Doi Inthanon is one of the most,or maybe the most,birding area in Thailand.It’s the highest mountain in Thailand ( 2565 m ) and it hosts more than 280 species of birds and some species of mammals.However, most of the mammals are threatened because of intensive poaching, especially in the past.There is such diversity of birds due to the different habitats found as the altitude increases.Some species of birds are found only there and a few more locations in northern Thailand.
To get there firstly i get into a bus from MorChit Station.The trip takes around 11 hours.Once in Chiang Mai i rented a motorbike for 3 days for a reasonable price ( 200 baths/day ).From Chiang Mai i get on the road which heads to the airport and continue to Chong Thong.I passed Hang Thong,San Pa Tong and finally arrived at Chong Tong.In Chong Thong there is a signpost to the national park.I drove for 20 kilometers until the main gate of the park.I paid 40 baths and continued to ride for 20 km more until i arrived to Mr.Daeng’s guesthouse at 4 o’clock.Mr. Daeng is a professional and well-known birdwatcher in Thailand.He had been doing bird watching for more than 30 years and he has a great knowledge of Doi Inthanon area.You just have to ask for one bird and he will tell you anything you want to know about it.Unfortunately, he cannot work as a guide as before due to his age.
It was mid May, so many species of birds had already gone ( River Chat, Daurian Redstart, many flycatchers and thrushes ) and they will come in December again.However, Green Cochoa, a stunning blue and green bird, was breeding at that moment.It’s a shy, motionless and elusive bird that is more noticeable from March to June, when breeding.
I dropped my stuff in the room and i went to do some bird watching, near the guesthouse.Blue-throated Barbet and Oriental White-eye were the most remarkable birds seen late afternoon.After sleeping 8 hours, I woke up early, at 5 o’clock ready and excited to find some interesting species.We took my motorbike and rode for 6 kilometers until the second check point.Large Niltava was perched on a signpost and Grey-cheeked Fulvetta and Blue-winged Minla were moving fast among the bushes, on the left side of the road.We continue for 10 kilometers until we reached the summit.It was quite cold, indeed only 9 degrees ! and it hailed a few days ago.We stopped the motorbike and the bird festival started there !
Near the radar station Chestnut-Crowned Laughingthrush,Chestnut-tailed Minla and Black-backed Sibia were easily seen.Indeed, they are tame and beautiful species and you can even get close enough to take a picture of these nice birds.Around the visitor center it’s usually seen the magnificent Green-tailed Sunbird licking nectar from the flowers of the garden.However,i couldn’t see it at that time.Just a few meters from the visitor center, a gorgeous Golden-throated Barbet was feeding on a fruiting tree.Beside the cafeteria, there is another tree where the rangers put some food that attracts laughinghtrushes, minlas and sibias.
After that we walked along the boardwalk, where it seems you walk through an enchanted forest ( with mosses and many lichens hanging from the trees ).White-browed Shortwing and Chestnut-winged Fulvetta are some cute birds easily seen along the trail.But my surprise was to find 3 individuals of Rufous-throated Partridge around point 7.It’s an incredible bird with a strong yellow mark on the throat and bluish body.We tried to take a picture but there was poor light and the pictures weren’t sharp enough.Walking just 20 meters farther, a very cute and little bird appeared on the left side of the trail.It was the Pigmy Wren Babbler ! It leaped on the ground,jumped on a trunk and after disappeared among the bushes.
Afterwards we went out of the trail and walked beside the road towards the radar station,where I could get a perfect view of the most striking fantail in Thailand, the Yellow-bellied Fantail.It’s an unmistakable citrine yellow bird with a black narrow band between the eye and the beak.
We drove downhill for a few kilometers.Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush was perched on an exposed branched, on the right side of the road.It was singing during a few minutes, so we stopped the motorbike immediately and i could take a nice picture of this colourful bird.
Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush
While we were busy trying to get a good picture, a couple of Green-tailed Sunbird appeared on our left side.This bird is an incredible nectariniidae with a dark blue-green crown,throat and tail,yellow breast with a conspicuous red patch.This bird is not easy to photograph as they are moving all time.Around the chedis we found, among others, a Little Pied Flycatcher.
