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. 






Friday, May 29, 2020

Birds at home!

The first really long rains kept falling through the night making me decide against going out this morning.

But after rains birds sing!

First one as usual is the ever so noisy Asian Koel. I don’t think there is a single birder that doesn’t know it by sound.

The distinctive whistles of Malaysian Pied Fantail follows. We have a resident pair in our garden and it is always fun to watch these little buggers hunt insects.

The Eastern Jungle Crows, (Large-billed Crows) fly over our house in the early morning and some of them make a little stop on the rooftops or trees across the road.

The loveliest singer of them all starts singing really early. Magpie Robin whereof we have several pairs in the immeditate surroundings. They often come for a drink of water or on the lawn to look for grubs.

Greater Coucal is also mostly active in the early morning and you can hear its low pitched booming call. It must be a master of disguise cause as large as it is and as common as it is in urban areas it isn’t always readily seen.

Our 3rd Cuckoo, Plaintive Cuckoo, has 3 different vocalizations. Once learned one realize how regular it is. Not always so easy to see but not that hard either.

The incessant call of Brown-throated Sunbird grabbed my attention. A male singing from the top of an ornate palm tree. The song always reminds me of Chiffchaffs from Northern Europe in that they keep at it seemingly forever.

The Olive-backed Sunbird however has a more simple contact call but is a more common then Brown-throated and often visits the flowers in our garden. It also does its explosive drill like song.
I only had a fly by Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker but its rapid tick-tick-tick-tick-tick makes it hard to go unnoticed.

Great Myna and Common Myna are loud birds always around. They like our little vegetable garden as well as the lawn. But they also enjoy telephone wires and top of buildings. I still haven’t achieved the level of telling them apart by sound.

Common Tailorbird with its repetitive call note is another bird always in the area but due to its small size and feeding behavior not always obvious.

Common Iora is always here but often silent and hidden in the vegetation. It has several sounds but is not hard to identify once learned.

The appropriately named Coppersmith Barbet with its one tonal call is a daily bird. A real winner with its striking colors and exotic looks.

So then our 2 resident doves: Spotted and Zebra……they are always here though Zebra is more common then Spotted. Zebra is one of those birds the locals like to use for song bird competition. Seems a bit out of place but a past time hobby for some I suppose.

We have 2 species of Bulbuls on our daily garden list and so it was this morning as well.
Yellow-vented, always in pairs, with nice musical notes. When I first started birding I was awakened by a rich song and I thought it was a Straw-headed Bulbul since I had heard that it would be the best singer of the Bulbuls. The song was coming from inside bushes and it was difficult to see it. So later when I found out I was surprised. Anyhow, the Straw-headed is no longer found in Thailand and very rare anywhere else as well.

Streak-eared Bulbuls are not very musical. Just a chatter. Very successful birds they are in terms of survival rate and I guess that is due to its rather dull appearance, poor vocals and bold behavior.

The last birds to add to the symphony this morning was our 2 sparrow species. We have a group of about 10 Eurasian Tree Sparrows but mixed with them is a pair or 2 of House Sparrows. The latter has a harsher sound that stands out from the chattering from the Tree Sparrows.

All this was enjoyed along with home baked Italian bread made by my son Steven and some fantastic aged Castello Alp Selection Classic Bergkase.

Sounds can be found at www.xeno-canto.org
And the birds here: https://www.facebook.com/peterericsson56/media_set…
https://ebird.org/checklist/S69820757

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Black-browed and Oriental Reed Warbler

The Oriental Reed Warbler is a form the Great Reed Warbler. It is the most common
Acrocephalus in Thailand and quite easy to spot in the morning. It also is very vocal and 
thus readily found.


            It also enjoys to forage in trees some thing that Thick-billed Warbler also likes so caution
          to be taken as to the ID. These 2 birds song sound a lot a like though the call note is quite
          different. Also the ORW has a prominent eyebrow but is lacking in Thick-billed Warbler.






         ORW is found primarily in Eastern Asia. It breeds mostly in China and southern Russia but
         spend the winter in the warmer areas of primarily SEA.

          Call note commonly heard: https://www.xeno-canto.org/462181
          Song:  https://www.xeno-canto.org/462826


          THICK-BILLED WARBLER

           A bird often associated with water but not always reeds. Can be found in more wooded areas.

            The taxonomy is still confusing and the bird keeps being shifted around.

           Call: https://www.xeno-canto.org/508626
           Song: https://www.xeno-canto.org/485180

          





           BLACK-BROWED REED WARBLER

         A common Acropcephalus. It is readily distinguished from ORW by smaller size, warmer
          brown color and a distinctive black brow. Manchurian Reed Warbler has a similiar look but
          not as strong a black brow, longer tail and longer bill.

