Monday, 18 January 2016

Amazing Thailand ( Chiang Mai )

Chiang Mai Province is situated in the northern part of Thailand, a relatively short flight from Bangkok airport, just over 70 mins flying time. we were booked into a traditionally styled Thai hotel called Khum Phayer Resort, on the outskirts of Chiang Mai city.

The hotel boasts that the architectural style of the buildings and the landscaped gardens are influenced by the old Lanna kingdom of Northern Thailand dating back to the 13th century,certainly felt authentic and the gardens were beautiful, with many exotic plants and trees surrounding the residential buildings and pool.

Khum Phayer hotel entrance
Almost my first encounter here with the natural world,  was the ubiquitous Common Mynah bird. sometimes referred to as the Indian Mynah. interesting to see that some of the mynahs had been ringed

Common Mynah Bird
Another fairly common bird seen, was the Spotted Dove, and as doves go, quite an attractive looking bird. You can see a theme materialising here, most of the birds I was seeing were of the common variety, but when you do not see them as often as we do in England, a nice bird to see.

Spotted Dove
As I mentioned before, the pool area was pretty spectacular with the overhanging trees  and plants.

The reason I placed this photo of the pool area was to show a new Bee sighting for me. some of the trees overhanging the pool were home to this huge, black and magnificent looking Bee,
The Carpenter  bee, Xylocopa tenuiscapa, again appeared quite common and certainly grabbed your attention as they buzzed  past your eye line. much larger than our 'Buff tailed Bumblebee'.
Carpenter  bee, Xylocopa tenuiscapa,

As always in these warmer countries Gecko's crept out every evening, hunting down the insects of the night, always fascinating to watch and remarkably quick when they want to be. I am not that familiar with these ,but I believe this may be another common species of House Gecko called a Flat-tailed.

Flat-Tailed House Gecko
Whenever possible I took the opportunity to explore the gardens for wildlife, there were a number of water features around the gardens including this impressive waterfall.
In the past I have tried unsuccessfully to get an image of a waterfall using a slow shutter speed to get that silky water effect, this was my best effort and just about managed the silky effect I was after.

Magpie Robin

I thought this was some sort of Wagtail at first sight, but a quick check through my field guide revealed a Magpie Robin, and yes another fairly common sighting.

I noticed a small flock of birds fly in to the trees next to this fountain, they then proceeded to fly through the fountain, using it as a form of shower to bathe, they then perched in the trees to preen.
Quite a non-descript looking bird really about the size of a grey looking Blackbird, these turned out to be, I think the Grey-eyed Bulbul, (common)

Grey-Eyed Bulbul

Two types of Squirrel were seen, one the size of  our grey Squirrel but a red/grey in colour unidentified, the other easier to identify, I think was the Himalayan Striped Squirrel or the Western Striped Squirrel, not easy to photograph with the standard lens on the camera, and very restless in the trees,probably common.

A few other birds seen around the grounds which remained unidentified can be seen below. a warbler type bird that remained high up in the trees, and a large pigeon again high in the trees with the sun behind it.

With the help of my trusty field guide, I narrowed this one down to the  Black collared Starling, horrible photograph, just a record for me.

This one slightly easier, a member of the 'Cuckoo family' I believe is the Asian Koel, again remained high in the tree tops.

Asian Koel

A few more insect sightings, including this spider known as the Saint Andrews Cross Spider, named because of the way they hold there legs in the shape of a cross, looked similar to the wasp spider seen at Rainham earlier this year, this one appeared to have four Stabilimentum in the web.

Lots of butterflies 'flitting' around but very difficult to get close to  for a photograph, I did manage a couple of images but once again these are all very common species, but nice to see.

Lots of these Dragonflies around the water features, called Ditch Jewel the males are bright red a little like our Common Darters , this was the female the only one that came in range of my camera.

One of the main reasons for travelling up to Chiang Mai, apart from seeing a beautiful part of the country, was the fact that there are lots of opportunities to interact with elephants on the various Elephant camps, something my wife was keen to do.
Like most tourist attractions there are good and bad, we did not want to go anywhere  where there was any talk of mistreatment.
Fortunately for us, our friend and guide suggested an elephant rehabilitation centre called Kaeng Kued Elephant Camp. a great place to visit where they obviously love there Elephants.

So these next photographs are dedicated to my wife, dressed appropriately in a 'mahout' outfit
  - feel the love 

We also took the opportunity to visit 'Tiger Kingdom' , another opportunity for my wife to get up close and personal with another of her great loves, although these were a lot bigger than usual.

The proceeds from tourism allows Tiger Kingdom to increase the tiger population through captive breeding apparently.

A slightly surreal situation which makes me shudder when I look back at the photographs.

We met some lovely people here in North Thailand, some new experiences and a great place to visit.
Some more birdwatching at the airport while waiting for the next stage of our journey.
Great Billed Heron seen very similar to our grey heron but larger and darker, Great white Heron, Little Egret, and several Indian Pond Herons seen around the drainage ditches, many hirundines which I could not identify.

Our Journey continues to Southern Thailand for some relaxation in Krabi, to be continued.

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