Sunday, February 22, 2015

White-browed Fantail

 Just a couple of days ago I received my new yearly visa. It is always so much paper work and one just never know what will be required. I was very relieved when it all came through, meaning, Thailand has to put up with me for another year!

So, to celebrate I decided to do a 2nd try for the White-browed Fantail at Sapsadao. This is a very difficult bird in Thailand and though present in fragmented areas of dry dipterocarp forest, apparently best seen at Sapsadao.

I had dipped on my 1st attempt. Got to the site in the late afternoon after an almost 5 hour drive (traffic runs slow over the forested mountains that leads into the NorthEast). Lots of birds were showing but not the Fantail.

Spent the night in a small hotel by the main road warding off the charming little ladies frequenting the neighbourhood.

All morning in potential habitat but NO bird! Well, I decided to go for lunch and on the way out simply sat in the car while recording some bird songs and hoping for a picture or two.

I normally don't rely too much on playback though I use it. I seldom play it for long. Anyhow, this time I thought I'd leave it on play and put it on the roof of the car while I remained inside. After less then 2 minutes it had called the attention of 2 White-browed Fantails that were incredibly inquisitive! This was at 11:55 and not what I had expected.
Big smiles, camera out , sound to be recorded!

As they say: God's delays are not denials!


Rufous-bellied Woodpecker

 They say the secret to patience is to stay busy while you are waiting.
Well, I have waited for years to have an opportunity to see the Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, never having been in an area where it is found here in Thailand. So, on the 13th of Dec Nick Upton reported one at Mae Ping not too far from Chiang Mai. A number of people  quickly  went to see it but I had to wait till 2 days before the end of the year when I spent an afternoon and a morning without finding it.
So, after my fun trip with Peter Sharland​ and his wife Jenny I decided to give it another try.
This afternoon I arrived at the area for the bird at 3:45. It was dead quiet and hot. A few birds started vocalizing and I could tell Grey-headed Parakeets, Common Flameback, Lineated Barbet, Hooded Oriole were around........then I heard the strident call of the Rufous-bellied WP. Quite similar to Greater Flameback.
I moved towards the bird but must have scared it off as it quickly started calling from behind me.
This time I just stood there and waited. It didn't take long before I got brief but clear views of this little stunner! Years of waiting for an opportunity had finally arrived.
It is the only sap sucking woodpecker here and it was interesting to see the many holes in this one tree.

 A recording I did of the bird is found here:

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Brown Noddy

 I don't know how many records there are of Brown Noddy in Thai waters but there certainly are not many.
Together with 5 Expat birders here in Thailand we hired a boat in search of one that had been reported in the Paktaley area.
None of us had seen it anywhere so it turned out to be a successful and fun trip for all.
The Noddy, being a tern, was feeding alongside primarily White-winged, Whiskered and Common Terns. Schools of small fish are common in the area about 10km from the shore line.
It wasn't easy to hold the camera still in choppy waters but some frames turned out ok.

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


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:

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.

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!