Grey-headed Parakeet (Psittacula finschii)

The Grey-headed parakeet (Psittacula finschii) is closely related to the Slaty-headed Parakeet (which I saw in Nepal a few years ago) which together form a super-species.  I briefly saw a small flock fly overhead as we turned down the road to Thung Kik in Mae Ping NP but they disappeared before I could get a shot.  This species seems to be very difficult to get a photo of in the wild, not even Wikipedia has one, they just have a drawing of one!

ghpwikiThey do have a fairly large range and Mae Ping is considered the easiest place to see them (blue dot).  While you are likely to see them, expect it to be a swift fly-by!

ghpmapLEARN MORE ABOUT GREY-HEADED PARAKEETS

Wikipedia

World Parrot Trust

Birdlife

Xeno-canto

Oriental Bird Club (only photography source of these birds in the wild I could find)

VIDEO

This is a pretty decent video of one eating even though he is partially obscured by leaves!  It seems everyone has trouble trying to photo/video this bird!

 

Black-headed Woodpecker (Picus erythropygius)

The Black-headed Woodpecker (Picus erythropygius) is a species of bird in the Picidae family.  This was as close as I could get when we were in Mae Ping.  There are much better shots on the links below.

IMG_0249 IMG_0251 IMG_0252 IMG_0257They are found in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.  Thailand is by far the easiest place to visit logistically and Mae Ping NP (blue dot) has a good population.

Woody rangeLEARN MORE ABOUT THIS BIRD

Wikipedia

Birdlife

Xeno-canto

VIDEOS

Some nice close-ups to make up for my shots being so far away!

 

 

 

Lodge Review: Thung Kik Camp & Hostel, Mae Ping

When I was researching this trip and where to stay in Mae Ping, I found mention of Forest Cabins but nothing about the camp & hostel at Thung Kik.

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I had no idea there was a hostel until I saw this sign.

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Thung Kik has a few facilities such as picnic huts, a small visitor centre and a few multi-bedded rooms that can accommodate large groups or individual travellers.

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We had a room in this bungalow that had 2 twin-share rooms and one 4 bed family room.  We were the only ones staying here for this one night.  A group showed up later, looked like Thai university students who took a large dorm on the other side of the grounds.

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Our room, small, cozy and very hot and humid!  No wifi so ignore the tablet.  They do have power so I could watch pre-loaded movies or read e-books.

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There are quite a few deer here, there’s a road just beyond the visitor centre that quickly becomes a dodgy dirt road so we turned back as I didn’t want to damage the car.

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Rabbits near our bungalow.  Coincidentally, we were here the day after Easter!

IMG_0284 IMG_0285 IMG_0286 IMG_0293 IMG_0300 IMG_0301 IMG_0303My husband trying to chat with the caretaker who didn’t speak much English!  The room was really cheap, def less than $10, cash only, no credit cards!

Visiting Mae Ping National Park

In direct contrast to the extremely popular Doi Inthanon NP, Mae Ping is well off the beaten track.  I was drawn here to see Grey-headed Parakeets and there are a few other bird species that attract birders.  After spending 2 mornings and one evening we saw very few people there and most were Thais in their own cars.  There was one group there, hence the Forest Cabins were fully booked when I inquired a few months in advance.  This is why we spent the first night in Baan Pailyn in Li.  The second night we left open and found a room at the hostel/camp in Thung Kik which I will review separately.

Here’s the entrance where you drive in and pay the 100 Baht entry fee.

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Visitor’s Centre (which was closed when we entered at 6am).  You may be able to book a Forest Cabin if they are available here.

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Snack bar ( I didn’t know this was here or I wouldn’t have bought so much food to bring in)

IMG_0311 IMG_0315Turn off to Thung Kik, it was shortly after we turned down this road that I saw a small flock of Grey-headed Parakeets fly swiftly overhead and disappear into the bush.  We couldn’t find them after that.

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There is just this one road so you basically drive up and down this road looking for birds or pull into a designated parking bay if you want to walk.

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White-bellied Woodpecker

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Greater Racket-tailed Drongo

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Here you can see how the tall trees close in above the road making visibility very difficult.  You will hear a lot more birds than you can see, let alone photograph.  I did the best I could with those that were perched near the road!

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Black-headed Woodpecker – one of the most sought-after birds for this park.

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Greater Racquet-tailed Drongo trying to hide.

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I can’t find this bird in my bird book, if anyone can identify him, please comment below!

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Motel Review: Baan Pailyn, Li, Lamphum (Near Mae Ping)

I wasn’t sure of when we would arrive in Mae Ping and the forest bungalows were all booked up so we decided to leave it to luck and find something when we got there.  We were in luck!  This fairly new motel isn’t listed in Trip Advisor but we spotted it when we were driving around town.  Rooms were very cheap around 800 Baht-ish.

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The rooms were spotless and had balconies overlooking the fields.

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Be aware that the restaurant next door closes very early.  We were caught out and missed dinner so had to go back to town and find something.  We ended up with sandwiches from 7-11.  Li rolls up the sidewalks at 6pm.

Like most places in Thailand, the Baan Pailyn has a nice spirit house in front.  They have a security guard at night and our car was safe.  We left really early so we were told by reception to give the key to the guard.  Although it’s much better for birders to stay in the park, this small motel is a reasonable overnight if you can’t get to the park on time.

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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More of the market.

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Beautiful temple on the road towards Mae Ping.

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Entrance to Mae Ping.

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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!

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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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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

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Boardwalk behind the visitor centre

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Dark-backed Sibia

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Blue Whistlingthrush

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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!

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

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Local transport

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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!

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

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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.

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