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DOI ANG KHANG

THAILAND
LOCALE

Altitude (m):1700-1800
# Species:235
# Excl Vagrants:235
# Endemics:0
# Near Endemics:0
Habitat: Montane evergreen forest, scrub forest, wet forest, bamboo, cultivation

ABOUT THE BIRDING

Doi Ang Kang is a mountainous region in northwest Thailand and is excellent for a number of mountainous species. A guide is fairly essential as much of the region is heavily cultivated and disturbed by numerous tourists. Nevertheless, birding can be excellent, especially from November-April. It's worth spending 2-3 days birding the area. The best birding areas are at Km 21 and the nearby Firebreak Trail, the Mae Phur Valley, and the Ban Arunothai Road.

Km 21 marks the beginning of Firebreak Trail on the eastern side of the mountain, where the evergreen forest is somewhat wetter than the western side. The trail goes through dense forest for a couple hundred meters and then emerges into open scrub and wooded slopes. Possibilities in the dense forest include Rufous-throated Partridge, Martens's Warbler, Small Niltava, Slaty-backed Flycatcher, and Scarlet-faced Liocichla. The open scrub habitat offers Gray Treepie, Spot-breasted Parrotbill (only occasionally present), Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler, and Spot-throated Babbler. The open woodland canopy is good for a variety of Old World warblers. The main track continues to a ridgeline, known as Firebreak Trail. Possibilities there include Mountain Bamboo-Partridge, Cook's Swift, Great Barbet, Spot-breasted Parrotbill, Chestnut-bellied Rock-Thrush, Spot-throated Babbler, White-browed Laughingthrush, and Gould's Sunbird.

The Ban Arunothai road passes through open pine-oak forest and is very good for birding. Traffic is light except on weekends. Km 34 is the best place to find Hume's Pheasant, a species that is always difficult to see. A small patch of mature pines at km 31 is a reliable place for Giant Nuthatch. Km 25 is an excellent place for birding, especially in early morning. Some steep tracks branch off from the main road and lead into drier habitat that is best for birds such as Collared Owlet, Pallas's Leaf-Warbler, Gray-headed Parrotbill, Pale Blue Flycatcher, and Sapphire Flycatcher.

The Mae Phur Valley Trail follows a stream through a mix of wetter forest and bamboo. Bird activity is often low but with effort and good fortune it's possible to find Striated Bulbul, Pale-billed Parrotbill, Lesser Shortwing, Slaty-blue Flycatcher, Scaly Thrush, and Silver-eared Mesia. Birding can be difficult in the thick vegetation but is worth making the effort. This trail can also be good for nocturnal species.

King's Project is a cultivated area of gardens and fruit orchards. It's heavily visited by tourists, though feeding stations for photographers most winters attract some birds of interest. Possibilities include Hill Blue Flycatcher, Large Niltava, Rufous-bellied Niltava, bulbuls, minivets, and white-eyes. The rather rare Black-breasted Thrush can be found in a rock amphitheater behind the restaurant in early mornings most years. Daurian Redstart also occurs some winters. Several other trails and roadsides are also worth birding as well.

LOCATION OF SITE

Doi Ang Khang is located in northwest Thailand and is best reached by driving from Chiang Mai through Chiang Dao via Highway 107 and then HIghway 1178. The road passes through several army checkpoints en route, and the journey takes about a half day.