Monday, May 3, 2021

North of Thailand, March, 2021, part 3


Day 7. Chiang Dao


An early drive to Doi Chiang Dao and straight to a world renowned hot spot for butterflies. But first a stop at Malee’s Guesthouse for some homemade bread, jam and coffee.

At the checkpoint butterflies come down for minerals on the graveled parking area. The rangers are used to folks coming for the butterflies. There is a bit of traffic as the road continues to Muang Kong at the border of Myanmar, a popular area to visit for the locals. 

God forbid the parking area will ever get paved like so many other. 


Club beak

Common Windmill

Paris Peacock

Banded Treebrown

Common Jester

Black Prince

Blackvein Sergeant

Pallid Fivering

Indian Purple Emperor

Puddling blues

I spend a good 6 hours around the area and accumulated many new species.

I did keep my ears open as well:


Day 8. Doi Angkhang


A night at Fang for easy access to Doi Angkhang and Doi Lang. Phumanee Lahu Home Hotel was the hotel of choice. They have good food cooked a bit different from the normal cuisine and served in style. 

First stop Doi Angkhang. So weird to see this touristy place almost empty. Quite sad for so many locals that depend on the revenue.

I focused on birds for most of the day as there are so many spots to visit within the area.

The Amari Hotel is now totally removed. No hotels allowed on the mountain and only a couple of campgrounds run by the army. The Royal Project was open and had a nice display of flowerbeds etc. I did not eat there as their menu was shortened but went to the corner restaurant in the little township. Classic eatery it is.

A Japanese Grosbeak had been seen for 2 months coming in to bathe at a small artificial waterfall. I waited 2 hours but no bird. The list is here and does include a few good ones.


Brown-breasted Bulbuls

Himalayan Swiftlet

Burmese Shrike

Olive Pipit

Hill Blue Flycatcher, fem

Verditer Flycatcher

Crested Finchbill

Posting ebird lists might not be to everyone’s likening but mentioning only a few highlights also does not give the full picture. What stood out to me was that I could not find any Giant Nuthatches. Weird!

Angkhang is always a treat. If you haven’t been there yet I readily recommend a visit. Such a mixture of culture, nature, projects, people and eating places. A visit to the border is a must. The Thai side has hilltribe communities and from the viewing platform one can overlook the Burmese border bases. For those of you that have been there you can imagine how strange it was to not have a single hilltribe woman trying to sell you something! 

Day 9. Doi Lang and Chiang Dao

One cannot visit the North without a visit to Doi Lang.

But though I was basically alone that eery feeling of a smokefilled mountain and depressive pandemic restrictions is hard to get away from. It was almost as if even the birds shared the same sentiments. I only managed a couple of hours and then I felt the need to move on.

Instead I drove back to Chiang Dao for more butterflies and picked up a few more new ones.


Chocolate Albatross

Plain Hedge Blue

White-banded Pierrot

Shan Nawab

Great Nawab

Dark Cupid

Evan's White Flat

Indian Purple Emperor

In the late afternoon I went to a spot where Syke’s Short-toed Larks have been seen. But somehow the information I had wasn’t clear enough so I missed the birds as I left the spot at 4:30….Apparently the birds fly in to roost at that time.

I did see several Small Pratincoles though which is a bird I missed for all of 2020!

Small Pratincole

Day 10.

Back to Chiang Mai for another good meal and the same nice hotel.

The next morning up to Doi Suthep. I had heard of a special butterfly showing but inspite of looking dearly I couldn’t find it. As I decided to leave the area I thought I’d give a last short stop at the lowest waterfall. Here someone was sitting on the rocks with camera in hand. He said:

‘I have just photographed a TuftedJungle King! Man, that got me going. I crossed the stream in hope of flushing the critter as it is often on the ground. It didn’t take long for it to move a bit and I was able to enjoy a few photographic moments with this special one!

