I had done Central Thailand with James and some of his friends a couple of years ago so doing the North was perfect for me.
End of November is still the wet season here with potential bad weather and not all migrants have arrived yet. Still, the 8 days gave Keith over 150 lifers and James around 50. James had birded Central Thailand before as well as Bhutan but Asia was a new destination for Keith.
Day 1. Early pick up as usual. Keith was getting lifers from the car window but it all got so much more intense once we arrived at Beung Borapet, Nakorn Sawan. We only did an hour stop here but saw plenty of good birds: Freckle-breasted Woodpecker, Eurasian Wryneck, Black-browed Reed Warbler, Oriental Reed Warbler, Dusky Warbler, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Eurasian Hoopoe, Burmese and Brown Shrike, White-throated Kingfisher, Indian Roller, Oriental Darter, Asian Openbill, Green and Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, White Wagtail, Taiga Flycatcher and Pied Fantail are some of those that come to mind.
We arrived at Klong Lan in time for lunch at the regular and only restaurant of good standard.
After that we slowly drove up to Chong Yen (1300m asl), Mae Wong National Park for the remainder of the day.
It was gloomy and bleak and bird activity was low but the Grey Peacock Pheasant thankfully showed well at its regular stake out and other birds of higher level followed suit: Great Hornbill, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, White-throated Fantail, Marten’s Warbler, Speckled Piculet, White-browed Piculet, Blue-throated Barbet, Davison’s, Claudia’s and Sulphur-breasted Warblers, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Golden and Grey-throated Babbler, Grey Wagtail and more.
Mae Wong is plagued with sand flies but this time we were not badly affected.
Day 2. Back up the mountain in search of the special birds of this place but we managed to find none: Burmese Yuhina, Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler, Rufous-necked Hornbill, White-necked Laughingthrush, Olive Bulbul i.e. Instead we did see stuff like: Wreathed Hornbill, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Great and Gold-throated Barbet, White-throated Bulbul, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Verditer Flycatcher, Maroon Oriole, Rosy Minivet, Swinhoe’s Minivet, Grey-chinned Minivet, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Mountain Bulbul, Ashy Bulbul, Buff-breasted Babbler and Verditer Flycatcher.
After lunch we started our long drive to Mae Ping just 2 hours South of Doi Inthanon. It didn’t take long before we found a perched Rufous-winged Buzzard in a field. We also saw several Black-shouldered Kites along the way and an unidentifiable Harrier.
Mae Ping for an hour before dusk gave us two much wanted birds: Great Slaty Woodpecker and Black-headed Woodpecker. Also Common Flameback showed well as did Rufescent Prinias in the low vegetation.
Very nice lodging at Lee, the small town by Mae Ping National Park. A new restaurant had opened up as well so we were definitely not hurting.
Day 3. Back to MP for more of the same. The dry forest here has its own set of birds and we got on to a few new ones: Grey-headed Parakeets (many), Hainan Blue FC, Lineated Barbet, White-crested Laughingthrushes, Grey-capped Woodpeckers, Large Cuckoo Shrike, Gold-fronted Leafbirds, Hooded Oriole, Black-naped Oriole, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Great Racket-tailed Drongo and to our surprise a female Indian Cuckoo.
Next destination was Doi Inthanon and we headed straight up to the top where most of the goodies are. Low visibility, fog and rather cold for Thailand but still oh so lovely in spite of the many tourists around. The bog with its boardwalk was closed for repair so we missed some things but still mana