Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Birding trips out of Bangkok!

Daytrips out of Bangkok

The following are a few sites that I regularly take visiting birders to. I often do one site in the morning and another in the afternoon and sometimes even fit in one midday. 

Depending on the time of year number of birds seen will vary. Most migrants are here from September – April yet there are others that only visit in May-August. 

I find it very fulfilling for people on business or others with limited time circumstances to invest in a guided trip with someone that not only knows the birds but also how to get around and has years of experience living in Thailand.

Fields of Latkrabang, Bangkok:

My local patch and a gem in the city concrete with still rice fields and scrub present. The roar of the traffic in the background and airplanes lifting to the sky is subdued a bit and the birds present are clearly heard. Many a good wetland birds as well as warblers and other birds have been recorded.
On a normal morning I average 70-80 species. 

1.       Experimental ricefields at Pathum Thani:

This site is very good for taking pictures from the car as the fields are crisscrossed with roads
A normal morning produce 50-60 species depending on the season. My personal list is 110 for the site. Typical wetland birds are abundant such as Red-wattled Lapwings, Asian Openbills, Egrets and Pond-Herons, Weavers, Stonechats, Pipits, Prinias, Brown Shrike, Jacanas, Common Moorhen etc
The site is easily reached with a normal pick up at 5:30. About 30 minutes drive from Bkk.

2.       Military Academy in Nakon Nayok:

The site is about 100km from Bangkok but an easy add on after having visited the site above first. At the Academy, which is situated next to forested hills, you will add a few birds not found at the ricefields. Blue-winged Pitta is common May-July and I have even seen an Eared Pitta. June-July Malaysian Night Heron is found in the early morning. But the easier ones are Black-collared Starling, Vinous-breasted Starling, Indo-chinese Bushlark, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Black-naped Oriole, Lineated Barbet, Green Bee-eaters and White-throated Kingfisher. A direct drive to here from Bangkok would take an hour and a half or slightly more.

3.      Bangpra, Chonburi:

A protected area with a large reservoir and surrounding woodlands. Birds are pretty abundant in all habitas but when the water level is very high there is less to see.
I do this in a combination with fields and nearby hills so the list for the morning usually is pretty good.

Hoopoe, Chestnut-capped Babbler, White-crested Laughingthrushes, Common Flameback, Indian Roller, Bright-capped Cisticola, Grey-breasted Prinia, Lineated Barbet, Painted Stork, Lesser Adjutant, Oriental Pratincole, Ashy Woodswallow, Common Iora, Black-crested Bulbul and a lot more to be expected

4.      Bangpoo, Samut Sakorn:

A coastal site with mangroves, hinterlands and a walkable pier into the Gulf of Thailand.
The site is filled with Brown-headed Gulls in winter as well as waders that are best seen during low tide. The site has recorded over 200 species as the mangroves also serve as a resting place for migratory birds. The early morning is nice and cool but midday usually very hot. Lots of locals visit here to feed the gulls and to dine at the restaurant at the end of the pier. I often visit here midday in between Bangpra and later  one of the wetland sites.

Collared Kingfisher, Golden-bellied Gerygone, Oriental White-eye are common resident birds. In winter loads of waders abound.

Rice fields of Latkrabang:

My list for the site is at 132 species. It is easy to get to if following the Hot Spot as marked on eBird.
Lots of wetland birds as well as scrub dwelling critters. Some of my 'best birds here' has been:
Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler, Baikal Bush Warbler, Eurasian Wryneck, Siberian Rubythroat, Bluethroat, Spot-billed Pelican, Grey-headed Lapwing, Baillion's Crake, Slaty-breasted Rail, Watercock, Greater Painted Snipe etc.

Some common birds seen: Pheasent-tailed Jacana, Asian Golden Weaver, Indian Cormorant, Javan Pond Heron, Asian Openbill,  White-breasted Waterhen, Magpie Robin, Asian Pied Starling etc etc

5.      Pahktaley and Lampakbia, Petchaburi:

This is the main site for daytrips Nov-April. One of the best sites in the world for wader watching with huge numbers and incredible diversity. Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Asian Dowitcher, Nordmann’s Greenshank, Malaysian Plover, White-faced Plover, Chinese Egret…are the main targets but the shorebird list usually end up 30-35 species seen and sometimes even higher.

