Obviously there are a couple of target birds on Doi Chiang Dao,
for which this scenically stunning mountain is famous – Giant
Nuthatch and Mrs Hume’s Pheasant.
variety of trip reports on Surfbirds.com
and other websites, it seems that most people connect with the Nuthatch
with a little effort, and many people see this species between the
checkpoint and the sub-station. I spent my first day birding along
this section of road, and despite seeing loads of birds I drew a
blank on the Nuthatch, and I was starting to panic a bit when I
still hadn’t seen or heard one by lunchtime on my second day.
I talked to s group of Thai birders who’d also struggled -
one bird seen by one member of their group along the trail beyond
the sub-station. I decided to take this trail on the afternoon of
my second day and scored a pair of Giant Nuthatches within half
an hour (picked up on call) in an area of pine forest about 1km
beyond the substation. Further along this trail I heard another
The same group
of Thai birders told me that Mrs Hume’s Pheasant was “impossible”
at this time of year “come back in March” was their
advice - as a result I discounted any possibility of connecting
with is species. This meant I was pretty damn pleased with myself
when a male Hume’s Pheasant decided
to fly out of the undergrowth just five metres away from me, and
then drop back into cover out of sight! It was so quick, and so
close that I didn’t even reach for my bins, I simply let the
image burn indelibly on my retina… This incident happened
whilst walking back to the sub-station from ticking Giant
Nuthatch – both target birds within 2 hours, following
a day and a half of seeing neither below the substation!
When I bumped
into the Thai birders I had met earlier in the day, it was hard
to refrain from gripping them with a sense of smugness…in
fact I failed!
On my last day
I birded below the sub-station, and indeed did find a Giant
Nuthatch (possibly two) with a mixed flock, but considering
how much effort I had put in below the sub-station (roughly 15 hours),
I would recommend concentrating on the trail beyond the sub-station
for this species.