ITINERARY & DAILY ACCOUNTS
Friday 22 April: Flight from Amsterdam at 2:25 PM with China Airlines.
Saturday 23 April: Arrival at 06:40 AM in Bangkok. Transfer to Ayuthaya.
Sunday 24 April: Visiting Ayuthaya temple complexes.
Monday 25 April: Drive to Khao Yai NP. Afternoon birding hotel grounds.
Tuesday 26 April: Birding the trails of Khao Yai NP.
Wednesday 27 April: Birding Khao Yai. Afternoon to Bangkok railway station.
Thursday 28 April: Arrival by train in Chiang Mai. Afternoon Doi Suthep.
Friday 29 April: To Doi Inthanon NP. Birding the road uphill.
Saturday 30 April: Birding Doi Inthanon NP.
Sunday 1 May: Birding hotel grounds. Afternoon on to Doi Angkhang.
Monday 2 May: Birding the Doi Angkhang trails.
Tuesday 3 May: Birding Doi Angkhang. Afternoon on to Thaton.
Wednesday 4 May: Birding Thaton. On to Chiang Saen.
Thursday 5 May: Scenic drive back to Chiang Mai.
Friday 6 May: Domestic flight to Mae Hong Son. Visit to town.
Saturday 7 May: Boat trip, visit to hill-tribes and Tham Pla NP.
Sunday 8 May: Morning walk Mae Hong Son. Flight back to Chiang Mai.
Monday 9 May: City tour Chiang Mai. Evening transfer to airport.
Tuesday 10 May: Arrival Amsterdam at 09:30 AM.
Saturday 23 April:
We landed at Bangkok International Airport at 6:40 in the morning. The local agent of Van Verre Reizen awaited us at the airport and handed over the leech socks that we ordered in advance. After changing some money we walked outside were our driver was waiting for us to bring us to Ayuthaya. The 85 km drive took about 1Ĺ hours. The first birds we noted from the car were common myna, white-vented myna and eurasian tree-sparrows. After 45 minutes we stopped at a gas station. On the open fields behind the gas station we noted amongst red-wattled lapwing, oriental pratincole, javan pond-heron, scaly-breasted munia, plain prinia and greater coucal. Driving further towards Ayuthaya we saw several openbill storks, little cormorants and red-collared doves. We arrived at the posh Krungsri River Hotel at 9:00 AM and had to wait for a while before we could go to our room. We checked out the area around the hotel with views on the river with dozens of soaring house swifts and a single streak-eared bulbul. At 10:30 we went to our room and had a couple of hours sleep. In the afternoon we relaxed a bit in the shade along the river at a floating restaurant. From the restaurant we noted peaceful dove, barn swallows and oriental magpie-robin. Back at the hotel we had a cool Singha beer in the hotels garden. In the evening we had dinner at a floating restaurant along the river and went to bed early.
Sunday 24 April:
After breakfast we left the hotel at 9:00 AM and hired a guide with a tuk-tuk to show us around the city, visiting several impressive temple complexes. Despite being a non-birding day we noted several birds around the temples. We saw amongst coppersmith barbet (common), indian roller, common iora, olive-backed sunbird, asian palm-swift, fork-tailed swift, black kite, spotted dove and pied fantail. We were back at the hotel at 2:00 PM and had lunch in the hotelís restaurant. From 4:00 PM we made a boattrip along the temples but we did not see any new birds. In the evening we had dinner in the hotelís garden.
Monday 25 April:
We were picked up at the hotel at 8:30 AM for our drive to Khao Yai which took about 2Ĺ hours. Just before the turnoff towards Khao Yai we noted a racket-tailed treepie flying from one tree to another. At 11:00 AM we arrived at hotel Juldis Khao Yai Resort. The hotel which is located about 6 km before the park entrance had a nice big garden and we decided to drop our luggage in the room and do some birding in the garden. Walking through the garden we noted amongst lineated barbet, asian koel, golden-gronted leafbird, hill myna, asian barred owlet and the common black-crested bulbul. At 00:30 PM we went back to our room to sort out our laundry and to have a short rest. At 2:00 AM the sky turned black and we had a heavy thunderstorm. The heavy rain turned the terrace behind the hotel in a giant swimmingpool. After an hour the sky cleared again and we decided to do some birding along a track in the back of the garden leading along a forested hill. Here we had red-breasted parakeets, lesser racket-tailed drongo, spangled drongo, common tailorbird, green-eared barbet and red-rumped swallows. At 5:00 PM we drove to a bat cave located about 3 km further along the road towards Khao Yai. While waiting for dusk to come we noted sooty-headed bulbul, long-tailed shrike, streaked weaver and greater racket-tailed drongo. Around 6:00 PM we witnessed the spectacle of millions of bats leaving the caves on the ridge above us. This was really an amazing experience. We went back to the hotel were we had dinner in the steak house right in front of the hotel.
