Bird Watching in Chiang Mai

Thursday, September 11th, 2008
Bird Watching at Mae Hia Agricultural College

Bird Watching at Mae Hia Agricultural College: Asian Koel**, Red Wattled Lapwing**, Greater Racket-Tailed Drongo*, Spotted Dove**, Green Bee Eater*, House Sparrow*

I can officially call myself a novice ornithologist!!  This morning a good friend, Marisa, took me with her on a birding expedition just a few kilometers from our apartment.  She had scoped out the location, Mae Hia Agricultural College in Chiang Mai, a few days ago, and thought it would be perfect for a novice, such as myself.  We left our apartment at 6:30am (I know…way too early!) and it took about 15 minutes to drive down the Canal Road to the campus.  When we arrived, it was raining, so we sought shelter, but after 30 minutes the rain stopped and we started exploring.  The area is mostly grasslands at the base of Doi Suthep with a few ponds.  There is also a large forested area near by, but we didn’t make it that far.

As my first experience, it was highly successful!  We probably saw at least 10 different species in 2 hours, 6 of which I remember, and have shown above.  I also saw a rooster, which Marisa thinks could have been the undomesticated Red Junglefowl, and another large bird that could have been a pheasant of some sort.  This trip was very encouraging and now I want to purchase better binoculars and wake up every morning at 6:30!!!

Nik and I see the Common Myna nearly every day outside our window.  The markings are beautiful!! *

Nik and I see the Common Myna nearly every day outside our window. The markings are beautiful!! *

By the way, birding is huge here in Thailand.  There are over 900 native species in this country, which is about the same number as all of the United States and Canada combined.  Some other locations in Northern Thailand for bird watching are Doi Inthanon National Park (wish I would have known this last week!), Doi Chiang Dao National Park, Doi Ang Kang, Doi Lang, Chiang Saen, and Doi Phu Kha National Park.  Marisa has also taken some early morning trips up to Doi Suthep and has seen the stunning Grey-Chinned Minivet.  I think I’ll try that next!

Here are some great resources in case you’re more interested:

Mae Hia Agricultural College @

*Photos By Carl-Johan Svensson

**Photos from Wikipedia

And according to my friend, the field guide of all field guides for Thailand is the Princeton Field Guides: Birds of Thailand by Craig Robson.

In other birdwatching news, this month the Vaux Swifts will be in Portland, Oregon at the Chapman School for their annual migration.  The Chapman School is in Nik and I’s old neighborhood near NW 23rd Ave, and I recommend spending an evening on the hill with friends, take-out and a cardboard sled!  The best time to go is at sunrise or sunset each day.  For more information, visit the Audubon Society of Portland’s Swift Watch 2008 website.

Thai Sweets: Candy and Khanom Buang

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008
Assorted Jelly Candies

Assorted Jelly Candies

We tried these pyramid shaped candies for the first time at the Sunday Walking Street in June, and we haven’t been able to pass a stall without a bag full since.  I believe they are handmade, and I don’t know what they are called, so if you do, please tell me!!!  At the market, there is a huge table with 8 or 10 mounds of individually wrapped jelly candies piled by flavor.  You grab a bamboo basket, and mix and match your favorites.  Some of the flavors that we know are Durian, Black Sesame, Peanut, Coffee, Strawberry, and who knows what else!  The texture is a cross between gummy bears and sugar taffy, and they aren’t nearly as sweet as we expected.  We normally pick up 10-20 pieces for about 20baht.  You can find them at most outdoor markets in Chiang Mai, as well as in Central Huey Kaew Mall tucked away in a corner on the lowest level.

Crispy Pancakes (lkjljk)

Crispy Pancakes (Khanom Buang)

Another street favorite are these miniature crispy pancakes, or Khanom Buang.  The pancakes spread thinly on a large iron skillet with a flat wooden tool, and as they are cooking, coconut cream is smeared on top (the white sauce) and then they sprinkle shredded coconut before folding each one like a taco.  The orange coconut shreds are a little salty, and the yellow shreds are a little sweet making the perfect combo of crunchy & sweet & salty!  These were made at a street stall near the Siam Bank on Suthep Road in Chiang Mai, and were 20baht/plate.

Fish Balls at the Sunday Walking Street

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

Nik and I went to the Sunday Walking Street in Chiang Mai this evening, and we discovered how the fish balls were made!!  This woman makes up a pink fish paste, then squeezes balls out and drops them into boiling water with a spoon.  Easy as pie!

Personally, I think these fish balls are pretty gross.  The texture is kind of like super dense tofu/rubber, and they taste like nothing more than bland fish.  They are often served in noodle soups or grilled on a skewer.  I do eat them as a source of protein, but not because I like it!!

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