Doi Ang Khang: 12 October 2014

I made a solo journey to Doi Ang Khang on 12 October to check for winter migrants which should have already mostly arrived. I reached the foothill of Doi Ang Khang, around Ban Arunothai, just before sunrise. The place was as scenic and serene as ever.

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The road to Ban Arunothai just before sunrise

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The peaceful atmosphere around Doi Ang Khang foothill

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Adult Crested Serpent Eagle (ssp. burmanicus)

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Silhouette of a lone Rufous-winged Buzzard

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They also like to perch together in a loose group.

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Another view of a different Rufous-winged Buzzard

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Either a juvenile or adult Changeable Hawk Eagle (ssp. limnaetus) in pale morph

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Surprisingly, the morning was particularly good for raptors. I encountered 3 species of raptors just by the roadside. The first one was an adult Crested Serpent Eagle sitting on a dead tree top before sunrise. The second was the locally scarce Rufous-winged Buzzard which I found in total 7 birds in just one morning. The last species was the Changeable Hawk Eagle, which was found calling very loudly from the roadside. I’m not quite sure whether it was a juvenile or adult in pale morph. This was only the second time I found this species in this area.

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More landscape shots along the way to Ban Arunothai

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A very blurry record shot of an adult Grey-backed Shrike, first for the season!

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There were lots of Striated Swallows with a few Red-rumped Swallows in the mix at Ban Sin Chai.

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A confiding Long-tailed Shrike (ssp. tricolor)

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An unusually tame male Burmese Shrike

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The crown seems to be very dark slate-grey, almost looking concolorous with facial mask from some angles.

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It was quite a birdy morning. I came across 2 Grey-backed Shrikes (1 adult and 1 juvenile) which was the first sighting for this season, and a very confiding male Burmese Shrike which has a striking dark crown. I’m still curious about which subspecies this one actually is. Read more about my speculation in this post.

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It’s a rare occasion to see Striated Swallows perching against forest background!

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The resident subspecies stanfordi’ has bold streaks on underparts, particularly this individual.

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Adult Red-rumped Swallow (ssp. japonica) is noticeably smaller with much thinner streaks.

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Juvenile Red-rumped Swallow has even thinner and fainter streaking on the underparts with dull blackish crown and upperparts.

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Showing the pale reddish rump

There were many Striated Swallows perching here and there. I also picked out a few Red-rumped Swallows in the mix too. Most of them were juveniles with at least 1 adult. When perching side by side, Red-rumped Swallows are noticeably smaller, being almost about the same size as Barn Swallow.

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One of the many Black Bulbuls (ssp. concolor)

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Female Ashy Minivet found mixing with a flock of Grey-chinned Minivets

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The brightly coloured male Grey-chinned Minivet (ssp. rubrolimbatus)

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Greenish Warbler was abundant!

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Note the slightly greyer crown contrasting to the more olive mantle similar to Pale-legged/Sakhalin Leaf Warbler

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But beware of the lighting condition. The same bird can appear to be totally different.

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A relatively grey-crowned Yellow-browed Warbler

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Hume’s Leaf Warbler (ssp. mandellii); note dark bill, legs and feet, greyish crown contrasting to mantle and smaller median covert bar. The ID was confirmed again by call.

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Note the white fringes on tertials

I came across a nice mixed flock of birds along the road including many Grey-chinned Minivets, 2 female Ashy Minivets, lots of Black, Mountain, Flavescent and Grey-eyed Bulbuls, Crested Finchbills and a nice pair of Blue-bearded Bee-eaters. There were also lots of Phylloscopus warblers everywhere. Most of them were the common Yellow-browed and Greenish Warblers but with some Claudia’s Leaf Warblers and a rather confiding Hume’s Leaf Warbler too!

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I’m happy to get this photo showing the typical jizz for the Himalayan Swiftlet. Notice how long the wings are. The tail also looks longer than Germain’s Swiftlet.

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Rump patch can be quite variable though. This one shows a darkish rump patch looking almost concolourous with the back and uppertail coverts.

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Most birds showed a quite contrasting pale rump patch but not as pale as in Germain’s Swiftlet.

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But beware of the lighting condition. I think this bird has the same shade of rump patch as the previous one but strong light makes it look paler and more contrasting.

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It’s interesting to see that many birds were moulting their tail feathers making the tail comes in various funny shapes.

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A fork-tailed swift? No.

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Never thought that it could resemble an Apus swift!

There were lots of swifts everywhere. I tried to focus mainly on taking photos of the Aerodramus swiftlets which should all be Himalayan Swiftlets. They all show quite a consistent jizz which is being noticeably larger with longer wings and tail than Germain’s Swiftlet of central and southern Thailand.

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Cook’s Swift has a very dark blackish plumage and narrow rump patch.

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The tail is deeply forked hence the former named Fork-tailed Swift.

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In good light, you can see the bold white scales on the underparts clearly.

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Some birds looked a bit plainer because of the feather wear.

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Another species of swift that was regularly seen was the huge Cook’s Swift. It is a recently split species from what used to be called Fork-tailed Swift which has now split into 4 different species. Cook’s Swift is a very dark one, looking very plain blackish from above with the narrowest white rump patch. Dave Bakewell has a nice blog post on the identification of Cook’s and Pacific Swift which is a widespread winter migrant in SE Asia here.

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A colourful male Fire-breasted Flowerpecker

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Not sure about the sex and subspecies of this White Wagtail. The black breast patch looks good for breeding male leucopsis but it has grey back, so it might be a female breeding instead? The black rump and uppertail coverts rule out baicalensis.

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It was interesting to see a flock of migrating Black Drongos flying overhead. This should be the subspecies D. m. cathoecus which is described to be the wintering race.

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A very confiding juvenile Grey-backed Shrike

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One of the two Buff-throated Warblers

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Adult Mountain Hawk Eagle

Other interesting birds seen during the afternoon included a nice pair of Buff-throated Warblers which was the first sighting of the season and a huge adult Mountain Hawk Eagle which glided by at eye level. A beautiful male Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird also came to feed on flowering tree and gave a nice close up view too, but the highlight of the day came during the late afternoon just when I was driving back home, a nice 30+ flock of Grey-headed Parrotbills just by the roadside! The birds gave exceptional views while moving along the roadside before disappearing into the dense forest.

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Despite its large size, Grey-headed Parrotbill is probably the trickiest one to see and photograph well.

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First time for me getting 2 birds in one frame.

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They were also quite curious!

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4 thoughts on “Doi Ang Khang: 12 October 2014

  1. Ayuwat, great post! Plenty of great images. Those swiftlets in flight shots are not easy – that I’m sure. The warblers and red-rumped type of swallows are always a headache for me.

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