Doi Ang Khang: 21 October 2014

So here’s a throwback post about my trip with Yann Muzika throughout northern Thailand in autumn. After a successful visit to Doi Inthanon, we had one full day at Doi Ang Khang, one of my favourite birding destinations. We reached the foothill of Ban Arunothai just a little after sunrise. Our first target was the Indochinese near-endemic Rufous-winged Buzzard which we spotted several individuals easily just along the road.

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One of the few pairs of Rufous-winged Buzzards we spotted

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There was a flock of Chestnut-tailed Starlings in the same area as well.

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Some of them showed faint rufous wash on underparts suggesting that they might be the scarcer migratory race ‘S. m. malabaricus’.

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Male Burmese Nuthatch

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Female Burmese Nuthatch

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As we were watching the buzzards, I spotted a pair of nuthatches foraging on a bare tree close to the road. I immediately followed the birds and was glad to see that they were Burmese Nuthatches, a species of deciduous forest. I once saw a pair of nuthatches around Ban Arunothai many years back but thought that they were the much rarer Chestnut-bellied Nuthatches. Some birders were doubtful about that record since Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch is a bird of hill evergreen forest, so it’s great to finally find them again and settle the identification.

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The same male Burmese Shrike was still staying in the exact same area.

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Long-tailed Shrike (ssp. tricolor)

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A colourful male Grey-chinned Minivet

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And the more confiding female

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I was really happy to find this immature Grey-headed Parakeet, a bird which seems to be decreasing in recent years.

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Male Stripe-breasted Woodpecker

We made brief stops along the way up to Doi Ang Khang and saw many interesting species. At one point we came across a nice bird-wave consisting of Grey-headed Parrotbills, Grey Treepies, Grey-chinned and Scarlet Minivets, Blyth’s Shrike-babblers, Martens’s Warblers, female Pale Blue Flycatcher and a female Rufous-bellied Niltava which was the first record for the season. We also found an immature Grey-headed Parakeet sitting quietly nearby. Other notable species included a family group of 2 males and 1 female Stripe-breasted Woodpeckers, Blue-bearded Bee-eater and a calling Giant Nuthatch which we failed to locate.

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Himalayan Swiftlet showing striking long tail

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Showing the pale rump patch which seems to be very variable

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Note longish wings and tail

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Cook’s Swift

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Note how narrow the rump patch is compared to other taxa of the ‘Fork-tailed Swift’ complex

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Of course, there were lots of swifts. I tried to photograph them as much as I could. I was particularly interested in the Himalayan Swiftlets which were less abundant than the larger Cook’s Swift.

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The skulking Aberrant Bush Warbler

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I’ve never seen one so exposed like this in Thailand.

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One of the two Yellow-vented Flowerpeckers found at about 1,500 m above sea level.

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Immature Thick-billed Flowerpecker

We spent some more time around the Chinese cemetery near the large landfill before reaching Ban Luang. There were many small birds flitting around in the garden. I could pick out a few Claudia’s Leaf Warblers, Yellow-browed Warblers, Davison’s Leaf Warblers, a calling immature Thick-billed Flowerpecker and a pair of Yellow-vented Flowerpeckers, which was really unusual. I’ve never seen this species at Doi Ang Khang before and the altitude also exceeds the range mentioned by guide books. I also found an unusually showy Aberrant Bush Warbler (ssp. intricata) which is another confusing taxon. Some authors treat it as a subspecies of Sunda Bush Warbler while some maintain it as an Aberrant Bush Warbler.

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A funny looking immature Ruddy-breasted Crake

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Female Common Kestrel

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Adult Peregrine Falcon (ssp. calidus)

We drove down to Fang in the afternoon and went to look for roosting Amur Falcons which were seen during this time last year but failed to located any. We did find a pair of Common Kestrel and an adult Peregrine Falcon though. Other birds seen in the evening included a pair of Ruddy-breasted Crake, one looking funny in transitional plumage from immature to adult, another flock of Chestnut-tailed Starlings with probable ssp. L, several Richard’s Pipits and at least 1 Bluethroat in the rice fields.

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