Our penultimate stop was at Fang, a good base from which to visit the rice paddies around Thaton and the mountainous areas of Doi Lang. Unfortunately the top of Doi Lang, at a height of over 2,000m., is occupied by the military, which means that you have to access the ridge (which has the most interesting birds of course) from two directions – the western approach being infinitely easier but, as a consequence, more popular. You can however walk along the connecting road through the various check-points, which we did on several occasions.
The birding along the ridge was excellent and we spent many happy hours walking the same kilometre stretch of road, seeing an ever-changing cast of species. There are several unofficial ‘feeding stations’ situated along the road – despite the signs in Thai and English saying that they are illegal, which attract a variety of fabulous birds, which the ‘clickers’ take great pride in approaching, within a couple of feet, to obtain their eye-wateringly good photos. On several occasions we’d be watching a bird from a discreet distance when photographers would say ‘excuse me’ and stand right in front – it takes a bit of getting used to!!
When we weren’t at the top of the mountain we were down on the plains, driving around the superb rice paddies of Thaton looking for everything from Buttonquail to Buntings.
We saw surprisingly few raptors, this Crested Serpent Eagle was a welcome exception
Best bird at one of the lower ‘feeding stations’ was this Ultramarine Flycatcher
Hill Prinia is normally a rather shy species
In marked contrast to many of it’s more gaudy cousins, this White-gorgeted Flycatcher was a stunning bird
Speaking of brightly coloured, this is White-bellied Redstart
Big, brash and noisy – Spot-breasted Parrotbill
Similar colour scheme but much less bold, this is White-browed Scimitar-babbler
Up the less accessible east side, Whiskered Yuhina
The dazzling and tongue-twisting, Crimson-faced Liocichla
The positively electric Himalayan Bluetail
Seen at dusk, on our final attempt, male Mrs. Hume’s Pheasant
Apart from the bevy of buntings seen on the Thaton rice paddies, this gymnastic Zitting Cisticola providing a touch of European familiarity
Another Babbler, this time Chestnut-capped
and finally, another familiar species – Bluethroat, which winters in a broad sweep from North Africa, Middle-East, Indian sub-continent, Southern China to SE Asia
Final stop on our three week tour, Mae Wong, more fabulous birds.. and a monkey!