Doi Lang: 22-23 October 2014

After a day at Doi Ang Khang, Yann and I stayed over in a popular hotel among birders in Fang city. On the following morning, we departed before sunrise to visit one of Thailand’s birding meccas, Doi San Ju or the western side of Doi Lang. Yann’s targets included the globally endangered Mrs. Hume’s Pheasant, Giant Nuthatch and Hodgson’s Frogmouth.


A very confiding and vocal Spot-breasted Parrotbill

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We slowly drove uphill hoping to come across a single or two pheasants or partridges but it seemed like we didn’t have enough luck. As we reached the top of the hill where birders regularly stop, I tried playing the call of Spot-breasted Parrotbill, a species regularly found around the area. Within a minute, a pair appeared from the grassy hill below and one bird came up to sing on exposed branches only a few metres away!


Black-throated Bushtits can be surprisingly confiding at times!

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Isn’t it just adorable?

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Looking cute and funny

Then I heard tiny voices which sounded so familiar coming from the tree behind and as I looked up, I found that they were the extremely cute Black-throated Bushtits. There were more than 30 of them and the tree looked busy with these tiny birds flicking all over it. Interestingly, they were also interested in the playback and came down to lower branches allowing me to capture some nice photos.


This female Shikra was found at the foothill of Doi San Ju.


Adult Crested Serpent Eagle


Calling male Giant Nuthatch


Slender-billed Oriole, a frequently seen but hard to photograph bird


The first Chestnut Bunting of the season!


Male Large Cuckooshrike

Despite the overcast weather, birds were generally quite good. A pair of Giant Nuthatches was showing really well and Yann had an up close and prolonged view of them. Finally, he had his first main target. A Crested Serpent Eagle was also seen perching on a lonely tree trunk, as well as Slender-billed Oriole and Large Cuckooshrikes. Along the road a bit lower downhill, we also came across the first Chestnut Bunting of the season feeding in the grass next to the road and a huge flock of over 50 Grey-headed Parrotbills which were extremely skittish as usual.


Cook’s Swift; formerly a subspecies of Fork-tailed Swift


Showing the fork

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Upperwing shows a very narrow rump patch

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Slowing down to catch a prey

There were really lots of Cook’s Swift at Doi San Ju. They were all over the sky and can be flying really low too. I tried my best to photograph these big swifts despite the cloudy background.


A lonely and wet male Maroon Oriole



Habenaria dentata var. dentata



Habenaria dentata var. parageniculata


Unknown tiny flowers blooming along the road

The weather didn’t get any better and finally just before noon, it rained. There was no shelter up on Doi San Ju, so we could only wait inside our car. Hours went by and it seemed like the rain wasn’t going to stop easily. The whole mountain became very dark and foggy. We decided to try driving downhill, in case the weather might be better.


This confiding male Mrs. Hume’s Pheasant was a big surprise!


It came out to feed on earthworms.



Yellow-browed Warbler among raindrops


An early Buff-throated Warbler

Just a few hundred metres downhill, we encountered Yann’s next target, a male Mrs. Hume’s Pheasant. It came running across the road right in front of our car and instead of running into cover, it decided to walk along the open road. Throughout the whole approximately 5 minutes that it spent on the road, we observed it picking up earthworms which came out after the rain. This was the most prolonged view I’ve ever had of this species and the best way to end our day.


The view of a small patch of rice fields in the valley of Doi Lang


Female Swinhoe’s Minivet


One of several Whiskered Yuhinas


This Indian Fritillary was attracted to the meal worms.



Blooming Swertia sp.

On the following morning, we decided to visit the eastern side of Doi Lang with the company of Dr. Rungsrit and Natthaphat. However, the weather got worse and we didn’t have much good birding. The road was already terrible and the rain made it even worse. We came across a showy White-crowned Forktail, the first Grey-crowned Warbler of the season, Plain and Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, a flock of Swinhoe’s Minivets and some other common birds along the way.


Cook’s Swifts were abundant on this side of Doi Lang too.


The first Little Bunting of the season


Chestnut-flanked White-eyes enjoying the wild berries

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Female Black-eared Shrike-babbler


Probably a Hume’s Leaf Warbler (ssp. mandellii)


We spent most of the time walking along the road near the army base camp, where we found small flocks of Whiskered Yuhinas, Dark-backed Sibias and the brightly coloured Scarlet-faced Liocichla which was one of the birds we intended to see. Another spot where we went for birding was the San Ju viewpoint where I came across a female White-bellied Redstart, a male Daurian Redstart which was the first for the season, as well as a Little Bunting. Before leaving for Fang in the afternoon, Natthaphat and I spent some time chasing a Phylloscopus warbler which I believe could be a Hume’s Leaf Warbler at the army camp. It has a clear greyish crown contrasting to the olive mantle with dark bill, legs and feet. Unfortunately, it didn’t call so I couldn’t be completely sure of its identity.


8 thoughts on “Doi Lang: 22-23 October 2014

  1. Some lovely shots, especially the parrotbill, the tits and the swift. I must try to go there! Can I ask what sort of lens you use to get these great shots? Maybe I asked this before, but I have forgotton! And I am also looking at lenses now. Thinking about a Tamron 150-600 mm!

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