The eastern extent of the Himalayan range collapses into a chaotic geography of ranges and valleys, which arc through southern China and on, turning southward to form the highland barrier between Thailand and Myanmar. This region is the meeting place of some of the world's great bioregions, and thus home to a great diversity of unique flora and wildlife.
On the summit of one of these ranges, a forest trail threads its way into dense, tropical forest. Somewhere on the horizon not far to the west, but hidden by dense vegetation, lie the Burmese Hills, part of the same habitat system.
In the predawn, a Collared Owlet is heard calling distantly against the background chiming of nocturnal crickets. In the darkness, giant beetles take wing, and can be heard purring past nearby.
Soon, the sharp calls of a Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo herald the dawn chorus, as bulbuls, babblers, warblers and fruit pigeons begin waking. A red-cheeked squirrel scrambles up a tree trunk, giving incisive, spitting calls.
With sunrise, light shafts through the humid air, and the songs of barbets, niltivas, pittas, scimitar babblers, laughing thrushes, pheasants, flycatchers, woodpeckers, sunbirds and mesias continue into the morning.
This recording will transport you to one of the most ecologically rich areas of the world. Imagine yourself listening among cool fernery, under a dense forest canopy, experiencing a morning alive with exotic birdsong.
"Planning our visit to Mae Wong National Park using satellite imagery, I identified a small camping area surrounded by primary forest - hopefully a location which would allow access to an otherwise remote region. It lay at the summit of the range, at the end of a switchback road climbing up from the lowland plains of Central Thailand.
Hiring a vehicle, Sarah and I set out in the company of our driver, Suchat, who turned out to be a character, entertaining us with tall tales of his life as a martial arts practitioner. Eventually, we rounded a final bend and there, just as anticipated, was the small area of grass on which we would pitch our tent.
The Umphang trail that led on into the forest was a continuation of the road, but overgrown. Even as a walking track, I could only follow it for a kilometre before it became impassable. However this was enough to be totally enclosed within primary tropical forest. The place was alive with birdsong, even though many remained hidden among the foliage and only occasionally seen flitting through the canopy.
We spent three days there. This recording coming from the final morning, the most sonically interesting of the three. It is a single, unedited take, from predawn through to that point in the morning when vocal activity declined."