Tuesday 26 April:
After picking up our boxed breakfast at the reception we left for Khao Yai at 6:00 AM. The drive up into the park was very scenic with nice views of the surrounding forests. During the drive we noted red junglefowl and a barking deer crossing the road. While looking for the start of the famous trail 6 we stopped at an open area some 500 mtr beyond the visitor center to ask for directions. Here we had our only plain-backed sparrow of the trip. We drove back towards the visitor center and hired a guide. At 7:00 AM we started to walk trail 6 which ended up at an open area with a watchtower. The forest was very dry and bird activity was quite low. Despite the dryness we still had leeches and saw amongst following birds during the walk through the forest: asian pied hornbill, mountain hawk-eagle, tickellís blue flycather, white-rumped shama, abbotís babbler, slaty-backed forktail, little spiderhunter, red-headed trogon and blue-eared barbet. After a few hourís walk the trail ended up at the watchtower were we rested for a while. From the watchtower we saw dollarbird, red-wattled lapwing, shikra and lesser coucal. During our walk back to the main road we saw great hornbill and red-whiskered bulbul. Our driver who was waiting for us at the main road drove us back to headquarters where we had lunch and had a shat with some british birders. They had walked the same trail as us and were complaining also about the slow bird activity. At about 3:00 PM we went to the visitor center to buy a few pairs of leech socks. The rest of the afternoon we birded the area around headquarters and along the main road. Here we had amongst asian brown flycatcher, moustached barbet and grey-eyed bulbul. At 5:00 PM we drove back to the hotel. While Wilma had a swim in the hotelís pool I checked out the hotelís garden but noted nothing new.
Wednesday 27 April:
At 6:00 AM we again headed for KY and this time we birded trail 6 from the other side towards the watchtower. The birding this morning was quite good and we had amongst barred buttonquail, green-eared barbet, wreathed hornbill, blue-bearded bee-eater, spotted dove, brown shrike, scarlet minivet, yellow-rumped flycatcher, grey-breasted prinia, rufescent prinia and stripe-throated bulbul. We went back to the hotel at 10:30 AM where we had a late breakfast. After breakfast we relaxed a bit for a few hours. At 2:30 PM we packed our luggage and left the hotel for the 3 hours drive to the Bangkok railway station. Halfway to Bangkok we stopped at a gasstation and in the fields behind it we noted little cormorant, intermediate egret, little egret and black-winged stilt. We arrived at the railway station at around 6:00 PM. Our night train to Chiang Mai in the north left at 7:30 PM. After dinner in the trainís dining car we met a funny Spanish guy and we had a couple of large Singha beers together. We went to bed at 10:30 PM.
Thursday 28 April:
I was already up at first light and went to the dining car at 6:00 AM. Through the open window I checked out the area for birds. Actually the birding was quite good since the train drove quite slow along large tracks of the journey. On the wires along the railway I noted ashy woodswallows, pied bushchat, green bee-eater, chestnut-headed bee-eater (common) and blue-tailed bee-eaters. The open fields and pools along the railway produced white-breasted waterhen, chinese pond herons and red-wattled lapwings. We arrived in Chiang Mai at 9:00 AM and were picked up by Manop, our driver for the oncoming eight days through the north. Our hotel called Paradise Spa Resort was located 20 km north of the city. We birded the hotel grounds untill lunch and had amongst common tailorbird, collared starling, scaly-breasted munia, paddyfield pipit and red-whiskered bulbul. After lunch Manop picked us up for a visit to Wat Doi Suthep, a temple located on a mountain just outside Chiang Mai. We visited the large Buddhist temple with views down on the city of Chiang Mai. The area around Doi Suthep is also famous for itís good birding but the only birds we noted were black-throated sunbird, streak-eared bulbul and a large flock of japanese white-eyes. After visiting the temple we tried some trails located higher up the mountain but unlike the locationís good name for highland birds we did not see or even hear any bird. We drove back to the hotel at 5:30 PM and after a warm shower we had a nice traditional kantoke dinner in the hotelís garden.
