DOI CHIANG DAO
|# Excl Vagrants:||468|
|# Near Endemics:||0|
|Habitat: Pine forest, pine-oak forest, evergreen forest, open scrub|
ABOUT THE BIRDING
Chiang Dao National Park, now re-named Pha Daeng National Park, is located in northern Thailand. The tallest peak in the park is called Doi Chiang Dao. Both access roads up the mountain require permits obtained in advance from the headquarters, which is only open during standard government office hours. This makes advance planning essential so permits can be obtained in advance. The two primary target birds are Hume's Pheasant and Giant Nuthatch. The best way to see these species is to arrive at the Doi Ya Kat sub-station on Doi Chiang Dao by firest light. Getting there is about 1½ hours drive from Chiang Dao. A high-clearance, preferably 4-wheel-drive vehicle is necessary. Finding the site is not straight-forward so a guide who knows the road is called for. Birding can be very good around the DYK campsite, especially in early morning. Notable birds in the surrounding scrub and trees include Stripe-breasted Woodpecker, Bay Woodpecker, Large Cuckooshrike, Blyth's Shrike-Babbler, Chinese Leaf-Warbler, Davison's Leaf-Warbler, Black-throated Prinia, Hill Prinia, Chestnut-flanked White-eye, Oriental White-eye, Japanese White-eye, and Spot-winged Grosbeak. Possibilities in the more open habitat include Mountain Bamboo-Partridge, Slaty-headed Parakeet, and Pale-footed Bush Warbler. The trail to the summit and the main track between the campsite down to the upper checkpoint go through good forest and are often productive.
The other road up the mountain begins near the park headquarters and also requires a permit. This road climbs steeply through mixed evergreen, oak-pine, and pine forests to an altitude of about 1200m. Parking areas are limited so birding is best done on foot. Some good birds can be found. Possibilities include Green-legged Partridge, Fork-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo, and Yellow-vented Flowerpecker along with a variety of barbets, leafbirds, and sunbirds. It's one the few places to find Oriental Pied-Hornbill in the north. At higher elevation Long-tailed Minivet, Blyth's Shrike-Babbler, and Orange-bellied Leafbird are common.
Other good birding locales are the open area between Malee's and Wat Tamphaplong, the nature trail starting just after the entrance to the headquarters, which is not well marked, the temple grounds at Wat Tamphaplong, and the Gully Trail that follows a water pipe ¾ of the way up the steps to the temple. This latter trail has thick understory and is good for skulkers such as Rusty-naped Pitta, Hooded Pitta, Siberian Blue Robin, Slaty-backed Forktail, White-crowned Forktail, Streaked Wren-Babbler, and Eyebrowed Wren-Babbler during dry season. Due to the thick vegetation at this latter site, the best strategy is generally to find an open spot and wait for birds to appear.
LOCATION OF SITE
Doi Chiang Dao is located 80km north of Chiang Mai, about an hour's drive along Highway 107. Reaching the higher elevation birding habitat at Den Ya Kat is tricky as it's accessed via a maze of unmarked dirt roads. Also, a permit is required, obtainable from the park headquarters near Malee's.