Tueng Tao, in Chiang Mai province, is
a large recreational area owned by the Thai military. Surrounded by
woodland and non-intensive mixed farmland the site has produced quite
a large number of species although many of them are infrequently seen.
the lake at Huay Tueng Tao
(Photo by Nick
Huay Tueng Tao is not one of the north's prime birding locations,
its close proximity to Chiang Mai city makes it a useful place
to visit if one only has a morning or afternoon free and an
ideal destination for those birders who are on holiday with
non-birding friends and/or family.
area is used by quite a number of locals and a few tourists
in the early morning and late afternoon for running and bicycling
but it is unlikely to ever get too busy for birding. A large
number of restaurants on the lake edge are an attraction for
locals and once again allow birders to enjoy the area with
their non-birding co-travellers.
some time here and walking around a lot can reveal some good
birds, particularly in "winter" and this is an excellent
location to add to your birding itinerary if you are only
visiting the north of Thailand as you will surely see species
that you will not find in the mountains.
Huay Tueng Tao there are a number of excellent species that
can be found. Rufous-winged Buzzard is an obvious highlight
which is regularly seen here, both in flight and perched.
The difficult to locate Chinese Francolin can frequently be
heard calling in the rice field area but seeing it can be
tricky. The small area of rice paddies here can reveal some
other excellent birds including the surprisingly attractive
Bright-headed Cisticola and Small Buttonquail and Chestnut-capped
Babbler are also present.
of the woodland that borders the area include rather easy-to-see
White-crested Laughingthrush, Rufous Treepie and Lineated
Barbet, all large and colourful birds. Tickell's Blue Flycatcher
is fairly abundant here and the possibility of Purple Sunbird,
Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Chestnut-tailed Starling and
Red-billed Blue Magpie mean that a visit to Huay Tueng Tao
presents potential for some good sightings.
here for a checklist of the birds of Huay Tueng Tao
(Photo by Johan
Tours : Check the suggested itineraries for
ideas on creating a tailor-made birdwatching trip to Thailand:
to Huay Tueng Tao is a fairly simple affair from Chiang Mai
town centre. Almost all tuk-tuk drivers know the location
and can take you there for around 200 baht. Whilst most tuk-tuk
drivers in Chiang Mai can speak at least a little English,
Huay Tueng Tao is not somewhere many tourists ask to go to
and pronouncing the name so that Thais can understand it is
very difficult for foreigners; to save much frustration download
the Thai script
for Huay Tueng Tao and show the tuk-tuk driver.
out of Huay Tueng Tao by public transport is very difficult
and will require a long walk in the heat to get to the main
road where tuk-tuks and songtaews can be found. Instead, arrange
for your tuk-tuk driver to return and collect you at a set
time - they will be happy to do so.
plan is to go to Huay Tueng Tao in your own transport; hire
cars are freely available in Chiang Mai and prices can be
negotiated very cheaply. Head from the town centre towards
Doi Suthep from the northwestern corner of the old city. When
encountering the canal road (this is very obvious as it runs
alongside a prominent canal) turn right, heading north. Follow
this canal road north for 6 or 7 kilometres until seeing a
sign which indicates Huay Tueng Tao. Turn left here, cross
the canal and follow the road into the site; there is a small
booth collecting the 20 baht entrance fee just before reaching
the site. Using your own vehicle means that you can drive
around the lake and head back to Chiang Mai when you feel
like it and without the bother of finding some form of public
proximity of Huay Tueng Tao to the main road which heads north
from Chiang Mai means that it makes a useful stop when either
heading north to other birding sites or when returning from
these sites to Chiang Mai.
regenerating dry dipterocarp woodlands to the north-east and east
of the lake is a good place to look for Rufous Treepie, White-crested
Laughingthrush and Lineated Barbet.
at the north-western end of the site is the best place to find Rufous-winged
Buzzard, Bright-headed Cisticola, Chinese Francolin and other open-country
Between Points 1 & 2 : The
dry woodland between these two points is often good, particularly
in the early morning, for a number of nice species. Rufous Treepie
can usually be detected by its noisy call as can the persitent Lineated
Barbet. White-crested Laughingthrush is a fairly common forest bird
throughout Thailand but seeing one can be really tricky; here there
is a good opportunity to get decent views of this lovely bird. Greater
Racket-tailed Drongo is common in this habitat and Tickell's Blue
Flycatcher can often be heard singing low in the trees. On one occasion
I saw a flock of Red-billed Blue Magpies in this area and in winter
an abundance of Taiga Flycatchers and Yellow-browed Warblers will
End of the Lake :
the lake at Huay Tueng Tao doesn't often turn up any interesting
waterbirds, although once Tony Ball stumbled upon a Great Crested
Grebe. However, this end of the lake is the only spot with any real
marginal habitat and any waterbirds that are to be seen would most
likely be found here. I have seen a few Lesser Whistling Ducks,
Common Moorhen, Cinnamon Bittern, Chinese Pond Heron and Striated
Heron here. Kingfishers are possible too with White-throated and
Common Kingfishers both being regular.
(Photo by Johan
Corner : At
this point there is some rough grass and scattered trees that
always seem to contain Green Bee-eater and Black Drongo. Other
birds that can be found here include Grey-breasted Prinia
and Bright-headed Cisticola.
Fields : This
area cultivated for rice harbours a number of interesting
birds that can't be found on the rest of the site. Pied Bushchat
is common here all year round and Eastern Stonechat is common
in the winter months. Also during the winter months there
are times when the paddies here are dry and stubble is the
only vegetation, at this time birds such as Paddyfield Pipit,
Zitting Cisticola, Bright-headed Cisticola, Indochinese Bushlark
and Chinese Francolin are easier to find than when the rice
is growing. I have also seen Small Buttonquail here and Rufous-winged
Buzzard likes to perch on trees in this area.
around in the scrubby undergrowth bordering this rice-growing
area can be rewarding too with species such as Thick-billed
Warbler, Yellow-streaked Warbler, Bluethroat, Siberian Rubythroat
and Dusky Warbler available to those who spend time searching
and in winter there is the potential for a number of uncommon
small creek/ditch always seems to contain Chestnut-capped Babbler.
Listen out for its call and locate it by watching for movement in
the undergrowth. Red-whiskered Bulbul is abundant in this spot and
the rice fields can still be viewed from here.
The area around this inlet always seems to produce a few birds.
Ashy Woodswallow is a fixture here and it is often possible to find
Plaintive Cuckoo, Common Kingfisher, Brown Shrike and Lesser Coucal.
Wire-tailed Swallows frequently perch on submerged twigs in the
on the Lake
(Photo by Nick
Tueng Tao is only a short distance from the city of Chiang
Mai which has a profusion of hotels, guesthouses and hostels
to choose from in terms of accommodation; Chiang
Mai Hotels; making it the most obvious place
to stay when visiting. Whilst food and drink can easily be
brought along from Chiang Mai or one can return to the city
for food after birding here, there are some facilities on
site. There are quite a number of little restaurants fringing
the lake which serve good Thai food and sell drinks which
will probably be needed considering how hot it can get here.
are a couple of public toilets scattered around the site meaning
that you don't have to hold it in and wait to return to Chiang
very difficult to find any transport back to Chiang Mai so
ensure that you have come in your own vehicle or arrange for
a tuk-tuk driver to pick you up
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