Friday 29 April:
Today it is the start of our trip through the north. We left the hotel at 6:00 AM and arrived at the entrance of Doi Inthanon NP at 7:15 AM. Our first stop at the km 6 waterfall produced blue-whistling thrush. We then entered the park and stopped to check out the area along a stream at the km13 point. Here we had a noisy flock of white-crested laughingthrushes and a female black-naped monarch. At km 21 we visited the Varchiratham Falls and went on to the park headquarters at km 31. Here we checked out the area around the campground and had amongst himalayan swifts, oriental honey-buzzard, orange-bellied leafbird, red-rumped swallows and grey-cheecked fulvetta. Afterwards we had lunch at Mr. Daengís birdcenter at km 32 just beyond headquarters. From here we tried the trail at the righthand side of the road at km 34,5. Birds recorded here were grey-backed shrike, pale-blue flycatcher, grey bushchat, fire-breasted flowerpecker and flavescent bulbul. We then drove to the summit at 2565 mtr where we had a cup of coffee, great views of the surroundings and springlike weather at around 25 degrees C. Here we saw amongst green-tailed sunbird, dark-backed sibia and chestnut-crowned laughingthrush. On the way back we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon birding the famous km 37 trail. Sadly enough we missed the green cochoa, but saw other good birds. The nice trail through the forest produced amongst long-tailed broadbill, bronzed drongo, little pied flycatcher, silver-eared mesia and great views of a large niltava feeding his young. It was already dark when we arrived at Inthanon Highland Resort at the foot of the mountain. We checked in and received a nice cabin along a pond. The ďroom numberĒ of our cabin was Green Cochoa. We had a very tasty dinner at the hotelís restaurant and after a nice cool beer we went to bed early at 9:30 PM.
Saturday 30 April:
I got up before dusk and the tree in front of our cabin held several spotted owlets. We left at 6:00 AM and decided to head straight for the summit trail where we arrived at 6:50 AM. We birded this beautiful area for several hours and saw amongst the following birds: rufous-throated partridge, white-browed shortwing, eastern-crowned warbler, ashy-throated warbler, white-tailed leaf-warbler, pygmy wren-babbler, chestnut-tailed minla, rufous-winged fulvetta, green-tailed sunbird and gouldís sunbird. We then had breakfast at the visitor center surrounded by dark-backed sibiaís looking for insects on the lawn just a few meters in front of us. We headed downslope and again birded the km 37 trail from 10:30 AM untill 2:30 PM. Despite good descriptions of the nesting site we again dipped the green cochoa. Other new birds recorded were grey-crowned warbler, rufous-fronted babbler, grey-capped pygmy-woodpecker, yellow-cheecked tit, golden-throated barbet, yellow-bellied fantail, streaked spiderhunter, white-throated fantail, white-gorgeted flycatcher, chestnut vented nuthatch and small niltava. On the way back to the hotel we had a green bee-eater at km 20. We arrived at Inthanon Highland Resort at 4:00 PM and now realised how beautiful the place was. The huge garden had lotís of flowering plants and trees with the nice cabins thatched around a small pond. After having a nice cool beer at the restaurant we birded the garden untill dusk. We noted amongst purple sunbird, striated swallows, common koel, indian roller and white-throated kingfisher. In the evening we had a very spicy dinner at the restaurant along the pond.
Sunday 1 May:
While Wilma stayed in bed I birded the hotel grounds and the fields surrounding the hotel from 6:00 untill 8:30 AM. When I left the cabin the tree in front of the cabin again was full with spotted owlets. I first birded the open fields outside the hotelís garden and noted amongst white-rumped munia, baya weaver, paddyfield pipit, chestnut-capped babbler, eurasian hoopoe, plain prinia, striated grassbird, bright-headed cicstcola and zitting cisticola. Along a creek in the back of the garden I noted green-billed malkoha, indian roller, asian palm-swifts, white-breasted waterhen and cinnamon bittern. In the garden I had black-collared starling and black-hooded oriole. We left the hotel at 10:15 AM after breakfast for our drive to Doi Angkhang in the north. About 60 km north of Chiang Mai we took the turnoff to Doi Chiang Dao. From 01:00 untill 04:00 AM we birded the area along the road and around the temple which was located on a nice forested mountain slope. We noted the following new birds for our list: crested tree-swift, mountain imperial pigeon, emerald dove, asian paradise flycatcher, hill blue flycatcher, grey-headed canary-flycatcher, puff-throated bulbul and striped tit-babbler. While walking up the stairs towards the temple we also had a pair of limestone wren-babblers, a bird with a very local distribution in Thailand. We left at 4:00 PM and headed north via a very scenic route. Along the road we noted our only member of the crow family of the trip: large billed crow. Just before Angkhang we stopped at a lookout point to enjoy the mountain views while the sun was going down. Here we saw amongst dark-rumped swifts, white-browed shrike-babbler and bar-winged flycatcher-shrike. We arrived at the luxurious Angkhang Nature Resort at 6:15 PM. After a hot shower we had a nice dinner at the resortís restaurant.
