Thursday, November 27, 2014

Phu Hin Rong Kla #2




 


 It was a normal weekday when we visited the park but an incredible amount of traffic. Apparently the area has been popularized in recent years and the Thai middle class love to go for family outings in their nice vehicle to take in the scenery, cool weather, fresh vegetables and lovely sunrise/sunset.

Pied Bushchat was common along the roadside.


While photographing the Nepal House Martins I heard a little whistle. Not knowing what it was I tried some playback of the song of Jerdon's Bushchat. Out it popped!
This is a hard bird to find in Thailand and a nice find.



                                                                                                                                                                           
   A raptor was perched in a dead tree but I didn't pay enough attention to it. It wasn't until I checked the  images that I realized it was an Amur Falcon. Another rare bird!




        Inside the park we came across some birds
        familiar from Northern Thailand. PHRK is
        part of the lower Northern Thailand and not
        really a place I bird very much. Here is the
        Blue-winged Minla with  a very dark eye.
        Perhaps a feature of the local population
        here? Normally the iris is white.



Rufous-winged Fulvettas love to forage moss laden branches in search of bugs. I didn't realize they were on this mountain so a nice surprise.
We were birding at 1200-1600m and saw these birds several times.













 A flock of White-eyes flew swiftly by!

Grey Wagtail



                         White Wagtail

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pho Hin Rong Kla


 It had been many many years since I visited Pho Hin Rong Kla in the province of Petchabun.
My good friend Bengt Legnell came with me on this trip as we both wanted to see the alleged Nepal House Martin on the mountain.
We were not to be disappointed as we came across several hundred of birds if not thousands.
One can only speculate as to the status of these birds. Is there a smaller resident population that increases dramatically in winter?
Either way, the birds were a lot of fun to photograph. Fast fliers, twisting and turning made for challenging photography.



 I used my Canon 7D with the 400F5.6. Had it on servo with 9 focal points and as high shutter speed as possible.


The last two images are my favorite. Imagine trying to do the same with an old film camera? 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Odd sighting of Spoonie!






 I went to visit Prasae, Klang, Rayong, 2 hours SouthEast of Bangkok. Here there are some mangroves and areas where waders feed on exposed sandbars during low tide.

During high tide they often perch on poles put in the water for various fishing contraptions.

It is necessary to hire a boat and so we did along with a boatman. The birds have only fairly recently arrived from their breeding grounds in Siberia and were quite skittish. It was not as easy as I had hoped to get close to them.

We counted 36 Nordmann's Greenshanks and 1 Grey-tailed Tattler besides the many Grey Plovers, Great Knots, Whimbrels, Bar-tailed Godwits, Common Redshanks and oodles of Sand Plovers.
As I got home and checked my images I was pleasantly surprised to find this Spoon-billed Sandpiper in one of the images. This is the 1st time I have come across one outside of the sites on the Western coast of the Inner Gulf of Thailand.

 
                              Nordmann's Greenshanks has such sweet looking demeanor!
                                                And so nice to be able to get this close.
 




    
                              
          


Grey Plover




                               Bar-tailed Godwit


Thursday, November 13, 2014

T-shirt!



I still have some T-shirts left of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper! The shirt is made in soft 100% cotton and comes in different sizes: M,L,XL,2XL.

The price is 20US$ inclusive of shipping anywhere  in the world!
Payment through Paypal account: pkknjj@yahoo.com

Get yours before it is too late! Collectors item they are! 


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

1st image ever of a Red Phalarope in Thailand! 10th of November 2014

For some reason I have a special interest in shorebirds and try to visit whenever I can. It is rather long to get to Paktaley (2 hours drive) which makes it a bit of an undertaking.
November is an interesting month though that normally produce big numbers of birds. I reckon some of them are still on the move but most will settle for winter in the Inner Gulf of Thailand.

The prime target is always Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Nordmann's Greenshanks and Asian Dowitchers.
Having seen all of them already I spent time with everything else. I had come across a group of 30 some Red-necked Phalaropes and seen a few scattered ones in the area. I was aware of the 1st and so far only sighting of Red/Grey Phalarope some years back and so tried to see if any would be one of this kind.

Since there is still a lot of water in the pans many birds were found 'knee deep'. I set out to photograph some Marsh Sandpipers when this Phalarope came real close to me.
It wasn't until I posted it online and had it confirmed that I was sure it was a Red/Grey Phalarope.
A lifer for me and only the 2nd one for Thailand!

Needless to say, many folks have followed up on the bird and we will see how long it will hang around for!


Friday, August 22, 2014

South to Central #5


Off to the airport and a flight to Don Muang, Bangkok.
Taxi to my house and pick up my own comfortable Toyota Camry. Drive to Kaengkrachan and discussing what strategy to adapt for the remaining birds on their respective lists. The lists did not correspond very well anymore so a logistic nightmare over again.

On the way to the park we dropped by some fields and saw many common bird which included all 3 Weavers: Streaked, Asian Golden and Baya. Two of these were on their wanted lists so reason to rejoice again.

