Nine years after my first visit to Doi Inthanon, this flagship site for birding in Thailand still has the power to deliver a lifer or three. It’s an impressive national park, notable for not only containing Thailand’s highest mountain (altitude 2,565m), but also providing some extremely varied and interesting birding across a number of altitudes and habitat types.
I spent an afternoon, a full day, and a final morning here, varying my birding locations in order to maximise my chances of seeing as many year ticks as possible.
Base camp of operations was – as usual – Mr Daeng’s excellent B+B, a few hundred yards along from the Doi Inthanon visitor center at approximately Km 31. Mr Daeng’s place goes from strength to strength, with the food getting better with every visit – and the rooms still priced at a very reasonable 500 baht per night.
I saw about 80 species on the mountain, a slightly lower total than previous visits, but this one was by far my best in terms of quality.
A short breakdown of the bird areas I visited this time:
Km 13: a dry and very hot area of deciduous forest, often seeming quite birdless but several key species are here.
Km 20.5: Vachirathan Waterfall, the largest falls in the park and worth a look for redstarts and forktails.
Km 24: Sirithan Waterfall, much less visited than Vachirathan and another spot worth trying for river species.
Km 30: Siriphun Waterfall, campsite, and the hills beyond – a side road through the village of Khun Klang leads to several good birding areas.
Km 34.5: excellent trail through broadleaved evergreen forest and bamboo.
Km 37.5: pristine evergreen forest, tough birding but some good species are in here. Also a roadside stakeout for several retiring species attracted to photographer’s bait.
Km 45-47: roadside good for warblers, sunbirds etc.
Km 47: the summit and Ang Ka nature trail/boardwalk, a unique (in Thailand) Himalayan sphagnum bog, good for many of Doi Inthanon’s special birds.
- Grey Nightjar – one over the road at dawn at approximately Km 44.
- Black-tailed Crake – heard on successive evenings at the campsite marsh but not seen (therefore not included on my list).
- Grey-sided Thrush – excellent views of a male at the summit marsh.
- Dark-sided Thrush – at least four birds at the summit marsh early morning.
- Rufous-throated Partridge – just one at the summit marsh.
- White-browed Shortwing – three males seen at the summit marsh, plus a female at the roadside at Km 37.5.
- Lesser Shortwing – female behind Mr Daeng’s.
- Hume’s Treecreeper – pair at Km 34.5.
- Banded Bay Cuckoo – a pair showing very well in a bare tree at Siriphun Waterfall, the male in full song.
- Black-headed Woodpecker – at least 5 at Km 13
- Blossom-headed Parakeet – one at Km 13
- Rosy Minivet – pair at Sirithan Waterfall.
- White-capped Water Redstart – one at Siriphun Waterfall, a real stunner.
- White-headed Bulbul – several along roadside, on Khun Wang road 6.5km from the intersection.
- Blue-throated Blue Flycatcher – a real surprise was a pair showing extremely well along the steps to the Sirithan Waterfall, the male in full song.
- Snowy-browed Flycatcher – three males along roadside between Km 46 and Km 47.
- Small Niltava – female by the roadside at Km 37.5.
- Large Niltava – several at Km 34.5
- Pygmy Wren-Babbler – pair at the summit marsh.
- Slaty-bellied Tesia – abundant along the Km 37.5 trail but hard to see, one eventually showed fairly well.
- Ashy-throated Warbler – common at the summit, isolated population on Doi Inthanon is the only one in Thailand.
- Blyth’s Leaf Warbler – several at the summit marsh, to my knowledge the only place in Thailand where this subtle species can be seen.
- Two-barred Warbler – one at Km 34.5.
- Siberian Blue Robin – male behind Mr Daeng’s.
- Ashy Woodpigeon – at least four between Km 45 and Km 47.
- Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon – one at Sirithan Waterfall, and one at Km 34.5 trail on successive afternoons.
- Common Rosefinch – five at the summit marsh.
Lifers: Grey-sided Thrush, Hume’s Treecreeper, Banded Bay Cuckoo (total 1,808).
2015 Year List Total: 409