Thursday, March 29, 2012

Doi Inthanon - Saturday 24th March

Early morning saw us again at the summit, with the focus today being on clinching the two species of Woodpigeon that occur on the mountain.  Dave Sargeant had suggested to me that it's worth looking from the viewpoint about 300 meters back down the road from the summit car park, so we stationed ourselves there and did indeed get good views of several Ashy Woodpigeons.  Although this was my fourth trip to Doi Inthanon it was the first time I had managed to get tickable views of the 'pigs, having always previously had frustratingly brief glimpses of silhouettes at sunrise when the birds leave their roosts around the summit.  We failed to connect with any Speckled Woodpigeons, which are also supposed to be resident, but Dave had told me that thy were much more difficult, so our expectations had been lowered on this front.

There was also a lot of thrush activity around this viewpoint, with a steady steam of thrushes flying towards the summit (presumably from their roosts in the valley below) and they would stop to perch up on some of the highest trees before flying over the road  into denser cover.  Grilling these birds was  quite frustrating as the light was very strong, making some birds entirely  silhouetted.  However we got excellent views of at least 2 Grey-sided Thrushes and reasonable views on a couple of occasions of at least one Chestnut Thrush, whilst we clinched a  Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush from photos (using a lot of compensation and imagination, but they confirmed with the use of  Adobe Lightroom!). Everything else seemed to be Eye-browed Thrushes, but many birds were perching for very short periods of time in bad light and so the potential for us having missed something else was definitely there.

Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush - clinched from photos that I took
just on the off-chance that they might show some detail!

Our next stop was the KM 34.5 "jeep track" which gave us a few moments of interest with a couple of Large Niltavas, a Bay-banded Cuckoo, Verditer Flycatcher and a Bronzed Drongo but not much else.
Roadside forest later in the day gave us nice views of a Slaty-bellied Tesia (having heard but not seen several others).

During the afternoon we visited Mae Pan Waterfall.  The road there from KM 37 looks fantastic and seems to be very underwatched (I could happily spend a whole day working certain parts of it, thought there is a steady flow of traffic on the section that heads to Mae Hong Son, which is a bit off-putting).  The trail from the car park to Mae Pan waterfall gave us a rather different set of birds to those we'd seen elsewhere on the mountain, including a pair of Silver-breasted Broadbills, and Large Woodshrike, with the waterfall itself holding a splendid White-capped Water Redstart.

The first one of these I'd seen in 17 years!

We had dinner at Mr Daeng's and, encouraged by hearing a Collared Scops Owl from our dining table, headed up the mountain toward the KM 37 checkpoint to search for nightbirds.  Using my iPod we managed to get a distant response from a Spot-bellied Eagle Owl, but actually saw sweet FA.  The road up to KM 37 was quite busy with local traffic, making this a less than ideal location for "owling".

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