Monday, April 14, 2014

Sri Nakorn Keuan Khan

I went to visit the park together with Ike Suriwong. Nick Upton had reported a Sakhalin Leaf Warbler singing in the park last weekend and that is something I haven't experienced. 

We ended up seeing two Pale-legged/Sakhalin's Leaf Warblers. None of them were calling but one was singing, clearly revealing its identity. The two species have very different songs and can only be separated safely by song or in the hand. 

There were other migrants in the area. 1 Yellow-browed Warbler, 1 Arctic Warbler, 1 male Green-backed Flycatcher seen by Ike and sadly not by me, 1 female Yellow-rumped Flycatcher and a very active flock of 40 Ashy Minivets. Also two cute Forest Wagtails on the floor added to the migratory bird list.




Thursday, April 10, 2014

Supsadao, Khao Yai, Watprabhutabahtnoi, Don Muang

Supsadao, Khao Yai, Watprabhutabahtnoi, Don Muang

8-10th of April 2014

I have wanted to visit the Sapsadao substation of Taplan National Park for a long time but never got around doing so.

When Ike Suriwong came for a visit we both thought it to be a good idea to give the place a try.
The area is primarily a dry dipterocarp covered forest with several species not found in more wet deciduous forest on higher levels of nearby Khao Yai National Park.

It was tricky to get information of how to get to the place and as it turned out the reported kilometer markings were all changed and of no help. Instead we had to stop frequently and ask the locals for directions.

Basically we drove from Bangkok passed Nakorn Nayok and kept going towards Kabinburi where we turned left onto highway number 304. This is a major road connecting the Northeast with the Southeast and has a lot of traffic on an at times narrow road crossing the mountains on its way to the plateau of the Northeast.

We had a nice late breakfast in an area called Wang NamKaew. This is a well known recreational area for Thai people with many orchards, resorts and eateries .

After our meal we came upon the entrance to Sakerat wildlife sanctuary. This area is famous for Siamese Firebacks being easy along the narrow road passed headquarters. It was after 9 am but we still saw 3 birds displaying and feeding along the road. This would serve as a good back up place if failing to see them at Khao Yai some 80 kilometers away.

Once on the other side of the mountain passage the challenge of finding our way began in earnest. In the end we found Supsadao about 27 km away from road 304 after having done a number of turns into the interior.

The graveled road took us through a landscape full of plantations, cassava, rubber, sugar and corn being the main crops.

Some good birds seen along this road were Crested Honey Buzzard, Rufus-winged Buzzard,
Indo-Chinese Bushlark, Hoopoe and Green Bee-eaters.

The access road to the forest reserve was very birdy inspite of our late arrival at noon.
Almost immediately we got on to several Blossom-headed Parakeets including young ones.
Grey-breasted Prinias were very vocal. Common Iora likewise. A couple of Velvet-fronted Nuthatches brightened up the show. A pair of Small Minivets added more color. Rufous Treepies were obvious. Vinous-breasted Starlings rather common. A Black-headed Woodpecker came to feed on something on the road.
Loads of White-vented Mynas around and a few Hill Mynas as well.
Lineated Barbets kept singing. Olive-backed Sunbirds were common.
Closer to headquarters Red-breasted Parakeets took over from the Blossom-headed.
Once passed the head quarters the forest became taller and fewer smaller birds were seen.

Good birds seen in here were: Red-billed Blue Magpie, Lesser Yellownape, Comon Flameback,
Large Cuckoo Shrike, Black Baza, Rufescent Prinia, Eurasian Jay and Shikra.

Our main target bird: White-browed Fantail eluded us during our afternoon visit and continued to do so on the following morning. Perhaps it is more scarce then reported or it was breeding?

We found a simple hotel back on 304 and went back for a morning session the day after.
There were a lot of activity but not many new birds seen.

Best highlite was to get some close up images of Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker and Common Wood Shrike. We also saw a single Burmese Shrike.

Other common birds in the area: Indian Roller, Pied Fantail, Asian Palm Swift, Barnswallow, Magpie Robin, Eastern Jungle Crow, Ashy Wood Swallow, Plain-backed Sparrows, Scaly-breasted Munias, Taiga Flycatcher, Radde’s Warbler, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Barred Buttonquail, Pied Bushchat, Siberian Stonechat.

I wanted to see what the road driving from Wang Namkaew to Khao Yai was like and it turned out to be an easy drive on a good but winding road. It only took 1 hour from the turn off on 304 to get to the park entrance. Along the way we stopped to view some Crested Treeswift on wires.

