Greater & Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus & Dicrurus remifer)

Since these two species are so similar and are found in roughly the same area, I am going to combine the profiles of the Greater & Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus & Dicrurus remifer).  You can tell them apart by the size of the bird, the crest on the Greater RTD and the shape of the tails.  The Greater has a fork shaped tail and the Lesser’s tail is more of a wedge shape.

This is a Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo from Mae Ping NP in Thailand with the smooth head and wedge-shaped tail.

IMG_0236Here is a Greater Racket-tailed Drongo with the forked tail in Taiping.

IMG_1174Both birds have a large, varied range in South-east Asia with the Greater having a larger distribution including India than the Lesser.  I saw both birds in northern Thailand, in Doi Inthanon and Mae Ping, also in Taiping and Taman Negara in Malaysia.


Wikipedia – Greater

Wikipedia – Lesser

Birdlife – Greater

Birdlife – Lesser



A Gretaer RTD in India.

And another one singing.

See how his tail floats while in flight!


And here’s a Lesser from Singapore.

From Doi Inthanon To Li Village Near Mae Ping Via Backroads

One of the best things about renting a car is that you can explore as you wish.  Northern Thailand is so beautiful with interesting small villages that tourists don’t get to so we enjoyed a pleasant road trip as we left Doi Inthanon and headed towards Li Village for birding in Mae Ping.

This is what the route basically looks like with the offshoots to Doi Inthanon and Mae Ping in red.

Doi Inthanon-Mae PingChom Thong is a fairly large town but once you are through it, you won’t see any more towns until Li.


Roads are well marked usually in both Thai and English so just be sure of what town you are headed for or which highway/road you are looking for.  We were looking for 1103.

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Now you are on a pleasant smaller road with only the occasional truck to spoil the view, just pass them.

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Keep following signs to either Li or Mae Ping.


Once you are on 106 heading through Li, at the opposite end of the town is a very nice restaurant with nice views and various Thai dishes.  They will with-hold chilis on request.  The Baan Pailyn motel is next door.  It was getting a bit late to approach Mae Ping with nothing booked so we decided to stay there one night and go to the park first thing in the morning.

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There’s a small market in town good for fruit and snacks.  They do have other food options but everything looked too spicy for us.

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Li temple


We stopped at a small grocery store to stock up for the park.  We took a pass on these fresh chicken feet!


More of the market.

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Beautiful temple on the road towards Mae Ping.


Entrance to Mae Ping.


Birding The Chom Thong Countryside (Near Doi Inthanon)

The last morning of our visit to Doi Inthanon we made one last visit to the Blossom-headed Parakeet Conservation Area to see the parakeets in hopefully better light.  Then we just drove around looking for birds.  A Lesser Racquet-tailed Drongo swooped low in front of our car too quickly for a photo.  He disappeared into the trees and we hung around hoping he would come closer.

Here’s a few pics I snapped – nothing great but a good idea of what to expect from the countryside.  This is all private property – farms and such.

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Lunch At Mr Daeng’s Bird Centre, Doi Inthanon

Discovering Mr Daeng’s Bird Centre in Doi Inthanon was a pleasant surprise and I wish we had more time to spend here.  Mr Daeng is the local bird expert and has all kinds of photos and displays around his property just south of Km 34.5.  Check out his website for some amazing photos!

Mr. Deang’s birdcenter : a home for birdwatcher at Doi Inthanon

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They serve delicious Thai food here. While you are waiting, check out the photos!

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The Green Cochoa is high on every birder’s wish list but unfortunately we weren’t so lucky!

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The lodging is behind the restaurant.

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Mr Daeng can organize bird guiding but you do need cash.  As usual, I was plastic-rich and cash-poor but next time I would be better prepared as I am sure we would have seen a lot more with Mr Daeng as a guide!


After our late lunch, we left the park and stopped for a quick look at the temple.  I wanted to make a return visit to the Blossom-headed Parakeets.

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Bar-throated Minla or Chestnut-tailed Minla (Minla strigula)

The Bar-throated Minla or Chestnut-tailed Minla (Minla strigula), is a species of bird in the family Leiothrichidae. It has traditionally been placed in the genus Minla.

IMG_9958 IMG_9981 IMG_9979 IMG_9989They have a large range spanning most of South-east Asia.  I took the photos above at the Visitor’s Centre at the Summit of Doi Inthanon (blue dot) where they are very easily seen.




A Birder’s Blog


Here’s a nice close-up that shows how the bird moves about in a twitchy way.

A Day Trip To Doi Inthanon – The Summit

After leaving Km 34.5 we kept driving up the mountain past the temple to the summit which has a nice visitor’s centre.

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There’s a small museum with some educational displays of birds.  If you come here on a tour from Chiang Mai, you will be taken here.

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There’s a nice cafe with good coffee and a place to sit and watch birds visit the feeders.  Finally some close-up shots!

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There is a snack bar for cakes and drinks.

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Here is a souvenir shop with the usual postcards and tourist stuff. Beware of the hilltribe hairbands.  I bought a small pony-tail sized one and the colours ran on my shirt!

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Blue Whistlingthrush

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Elusive River Chat


Boardwalk behind the visitor centre

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Dark-backed Sibia


Blue Whistlingthrush


Chestnut-tailed Minla

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Across the road from the visitor centre is this nature trail, also on boardwalks.

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I have no idea what this means but it’s a cute little statue!


The highly sought-after and extremely fast Green-tailed Sunbird!

