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Winter birding

October 31, 2012

Birdwatchers Grahame and Dianne Finnigan from Cairns, Australia, visited Dokmai Garden recently. They brought a bazooka-like camera with which they took fantastic pictures of great diagnostic value. Without pictures, a glimpse can transform in your brain to something very rare, and pictures can settle any discussion.

One example was this flycatcher:

It turns out to be a young (first year) Taiga Flycatcher (Ficedula albicilla). This is a migratory bird which visits Dokmai Garden every cool season to escape the cold in northern Asia. When older this bird will turn into a more distinguished grey, and a male preparing for the mating season will have a conspicuous red throat. Such a throat will appear just before it leaves Dokmai Garden in April. Some treat this bird as conspecific with the European Red-throated Flycatcher (Ficedula parva).

Thanks to our visitors the Dokmai Garden bird list has reached 91 records of wild bird species, and we should like to encourage other birdwatchers to come and help us reach the magic 100.

The current cool season is good since a range of migratory birds show up. To our experience, a series of cold January nights may force mountain dwellers to come down to the valley to heat up. The northern Thai meteorological department has forecasted the possibility of snow in Chiang Rai (not heard of since 1955 and 1958) and that would cause interesting movements. Peak season for birdwatching in Chiang Mai is April, when most migratory birds still remain, and the stationary birds are vocal and preparing for the mating season.

To our foreign readers I wish to stress that most afternoon temperatures at Dokmai Garden surpass 30°C also in the cool season.

Text: Eric Danell

Photo: Grahame Finnigan

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