         It is a Far Eastern bird with its breeding grounds in China and summer grounds primarily in
         SEA.

         It is very active and fun to watch.

          Call: https://www.xeno-canto.org/510519
         
          Song: https://www.xeno-canto.org/545596

          




Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Baikal Bush Warbler




This is a bird that I badly wanted to photograph.  It took me a long time to even see one well,
let alone have one come out in the relative open.                                                                       
           Eventually it paid off and these images were taken from my car as the bird emerged from
           the reeds into the scrub.

           These birds are real skulkers and this was actually only my 3rd proper sighting of the species.
           I had seen it at Bangpra, Chonburi and at Num Kum, Chiang Mai prior to this.





Rather heavy streaking on the breast. 


           Baikal Bush Warbler is another Locustella found in Northern and Central Thailand.
    It breeds in the southern parts of Far Eastern Russia and northern parts of North Eastern China.
    I don't hear it often in mid winter but towards March/April it starts to vocalize a lot more.

Here is the normal song: https://www.xeno-canto.org/549297

And here the rather subdued contact call: https://www.xeno-canto.org/430370


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler and Lanceolated Warbler

 


It took me quite some time to develop an interest in various types of Warblers. There are so many other more obvious birds full of color and easier to see then this often rather skulky group of birds.

But evidently one starts to wonder what is making all those sounds  that eminate from the reed beds so armed with curiosity and a lot of trial and error the quest began.

This spring before these bird migrated to their breeding grounds in Siberia etc I spent more time getting to know them and trying to learn both sounds and behavior a bit better.


One of the more attractive one is the Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler aka Rusty-rumped Warbler.

It belongs to the family of Locustella warblers but this family which now has been split in to 2 clades.

Helopsaltes is a genus of passerine birds in the grassbird family Locustellidae.
A comprehensive molecular phylogenetic study of the grassbird family Locustellidae published in 2018 found that the genus Locustella consisted of two distinct clades. The genus was split and six species were moved to the newly erected genus Helopsaltes with Pallas's grasshopper warbler (Helopsaltes certhiola) as the type species. The genus name combines the Ancient Greek ἕλος/helos meaning "marshy ground" and ψάλτης/psaltes "a musician playing a string instrument". Wikipedia




At my local patch, Lat Krabang, the bird is found in the reed beds, sometimes venturing out into the rice fields and sometimes into the adjacent scrub. Early morning is always best to try to catch a glimpse and as in the photos I obtained, the usage of a hide is just about a necessity. This time my car served as a hide.

The strong streaking on the back is a give away and can only be confused with Lanceolated Warbler at LK. However Lanceolated seem a lot less showy and almost always appear on the ground where it runs around like a little mouse.

The white-tipped tail feathers and the rusty rump are other give away features for Pallas's though the white tips seem to often be worn.

It is primarily an Eastern Asian species but is also found in some of the Central parts of Asia.

The bird has many sounds and once the more frequent ones are learned it is surprising to realize how common the species is.

https://www.xeno-canto.org/462895

 And here is the song even if not the full version.

https://www.xeno-canto.org/553037

LANCEOLATED WARBLER


The bird has heavy streaking on the flanks and throat.

It seems a lot less numerous then Pallas's but that could also be due to being overlooked. I seldom hear it singing but more often a chuck which is very similar to many other warblers.  

Here is the regular call:  https://www.xeno-canto.org/545597

And here is a faster call which might be the alarm call:  https://www.xeno-canto.org/546603

And here is the very typical Locustella song:  https://www.xeno-canto.org/286274

These birds are found more Westerly then Pallas's but their summer grounds are exclusive to SEA.

From Wikipedia:

 The Lanceolated warbler (Locustella lanceolata) is an Old World warbler in the grass warbler genus Locustella. It breeds from northeast European Russia across the Palearctic to northern Hokkaidō, Japan. It is migratory, wintering in Southeast Asia. The genus name Locustella is from Latin and is a diminutive of locusta, "grasshopper".[2] This refers to the song of the common grasshopper warbler and some others in this genus.[3] The specific lanceolata is Latin for "spear-shaped" and refers to the streaks on the breast.[2]



 


Monday, November 18, 2019

Bazas



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.





Falcons

 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





Red-bearded Bee-eater



Blue-tailed Bee-eater
 


























Chestnut-headed Bee-eater

Monday, September 23, 2019

Sulawesi/Halmahera 25th September - 13th October 2021!!!

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.

https://pbase.com/peterericsson/sulawesihalmahera_2014

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 peter.ericsson@gmail.com 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
Maleo
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