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Local transport


A Day Trip To Doi Inthanon – Km 34.5

Doi Inthanon is one of Thailand’s top national parks, has a good bird list and is easily reached from Chiang Mai so I highly recommend a visit here.  You can combine this park with the Blossom-headed Parakeet Conservation Area just outside.

There are some excellent maps here.

Get there early to be in position when the birds wake up and start foraging.  This makes the tourist day trips from Chiang Mai less attractive as you would get there too late.  We had a rental car from Hertz and the independence was great!


A Red-whiskered Bulbul welcomed us in as I paid the fee – 400 Baht each in cash only.


We drove up the mountain admiring the interesting statues along the road.

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We stopped at a picnic ground and ate the packed breakfast from the lodge.  Not many birds were around.

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We continued on and came to Mr Daeng’s Bird Centre which is well known amongst birders as a great place to learn about local birds.  They have a nice restaurant but since we had breakfast we just had some tea and decided to come back for lunch.  What I didn’t know before is that they also have lodging so you can start out earlier to the birding trails.  You can buy a small guidebook here to help identify the birds.  Bulbuls and Sparrows were everywhere.

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Our next stop was the trail at KM 34.5 which is well marked.  There is a place to park off road at the bottom, then you walk up the hill looking for birds. I didn’t too too well with photos so I recommend reading this page to see better photos as an idea of what birds are found here.

We saw several Grey-chinned Minivets as you can see in the photos below.  The males are red and females are yellow.

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Large Niltava

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Ashy Drongo. We also saw a Lesser Racquet-tailed Drongo but he got away before I could get a photo.

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Our car and parking area as seen walking back down the hill.


Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis)

The Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis) (sometimes little green bee-eater) is a near passerine bird in the bee-eater family. It is resident but prone to seasonal movements and is found widely distributed across sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal and the Gambia to Ethiopia, the Nile valley, western Arabia and Asia through India to Vietnam.  They are mainly insect eaters and they are found in grassland, thin scrub and forest often quite far from water. Several regional plumage variations are known and several subspecies have been named.

I took these photos just outside Doi Inthanon NP in the Blossom-headed Parakeet Conservation Area.  They are fairly common throughout Thailand.

IMG_9822 IMG_9820 IMG_9859 They actually have a huge range that spans Africa and Asia.  Details of recent sightings are on Xeno-canto.  The red dot in Thailand shows the location in which my photos were taken.






Lovely close-ups of Green Bee-eaters.


Lodge Review: Touch Star Resort Near Doi Inthanon

There are several independently run resorts just outside the Doi Inthanon NP and out of these I chose the Touch Star Resort because I found a good rate on  It has a great location right near the Blossom-Headed Parakeet Conservation Area and opposite the Inthanon Highland Resort.

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The grounds are beautiful and very birdy but unfortunately the Blossom-headed Parakeets don’t come this far from their roost.


Taxis can be organized for those who don’t have a car.  I highly recommend renting a car in Chiang Mai so you can be independent.


The bungalows are very cute and have nice views of the garden.

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The furniture has a Thai flavour and the AC is welcome with the heat.

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Verandah with a view.

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Staff are well used to birders and will pack you a breakfast box to take with you if you leave early in the morning.  Breakfast is included in the rate and you can also have it in the restaurant.


The nearest shopping is back on the main road, not walking distance so be prepared.

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These cute figurines were at the Inthanon Highland Resort next door.  I wish I knew where to buy them!

IMG_0188 IMG_0189 IMG_0190 IMG_0191Touch Star is a lovely resort and very reasonable priced.  The food is ok, a bit spicy for our taste even after asking them to tone it down.  We had dinner there the first night but brought sandwiches from outside the 2nd night.  They do have a Western breakfast option with fruit buffet.

Blossom-Headed Parakeet Conservation Area Near Doi Inthanon

The Blossom-Headed Parakeet Conservation Area is a few km before you reach the gate for Doi Inthanon.  If you pick up a car at Chiang Mai airport it will be about a 2 hour drive or a bit less.  You will see the turn-off on the right hand side of the road and it’s the same road that leads to TouchStar Resort and Inthanon Highland Resort.  There is a map on the Thai Birding site.


Turn down this road.

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We tried two different areas.  The road on the left as indicated by the sign leads to a couple farms but no one around to explain anything about the parakeets.  The Thai Birding map tells you to keep going down the road on the right as shown here.


Don’t turn left at the first shelter, it leads to a private home.

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This is the correct “shelter with corrugated iron roof”.  Drive past it a couple hundred metres and watch the trees on the left.

IMG_0046 IMG_0048 IMG_0049Find a place to park and keep your eyes out.  The parakeets started arriving around 4:30pm.  Unfortunately they perched fairly far from the road where you can park.  The land between the road and the trees is private property and I didn’t want to trespass on it.  So I used every bit of my 400mm lens for these shots!

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A few other birds can be found there too – mostly bulbuls, sparrows, swallows and doves.  There were a couple Bee-eaters just before entering the area.

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IMG_9873 IMG_9880After visiting Doi Inthanon NP, we went back the 2nd evening hoping for better views.  The birds were still far away but the light was somewhat better.

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We went back to the road that goes left to the “sanctuary” and still not a bird in sight.  It looks like someone is leaving food for them or that could just be a Spirit House offering but still no humans around to ask.

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And another beautiful sunset to end the 2nd day.

IMG_0123For some reason I can’t crop in the WordPress package so these are out of sequence but at least you can see the birds a bit better!  The females have a lavender head and only a hint of a ring.  The males have a brighter magenta “blossom” head and a clearly defined ring around their necks.

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