Thailand: January 2022

Limosa’s new Thailand itinerary is a superb introduction to the amazing avifauna of many of the best birding sites from Central and Northern Thailand. This is a region blessed with an exceptionally rich and diverse birdlife and our January visit is timed to coincide with when good numbers of wintering Siberian passerines are also present, along with some of the most exciting wader watching in all of Asia.

From the capital Bangkok, we head to the tidal mudflats, mangroves and saltpans overlooking the Gulf of Thailand. There is an impressive array of sought-after shorebirds, but none is more desirable than the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper and we plan to visit an area which is regarded as one of the best places for this charismatic species. The highly endangered Nordmann’s Greenshank also occurs in winter and other waders could include Asian Dowitcher, Great Knot, Red-necked and Long-toed Stints, Malaysian Plover and the ‘taxonomically challenged’ White-faced Plover.

 

Leaving the coastal lowlands behind, we then visit the luxuriant tropical forests of Khao Yai, Thailand’s oldest and best-known national park. We plan to spend three nights here, staying at a pleasant hotel right on the edge of the reserve. The birding is brilliant, and we should encounter many thrilling forest birds.

 

Hornbills, barbets and woodpeckers are well represented and Red Junglefowl ‘crow’ at dawn and Thailand’s national bird, the shy Siamese Fireback, is also to be found at daybreak. Ghostly male Silver Pheasants sweep across the forest floor while, at dusk, we will listen for the whistles of the Great Eared Nightjar. If we are lucky, the superb Blue Pitta, a scarce and tricky forest dweller, can sometimes be found.

The reserve is also a haven for mammals and Asian Elephant, Sambar and Black Giant Squirrel occur and the wild wailing ‘songs’ of White-handed Gibbons greet the forest at dawn.

 

Returning to Bangkok, we then fly to the North and drive a short distance into the ‘Golden Triangle’, where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos meet. Here, a mosaic of wetland habitats is a terrific spot to look for resident and migratory species. Ferruginous Duck and Lesser Whistling Ducks often overwinter, along with Grey-headed Swamphen, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Grey-headed Lapwing, Thick-billed Warbler and Siberian Rubythroat. We also plan to visit a mixed roost of Eastern Marsh and handsome Pied Harriers which can sometimes hold up to 200 birds.

 

Sitting amidst a scenic mountainous region on the border with Myanmar, the forested peaks of Doi Lang and Doi Ang Khang are clad in upland oak and pine forests that hold many more localised specialities. We plan to look for the elusive Mrs Hume’s Pheasant and rare Giant Nuthatch, Blyth’s Shrike-babbler, Maroon Oriole, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-babbler, Whiskered Yuhina, Crested Finchbill, Spot-breasted Parrotbill and Ultramarine Flycatcher amongst a mouth-watering list of possibilities.

 

Moving on to Chiang Mai, the provincial capital of Northern Thailand, we will make a special excursion to look for the declining Green Peafowl, before devoting the remainder of our trip to birding on the forested slopes of Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest mountain (2,565m/8,415ft).

 

Once again, the list of possibilities is impressive and includes many specialities. The upper slopes are home to Bar-throated Minla, Ashy-throated Warbler and jewel-like Green-tailed and Mrs Gould’s Sunbirds, while lower down, we may encounter White-rumped Falcon, White-bellied Woodpecker and Slaty-backed Forktail. There are other seldom seen species to keep an eye open for too, such as Rufous-throated Partridge, Green Cochoa and Dark-sided Thrush and we hope to also encounter wintering Palearctic and Siberian passerines such as Radde’s, Dusky and Yellow-browed Warblers, Brown Shrike, Eyebrowed and Chestnut Thrushes and Olive-backed Pipit.

 

Thailand’s tropical climate is at its best when we visit, while accommodations and the delicious local cuisine are good throughout and Limosa leader Colin Bushell is highly experienced in guiding in this region.

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