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DOI LANG / DOI PHA HOM POK NATIONAL PARK

THAILAND (NW)

CHIANG MAI PROVINCE (Fang District) (Fang)

20o00’31’’N 99o05’49’’E (Western entrance) 52,400 hectares, 733 to 2,285 m (Doi Pha Pok) lower montane Dipterocarp rainforest and scrub to high montane pine evergreen forest

December to February (our visit late February)

 

Birding Site Guide

The 2,096 m peak of Doi Lang (20o07’55’’N 99o09’30’’E) is at the N edge of the Doi Pha Pok National Park on the Burmese border. Doi Pha Pok is the second highest peak in Thailand. The road to Doi Lang summit skirts the disputed border with Burma.

This is an excellent birding site, the best forest site we did, mainly because the feeding areas made seeing difficult species ridiculously easy, even though feeding the birds can get you thrown out of the park (it says on the English signs). It seems the small roadside stakeouts are ok to feed, they just don’t want people feeding indiscriminately to try to photograph and possibly disturbing breeding birds. March time can be very bad due to the hill tribes who set fires at this time of year, even in the protected area, and the smoke can block out the sky.

DIRECTIONS

We had some slight problems finding the place as we had no guide and were driving our own hire car and since besides the name we knew virtually nothing about the place and only got to know how good it was from a Brit birder at Doi Inthanon, where we were becoming increasingly frustrated trying to avoid crowds and find birds (being late in dry season many birds had already moved further North). This birder dropped off some gen at our digs next morning when we were out and our itinerary was changed and we left that afternoon. We had also emailed Dave Sargeant who kindly emailed back with directions to a hotel in Fang (nearest town). There is supposed to be camping in Doi Lang for the public with some facilities, but all we found was a small grass area down a lane near a pond which a sign said was a camp site. There is a well-equipped campsite high (2000 m) on Dio Pha Pok called Kiu Lom on the road up from the hot springs.

WHERE TO STAY

Generally directions are given to Fang, where the main road 107 is met by the 109. To get there head N of Chiang Mai on the 107 past Chiang Dao to Fang. We failed to find the hotel mentioned by Dave but were directed by a local to a brand new small resort which turned out to be excellent on Fang’s W outskirts. It was called the B.K. Resort and to reach it take first turning left (W) before the 7/11, (if you pass the garage you have gone too far) follow the small road past a tight S bend out to the last of the houses (past sign saying ‘Fang Rural Development’) and to an obvious right turn, take this and the B.K. Resort is immediately on your right (about 3 km from main road in all). There are possibly 8 separate chalets of very high standard. We were the first to stay there, there is no restaurant or food but you can get beer from reception. Each room has air conditioning, en suite, free Wi-Fi, a large tv and fridge and double beds and at only 390 a night. We saw few other places to stay, but there were larger hotels near the bypass turn off.

We struggled to find anywhere decent to eat (there were many road side stalls and small cafes however), along the road to and into San Sai, but The Village restaurant on the left just before Tesco Lotus was ok.

To get to Doi Lang continue N of Fang on the 107 for 4.3 km and turn left taking the bypass just S of San Sai going W curving N and after 2.4 km you come to the only set of traffic lights and here turn left. Head on this country road NW for 16.3 km, do not turn off to the hot springs (the hot springs and Doi Pha Pok are on Route No. 4054 about 8 km SE. 4x4 is needed to go up Doi Pha Pok), and where it forks go right for a few km over the large Mae Mao River bridge to the entrance check point where you pay a small entry fee. Ban Lan Reservoir is visible to the S. The road skirts to the E of the N-S ridge for about 4 km before it climbs steeply on tight twisting bends out of the cultivated areas and follows the ridge N. The road is paved and good but our little Nissan was down to walking pace with us 3 in on some steep sections. The ridge climbs from about 1,400 m to 1,600 m and heads N for a further 10 km, here there is a second army checkpoint (and Shan village) after which the road heads NE down into a dip with a repaired section of road then up along the escarpment border to the summit checkpoint, which is another 12 km. Midway from turning E along the border after the dip and after a steep climb up the escarpment, you turn a bend and come to a sign. This is the San Ju Viewpoint looking into Burma (you may technically be stood in Burma here!). It is possible to do a similar distance down the E side to the 1314 road (then the 1089 which becomes the 107 further S) to Mai Ai and Thaton, but we did not do this as we were advised the road from this end was not so good and maybe a 4x4 was required and a machete for overhanging vegetation.

