Red Avadavat, Rufous Treepie, Huay Tung Tao, February 26th

Most visiting birders in northern Thailand concentrate on mountainous areas – and with good reason, for the mountains are where most of the special birds of the region can be found.

However, after focusing your energies on finding birds at high altitudes, you can often find that some relatively common lowland birds are missing from your list. The lake of Huay Tung Tao, just a few kilometers north of Chiang Mai city, is a good place to catch up with some familiar lowland birds, as well as offering the chance of a few specialities of its own.

Shortly after dawn is an excellent time to visit this site – the day trippers haven’t arrived yet, and the air around the lake is cool and peaceful. One of the first birds I saw was a mid-sized Acrocephalus warbler in some bushes near the lake. After quickly eliminating the common Thick-billed Warbler and Oriental Reed Warbler, I was left with a choice of various extremely similar species to ascribe it to. In all likelihood it was a Blunt-winged Warbler, a regular winterer in Thailand and the most likely candidate.

Mystery warbler aside, the best birds this morning were: a Rufous Treepie (one of Huay Tung Tao’s specialities), a Lesser Coucal preening in full view in the morning sun, a Thick-billed Warbler, and a small flock of Red Avadavats including a male moulting into breeding plumage.

2015 Year Ticks: Grey-breasted Prinia, Rufous Treepie, Lesser Coucal, Red Avadavat (total 413).

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