We stayed at Baan Maka and hired the services of Piyak  as he has a sturdy off road vehicle suited for the road to higher grounds as well as being updated on the latest birding in the park.
Two main targets were soon taken care off: Red-bearded Bee-eater and Long-tailed Broadbill. Both found  at their respective nests. I had heard of a Von Schrenck’s Bittern at a pond by the Broadbill’s nest a couple of weeks earlier. I was very keen on seeing if it was still there and IT WAS! My 3rd lifer for the trip! But such a special bird it is, so cryptic, preferring murky bodies of water inside of forests. Definitely my bird of the trip!

Nesting was at full sway in Kaengrachan with some birds very quiet and others feeding young. Some other good birds during our stay there: Black-red Broadbill, Dusky Broadbill, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Silver-breasted Broadbill, a short glimpse of a Ferruginous Partridge, Great Hornbills, Speckeld and White-browed Piculet, Hooded Babbler, Ratchet-tailed Treepie, White-browed Scimitar-Babbler and Sultan’s Tit.

On the 10th day of our trip I drove Leonardo to the airport for his flight back to Italy. He had seen his dream bird, two new Pittas  along with a few more for his global lifelist.

Francesco asked for a day off in Bangkok and I was happy with a day at home with the family.

So after a day off I picked up Francesco downtown and we drove directly to Khao Yai. Only a couple of target birds: Silver Pheasant and Siamese Fireback along with a couple of woodpeckers.

Khao Yai was very quiet. Best happening was a sudden show of a Hooded Pitta, several encounters with calling Blue Pittas but none showing. Near the top of Khao Kaew I heard a calling Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo and managed to tape it in but it gave only brief views.

We did connect with a few different Siamese Firebacks which gave photographic views but we never saw Silver Pheasant.

For me it was a very rewarding trip where many special quality birds were encountered. April and May are definitely great months to visit the South and to get photos of difficult birds. 4 Pittas seen and 2 heard is a good record. All 7 Broadbills seen well. The Great Argus is monumental in Thailand and Gould’s Frogmouth is another ‘heavy weight’!

Anyone wanting to do a trip next year is welcome to let me know.
Peter







Monday, August 18, 2014

The South part 4


In the afternoon we revisited Sri Pangnga National Park looking for Chestnut-naped Forktail. Instead we found a Hooded Pitta that Francesco had fun photographing.

The next morning we chased Blue-winged Pittas in a palm oil plantation as it was on Leonardo’s wanted list. These birds have just arrived and were calling  so not that hard to track down.

Then back to the park and waiting for the Forktail. As Francesco sat in the hide I walked off to look for other things. A male Rufous-collared Kingfisher perched rather close to me and I got my very own images of this elusive forest Kingfisher. Meanwhile Francesco had a pair of Forktails in front of his hide. Just as he wished!

So late morning we drove off to Thaimuang about 90 km South of the park. Here is a known roost for Spooted Wood Owl. Inspite of 2 hours search we failed to find the birds. (I later was told by a local birder that the birds have not been seen for some time, at least it wasn’t us missing the bird for lack of trying).

Onward we went to the town of Krabi but along the way we stopped at 2 different mangroves in the town of Pangnga. We heard Mangrove Pitta at both places as well as Brown-winged Kingfisher. At the 2nd site we found a nesting pair of Copper-throated Sunbirds and had a pair of Streak-breasted Woodpeckers flying overhead. In vain Leonardo tried to find his Mangove Pitta.

A night in Krabi and the following morning in mangroves again. I was thinking how easy the Mangrove Pitta should be since I had very good views only a week earlier but this time we didn’t even hear it. Amazing! Then I did hear it far away and remembered a hotel in that area. We drove to the hotel and shortly the pitta was calling from nearby. After half an hour of hide and seek it decided to fly out from the forest in front of us for full views! Finally!




 







Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A short twitch!


Ever since I heard of a Pied Cuckoo (Jacobin Cuckoo) being seen at Phuket I always wanted to see one. Then a couple of years later a pair showed up at Chiang Rai by the Mae Kong River but I didn't fancy a 1000 km drive. Thridly, last year another was spotted at Beung Borapet when I was in Europe. So when I saw a posting of this bird by Thanarot I knew I had my chance. 
Thanarok kindly invited me to his home and we enjoyed a true Thai meal at a restaurant by the river.
                                                     Thank you Thanarot! Very yummie! In the morning we did general birding in the wetlands surrounding Beung Borapet (240km North of Bangkok) and saw a lot of birds including a roosting Savanna Nightjar, Glossy Ibises and plenty of Streaked Weavers.......We then sat down to view the trees he had seen the Cuckoos in. After 2 and a half hours and no bird I thought; 'better pack up, bet that will bring it in, a bit sarcastically'. Before we got our stuff together in the car I gave a last scan and my eyes fell on the Cuckoo. They had finally arrived. A wonderful lifer and classy bird. It might be easy in Africa and India but over here it is a mega rarity.
(never mind I had to endure a 6 hour drive (240km) back to Bangkok in insane traffic)


 



Sunday, August 3, 2014

South, part 3

I had heard of a stake out for Great Argus but during my research found  that it was being sold by a resort for a rather handsome amount of money. I kept digging and finally found the direct connection with the villager that initially set up the stationary hide by the bird’s lek. And that at a lot cheaper price then the upscale resort.