The afternoon we spent inside of Khao Yai but both our target birds were not seen. White-throated Rock Thrush most likely left for its breeding grounds and the Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo no longer showing by the restaurant.  It is also breeding season for this bird.
We know it would be a bit risky to go after these birds so didn’t feel too disappointed.
Instead we found a nice European styled restaurant and treated ourselves to a nice supper.

Juladit Resort has been taken over by some developers but J2, the old part of Juladit, still offer some better priced rooms. So, good air-con, Wifi and comfortable beds was all we needed.

Next morning we got up early to make sure to be at Watpraputtabahtnoi on time.
The temple is situated 20minutes drive North of Suraburi and took us a little over an hour to get to.

In the morning the strong song of Limestone Wren Babblers dominate the area even outdoing the every so noisy dogs present.

We saw 4 different pairs of this endemic sub-species. A great wildlife encounter.

Then back to Bangkok but first a quick visit to an area of Don Muang where a feral population of Java Sparrows are known to hang out. After some search we found a pair with two juveniles by their nest on a building.

Back home again after lunch and now contemplating how to best spend the days during Songkran festival. 

Siamese  Fireback

                                                                Lesser Yellownape

                                                       Grey-capped Woodpecker

                                                  Velvet-fronted Nuthatch

                                                         Common Wood Shrike

                                                         Limestone Wren Babbler

Monday, March 31, 2014

Sri Pangnga and Krung Ching in March 2014

Sri Pangnga National Park and Krung Ching waterfall
19-26th of March 2014

For a few years I have been wanting to visit Sri Pangnga in the pre breeding season for the Malay Banded Pitta.  This year it worked out for me to do so.

Driving the 800km from Bangkok basically took all day and I arrived in the late afternoon when I briefly visited Sri Pangnga National Park. Instead of staying in park bungalows I opted for a Homestay about 6 km North of the park turn off. The Homestay had Wifi, air-con, hot showers and was cheap at 350Baht/night.

Being in the Southern forest is always refreshing.  A lot of different sounds from Central and Northern Thailand. I enjoy hearing the birds almost as much as seeing them which is good cause in this environment seeing them isn’t all that easy.

During my stay at Sri Pangnga I had several  ‘sessions’ with the Banded Pitta, both male and female.
The birds had acquired a taste for meal worms and were easily lured out in the open. Still, light conditions were poor and photography challenging. I used my pop up blind as well as a tripod to get the shoots I wanted.

I also spent a short time in my blind by the stream and got the Chestnut-naped Forktail I hoped for, as well as a surprise male Banded Pitta coming out into the stream.

There were many Spectacled Bulbuls singing in the park. Nice to have learned its song.

Great Argus were calling every morning form up the hills. That would be one awesome bird to go after at some point.

Great Hornbills seemed pretty regular as did Bushy–crested Hornbills. They sound very different from the Hornbills in Central  Thailand and I quite enjoyed hearing them ‘sing’. I didn’t get any perch views but saw several birds in flight.

Whiskered Treeswift and Silver-rumped Needletails were easy to spot. None of these are found in Central Thailand so a great opportunity to take in something different.

My time at Sri Pangnga was rather relaxed as I didn’t have many targets. I tried for Gould’s Frogmouth one evening and one morning but never connected with it though others did during the time I was there.

One day I drove to Thaimuang about 100 km South of the Park past Khao Luck.
Here in a known recreational park a pair of Spotted Wood Owls have taken up residue.
This time I was very fortunate as some folks from Had Yai were already on to the birds as I arrived midday. The birds were roosting very high and hard to detect.  So with ‘a little help from my friend’ it worked out well.  A new bird for my Thai list.

Krung Ching waterfall, Nakorn  Sritammarat

From Sri Pangnga to KC it takes about 4 hours. KC is on the Eastern side of the Peninsular and Sri Pangnga on the Western side.

KC is a lush sub-station  and part of Khao Luang National Park.  Here many good Southern birds can be found, both along the access road and the trail that leads to the waterfall.

This time I stayed at a new Homestay about 1 km before the park checkpoint. It has clean rooms, air-con, Wifi and excellent hospitality and food.

A fruiting tree gave good sights of feeding Barbets and Bulbuls plus an Orange-headed Thrush.

A resident Blue-winged Pitta lurked in the vegetation by the tree to come out and snatch some fallen fruit at times.

Black-Yellow Broadbills were abundant.

Javan Frogmouth  was breeding and easy to approach.

Many Raffles Malkohas seen.

Green Broadbills were not that active but I connected well with a pair along the trail.

Scarlet Trogon showed well along the trail.

A pair of Red-bearded Bee-eaters were very accommodating.

I got my much wanted Fluffy-backed Tit Babblers along the trail. They sound much like Chestnut-winged Babblers, a much more common bird, so watch out.

