Thursday, July 21, 2016

3 days in July

18-20th of July 2016
With Pete Mooney from New Jersey

Pete is a herpetologist but has an interest for birds and so asked me to help out for a few days before he would join a couple of friends in Bali for some herping.
We agreed to a plan as follow.

Day 1. Fields of Petchaburi  in the morning and outskirts of Kaengkrachan National Park in the afternoon.
Day 2. All day at the lower levels of Kaengkrachan.
Day 3. Lower levels till noon and some fields on the way back to Bangkok in the afternoon

Day 1. We got to the fields around 7 am. A lot less birds then in the dry season but still birdy enough to keep the interest. The 3 species of Weavers were still at it being busy in their breeding colonies.
Asian Golden seemed to be the  most common this time.
Some fields were full of Egrets and Openbills. A nice surprise was a Stork-billed Kingfisher that flew over our heads after it sang in some nearby trees for a bit. White-throated Kingfisher wasn’t far away either so both these two colorful birds showed well.
At WatKhaotakrow there were 12 Spot-billed Pelicans. These are much easier in the wet season and often missed in the dry season.
Not many wader around but atleast we got on to some Oriental Pratincoles both in flight and on the ground.
Pulling in to Baan Maka, our resort, gave us almost instantly a Blue-winged Pitta as it hopped around on the resort grounds in search of worms for its hungry chicks. 

After a delicious dinner the night fell. Almost instantly the call of Collared Scops Owl was heard.
I got on to it quickly but it flew off just to call deeper inside the vegetation.  We followed it with our headlights on. Suddenly, I spotted a Reticulated Python in front of me. Pete got very enthusiastic as this was a new snake for him. Funny how the Almighty  seem to reward people according to their individual desires.  I normally don’t look for snakes to be honest but in this case it was high on Pete's wish list. 

Day 2. We entered the park around 6:30. Thankfully we never encountered any rain during our 3 days inspite of dark skies and lingering rain. It was a lot quieter then normal to  but enough new impressions to keep Pete happy. I mean, how can you not be anything but appreciative when you are visiting a SEA tropical forest the first time?

The best birds of the day were the Broadbills with Silver-breasted, Black-red and Banded leading the way!  A pair of Great Hornbills finally showed in the late afternoon and will not be forgotten. 

After having walked a trail in the afternoon we were back on the road walking towards the car when suddenly Pete spotted another snake. This time a Monocled Cobra.  I let Pete examine it while I kept safely away.  I do appreciate these beings but have a healthy fear of getting to close. I suppose it being the wet season had something to do with seeing two species in 2 days? Either way, it was a major highlight for this snake man who has worked with snakes on a professional level for many many years. 

Day 3. Back in the park to pick up a few more things. We finally added some woodpeckers to the list but the definite highlight was an Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher next to the road. 

 Pete happily shared his experiences with herping from primarily Central and South America and time seemed to go by quickly. 

Asian Golden Weaver

Streaked Weaver

Orange-bellied Flowerpecker

Blue-winged Pitta

Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher

Silver-breasted Broadbill

Here is a list of birds we encountered.
Not that long, but then again, it isn’t only about a long list, is it?