We came back to Mr.Daeng’s late morning.In his garden, we spotted a Black-throated Sunbird feeding on the flowers.In the afternoon we checked on the sides of the road for birds.At 200 m before the second checkpoint, we found a couple of the magnificent Long-tailed Broadbill.It flew from a dense tree to a trunk and after being motionless for a while, it came back to the former tree.Grey-chinned Minivet was seen flying in this area.Around 4 pm we went to check the waterfalls, seeing as the only remarkable bird, the Blue-whistling Thrush in Vatcharitan Waterfall at 5 pm.My last stop was the campsite area to find another interesting bird, Black-tailed Crake.I checked the small marsh at 6 pm but the grass was too tall and the visibility wasn’ t good.
We decided to spend next day in km 37.5 ( second checkpoint ).I woke up as usual at 5 am.Once i got there,the first interesting birds to see were again a Large Niltava near the junction and many Grey-cheeked Fulvetta moving all time.Around 7 o’clock other great species appeared, as Brown-throated Treecreper, Yellow-cheeked Tit and Grey-throated Babbler around a dead tree near the junction.Maroon Oriole, a superb red oriole, was seen from the road.One hour later,I found Golden-throated Barbet and the stunning Silver-eared Mesia skulking among the leaves and moving quite nervously.Spectacled Barwing made its appearance at that time in a low tree near the road.Streaked Spiderhunter was spotted on the banana trees on the left side of the road.
I walked to the place where i saw Long-tailed Broadbill.Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon was perched on a dead tree on the other side of the road.Verditer Flycatcher and Lesser-racket tailed Drongo were seen as well.Afterthat i drove to km 34.5,where there is a jeep trail easy to follow.Some birdwatchers spotted Green Cochoa at the begining of the trail and near the junction where the trail split in two just a few weeks ago.I followed the trail,where i could locate Maroon Oriole,Golden-throated Barbet,Large Niltava,Yellow-cheeked Tit , Streaked Spiderhunter and Verditer Flycatcher as the most colorful birds in this area.Around the pine forest i couldn’t trace any sign of Cochoa.
In the afternoon i explored again this area with my wife.We stopped in the pine forest and we keep quiet waiting for the Green Cochoa.I continued the trail for a while after the junction but nothing worth to mention.My wife was waiting for me 50 meters before the junction.When i came back she told me she saw a Purple Cochoa on the left side of the forest.She described it as a dark bird with a grey crown and middle size perched on the middle storey.She told me she was 100% sure that was a Purple Cochoa.I had my doubts about it but finally i took it as truth,as it’s a bird that is quite easy to identify.Near km 37.5 I found Chestnut-vented Nuthatch climbing on a dead tree.Finally i went to the camping area at 6 pm where i saw Eurasian Jay on the top of a tree but again I wasn’t lucky enough to see Black tailed Crake.
Next morning I visited Siriphum Waterfall, where i found a Slaty-backed Forktail flying on a stream.Afterwards we came back to the 34.5 km trail.White-gorgeted Flycatcher and the other birds that i already mentioned before were seen along the trail.Early morning, i listened the typical mewing song of a Malaysian Honeyguide at the junction of the trail.To spot Green and Purple Cochoa was becoming an obsession so i decided at least to listen a reply of a call.I used a tape for both birds but no answer in the pine forest.
In the afternoon I went back to km 37.5.I put the tape ( i don’ t usually do it but i wanted to located it at any cost ) and eventually i received an answer from at least 5 different places.I was happy enough even i couldn’t see this little gem of bird.Near km 37.5 a Yellow-cheeked Tit perched on a pine tree close enough to take this picture.
Doi Inthanon was an excellent experience with lots of magnificent birds seen !!! It’s impossible to choose one of them as they are so amazing and colorful enough !! My next report is another great birdwatching area : Kaeng Krachan National Park ! See you in my next reports with lots of photos and experiences to tell !!