Thailand Birding: Doi Inthanon Summit


Chestnut-tailed Minla at summit of Doi Inthanon
(Photo by Nick Upton)

The summit of Doi Inthanon is one of my favourite birding spots in the world. There are a number of species which are specialities of the summit and most of them are fairly easy to see and can even be found in the worst of weather conditions – they are vitually guaranteed. The above photo was taken next to the coffee/hot chocolate hut next to the summit toilets. The people at the coffee stand put out bananas and the birds come to eat them, only a few feet away from where people are standing.

I was on the summit of Doi Inthanon in mid July with Robert King and the weather was terrible; strong winds, rain and cold. However, in two visits (both in the same conditions) we managed to see the following species:

Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush
Chestnut-tailed Minla
Yellow-bellied Fantail
Ashy Woodpigeon
Ashy-throated Warbler
Davison’s Leaf Warbler
Green-tailed Sunbird
Snowy-browed Flycatcher
Pygmy Wren Babbler
White-browed Shortwing
Dark-backed Sibia
Flavescent Bulbul
Blue Whistling Thrush
Rufous-winged Fulvetta
Yellow-cheeked Tit

We ended up at the summit of the mountain when the weather further down was too poor for birding – at the top it was just a little better and as it is higher up there is more chance of a break or the sun buring the cloud off for a while. Certainly on our second visit we had about 10 minutes where the sun almost broke through and we had time to see the Ashy Woodpigeons and Green-tailed Sunbirds were encouraged enough to come out and feed on flowers in the garden at the top.

One thing about being at the summit of Doi Inthanon in the rain is that the elfin forest looks amazingly lush and the plants are wonderful covered in raindrops.

A full report of the 14 day trip around Thailand in July 2009 can be read here: Rainy Season Birding Tour of Thailand, 1st-14th July 2009.

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