BIRDING AREAS WEST SIDE. Once out of the lower larger cultivated areas and on the ridge birding anywhere along the road is good. After the second army barrier checkpoint just before the border and opposite the Shan village (on left) there is a track on the right which descends slightly to a dead-end at a small pool and cut grass area which is the camping area. The birding along this track can be good we saw Buff-throated Warbler in the grass and scrub and some Silver-eared Mesia. We also saw 2 Phayre's Leaf Monkeys cross the path in front of us. Back on the road early morning keep a look out for Mountain Bamboo-Partridge and pheasants. Then further along the road is a grass area good for buntings and pipits and keep looking for Crested Finchbill and various bulbuls. The best bird we had in this area though was just after the barrier about 200m on in a small tree on the left out in the open by the side of the road about 2 m up in full daylight, a Hodgson's Frogmouth was sleepily watching us! The guards showed us this but they are quite reluctant to show this bird to birders after the disturbance caused to a nesting pair by photographers last year. We were lucky as some Thai birders were told and they told us, and maybe as we were the last vehicle out that evening and no one else was around he said ok. Driving further on along the road the pine forest is more evident and this is the place for Giant Nuthatch, which we missed. A tape is apparently useful for this species. As the road straightens out and about 200 m before San Ju Viewpoint there are a couple of small understory feeding areas in the bamboo, often with a rock or log to place mealworms. These are great places to see difficult species such as Golden Bush-Robin and others. There was no food there and we did not manage to find anywhere selling any before coming (apparently the aquarium shops sell mealworms) so apart from the robin we saw only common species. Further on towards the summit barrier checkpoint however a Brit birder was feeding and here is where we saw the rest of the spectacular forest skulking species. In the forest about here look for Whiskered Yuhina, flycatchers, shrike-babblers and other high altitude forest species.

About 400 m before the barrier at the top (the top is not very obvious) with its guard shed and on the right are the hollow areas under the bushes again right at the side of the road and with a few large rocks or a log for feeding. Here we saw stunningly close Chestnut-headed Tesia, Scarlet-faced Liocichla, White-gorgeted Flycatcher, Red-flanked Bluetail, Himalayan Bluetail, Little Pied Flycatcher, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, Black-backed Sibia, Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush and others. Something we didn’t realise the first day was that the guards at the army shack next to the top barrier feed the Rufous-throated Partridge each morning and evening, so next evening we stayed and waited until about 30 minutes before sunset when they came up the ridge from behind the hut to feed on the grain the guard had scattered. He had pointed for us to stand back across the road as the birds are by no means tame and extremely wary. However it was well worth the long wait. You can drive or walk beyond the barrier no problem (there is a small pond on the left) but the road is deceptively steep and soon starts to get rougher and it is very difficult to find anywhere to turn around (without 4x4). Our small engine Nissan could not cope and all but the driver had to get out and walk in the boiling midday heat, and even though it was only about 2 km back to the barrier it was very steep and tiring. EAST SIDE. For reasons stated above we did not bird this side at all except for a little near the summit. However other birders with 4x4 and guide have had good results and Nick Upton’s website gives a full description of what can be found there.

BIRDS

Doi Lang Bird Checklist

Also see Dave Sargeant’s website North Thailand Birding Main species we saw (not all we saw is listed)

 

Some of these species were seen in the rural area around Fang. Brown Shrike, Burmese Shrike, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Gray Bushchat, Asian Pied Starling, Nutmeg Mannikin. We did not visit the peak of Doi Pha Pok, but it is supposed to hold Purple Cochoa, as well as Blue Peacock, Brown-breasted Bulbul, Grey-winged Blackbirds and Chestnut Thrush.

 

MAMMALS

Includes Phayre's Leaf Monkeys.

REPTILES

? species of reptiles have been recorded.

AMPHIBIANS

? species of amphibians have been recorded.

FISHES

INVERTEBRATES

Rarer butterflies include Brown Gorgon Meandrusa sciron, Imperial ButterflyEooxylides tharis, Kaiser-i-Hind Teinopalpus imperialis and Bhutan GloryBhutanitis lidderdalii.

PLANTS

Dominant tree species include Hopea odorata. Rarer is Impatiens jurpioides.Useful Addresses

Pha Hom Pok National Park 224, Mu 6, Phong Nam Ron Sub-district, Fang District, Chiang Mai Province, 50110 Contact number: 08 6430 9748 , 0 5345 3517-8 Fax: 0 5345 3517

 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Author: BSG

 

www.birdingsiteguide.com