Part three of Two Months in Thailand: A Forest Cabin Awaits by Richard Baines, an ecologist and birder enjoying a two-month “nature holiday” in Thailand.
From a very early age I have loved the mystery of the wild woods and untamed gardens with hidden corners where nature is in charge! I grew up with Henry David Thoreau’s quote ringing in my head “Hope and the future for me are not in lawns and cultivated fields, not in towns and cities, but in the impervious and quaking swamps.”
When we first visited the outer reaches of Chiang Do village beneath Doi Chaing Dao Mountain two years ago, I was inspired by the gardens, many of which merged seamlessly with the jungle. On our return, despite the presence of several new houses, the area still maintains its natural beauty and wildness.
Our birding wanderings this week uncovered a wealth of birds in these wild gardens. Among many highlights: seven species of Bulbul, Black-winged Cuckoo-shrike, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Blue-fronted Barbet, Hill Blue Flycatcher and close to the last house in the village Crested Serpent Eagle, Greater-necklaced Laughingthrushes and an Oriental Pied Hornbill! Garden species keeping very close company with primary forest species.
I have also noticed the enormous difference in species between gardens and orchards retaining native trees and wild flowers and those without. We return again and again to one such wild garden, teeming with birds pouring out of the jungle to feed on tall fruiting trees and insects on the flowers. Interestingly the owners of gardens cleared of ‘jungle’ have retained the tallest few trees towering above the houses. But for wildlife the value is in the small detail, colour, structure and messy corners!
A small corner of eco-tourism thrives here and the owners of these businesses hopefully appreciate the link between habitat and their income. To use an old English saying ‘where there’s muck there’s brass’. Let’s update that with brass and birds!
Stay tuned for next week’s post!
Part IV: Two Months in Thailand: Wild Gardens
Part VIII: Two Months in Thailand: Birding Nirvana