Tufted Jungle King

Tufted Jungle King

Common Leopard

Common Goldwing

Common Posy


I was thus 10 minutes late for my appointment with Dave S. But he fully understood and we had our coffee and chatted for a bit. Dave has been very helpful with my many butterfly questions and without his help things would not have come this far! 

Day 11.

After an overnight stay at Nakorn Sawan I drove straight home!

The trip had been very different then the normal ones but had produced a lot of birds and more importantly over 70 new photographed butterfly species!

Spot Swordtail

Five-bar Swordtail

Sunday, May 2, 2021

North of Thailand, March 2021, part 2


Day 5, Doi Inthanon


As is the normal order I left the hotel early to reach the summit. The old checkpoint in to the park was unarmed and a few kilometers further a set of new fancy buildings were in view with a large car park and ticket machines. No enforcement of ticketing so I continued up.

Once at the 2nd checkpoint much further up I was asked if I was going to the top. I said I was but also asked if the Bog boardwalk was open. The reply was affirmative so I paid the 300 Baht and went up.


Ha ha ha…first things I saw was a closed off Bog with signs all over it. I was wondering if I was a 1st April fool or what? 


It was weird to be up there almost alone. The place is normally crowed with tourists but in these times no foreigners and only a few locals around.  

Even the coffee shop wasn’t open.


I got on to some of the regular local birds with the addition of 6 Grey-sided Thrushes in a fruiting tree. 


Grey-sided Thrush


Instead I drove around a bit listening to the birdlife and eventually ended up by Mae Pan a lot further down. Here I spend the next few hours with the butterflies in the area. I ended up getting a few new ones and enjoyed the learning experience. 


Bright Sunbeam

Restricted Purple Sapphire

Elbow Pierrot

Studded Sergeant

Spotted Sawtooth

Spot Puffin

Mnais andersoni


Strawberries were in season and along with it a stop at the small eatery past the 2 Jedis made for a great lunch.


Towards the afternoon I decided to move on and drove the relative short distance to Chiang Mai where I checked in to B2 Premier Hotel, another modern hotel at low cost.

The hotel is a little away from the inner city but is close to a restaurant , Kanom Cheen Por Piang, which offers Khao Soi buffet, an absolute must dish while in Chiang Mai. A little further down the road is a more plush restaurant with a la carte full of authentic local dishes, Khum Vieng Yong.


Day 6, Doi Suthep


Today was  dedicated to a few sites at Doi Suthep. The mountain is part of the city and very easy to get to (unless you come from other side of town that is).


Residing so close and not chasing birds meant I could get up a little later. Butterflies are not as early as birds as they need the warmth of the sun to energize them.


But of course I couldn’t resist picking up a few birds.


All the spots were in the lower part of the mountain but I did go up a bit higher as well. The best parts were along rocky stream beds. I did go to a waterfall where I had to pay a fee to get in. Thankfully I got there before the crowds. Wang Bua Baan and Mon Tha Tan being the main ones.


Photographing butterflies is very engaging and not nearly as easy as one would think. You need more dept of field and I seldom use below F7.1 aperture which means I get slow speeds and have to push the ISO. My lens is not a dedicated macro lens but very versatile (100-400mm)


I find that I take a lot more pictures of the butterflies as a lot are not ‘keepers’. Also identification of butterflies is very tricky and without a photo next to impossible except for the obvious common ones.


Identification takes a lot longer then the time in the field. I have the fieldguide Butterflies of Thailand by Pisuth Aek-Amnuay but find myself mostly using Dave Sargeant’s excellent website Dave is an expert on butterflies and very resourceful.


I post my images on and

Things treasured are best shared they say!


It was a good experience as Doi Suthep is one of the hotspots for butterflies in the Kingdom of Thailand! 


Grey Count

Water Snow Flat

Common Baron

Common Jay

Neochera dominia (moth)

Lavender Count

Common Archduke, female

Great Eggfly

Fluffy Tit

Pied Flat