Sunday, June 27, 2010

Evergreen Jewels (1)

During this time of year, a large number of moths gathers together by the light from the 2nd checkpoint of Doi Inthanon National Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Electric light at the checkpoint is lit all through the night and in the morning, everywhere is filled with strange and interesting species of moths. This results in the abundance of small forest birds that come to pick up these easy foods. Every year, the checkpoint attracts lots of birders and bird photographers who come to see these beautiful jewels of the montane evergreen forest.
The brightly coloured male Yellow-cheeked Tit (Parus spilonotus) is one of the major stars of the checkpoint. Its bright yellow feathers sharply contrasted with black patterns along with the prominent crest can always impress any birders who see this beautiful little member of the tits family. The male bird has glossy black line starts from its chin down to the centre of its belly.

Here is the female. Note its duller yellow underparts with no glossy black line.

The Rufous-backed Sibia (Heterophasia annectans) is a member of the very large babbler family. Along with its common relative, the Dark-backed Sibia, it can be found regularly at the checkpoint during rainy season. It also has an impressive courtship display which male bird fans its wings and tail and puffs up its bright rufous back feathers to attract the female.

Another family of bird which can be found regularly at the checkpoint is the minivet. The most commonly seen species is the brightly coloured Grey-chinned Minivet (Pericrocotus solaris), which the male bird has a fiery orange plumage contrasting with grey head and upperparts, while the female bird has the orange colouration replaced by yellow.

Not only flycatchers, babblers and tits that usually come to the checkpoint, the Chestnut-vented Nuthatch (Sitta nagaensis) is also another regular visitor. Sometimes it can be so tame and comes down to the road to catch some dead insects. Because there are plenty of insects, mose birds become very tame and do not care much about the birders.

Grey-cheeked Fulvetta

Rufous-winged Fulvetta

As I have said that the babbler family is a very large and diversed group of bird, the main subfamilies of babblers that can be found here at the checkpoint includes the typical babblers, wren-babblers, scimitar-babblers, fulvettas, laughingthrushes, barwings and mesia. Most of them are normally skulking and very difficult to see in the open, but they mostly become much more approachable when there are lots of food like this.

The checkpoint is a good birding place even at night! The Brown Wood Owl (Strix leptogrammica) is a large forest owl which inhibits only in good evergreen forest. The checkpoint is the most well known place to look for this rarity. It often comes out to catch the horned beetles at night and can be found regularly just around the checkpoint.

Lastly, I'd like to end this entry with the super beautiful and truly a jewel of the montane evergreen forest, the Silver-eared Mesia (Leiothrix argentauris). It is arguably the most attractive star of the checkpoint. Normally, it is a very skulking bird that tends to hide in thick bushes but during rainy season at the checkpoint, it can regularly be seen in the open looking for food. It is also a close relative to the common and beautiful Red-billed Leiothrix which you all have seen quite often from my ealier posts. Next entry I will post more photos of birds at Doi Inthanon National Park.


Stu said...

Great pictures.

I've been to Thailand twice but only did a little birding, it was a long time ago and way before DSLRs had been invented.

I'm sorry to say I never made it up to north Thailand, just Bangkok and the islands of the south.

Ryou said...

Such colourful birds. It's truly thrilling to watch a birdwave filled with such gems having a good feast. Of course, the cameras would have a great feast, too!

Chris said...

Wow no wonder people make the trip to this place. These are fantastic colorful birds!!! One day I'll have to visit Asia to get more species on my bird list ;-)

Russell said...

Wow! What a birder's heaven. Your photos are superb and what a collection. Wonderful.

meyerprints said...

Unravel said...

Thanks a lot everyone for all your kind compliments!
Stu and Chris> Next time you should try a trip over there.