This is supposed to be a 'jeep track' but in reality it is a narrow path through dense forest with the obscured entrance being just beyond the 2nd checkpoint on the right (if going uphill).
As we were at the site so early I plumped for a walk along the road before venturing into the forest as it would have been too dark otherwise. Belinda wasn't impressed so stayed in the car while I did the business. As the rising sun started to catch the tops of the trees birds started to become active and I had a very entertaining hour or so - several Yellow-cheeked Tits, 2 Black-throated Sunbirds, Mrs Gould's Sunbird, Streaked Spiderhunter, 2 Ashy Drongos, 2 Lesser Racket-tailed Drongos, Black Bulbul, Short-billed Minvet and a fly-through Asian Emerald Cuckoo were followed by a Small Niltava perched on wires and a thrush perched high in a tree proved to be a male Red-throated Thrush. Better still were the prolonged views of a Large Hawk Cuckoo that flew into a high tree and sat for a while before moving on. It was time to venture down the track...
And what a way to start the walk - a fantastic Silver-eared Mesia showing nicely right at the start of the track! After that the birding was pretty hard work in the very enclosed forest. A singing Blyth's Leaf Warbler showed very nicely as did a male Large Niltava in the gloom but things were exceptionally slow and we turned round after about 1km and retraced our steps. On the way I stopped for a skulking bird in the ground vegetation which turned out to be a very welcome Slaty-bellied Tesia. Eventually we happened upon a pocket of birds from which I winkled out 2 more new birds for me - Golden Babbler and Black-eared Shrike Babbler. Other birds here were several noisy Rufous-winged Fulvettas and Black-throated Sunbird.
A stop for a much needed coffee at Mr Deang's gave me some great views of a Lesser Shortwing feeding on a damp area immediately below the balcony.
Up the road beside the park HQ and through a Hmong village is the Royal Project (basically some rather twee landscaped woodland and gardens by the rocky river) and the walk up to the Siriphom Waterfall. Birding here was quite basic but you can't sneeze at yet another White-capped Water Redstart plus 2 Oriental Magpie Robins, Yellow-streaked Warbler, Flavescent Bulbul, Taiga Flycatcher, Grey Wagtail and Olive-backed Sunbird. A single White Wagtail was at the park HQ which is pretty awful as a place to visit with just a couple of display boards and nothing else for the visitor. A good job lunch was waiting next door at the restaurant! After another lovely late lunch we decided to cut our losses on our Doi Inthanon adventure and head back to Chiang Mai. Tomorrow we quit the north and headed south for phase 2 of the trip...
White-capped Water Redstart