Monday 2 May:
Today we have a full day to explore Doi Angkhang. From 6:00 AM we tried the 19,9 km orchard site but we couldnít find it. The only thing we found was a military camp at the spot where the site must have been before. We then tried a part of the trekkers route which starts at about the same point. Here we saw amongst rusty-cheeked scimitar-babbler. We the walked along the main road towards the km 19 checkpoint and noted oriental white-eye, short-billed minivet, red-faced liochichla, stripe-breasted woodpecker and white-browed piculet. From 8:00 AM we birded the trail at km 21,3 which ended up at a nice wooded valley with nice open views of the surrounding mountains. This trail was very productive having amongst black-eagle, long-tailed minivet, verditer flycatcher, chestnut-vented nuthatch, brown-breasted bulbul, mountain bulbul, hill prinia, blue-winged minla, spectacled barwing and black-headed greenfinch. At 10:00 AM we had a picknick breakfast at an open spot along the trial. From here we decided to go to a small waterfall located near the village of Ban Luang to check out for water redstarts. We found the site as described in Johnís report and saw a pair of plumbeous water-redstarts. We dipped the white-capped water-redstart here but instead of that a nice crested finchbill showed up. From 00:30 PM the sky turned black and it started to rain. We decided to go back to the resort and have a rest on the hotelís room. At 3:30 PM it stopped raining and we again tried the trail at km 21,3. At the beginning of the trail we had long-tailed shrike and barred cuckoo-dove. Just as we started walking the trail the sky opened again. We waited for about an hour in the car but finally decided to give it up for today. The rain did not stop untill we went to bed at 10:00 PM.
Tuesday 3 May:
It was cloudy but at least dry this morning. From 6:00 Ė 9:00 AM we paid another visit to the 21,3 km point. We birded the trail to the right at a fork after about 100 mtr. Because of yesterdayís rain the place was full of leeches. Despite that we had a few new birds for the triplist here: blue-throated barbet, golden babbler, hainan blue flycatcher, white-tailed robin and mountain tailorbird. Back at the hotel we had breakfast, packed our stuff and left at 10:15 AM. Just before we got into the car we noted a pair of spot-winged grossbeaks in the forest opposite our hotel. Our drive to Thaton further north took about
1Ĺ hours. Thaton is a town in the lowlands along the Maekok river near the border with Myanmar. Our very cosy hotel Maekok River Resort was located along the river just outside the town. Because of the heat (40 degrees C) we decided to have a swim in the pool and relax a bit. Unfortunately enough it started to rain when we wanted to explore the area along the river at 3:00 PM. When it stopped raining at 4:45 PM we were off and checked out the fields along the river by bike. After an hour the track ended up at the water tower which is a stake-out for Jerdonís Bushchat. Sadly enough we missed this specialty but saw other good birds along the riverbank like oriental pratincole, red-wattled lapwing, little heron, yellow bittern and little ringed plover. In the fields on the way back to the lodge we had amongst pied bushchat, brown shrike, striated grassbird, grey-breasted prinia and yellow-bellied prinia. In the evening we had a tasteful dinner at the hotelís restaurant along the river.
Wednesday 4 May:
From 6:00-8:30 AM we again checked out the fields along the river. Apart from a scarlet-backed flowerpecker we did not see any new birds. We had a relaxed breakfast at the hotel and left at about 10:30 AM for our drive to Chiang Saen which was our next destination. At 00:30 PM we arrived at Chiang Saen Lake which is located about 5 km before the town. We had a short stop here and checked out the lake having wire-tailed swallows, comb duck, little grebe and lesser whistling-duck. We then checked out the riverbanks of the Mekong river at the Rhim Khong restaurant. This area is very close to a famous tourist destination called Golden Triangle at the border with Laos and Myanmar. At the riverbank in front of the restaurant we had amongst great egret, kentish plover and a large group of small pratincoles. After checking in at Chiang Saen River Hill Hotel we paid another visit to the lake in the late afternoon. Apart from yellow-bittern and purple swamphen we did not see any new ones. In the evening we invited Manop for a dinner at the Rhim Khong restaurant.
