Wong National Park
Wong National Park,
in Kampaeng Phet and Nakorn Sawan provinces, covers 894 square
kilometres and is part of the western forest complex: the
largest remaining tract of forest in Thailand.
which runs for about 30 kilometres from headquarters to Chong
Yen campsite offers birdwatching opportunities at a variety
of altitudes and make it possible to see a huge total of bird
species if staying for 3-4 days. The facilities in this park
are adequate and the staff are quite friendly and easy to
deal with, making this a pleasant place to stay.
this area used to be occupied by various hilltribe communities,
so there are areas that are deforested, but secondary growth
has established itself quickly and there are large areas of
beautiful forest with huge, mature trees. Additionally, a
number of streams and rivers drain the park and add to the
scenic nature of this area as well as the avifauna.
Forest at Mae Wong
(Photo by Douglas
Wong National Park is the most accessible part of the western forest
complex and gives birders the opportunity to see some species that
are really hard to find or absent elsewhere in Thailand. The only
set back with this national park are the large number of biting flies
that live at the higher altitudes; go armed with insect
repellent and mosquito
(Photo by Robert
few species have been found at Mae Wong and very seldom anywhere
else, but of these, Rufous-necked Hornbill has to be the star.
This species is only found in a few locations within the western
forests of Thailand, but Mae Wong is the most accessible and
is the best chance of finding the species in the Kingdom;
October and November seem to be the best times of the year
for sightings of this species.
Yuhina is another speciality of the higher regions of Mae
Wong National Park and Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler is another
exciting bird which is frequently reported here. Rusty-capped
Fulvetta is also confined to this region within Thailand,
although most birders will not see it unless making the three
day round trip hike to Doi Mokoju. The call of Mountain Scops
Owl is a common sound in the hills of Mae Wong, although seeing
one is not so easy.
birders have been lucky enough to see Crested Kingfisher as
it makes its way along a river close to headquarters, but
the general abundance of colourful forest bird species, such
as Long-tailed Broadbill, Speckled Piculet, Maroon Oriole,
Blue-bearded Bee-eater and Golden-throated Barbet, amongst
many others, is reason enough to make the trip to Mae Wong.
is also worth mentioning that in and around Klong Lan market there
is a sizeable population of House Sparrows for those that would like
to add this species to their Thai list.
checklist of the birds for this location can be found here - Mae Wong
Tours : Check the suggested itineraries for
ideas on creating a tailor-made birdwatching trip to Thailand:
Wong National Park isn't the easiest place to get to, but
is worth the trip. For those driving from Bangkok take highway
1 to Nakhon Sawan. Pass the town and continue along this highway
for another 8 km until the turning to Lad Yao; it's well signposted.
From Lad Yao take the road to Ban Khao Chon Kam about 40 kilometres
away. At the intersection in this village turn right onto
the road to Khlong Lan - about another 50 kilometre drive.
After reaching Khlong Lan turn left and drive the last 20
km to the National Park; there is a petrol station close to
coming from Kampaeng Phet, take highway 1 south. After 6km
turn right at Ban Khlong Mae Lai and follow the road all the
way to the Mae Wong National Park - about 75 kilometres. It's
possible to charter a songtaew from Kampaeng Phet all the
way to Chong Yen sub-station - a price of around 1000 baht
is probably reasonable.
from Bangkok run from the Northern (Mor Chit) terminal to Khlong Lan
three times a day and takes about 5.5 hours. From there a motorbike
or songtaew can be hired into the park.
suitable to stop along the long drive up to Chong Yen is worth investigating
and there may be some small side trails that remain uninvestigated.
However, a few locations within the park have proved reliable for
Almost 30 kilometres of road through the forest offer plenty
of opportunity to watch birds, although few birders stop to make the
most of it. Some excellent quality forest houses species such as Great
Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, Grey-headed Woodpecker and Orange-breasted
At headquarters a number of flowering trees attract
Flowerpeckers, Sunbirds and Bulbuls. The river behind the
bungalows is also a likely spot for birds in the early morning.
The campground a short distance along the road from
HQ is a very pleaasnt spot and provides an opportunity to
see a number of species. Crested Kingfisher is reported to
fly along past a swimming spot which I assume is located here,
although I may be wrong - in any case, I didn't see it here.
