Doi Inthanon National Park

Doi Inthanon National Park: February 21-25, 2015

I’m dedicating an entire blog post to another one of our favorite of Thailand’s national parks—Doi Inthanon! We spent a total of 4 days in Doi Inthanon National Park and very much enjoyed the various habitats, elevations, and birds the park has to offer.  

On the first day we stayed in the lower elevation and gallivanted around easily the most beautiful waterfalls I’ve ever seen.

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The sights themselves were amazing, but technically we were visiting all of these waterfalls to see the birds that call these areas home. Such as:

Slaty-backed Forktail

Slaty-backed Forktail

White-capped Water Redstart

White-capped Water Redstart

Plumbeous Redstart

Plumbeous Redstart

(For any birders out there, Black-backed Forktail was also seen but too shy to have his picture taken.)

It didn’t take too long to see these water specialists so that afternoon we headed up the mountain to hike some trails in a different elevation.

It would be hard to list everything we did and saw in just those 4 days but here are some highlights (in no particular order):

  • Visiting the highest point in Thailand, a sphagnum bog forest covered in moss straight out of a J.R. Tolkein book. The Ang Ka trail was extra serene being a boardwalk elevated over the forest floor. Here we saw species such as Green-tailed Sunbird, Snowy-browed Flycatcher, Rufous-throated Partridge, Pygmy Cupwing, White-browed Shortwing, and Ashy Woodpigeon. Oh, and more Phylloscopus Warblers (a group of little nondescript birds that all look the same) than you could shake a stick at.
  • Hiking the “Kilometer 37.5 trail” AKA the “Jeep Trail” which is a funny name nowadays because the trail is so overgrown in spots there’s no way a jeep could go down. We saw numerous skulking and hard to find species such as Slaty-bellied Tesia, Eyebrowed Wren Babbler, and Small Niltava. Also near this spot we heard the hard-to-find Green Cochoa.
  • Hiking the “Kilometer 34.5 Trail.” This trail takes the cake for being the most productive location for us. Bird highlights from this area include Vivid Niltava, Little Pied Flycatcher, Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, White-Browed and Speckled Piculet, Mountain Tailorbird, and finding Hume’s Treecreeper AND Gray-throated Babbler nests.
  • Fresh Strawberries on the side of the road. So good! Can you imagine a box of strawberries where every single one is as delicious as the last and look REAL?! We only bought 3 boxes while we were there but in hindsight we should have bought a few more for the road because they were THAT good.
  • Visiting the Chedis, two sacred Thai tombs built on the mountain. Our main reason for going was so we could get two new life-birds, Buff-throated Warbler and Buff-barred Warbler. We went at sunrise to beat the crowds and had the surrounding garden to ourselves and the birds were easy to find behind the left temple. The views overlooking the mountain were even more spectacular! While at the top we also saw 3 Goral, an uncommon high-altitude goat.
  • Mr Daeng’s little restaurant. We ate at Mr Daeng’s shop for every meal because he is the go-to guy for birdwatchers staying at Doi Inthanon. Mr Daeng provided good, cheap food, WiFi, and even a free hot shower for me despite us not staying at his B&B!  In addition to all of that he has a small feeding station that occasionally turns up a Lesser Shortwing, a bird Ross needed for his “list.” After eating there for 4 straight days, just as we were leaving his shop on our last day, we saw the Lesser Shortwing!
  • Our last morning in the park we only had a few target birds in mind, namely the Long-tailed Broadbill and White-headed Bulbul. We headed up the back entrance road where the White-headed Bulbul was seen the day before. Ironically while we were looking for the bulbul, Ross heard Long-tailed Broadbill off in the distance, and with some luck we had 3 come perch in a nearby tree, saving us a trip to the spot we heard them the day before. We then spent at least a half hour scanning distant flowering trees hoping the bulbul would make an appearance. Just as we were about to give up and turned to leave, we noticed the White-headed Bulbul was sitting in the tree right behind us for who knows how long.

According to trip reports online, Northern Thailand is the best birding in the country with the opportunity to see the largest variety of bird species within the smallest area and Doi Inthanon National Park being the #1 place to visit. After visiting Doi Inthanon we can both safely say that the park lived up to its reputation.  Ross came into the park after just hitting 500 species in Thailand and was able to pick up close to 30 more (which is pretty good this late in the game!)

Green-tailed Sunbird

Green-tailed Sunbird

Pygmy Cupwing

Pygmy Cupwing

Rufous-throated Partridge

Rufous-throated Partridge

View of the Chedi on the right from the garden at the left Chedi. (Apologies for not actually knowing the names!)

View of the Chedi on the right from the garden at the left Chedi. (Apologies for not actually knowing the names!)

Overlooking the mountainside at sunrise. This is the location of the Buff-barred and Buff-throated Warblers.

Overlooking the mountainside at sunrise. This is the location of the Buff-barred and Buff-throated Warblers.

Wild Goral

Wild Goral

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Long-tailed Broadbill

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White-headed Bulbul

Thankfully both the headquarters and our favorite eating spot, Mr Daeng’s had WiFi because while we were staying at Doi Inthanon, we BOUGHT A HOUSE! So thankful for an accommodating realtor that will Skype-show us houses and modern day technology allowing us to sign the paperwork from afar! See you soon, Charlottesville, VA!