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Fang By-pass, 5th Feb 2004
 
  Bird Watching Trips:
if you need help organizing a bird watching trip to Thailand, take a look at the suggested itineraries for ideas on creating a tailor-made trip and contact me for advice: Thailand bird tours.
Introduction
Another trip to northern Thailand resulted in hiring a vehicle in Chiang Mai and making our way north via Doi Ang Kang to TaTorn. On the morning of the 5th February, myself and Doug Judell made an early start, with breakfast at the early morning market in TaTorn before driving towards Fang Hot Springs in hope of seeing Spot-winged Grosbeak. However, whilst driving on the by-pass around the village of Fang a rather nice sunrise peeking through the mist captured our imagination enough to make us stop. In truth the abundance of birds on the surrounding rice paddies and stubble fields had more to do with our decision to stop than our interest in landscapes.
Field Guides
1. A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand by Craig Robson
2. Guide to the Birds of Thailand by Philip D. Round & Boonsong Lekagul

Birding Highlights
Siberian Rubythroat, Bluethroat, Bright-headed Cisticola

Notes
With many of the rice fields that used to attract birders to TaTorn having made way to vegetable farming, it seemed that this area near Fang had potential to fill that gap, and we weren't to be disappointed. In just an hour, from 7 to 8 am we managed to see twenty two species without walking more than one hundred metres from our car. First to attract our attention was a hunting Common Kestrel, a common enough bird if you are from Europe but unusual enough in Thailand to be of interest, followed by Red Turtle Dove, White-throated Kingfisher and a flock of about thirty Eastern Cattle Egrets.

A small track into some grass caught our interest and despite Doug's reluctance to use his legs I pursuaded him to join me and the short walk into this habitat was to prove productive; a pair of Zitting Cisticolas (Fan-tailed Warblers) were tricky to see, but easily heard with Eastern Stonechat and Pied Bushchat very easy to observe. In the distance, amongst some semi-burnt undergrowth, we spoteed some movement that seemed like it might prove interesting so off we went to investigate. Very soon a Bluethroat showed itself; a bird which is supposed to be fairly common in Thailand, but not one that I see that often, and shortly after that, something else was moving around. A few brief glimpses made us think that it looked like a Siberian Rubythroat, again a fairly common bird but usually tricky to get a good view of, but after the initial fleeting glipses it obligingly came out into the open to confirm the identification and display its colourful throat.

We watched this for about 15 minutes before deciding to get to the Hot Springs before the temperature got too high, but not before flushing a number of Green Sandpipers from some muddy pools and finally tracking down an uncharacteristically secretive Bright-headed Cisticola.
 
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Both the Bluethroat and Siberian Rubythroat had made this brief stop worth it in our opinions, and the large amount of good habitat in the region would probably reward the vigilant with some good records if watched regularly. Certainly for those that fail to connect with the open-country birds that they hope to see around TaTorn, this would appear like a useful substitute. In truth, this short stop served to illustrate how many good birdwatching areas remain undiscovered in Thailand.

Incidently, we did see the Spot-winged Grosbeaks at Fang Hot Springs, which are very easily seen near the geyser, before heading back to Chiang Mai to return the vehicle.
Nick Upton (nickupton@thaibirding.com) 
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 Birds along the Fang By-pass
The names and taxonomic order used here are those from the official Thai bird checklist issued by the Thai records committee.
Chinese Pond Heron
Eastern Cattle Egret
Black-shouldered Kite
Common Kestrel
Green Sandpiper
Red Turtle Dove
White-throated Kingfisher
Brown Shrike
Black Drongo
Sooty-headed Bulbul
Barn Swallow
Zitting Cisticola
Bright-headed Cisticola
Plain Prinia
Black-collared Starling
White-vented Myna
Bluethroat
Siberian Rubythroat
Pied Bushchat
Eastern Stonechat
Scaly-breasted Munia
Paddyfield Pipit
I can be contacted at nickupton@thaibirding.com
If you are interested in arranging a bird watching tour you can see some suggested itineraries here - Birdwatching Trips - and you can contact me at the above email address to discuss the best options.

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