The wetlands in the area help to add a good numbers of birds. Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Black-browed and Oriental Reed Warbler, Freckle-breasted Woodpecker, 3 species of Weavers, Painted Stork, Black-capped Kingfisher, Collared Kingfisher and many more.

Day count around 80-90 species

City parks:

There are several parks that can be visited for a morning walk: King’s Park, Lumpini Park, Train Park being the easier ones to access. These parks all hold similar species and can be very rewarding for a first timer to the birds of Thailand.

1-4 days trip

The very best combination of such a trip is to visit Paktaley, Lampakbia and the fields of Petchaburi along with Kaengkrachan National Park. The latter is Thailand's largest National Park and holds an amazing array of wildlife. The park is also situated in the province of Petchaburi. I have seen 487 species of birds in this province alone. You can not go wrong spending time here. 

The park offers easy walking and by using the car one can cover a lot of ground in a short time. The surrounding areas outside the park also hold a lot of birdlife and there are several permanent hides and waterholes where one can enjoy the birds at close range and take pictures. 

The trip normally enjoys the services of Baan Maka Nature Resort which in itself has a lot of wildlife aside from being picturesque   and lush. 

Monday, November 18, 2019


Jerdon's Baza is not a very common bird and certainly not perched as was the case while
driving out from Kaengkrachan midday early November this year.

Black Baza is the other Baza found in Thailand and serves as real eye-candy.


 During October there is a massive migration of Amur Falcons from parts of China/Russia all the way to Africa. Some of these birds we in recent years have learned to pass over Northern Thailand.

As I started to scale the steep road up to Doi Angkhang from Fang my eyes fell on this beauty. There were 2 birds around and though not perched on a tree they still gave clear shots. What an attractive Falcon this is!

This bird I spotted while driving along the ridge
on Doi Lang. It took the help of some friends to verify that it actually was a Eurasian Hobby, a bird I had not seen in Thailand before! 

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Bee-eaters of Thailand!

Green Bee-eater

Blue-throated Bee-eater

Blue-bearded Bee-eater
 Most people enjoy seeing this group of birds. Most of them are easy to spot as they prefer open areas to feed from an exposed perch.

Green Bee-eater is a very common open country bird.
Red-bearded Bee-eater

Blue-tailed Bee-eater
 Blue-throated Bee-eater is a bit more tricky as it is mostly found in coastal areas of the South.

It does have some movements and can show up elsewhere during that time.

Red-bearded and Blue-bearded Bee-eaters are very different. They both reside in the forest. Blue in the North and Red in the South. But at Kaengkrachan National Park in Western Thailand both can be found.

Blue-tailed Bee-eater is a stunning open area bird that I even see at my house. It has poorly understood migration patterns.

Chestnut-headed Bee-eater is a stunning bird found in forested areas but also at adjoining stands of trees.

Chestnut-headed Bee-eater

Monday, September 23, 2019

Sulawesi/Halmahera 25th September - 13th October 2020!!!

Red-knobbed Hornbill

Green-backed Kingfisher

Chattering Lory
 I am arranging another tour to this wonderful part of Indonesia. Sulawesi and Halmahera a fantastic array of stunning birds and most of them are endemic to the area.

It is an area where the independent birder struggle to get around. The best is to join a small group led by experienced guides and tour leader.

I have led tours to Sulawesi/Halmahera 6 times and hope to do so again in 2020.

I will co lead the trip with my good friend Theo Henoch who also is the choice of other large birdtour companies.

The tour will include the same sites as in this one from 2014 but not in the same order and some of the lodging will be different.

The price will be a little over 4000US$ depending on how many participants.
At the time of writing there are 3 spots taken and open to 3 more!

Write me at for more info.

