Overnight train from Bangkok to Chang Mai (Baht 800 one way 2nd
class with air con), then picked up a Suzuki 4WD jeep from Mr Order
(tel 01 289 4913, or 053 206 955). Mr Order asked me for Baht 700
per day, but I managed to bargain him down to Baht 600 per day as
I booked the car for 3 days. There are a plethora of places in Chang
Mai to pick up motorbikes and Suzuki jeeps for hire.
I had to go
back into Chang Mai after 3 days to sort out some business issues,
and I then hired another jeep from Queen Bee Travel Service (tel
053 275525, 208988, 208135) for Baht 700 per day for a further two
days. The advantage of this deal was that the excess on insurance,
should you have a crash or the jeep be stolen, is only Baht 2,000
(much higher with Mr Order).
The drive to
Inthanon National Park entrance takes roughly 90 minutes.
I stayed at Mr Deang's Birder's Centre at Km 30 on the road that
runs from the Park entrance to the Summit of Doi Inthanon, using
my tent and pitching it for a nominal Baht 20 per night. Mr Deang
and his wife do good, simple food at the centre, and there is a
logbook of recent sightings. Mr Deang provides a very useful map
of the main birding sites at Doi Inthanon, and this proved invaluable;
however, during the last few days of my trip I explored some other
areas which provided some new species and subtly different bird
communities - so if you have time, do explore a bit more widely.
I spent one
night staying in Chang Mai at Gap's Guesthouse (Baht 500 per night),
a lovely place and worth the expense after camping for a few days.
This place is listed in the Lonely Planet.
insects and leeches
The weather was fantastically bright and sunny for the whole of my
trip, but cold early on and after dusk. Insects were not much of a
problem (I never used any repellent), and I only found one leech -
but it almost cost me Silver Pheasant!
Saturday 15th Nov :
Arrived early afternoon and went to KM 34.5 trail, highlights here
included Golden-throated Barbet, Mountain
Tailorbird and Mountain Bulbul,
plus the caeuleus race of Blue Whistling
Thrush (later found to be common).
to the Summit, and walked the boardwalk (note this area is busy
with tourists on the weekend), seeing Chestnut-tailed
Minla, Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush
(very tame!), Dark-backed Sibia, Green-tailed
Sunbird and Mrs Gould's Sunbird.
Back down at
Mr Deang's I did the fields opposite the birding centre, with a
few northern migrants present - Taiga Flycatcher,
lots of Olive-backed Pipits and a Long-tailed
16th Nov : Very cold overnight (was
grateful of 4 season sleeping bag!), got to Summit at 5.30am in
hope of avoiding Thai tourists catching sunrise. This was far too
early to be at the Summit as it was only just getting light, but
I did hear Brown Wood Owl calling. Birding once it was light was
very quiet, with the only new species being Ashy-throated
Leaf Warbler - until a huge crocodile of Thai tourists came
along the board walk at 7am, at which point I decided to abandon
the Summit. I would strongly recommend avoiding the Summit, for
birding, on weekends.
down mountain, stopping c.1km from the Summit to check roadside
forest. This produced a big flock containing sunbirds, phyllocs,
Rufous-winged Fulvetta and Chestnut-tailed
Walked KM 37.5
trail, encountering a flock that contained Yellow-bellied
Fantail, Dark-backed Sibia,
Greater Yellownape, Yellow-cheeked
Tit (a real cracker!) and Lesser Racket-tailed
Drongo. Also found a small party of Chestnut-crowned
Laughingthrushes, and a Pygmy Wren
Babbler skulking in the undergrowth. Got a fleeting, untickable
glimpse of a male Silver Pheasant's
tail as it disappeared off the path (I had been busy removing a
leech from my boot!).
Went for lunch
at Park HQ, just below Mr Deang's, then headed to KM 34.5 trail,
seeing Black Bulbul in the secondary
forest near the trail head, and further along I went off trail,
sitting quietly for a few minutes then pishing - this was very successful
at pulling in White-gorgeted Flycatcher,
a pair of Large Niltava and a male
White-tailed Robin. Walking back to
the main road, I heard Bamboo Mountain Partridge calling.
17th November : Went to the Summit
for 6.30am and met two Swedish birders I'd run into the day before.
We birded the boardwalk, getting excellent views of Pygmy
Wren-babbler, White's Thrush,
Rufous-winged Fulvetta, Snowy-browed
Flycatcher, Yellow-cheeked Tit
and several Yellow-bellied Fantails.
The KM 37.5
trail mid morning produced Grey-chinned Minivet,
Blyth's Leaf Warbler, Eye-browed
Wren-babbler and Bronzed Drongo.
the KM 13 trail was hot and pretty unpleasant compared with the
cool forests further up the mountain, but my efforts were rewarded
with Crested Treeswift, a pair of Collared
Falconets, a party of White-crested
Laughingthrushes and Red Junglefowl.
I stopped off
at the waterfall near KM20 on my way back up the mountain and soon
found a pair of Slaty-backed Forktails
that the Swedish birders had told me about, and Plumbeous
Redstart (one adult and juvenile).
18th November : Did KM 37.5 trail
early morning, seeing Red-headed Trogan,
a pair of Large Niltavas and a White-tailed
Robin. Also heard Pygmy Wren-babbler.
Rest of day
spent in Chiang Mai, travelled back to Doi Inthanon on Wednesday
afternoon with two non-birding friends.
20th November : With non-birding
friends in tow, the birding pace slowed a bit and I spent more time
appreciating just what fantastic scenery Doi Inthanon has. After
watching the sunrise from the car park at KM 42 and doing a spot
of high altitude yoga (!), we walked the KM 42 trail, for which
you have to pay Baht 200 per group, and go with a guide. This trail
produced another Slaty-backed Forktail,
and my two friends flushed a pair of Silver
Pheasants from the path - fortunately they pushed the male
towards me for brief but very satisfactory views!
We walked the
KM37.5 trail again mid morning, seeing Chestnut-fronted
Shrike Babbler, Pale Blue Flycatcher
and Yellow-cheeked Tit.
21st November : Early morning was
spent at Siriphum Waterfall (near KM 30), with a flock here containing
two Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Chestnut-fronted
and White-browed Shrike Babblers as
well as Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo.
A walk to the
waterfalls along the Mae Chae road (off KM 37.5 junction) produced
a stunning male White-throated Rock Thrush,
plus Radde's Warbler and another pair
of Slaty-backed Forktails.
Both Green and Purple
Cachoas are present at Doi
Inthanon (especially KM37.5 ), but Mr Deang said that
this was a bad time of year to try to see them - consequently no
other birders I met had seen either species during my stay (a couple
of guys had heard both on KM37.5 however).
is present near the Park HQ campsite, but there was a lot of disturbance
around the pools here and again no one was seeing this species during
Gandy can be contacted at email@example.com
for more information on Doi
Inthanon National Park