Species that can be found are the ubiquitous Grey Wagtail
along with Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Blue Whistling Thrush and
Black-capped Kingfisher. On one occasion I flushed out a very
unseasonal Black Bittern from the marshy ground alongside
worth noting that at night, if the lights of the toilet are
left on, that an amazing variety of moths can be found on
the walls of the toilet block!
Trail: This short trail leads
to a waterfall and provides another opportunity to get into the forest.
Behind Ranger Station: This
small, partially deforested hill is easily watched from the
campsite and is frequented by Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters and
There are fine views from the campsite along a valley
to the west. This is a good point to watch raptors and also
hornbills as they fly across the valley. For the most fortunate,
it is possible to watch Rufous-necked Hornbills calling from
large trees down the valley from the campsite.
other birds can be viewed in the foliage around the campsite
and Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler is sometimes seen here is
are birds such as Great Barbet and Orange-bellied Leafbird..
Trail: This trail proceeds west
from the ranger accommodation and heads quite steeply downhill. Several
species of Laughingthrush have been found along here and it is a good
location for finding species that prefer to occupy the understorey;
species including White-throated Fantail and Rufous-throated Partridge.
Where exactly this trail goes,
I'm not sure, but it continues for some distance for those who wish
Trail: This trail is
actually the old road to Umphang, although after a few hundred
metres it is very difficult to recognise this fact. The trail
is easy enough to follow even if it is a little overgrown
and quite a number of good species can be found along here.
Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush is fairly common, although
not as easy to see as it is on Doi
Inthanon. The first few hundred metres of the
trail are very birdy and Hill Prinia, White-browed Piculet
and Maroon Oriole are common. Other interesting species that
can be found along this trail are Yellow-bellied Fantail,
Short-billed Minivet, Mountain Tailorbird and Burmese Yuhina.
searching for a real adventure it is possible to hike all
the way to Umphang; it would be a good idea to consult the
rangers about this. Being within the forest for this distance
would no doubt reveal a large number of birds to the vigilant.
(Photo by Suppalak
1: A couple of hundred metres
along the Umphang Trail a damp gulley can be seen on the left. The
gulley is quite wide and quickly climbs quite steeply. However,
it is possible to go into the forest here and find a few interesting
species. Small Niltava and White-throated Fantail often occupy this
area and Rusty-naped Pitta has been seen.
2: A kilometre or so back down
the road there is a gulley to the right which can be clambered along
for a distance. Don't try and follow it on the other side of the
road as it heads very steeply downhill. In the forest along the
gulley Rufous-throated Partridges can be found and I once found
a group of Rufous-necked Hornbills in a fruiting tree - definitely
worth a look along here!
(Photo by Douglas Bolt)
facilities at Mae Wong are sufficient for their purpose. In
fact, I have been told that the national park bungalows at
headquarters are rather nice - they certainly have an attractive
setting, looking out onto a rocky river. A little along the
road from HQ is a small campsite next to the river - a very
nice location - with clean toilets.
has a visitor centre and a small restaurant where tasty, cheap
food can be purchased and this is where a permit to travel
to Chong Yen must be organised and accommodation paid for.
want to head straight for Chong Yen, and this must have one
of the nicest settings for a campsite anywhere in Thailand.
However, it is extremely small and gets uncomfortably crowded
at weekends and the toilets/showers can get very busy and
are some small rooms that can be hired from HQ, but it is better to
bring ones own tent and camp. There is no food available here, so
it is necessary to bring ones own equipment and food, although if
you run out I'm sure the rangers would take pity upon you and sort
must pass through the small town of Klong Lan before getting to
Mae Wong and supplies of most types can be bought here. There is
also a petrol station here to fill up before heading up the hill.
there are supermarkets in the towns of Kampaeng Phet and Nakorn
Sawan where shopping of every type can be done. One will probably
pass through one of these towns on the way to Mae Wong, although
they are both some distance away.
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Western Thailand Birding Locations
Ten Birds of Thailand: Number 5 - Rufous-necked Hornbill
clip of Speckled Piculet taken at Chong Yen, Mae Wong, by Gerald