Grosbeak Starling

Ochre-bellied Boobook

Red-bellied Pitta

Red-backed Thrush

Satanic Nightjar

Sulawesi Hawk Eagle

Ashy Woodpecker

Yellow-billed Malkoha

Lilac Kingfisher
Purple-bearded Bee-eater
Blue-breasted Quail
Wallace's Standardwing
Common Paradise Kingfisher

Halmahera Flowerpecker

Monday, September 9, 2019

Kingfishers from Waigeo, Raja Ampat, West Papua

Rufous-bellied Kookaburra
 The forest dwelling kingfishers of Papua are very challenging to see, let alone photograph.

But the kingfishers of open areas make up for it. I just love seeing Beach Kingfishers as they are so clean looking, large sized and rather active birds.

The Sacred Kingfisher is a more widespread bird that even showed up in Thailand this year for the first time. It still is a nice bird and rather common on Waigeo.

Rufous-bellied Kookaburra is encountered all over WP but patience is required for good views.

Beach Kingfishers

Sacred Kingfisher

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Magnificent Bird of Paradise

Back view of male

Front view of male

 I was blessed with long views of this Magnificent Bird of Paradise at Arkfak, West Papua. A short walk downhill from our Homestay there was a hide one could sit in. The bird came at 6 am to clean up the display site. It was dark and very difficult to get good shots and I was forced to use very high ISO.
Nevertheless the whole encounter and to be able to sit with the bird for so long was just amazing.The bird had what looked like a pocket on its bag. A few times it would unfold to display a round fan like collar. Under the pocket was some deep moron colored feathers with white stripes as well.
The bird appeared quite different in different light with the tail streamers looking bluish in better light.


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

3 days of target birding, 26-28th July

I was approached for 3 days of target birding. A list of 12 birds were given me. As you can understand it is not easy to space out these things logistically but always worth a try.

1. Eared Pitta
2. Spot-bellied Eagle Owll
3. Streak-breasted Woodpecker
4. Freckle-breasted Woodpecker
5. Mangrove Whistler
6. Asian Dowitcher
7. Slaty-breasted Rail
8. Black-headed Woodpecker
9. Tickell's Brown Hornbill
10. Red-legged Crake
11. Asian Golden Weaver
12. Indian Nightjar

Why such a narrow target list? Well the person had seen most birds realistically possible in surrounding countries and decided to spend 3 days looking for lifers after a job assignment in Thailand.

Day 1. Drove to Petchaburi and quickly got on to Asian Golden Weavers....many of them.
Asian Dowitcher a remote chance but no waders present at the mudflats.
Mangrove Whistle we tried for an hour but no response.
Indian Nightjar didnt take to long as I knew their daytime roost.

Afternoon off to a friend's hide near Kaengkrachan. He has set up a hide for a nesting Eared Pitta. We got to see the female in the nest at close range.
Then we visited a waterhole where we waited till almost dusk as a Red-legged Crake came to bathe with 2 chicks. Quite a haul for one day I must say.

Day 2. Went inside the park with only 3 birds in mind. It took a lot of patience but we eventually were rewarded with cracking views of an immature Spot-bellied Eagle Owl.
We heard but didnt see Tickell's Hornbills. We got to see the hard to find Bamboo Woodpecker but it wasnt until the very last minute that Streak-breasted Woodpecker showed up. So amazing to see. Like scoring a goal in overtime!

Day 3. Saw us work very hard at 4 different sites for 2 different woodpeckers and the Dowitcher but nothing to show for.

I personally thought the great haul of rare birds and other wildlife we saw in such a short time was a real success. Of course we missed a couple of touch targets, but that is to be expected on a short tour with many rare species being sought.

Quality sightings is worth more then birds for bucks, no?......8 out of 12 isn't bad, is it?

Anyhow, I enjoyed it as we saw some good birds, got out of the heat in Bangkok, shared common experiences and dined well.
Green Magpie

Spot-bellied Eagle Owl

Streak-breasted Woodpecker

Crested Serpend Eagle

Red-legged Crake

Eared Pitta

Bamboo Woodpecker

Asian Golden Weaver