Doi Kham: 10 October 2014

This morning I woke up, checked the weather and thought it should be a good day for raptors migration. Doi Kham is a temple located on top of a small hill just on the outskirts of Chiang Mai city. From the temple, the vast Chiang Mai-Lamphun plain can be seen. It is one of the best places to observe raptors migration.

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I arrived at Doi Kham a little after 8 AM. There were not too many people since it was quite early. Normally, the temple is packed with visitors. After getting my equipment ready, a flock of about 20 Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters appeared from the west, circled around then headed south. I love how their colourful plumage contrasts to the blue morning sky.


Ashy Woodswallows were abundant around the temple.


Juvenile Chinese Sparrowhawk


Juvenile Shikra


Adult Buteo sp.


After few minutes, raptors began to appear flying over from north to south. Starting with 2 Chinese Sparrowhawks, a juvenile Shikra then an adult Buteo buzzard which came circling up from the hill below the temple. Mark Andrews suggests that it looks like ‘japonicus’ race or Eastern Buzzard which migrates through mainland China. However, it looks much different from ‘japonicus’ normally seen in Japan.


Flock of Black Baza (ssp. syama)



Adult Besra


Another adult Besra



Juvenile Besra; note short wings and tail, equally broad dark and grey tail bands


Juvenile Japanese Sparrowhawk


Adult male Crested Goshawk displaying by fluffing its undertail coverts and rapidly flapping its wings

It was a surprise that we didn’t see any falcon passing through. Few days earlier, I observed several Eurasian Hobbies, Peregrine Falcons and a Common Kestrel. Amur Falcons were also reported in quite a good starting number, but today was really an accipiter day! It was nice to see 3 Besras passing through, 2 adults and 1 juvenile.


Ashy Woodswallow



Typical look of the Asian Palm Swift; very long and slim wings with long pointed, deeply forked tail


Headless swift! I think it was preening or pecking its back.

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This has to be my best shot of any swift I have taken so far.

However, almost no raptor was seen after 9 AM. I guess they have all gone up too high in the sky that we couldn’t detect them. So instead of waiting patiently, I turned my attention to the Ashy Woodswallows and Asian Palm Swifts which were abundant around the temple. The palm swift was a real challenge for BIF. Luckily, I managed to get some surprisingly good shots.


3 thoughts on “Doi Kham: 10 October 2014

  1. I find “common” buzzards in Japan always very pale, without much variation. They show no dark trailing edge or underwing covert like this one. Not sure where the taxonomic debate stands now… in french, common buzzards are called “Buse variable”, a more fitting name !

  2. Love raptors, Ayuwat, and raptor migration is always a fun challenge. I agree that the buzzard is darker than what I usually encounter in Japan but you also had your work cut out with all those accipiters. You really nailed the wood swallows and swifts in flight too. (Actually on Saturday, I witnessed crows chasing a rather dark buteo but it went away from me and I only got a glimpse of its back in the distance.) Hmmn.

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