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Central and North 2002

Birdfinders tour of Thailand in 2002 was an amazing success, recording some 351 species including many regional specialities thanks to the expert skills of the top local leader Kamol Kamolphalin. Our first four days at the beautiful Khao Yai National Park had so many highlights that it would be difficult to pick just a few but I'll try! Red-breasted Parakeet, Green-billed Malkoha, Orange-breasted and Red-headed Trogons, Oriental Pied-hornbill, Great and Wreathed Hornbills, Lineated and Moustached Barbets, Banded Broadbill, Blue Pitta, Japanese Thrush, Slaty-backed Forktail, White-crested and Black-throated Laughingthrush, White-browed Scimitar-babbler, Olive-backed, Black-throated and Crimson Sunbirds and Green Magpie complemented the wonderful scenery during the day and in the evenings Great Eared-nightjar and Large-tailed Nightjars vied with porcupines for attention!

An internal flight to Chiang Mai in the north provided a complete contrast at Doi Inthanon where it was positively cold at dawn! But it was worth it, with White-rumped Falcon, Black-tailed Crake, Grey-capped and White-bellied Woodpeckers, Dusky Broadbill, Rosy Minivet, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Chestnut-bellied Rock-thrush, White-browed Shortwing, Slaty-bellied Tesia, Small and Rufous-bellied Niltavas, Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush, Pygmy Wren-babbler, Golden and Grey-throated Babblers, Chestnut-fronted Shrike-babbler, Spectacled Barwing, Blue-winged and Chestnut-tailed Minlas, Chestnut-bellied and Chestnut-vented Nuthatches, Red-flanked Bluetail, Hume's Treecreeper, Green-tailed and Black-tailed Sunbirds all being seen. In the lowlands we found Rufous-winged Buzzard, Grey-headed Lapwing and Plain-backed Sparrow before taking a four-wheel drive to Doi Chiang Dao where we searched for Giant Nuthatch. We were extremely successful with five birds seen, along with Wedge-tailed Green-pigeon, Blue-throated Barbet, Speckled Piculet, Stripe-breasted Woodpecker, Greater Yellownape, Yellow-streaked Warbler, Sapphire Flycatcher, White-crowned Forktail and Rufous-fronted Babbler.

En-route to our last base in the north at Doi Ang Khang we found a flock of Crested and Chestnut Buntings. Here, close to the Burmese border, highlights included Mountain Bamboo-partridge, a Speckled Wood-pigeon, which took refuge from a Peregrine in a bush next to us, a Great Barbet half a mile below us, amazingly spotted by one of the group, Bianchi's Warbler, White-browed Laughingthrush, Red-faced Liocichla, Red-billed Scimitar-babbler, Silver-eared Mesia, lots of Striated Yuhinas and stunning Red-gorgeted Flycatchers. All too soon it was time to head back to Chiang Mai airport for the flight back south to Bangkok but we did find time en-route to see a Collared Falconet, several Green Peafowl and Blue Magpie.

Bangkok was a bit of a culture shock after spending all that time in the beautiful forests and hills but our last full day was to give us the highlight bird for many: a Spoon-billed Sandpiper in amongst the hoards of Red-necked and Long-toed Stints and Lesser Sand-plovers at the saltpans south of the capital. Other new birds seen here included Javan Pond-heron, Slaty-breasted Rail, Ruddy-breasted Crake, Collared Kingfisher and Mangrove Whistler. Before flying home, we had just enough time to visit a couple of local sites adding Cinnamon Bittern, Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler, White-shouldered Starling, Black-headed Munia and Java Sparrow.

Red-bearded Bee-eater

Red-bearded Bee-eater