Cool Bulbuls were Grey-cheeked, Spectacled, Hairy-backed and Yellow-bellied. None found in Central Thailand. Of course the best one was the Scaly-breasted found feeding in the fig tree.

Daang, the ranger, helped me to get on to the Brown Wood Owl well one evening. My only lifer for the trip. We also heard Barred Eagle Owls, another owl I need to return for.

A Ruddy Kingfisher along the trail was my only 2nd sighting of this bird in Thailand.

Many birds were nesting and not yet feeding young so I think in a month it will be more active.

I did see a bunch of other stuff but didn’t keep a list. I was hoping for Fiery Minivet and Black Hornbills but dipped on both. 

All in all a pleasant trip that I’d gladly do again.

                                                      Great Hornbill


                                                    Malay Banded Pitta, female

                                                      Malay Banded Pitta, male

                                                     Chestnut-capped Forktail

                                                         White-rumped Needletail

                                                             Spotted Wood Owl

                                                             Blue-eared Kingfisher

                                                       Red-bearded Bee-eater

                                                      Dark-throated Oriole

                                                         Gold-whiskered Barbet

                                                        Scaly-breasted Bulbul

                                                                Javan Frogmouth, female

                                                          Brown Wood Owl

                                                        Bushy-crested Hornbill

                                                          Green Broadbill

                                                           Blue-winged Pitta

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Back to Bahkplee, Nakorn Nayok

It had been a month and a half since I last visited this great site. Helge Sorensen from Denmark, a dedicated photographer from Denmark happily agreed to give the site a try. I had seen a number of good species at the site already and was curious how things had developed. 

On this morning the weather was rather odd. Gloomy and a drop in temperature. It is very warm in Bangkok now so to sit in the blind at 21C was quite pleasant. Some of the birds I had seen before never showed up: Bluethroat, Red-throated Pipit, Zitting Cisticola and Oriental Skylark to be precise. Instead there were 2 new ones and the 1st one was a surprise: Long-tailed Shrike.

This Paddyfield Pipit stayed with us during the entire 2 and half hours in the hide.

Happily the Rosy Pipit still showed well though not more then 3 times in the time we were there. The malars are now gone and some of the streaking on the flanks and breast have disappeared. I hope it stays another month.

Last month I finally after so many years of birding in Thailand saw my 1st Horsfield's Bushlark at this site.
Since then I have seen it at Thatorn as well.
Today I heard it sing and used a short burst of playback to draw it in. It never came to feed but was curious enough to briefly drop by twice. It is a lot paler then Indo-chinese Bushlark, the rufous in the wing is weaker and the white in the tail is prominent in flight. The song is also very different from Indo-chinese. Very happy to have seen and photographed it!

                                      Stejnegeri's Stonechat performed nicely.

                                                   Here is the female.

Lastly the Eastern Yellow Wagtail. I think this is a 1st year old male of the race M.f. thunbergi

                                After that all that remained was a drive to the airport.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Part 2

We spent a few days in wooded areas of Kaengkrachan and Khao Yai. We did not see any Pittas of Broadbills but many other nice forest dwelling birds. 

Orange-headed Trogon

                                            Bar-backed Partridge

                                             White-browed Scimitar Babbler

           While en route to Khao Yai we saw a resident form of Black Baza over open fields.

Khao Yai is the place you need to visit for Siamese Firebacks and they did deliver as they fed on fallen blossoms.

Silver Pheasent is a lot harder to find but the early morning gave us views of 9 birds in two groups.

The Barred Cuckoo Dove is ridiculously shy so it was a surprise that this one would post long enough for fairly close views.

                                                       Hainan Blue Flycatcher

                                               Siberian Blue Robin

                                     Ever so attractive: Orange-headed Thrush

                            And our annual little friend Mugimaki Flycatcher showed well.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

2 week trip! Part 1

In January I had the honor of assisting a German couple to 2 weeks of birding in Central and Northern Thailand. It is always so nice to be out with folks with passion and genuine joy for the birds themselves and yet striving for seeing as much as possible but without it becoming a frustration. 

We set out for the waders and ended up with over 40 species seen. I didn't use my camera much with the waders as much of my time was occupied with the spotting scope. 
During the boat ride out to the sand spit I had a chance to click away. Some great views of the Chinese Egret along the way. Note the smudgy bill and the green legs.

The tide had dropped enough for some larger gulls to congregate out there. Here is a pair of Heuglin's Gull at the spit.

                    Pallas's was also in the area as seen in this flight shot.

           The dark phased morph of Pacific Reef Egret is always a beauty to behold!

           Snipes can be very obvious at the King's project and this time I got a Pintailed Snipe in the open.