Thursday 5 May:
Again a not too exciting day in birding point of view. We got up later then usual at 8:30 AM and left after breakfast for our journey back to Chiang Mai. Just beyond the city of Chiang Rai we visited a recently built white temple called Wat Rong Choen. About 30 km beyond the temple we took a turnoff to the right which leaded through the very scenic national parks of Doi Luang and Si Lanna. From the car we noted amongst white-throated kingfisher, chestnut-headed bee-eater, indian rollers, crested tree-swifts and a besra, our only new bird of the trip for today. Just before Chiang Mai we visited a small waterfall called Buatong. We arrived back at Paradise Spa Resort at 5:00 PM.
Friday 6 May:
Got up at 6:00 AM and birded the hotel grounds untill 8:00 AM. Had the usual birds as before but just as I got back to the room I had a rufous-winged buzzard flying overhead. At 9:30 AM Manop picked us up to bring us to the airport for our flight to Mae Hong Son in the far north-western corner of the country. As we got out of the plane in MHS it was raining and it did not look like it would stop on short term. We were transferred to Rooks Holiday Hotel where we dropped our luggage. Armed with umbrellas we left again to visit the town. We had lunch at a thai-chinese restaurant called Kai Mook which was really delicious. It kept on raining and could do nothing then wait. When it dried up a bit we walked to a small lake in the town where we noted coppersmith barbet and a crag martin which was new for the list. We decided to book an excursion for tomorrow, picked up our mail at an internet cafť and went back to the hotel. In the evening we walked back into town to have dinner at the same restaurant as this afternoon.
Saturday 7 May:
After breakfast we were picked up by our guide called Nan at 8:30 AM. The first thing on the program was a short boatride on the Pai river. Luckely the weather was better as yesterday. Apart from a few short showers it stayed relatively dry. The boatride did not produce many birds. We saw amongst indian rollers and a black-capped kingfisher which was new for the trip. After the boatride we visited the famous long-necked tribes near the border with Myanmar. A quite touristic affair but nevertheless worthwhile doing it. From there we visited another standard tourist stop: fish cave. Lucky enough the walk to the cave produced some nice birds like white-rumped falcon, black-hooded oriole, grey-treepie and golden-fronted leafbird. After lunch we drove through Tham Pla NP and took a turnoff up into the mountains to a chinese settlement called Mae Aw at the border with Myanmar. The surrounding forests along this route looked very promising birdwise but it rained cats and dogs while driving uphill. When we arrived in the village it still rained and after drinking some local tea we decided to drive back downhill. While descending it stopped raining and there was quite some bird activity going on. We stopped halfway back to the main road just before a turnoff to a waterfall the look for birds. Within one hour of birding along the road we had 25 species of birds (hawking for insects) of which 8 new ones for the trip. We noted amongst blue-eared barbet, violet cuckoo, drongo-cuckoo, blue-winged leafbird, ashy drongo, indochinese cuckoo-shrike, small minivet, large woodshrike, velvet-fronted nuthatch, purple sunbird and white-throated bulbul. We arrived back at the hotel at 6:00 PM. After a shower we had the best food of our trip in the Fern restaurant which was recommended to us by our guide Nan.
Sunday 8 May:
When we got up at 8:00 AM it was pooring again. It was clear now that the rainy season had begon by now. We had breakfast and birded the area around the hotel from under our umbrellas. We did not see any new birds and returned to our room to pack our luggage. At 12:00 AM we were transferred to the airport for our flight back to Chiang Mai. In Chiang Mai (where it rained also) Manop waited for us and brought us back to Paradise Spa Resort. The afternoon was filled in by relaxing a bit at the room. In the evening Manop picked us up again for a visit to a Kantoke dance show in Chiang Mai. After the show we visited the famous night market and arrived back in the hotel at 12 oíclock.
Monday 9 May:
After breakfast Manop picked us up again for a visit to some temples in Chiang Mai. After lunch we visited a few craft factories and were back at the hotel at 4:00 PM. We slept for a few hours, took a last shower and packed our luggage. In the evening Manop brought us to the airport for our flight home via Bangkok. We returned home save and sound the next morningÖÖ..
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