1.       Little Grebe
2.       Little Cormorant
3.       Indian Shag
4.       Grey Heron
5.       Purple Heron
6.       Javan Pond Heron
7.       Black-crowned Night-Heron
8.       Cattle Egret
9.       Great Egret
10.   Yellow Bittern
11.   Black Bittern
12.   Asian Openbill
13.   Painted Stork
14.   Spot-billed Pelican – a dozen
15.   Lesser Whistling Duck
16.   Brahimy Kite
17.   Black-shouldered Kite
18.   Crested Goshawk
19.   Crested Serpent Eagle – heard
20.   Red Junglefowl
21.   Ferruginous Partridge – heard
22.   Green-legged Partridge – heard
23.   White-breasted Waterhen
24.   Bronze-winged Jacana
25.   Red-wattled Lapwing
26.   Little Ringed Plover
27.   Wood Sandpiper
28.   Oriental Pratincole
29.   Black-winged Stilt
30.   Rock Pigeon
31.   Spotted Dove
32.   Peaceful Dove
33.   Red Collared Dove
34.   Emerald Dove
35.   Drongo Cuckoo – heard
36.   Plaintive Cuckoo – heard
37.   Banded Bay Cuckoo – heard
38.   Greater Coucal
39.   Asian Koel
40.   Chestnut-breasted Malkoha – a pair
41.   Collared Scops Owl
42.   Collared Owlet – heard
43.   Orange-breasted Trogon – heard at least half a dozen but couldn’t get on to them
44.   Stork-billed Kingfisher – 1 seen well
45.   White-throated Kingfisher
46.   Collared Kingfisher
47.   Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher  (back-backed kf)
48.   Banded Kingfisher – heard
49.   Green Bee-eater
50.   Blue-throated Bee-eater
51.   Blue-bearded Bee-eater
52.   Indian Roller
53.   Asian Pied Hornbill
54.   Great Hornbill
55.   Blue-eared Barbet – heard
56.   Common Flameback
57.   Greater Yellownape
58.   Streak-breasted Woodpecker
59.   Silver-breasted Broadbill
60.   Banded Broadbill
61.   Black-red Broadbill
62.   Black-yellow Broadbill
63.   Blue-winged Pitta
64.   Blue Pitta – heard
65.   Germain’s Swiftlet
66.   Asian Palm Swift
67.   House Swift
68.   Grey-rumped Treeswift
69.   Barnswallow
70.   Rufous-winged Bushlark – very showy this time of year
71.   Grey Wagtail
72.   Scarlet Minivet – heard
73.   Common Iora
74.   Gold-fronted Leafbird
75.   Black-crested Bulbul
76.   Black-headed Bulbul
77.   Buff-vented Bulbul
78.   Ochraceous Bulbul
79.   Sooty-headed Bulbul
80.   Streak-eared Bulbul
81.   Stripe-throated Bulbul
82.   Yellow-vented Bulbul
83.   Black Drongo
84.   Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
85.   Hooded Oriole – heard
86.   Asian Fairy Bluebird
87.   Crested Jay – several heard
88.   Eastern Jungle Crow
89.   Sultan’s Tit
90.   Puff-throated Babbler - heard
91.   Striped Tit Babbler - heard
92.   Rufous-fronted Babbler
93.   Large Scimitar Babbler – heard
94.   Brown-cheeked Fulvetta – heard
95.   Chestnut-capped Babbler – a pair
96.   Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush – heard
97.   Zitting Cisticola – heard
98.   Yellow-bellied Prinia
99.   Plain Prinia
100.                        Grey-breasted Prinia – heard
101.                        Common Tailorbird
102.                        Dark-necked Tailorbird – heard
103.                        Oriental Magpie Robin
104.                        White-rumped Shama
105.                        Slaty-backed Forktail – 1 seen
106.                        Pied Fantail
107.                        Ashy Woodswallow
108.                        White-vented Myna
109.                        Common Myna
110.                        Hill Myna
111.                        Olive-backed  Sunbird
112.                        Brown-throated Sunbird
113.                        Ruby-cheeked Sunbird
114.                        Little Spiderhunter – heard
115.                        Orange-bellied  Flowerpecker
116.                        Eurasian Tree Sparrow
117.                        Asian Golden Weaver
118.                        Streaked Weaver
119.                        Baya Weaver
120.                        Scaly-breasted Munia
121.                        White-rumped Munia

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Kaengkrachan part 2

White-browed Piculet
 We also did some walkabout photography inside of Kaengkrachan National Park.

Walking with camera gear give less opportunity but produces images that are not 'look alike' as the shots from feeding stations often are.

I use Canon 7D coupled with 100-400Mark2

Ideally I should upgrade to the 7D2
Long-tailed Broadbills

Banded Kingfisher, female

Banded Kingfisher, male

Common Flameback, female

Dusky Broadbill

Silver-breasted Broadbill

Hooded Pitta

Grey Peacock Pheasant

Hair-crested Drongo

Friday, June 10, 2016

Photography trip in late April

Kevin Bartlett wanted to photograph Broadbills after some work in Bangkok.
We spent 6 lovely days together both inside of Kaengkrachan National Park as well as in the outskirts and some fields of Petchaburi province.
Kevin managed to photograph 5 species of Broadbills much to his delight. He also got his 1st Pitta species on film and just generally had a good time with the birds.

These are my own images. I didn't pursue all birds as I have photographed them previously.

