Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Huay Tueng Tao, Chiang Mai

I am in the unusual position of writing this almost a week after the event! Quite simply, I refuse to pay 80 baht for 30 minutes wifi or 600 baht for the day and other such nonsense when most places these days are providing it as part of the room charge. No matter that I was in Chiang Mai, Thailand's second city; or in a large hotel. Not a connectivity issue, simply one of cost. In the midst of this we went to Chiang Dao for one night and were without internet there due to a technical fault. Plus my images are on my laptop and it's bothersome copying them onto a data stick and then going into an internet café and using an unfamiliar Windows desktop! It was actually very good for me to have a break from the internet.

An early start 06:30h on Wednesday 2nd May 2012 at Huay Tueng Tao, to the north of Chiang Mai......a recreation area consisting of a lake with a road running round it and a variety of different habitats, including a forested west side which marks the start of the Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. I had been here before but this time I was meeting up with Dave Sargeant. What a difference it makes meeting up with someone who not only knows the area well but also has real birding expertise.

It got hot very quickly. Dave had forewarned that it had been very hot in the north, with daytime highs of 40℃ +; what hadn't registered with me was that night time temperatures had also remained unusually high, rarely dropping below 30℃. Scorchio!

While waiting for Dave Sargeant I picked up the distinctive call of Chinese Francolin. After Dave arrived we headed for the western side in the hope of  ticking off Wire-tailed Swallow which is usually here but sadly not for us today. We had a nice circular walk through the forest and saw a good range of regular birds however including : Lesser Coucal, Black-collared Starling ( a much more common bird in the north than in central and southern parts), Barred Buttonquail, Red-whiskered Bulbul ( nice to see it in the wild and not in a cage), Lineated Barbet, Shikra and Racket-tailed Treepie. I was pleased also to see Eurasian Jay and I even managed lifer ⌗335 in White-crested Laughingthrush, according to Dave a fairly common bird in these parts.

Once again I have decided to tidy up my list as we also saw Lesser-necklaced Laughing Thrush. My list includes this species from a trip to Chaloerm Prakhiat National Park in Ratchaburi in 2010. Dave reckons this is a much more difficult bird to see in central and southern parts, plus it is not even that common in the north. On this basis I have to accept my original record may have been wrong and may have been a Greater Necklaced Laughing Thrush. So Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush becomes lifer ⌗242.

On our way back to our cars we had great views of an Asian-barred Owlet but it didn't hang around for a photograph. In fact no photographs at all today.

So by 09:45h we were done with birding which was just as well as it was vert hot. Dave very kindly took me to a hard ware shop where I was able to buy a "butterfly" screw; this will enable me to dispense with the screw and screwdriver for attaching my camera to the scope. I had lost the one that came with the Kowa adaptor. This looks as if it will work a treat and at 7 baht a piece I bought 10 - cheaper than 30 minutes wifi in my hotel!

Huay Tueng Tao is a great area and would be make a nice day out especially in the winter when there will be significant numbers of migrants. Additionally there are restaurants and shaded areas so non-birders might enjoy visiting the site too.

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