Well, it wasn’t all that easy to get the communications right and even harder to find the villager  at his appointed spot. We drove to the km mark we were told only to find out that the road department had changed all the road markers. Through a set of nothing but small miracles we finally met up with the man deep inside the jungle only to find out that he meant for us to come a day later. Ha!

Well, we found a very nice resort in the area some 20 km East of the entrance to Khao Sok National Park. Again, good food, warm showers, big bed and air-con for weary souls.

The next morning we drove off to Sri Pangnga National Park about an hour’s drive further West.
1st target bird was Banded Pitta and we headed straight for it. Thankfully the birds had not started to lay on eggs and were still coming to worms. The male was seen carrying nesting materials and then calling for  his mate.

After the Pitta we went to a stake out for a Rufous-backed Dwarf Kingfisher. The tiny bird with all its colour posed very nicely next to the road  and the portable blinds I had brought came in handy again.

A friendly ranger asked me if I wanted to ‘see a Gould’s Frogmouth on a day roost’? Ha! Manna from Heaven! We didn’t stay long as to not disturb the bird too much.

Back to the lodge from previous night and an early wake up for our Great Argus adventure.
We met the man at 4 am and together with his nephew we walked 3 km in the very hot and humid tropical rain forest to get to our spot. We were continuously told to  be quiet and how extremely leery this bird is. Believe me, it was a difficult walk over several steep hill tops. I didn’t know I could sweat so profusely until that night.

So at the lek we were given 3 small holes to view through. Basically he said to stick our cameras through the hole but that the camera had to be on a tripod so as to not case motion in the canvas. I didn’t bring a tripod so my hole was reduced to the size of a silver dollar. Leonardo stuck his bins in the hole and Francesco fitted his 300mm lens with tripod.

Long story made short, the bird came and performed for an hour before disappearing. I managed to view the birds a couple of minutes but the other guys had great views for most of the time. Needless to say a lifer for all of us.

Back to the resort for a rest, lunch and drive back to Sri Pangnga where we checked in at a local hotel.



South, part 2

At noon I went to pick up Francesco and Leonardo at the airport. Francesco had graciously brought some Italian salami which I cherished throughout the trip. Thank you!

The drive to Krung Ching took most of the afternoon. A better option is to fly to Nakorn Sritamaraht with Airasia. Hertz allow for free drop off of their vehicle if hired more then 5 days.

We were greeted at a nice Homestay by the park and a sumptuous meal was waiting for us as well.
The ranger Daang and his family has set up a little homestay with 4 rooms available. They are air-conned with hot water and a big blessing as opposed to using the park bungalows with all their ‘wildlife’ in the room, no warm water and no air-con. At the homestay you can also have 3 meals that are wonderfully cooked by the Grandmother of the house.

The next morning we set out with our target in mind. We were accompanied by ‘R’, Daang’s nephew. It was his job to locate the Babbler and bring it to us.

After about an hour of searching along the trail R heard the bird in the far distance. He started taping it in. We set up a couple of blinds and myself and R retreated out of view. After an hour or more the bird still hadn’t shown so we had to start looking for it again. Again it was located, hides moved and another wait. This time we were not to be disappointed. The remarkable creature came and stuck around for several minutes as it gobbled up the meal worms put out for him. Big thumbs up and joy for a bird that had been on their minds for years! Mainly relief for myself!

Leonardo offered me his hide and I waited awhile until the bird came back. For some reason my camera simply couldn’t focus. So frustrating! Then as the bird left I discovered a large leaf stuck on the lens thus causing the focus not to work. Grrr!

Light is very difficult for photography inside this rain forest. Loads of intriguing sounds can be heard but seeing the birds is another story. Francesco carries a 500mm lens mounted on a light weight tripod. He is very quick on the birds but even he struggled with stuff like Green Broadbills and Cinnamon-rumped Trogons that we saw well but only briefly. He did get Buff-rumped and Buff-necked Woodpeckers rather impromptu.

In the afternoon we tried for a known nesting site for Rufous-collared Kingfisher but no signs of the birds.

Owling is normally good at KC but this time it also produced nothing but it mattered little after such superb views of the Rail Babbler.

The next day Daang came with us for the 1st part of the morning. He knows his birds very well and took us directly to some spots where he called out target birds. Thus we had great views of male and female Rufous-collared Kingfisher, Rufous Piculet, Banded Broadbill and  Black-throated Babbler, all photographed well.

Some other birds seen and heard: Dark-throated Oriole, Raffles Malkoha, Black-yellow Broadbill, Scaly-crowned Babbler, Fulvous-chested Jungle Flycatcher, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Chestnut-winged Babber, White-crowned Hornbill, Silver-rumped Spinetail, Red-throated Barbet, Brown Barbet, Red-billed Malhoha
.