It was still dry in the park after an unusually long dry season. Birds were starting to breed though and we did encounter sporadic rain.

The Pittas were active as well and we heard 4 species and saw 2.

We also saw numerous Yellow-rumped Flycatchers as well as a few Green-backed. These birds are passage migrants and otherwise not seen in the park.

Lodging and dining was at Baan Maka, the default choice of accommodation.

These images are all from a hide by a waterhole. 

 Asian Golden Weavers sparkle in the reed beds as they are busy building nests.

Oriental Pratincoles prefer dry open mud for their nesting grounds. 

Yellow-rumped Flycatchers use the waterhole as they pass through Central Thailand on their way to their breeding grounds in Northern China etc.

Crested Goshawk isn't all that dangerous at the waterhole but the little birds retreat when it shows up for a drink.

Lineated Pheasant, male, likes to join the party.

Forest Wagtail looking for grubs on the forest floor.

Green Magpie is one stunning as well as mean looking creature......loud and ferocious....

Female Asian Fairy Bluebird is not a regular visitor to the waterhole but in the dry season all birds have to seek what little water there is. 

One of my favorite birds. Racket-tailed Treepies.....resident bird with a stunning plumage.

Abbott's Babbler

Try seeing a Large Scimitar Babbler outside of the water holes. Highly skulky species.

Asian Paradise Flycatcher 

Bar-backed Partridge with a lovely patterned plumage. 

Blue-bearded Bee-eater is a bird of the more open forest. 

White-browed Scimitar Babbler just seem to love water. Kept coming every 10 minutes for hours on end. 

Large Wood Shrike is not often seen at the waterhole.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

10 days of fun in the North!

Short-tailed Parrotbill

16-25th of March 2016
By Peter Ericsson

No more bookings for 2nd half of March gave me an excellent opportunity to do some birding on my own. For so long I have wanted to see the two specialties of Poo Suan Sai National Park in Loei province. Having visited it twice but only briefly so had not yielded neither Short-tailed Parrotbill nor Rufous-throated Fulvetta. 

I had heard of the drought in the park with resultant visits from the Parrotbill to a small man made waterhole.  The drive was long but on good roads and took me the better part of the day.
I did manage to arrive at 3 pm and immediately arranged to visit the hide. One of the rangers has taken upon himself this little project and for a small fee let’s one use the hide.
The hide was made inside of a rather large water pipe and made me feel like I was sitting inside a 2WW bunker. It was dark and most of the birds coming in were small little brown things.
I had seen pictures of up to 5 Parrotbills on the same branch so I was optimistic.
However, after 2 full hours of nothing but the common stuff, I started to wonder.
Then, suddenly, my eyes caught sight of a small bird coming through the thicket/bamboo. Out popped a single Short-tailed Parrotbill, perched for 3 second before it decided to take off. It appeared intimidated by a huge Blue Whistling Thrush occupying the pond.
Well, that was enough for me to get a few frames and my eyes filled with a cracking little bird I had wanted for so long.

Rufous-throated Fulvetta
Instead of staying inside the park I drove 20 km back to Nah Haew where I found a very nice resort (Nah Haew Resort)……..nearby was an outdoor restaurant and so I settled for the night after some good local food and cold refreshments. 

Yellow-bellied Warbler
Buff-breasted Babbler

Golden Babbler

Day2.  Up fairly early and back into the park. This time to another stake out. I didn’t have to wait at all to get my target bird here. A small flock of Rufous-throated Fulvettas were eagerly waiting to be fed some juicy meal worms. What a neat looking bird this is! It’s amazing to think it only is known from here! 

White-rumped Munias
Spotted Bush Warbler

My next destination included another 6-8 hour drive so I packed up my gear fairly early and started the drive. It took me through some windy, 
 hilly areas I have never been through before. The area was not very populated and seemed to hold substantial amounts of growth in the form of forest, scrub and plantations. These rare birds probably occur on other mountains in that area but no one goes birding there.
So in the later afternoon I arrived at Mae Chan, near Chiang Saan, Chiang Rai province.
There is a nice hotel in town that I have used a number of times and it provided all the comforts I needed including Wifi.

Day 3. For a few years now I have wanted to visit the hides at Nam Kum, Chiang Saan, without having to rush through. My main problem was to decide whether to visit the Cettia hide for Firethroat or the Rubyhide for the reed and bush warblers. Well, it was easily solved as I was told by a ringer that the Firethroat often shows at around 8 am. I popped in at 8 and no sooner had I sat down when it showed. Didn’t even have time to set up my tripod! Wow!

After that it was all about the Rubyhide where I parked myself till 2:30 pm when my last wanted bird decided to show. Look at these names and you can imagine my delight: Paddyfield Warbler, Spotted Bush Warbler, Baikal Bush Warbler, Black-browed Reed Warbler, Dusky Warbler, Siberian Rubythroat and Red Avadavats……….

The ringer also showed me a Blunt-winged Warbler he had caught that morning! What a treat! Thank you Worapot!

Baikal Bush Warbler

Red Avadavat
A very late meal by the Mekong River at the Golden Triangle over looking Myanmar and Laos while dining in Thailand followed!
After the meal a fairly short drive (little over an hour) to  Tha Torn and the night at Garden Resort. As usual good food and lovely ambiance.
Day 4. I bit of a drive out of town to some fields where both Black-headed and Red-headed Buntings had been reported seem. I failed to see either one but enjoyed a lot of other open country birds and as the heat started up I moved up to higher grounds at Doi Lang.
Fires had gone through and the roadside looked burned out in most places in a very dry landscape. There were hardly any other birders around in spite of it being Saturday. My very first bird was a rather obliging Giant Nuthatch!
I met a sweet Thai couple that asked me if I had seen Hodgson’s Frogmouth. Ha! That was my reason for visiting….so they proceeded to give me the details to where the nesting bird was! Another lifer I had wanted for very long but not had time to pursue!
I spent the rest of the day enjoying whatever came my way, listening to the birds and trying to put name to what I heard.
Day 5. Both morning and evening at the field in search of Buntings. This time it went better as I got some good views of Black-headed but still not Red-headed. There were several Yellow-breasted Buntings around, Siberian Rubythroat, Bluethroat, and the local race of Plain Prinia, a male Pied Harrier and Yellow-eyed Babblers to name some of the more interesting ones.
I had now shifted to Fang where I stayed for 3 nights. Inside of Fang it is a little tricky to find good eating places but I have a clear winner. As you drive out of Fang going south, pass Tesco Lotus and hit a stop light there is a restaurant on the right hand corner. This place doesn’t look like much to the world but they sure know how to cook up a storm of succulent local food! 

Day 6. Again I spent the morning looking for more Buntings and I did manage views of Red-headed howbeit not very good ones. Laid back afternoon. 

Day 7. An early drive up Doi Angkhang to enjoy a change of scenery. It was very windy up there so proved futile to look for Bush Warblers which is what I had hoped to do.
Instead I did some general birding and started the drive towards Doi Inthanon in the late morning. I arrived at DI safe and went for a nice meal at DI Highland Resort. 

Day 8. Up the mountain to a stake out for a male Blue-fronted Redstart. Having seen this bird elsewhere I hadn’t put priority on seeing it but I was hoping for some quality pictures.
Half an  hour in the hide and the bird popped up in front of my lens. So nice to sit there on high grounds enjoying the bird songs and the cool weather in striking contrast to the temperatures  below in the lowlands.
I spent a long time at the Summit and primarily in the bog where birds were quite active. Such a plays of wonder! I never get tired of it!
The night at Mr. Daang’s home stay. But first a lot of sweet strawberries were consumed. Very cheap and sweet this time of year and simply delicious! 

Day 9. Both morning and evening inside the track at km 34. I never have time for this when on a tour but just being there on my own opened up my eyes and ears to the potential. I had a Hume’s Treecreeper at arm’s length for the longest of times, watching it as it would move from tree to tree.
A pair of Green Cochuas was calling for at least 30 minutes and I finally managed to find the male high up in a tree!
Day 10. So it was no wonder I went back inside of 34 again to reinforce my impressions before I started a long drive back home to Bangkok.
The trip gave me 8 lifers, 10 photographic lifers and a few sound recordings. It gave me time for reflection, winding down, eating well and dreaming of things to come!

Hodgson's Frogmouth

Yellow-breasted Bunting

Yellow-eyed Babbler

Siberian Rubythroat

Blue-fronted Redstart
White-browed Shortwing

Yellow-bellied Fantail

Green-tailed Sunbird