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

T-shirt!



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: pkknjj@yahoo.com

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.
Peter







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!




 







Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A short twitch!


Ever since I heard of a Pied Cuckoo (Jacobin Cuckoo) being seen at Phuket I always wanted to see one. Then a couple of years later a pair showed up at Chiang Rai by the Mae Kong River but I didn't fancy a 1000 km drive. Thridly, last year another was spotted at Beung Borapet when I was in Europe. So when I saw a posting of this bird by Thanarot I knew I had my chance. 
Thanarok kindly invited me to his home and we enjoyed a true Thai meal at a restaurant by the river.
                                                     Thank you Thanarot! Very yummie! In the morning we did general birding in the wetlands surrounding Beung Borapet (240km North of Bangkok) and saw a lot of birds including a roosting Savanna Nightjar, Glossy Ibises and plenty of Streaked Weavers.......We then sat down to view the trees he had seen the Cuckoos in. After 2 and a half hours and no bird I thought; 'better pack up, bet that will bring it in, a bit sarcastically'. Before we got our stuff together in the car I gave a last scan and my eyes fell on the Cuckoo. They had finally arrived. A wonderful lifer and classy bird. It might be easy in Africa and India but over here it is a mega rarity.
(never mind I had to endure a 6 hour drive (240km) back to Bangkok in insane traffic)


 



Sunday, August 3, 2014

South, part 3

I had heard of a stake out for Great Argus but during my research found  that it was being sold by a resort for a rather handsome amount of money. I kept digging and finally found the direct connection with the villager that initially set up the stationary hide by the bird’s lek. And that at a lot cheaper price then the upscale resort.

Well, it wasn’t all that easy to get the communications right and even harder to find the villager  at his appointed spot. We drove to the km mark we were told only to find out that the road department had changed all the road markers. Through a set of nothing but small miracles we finally met up with the man deep inside the jungle only to find out that he meant for us to come a day later. Ha!

Well, we found a very nice resort in the area some 20 km East of the entrance to Khao Sok National Park. Again, good food, warm showers, big bed and air-con for weary souls.

The next morning we drove off to Sri Pangnga National Park about an hour’s drive further West.
1st target bird was Banded Pitta and we headed straight for it. Thankfully the birds had not started to lay on eggs and were still coming to worms. The male was seen carrying nesting materials and then calling for  his mate.

After the Pitta we went to a stake out for a Rufous-backed Dwarf Kingfisher. The tiny bird with all its colour posed very nicely next to the road  and the portable blinds I had brought came in handy again.

A friendly ranger asked me if I wanted to ‘see a Gould’s Frogmouth on a day roost’? Ha! Manna from Heaven! We didn’t stay long as to not disturb the bird too much.

Back to the lodge from previous night and an early wake up for our Great Argus adventure.
We met the man at 4 am and together with his nephew we walked 3 km in the very hot and humid tropical rain forest to get to our spot. We were continuously told to  be quiet and how extremely leery this bird is. Believe me, it was a difficult walk over several steep hill tops. I didn’t know I could sweat so profusely until that night.

So at the lek we were given 3 small holes to view through. Basically he said to stick our cameras through the hole but that the camera had to be on a tripod so as to not case motion in the canvas. I didn’t bring a tripod so my hole was reduced to the size of a silver dollar. Leonardo stuck his bins in the hole and Francesco fitted his 300mm lens with tripod.

Long story made short, the bird came and performed for an hour before disappearing. I managed to view the birds a couple of minutes but the other guys had great views for most of the time. Needless to say a lifer for all of us.

Back to the resort for a rest, lunch and drive back to Sri Pangnga where we checked in at a local hotel.



South, part 2

At noon I went to pick up Francesco and Leonardo at the airport. Francesco had graciously brought some Italian salami which I cherished throughout the trip. Thank you!

The drive to Krung Ching took most of the afternoon. A better option is to fly to Nakorn Sritamaraht with Airasia. Hertz allow for free drop off of their vehicle if hired more then 5 days.

We were greeted at a nice Homestay by the park and a sumptuous meal was waiting for us as well.
The ranger Daang and his family has set up a little homestay with 4 rooms available. They are air-conned with hot water and a big blessing as opposed to using the park bungalows with all their ‘wildlife’ in the room, no warm water and no air-con. At the homestay you can also have 3 meals that are wonderfully cooked by the Grandmother of the house.

The next morning we set out with our target in mind. We were accompanied by ‘R’, Daang’s nephew. It was his job to locate the Babbler and bring it to us.

After about an hour of searching along the trail R heard the bird in the far distance. He started taping it in. We set up a couple of blinds and myself and R retreated out of view. After an hour or more the bird still hadn’t shown so we had to start looking for it again. Again it was located, hides moved and another wait. This time we were not to be disappointed. The remarkable creature came and stuck around for several minutes as it gobbled up the meal worms put out for him. Big thumbs up and joy for a bird that had been on their minds for years! Mainly relief for myself!

Leonardo offered me his hide and I waited awhile until the bird came back. For some reason my camera simply couldn’t focus. So frustrating! Then as the bird left I discovered a large leaf stuck on the lens thus causing the focus not to work. Grrr!

Light is very difficult for photography inside this rain forest. Loads of intriguing sounds can be heard but seeing the birds is another story. Francesco carries a 500mm lens mounted on a light weight tripod. He is very quick on the birds but even he struggled with stuff like Green Broadbills and Cinnamon-rumped Trogons that we saw well but only briefly. He did get Buff-rumped and Buff-necked Woodpeckers rather impromptu.

In the afternoon we tried for a known nesting site for Rufous-collared Kingfisher but no signs of the birds.

Owling is normally good at KC but this time it also produced nothing but it mattered little after such superb views of the Rail Babbler.

The next day Daang came with us for the 1st part of the morning. He knows his birds very well and took us directly to some spots where he called out target birds. Thus we had great views of male and female Rufous-collared Kingfisher, Rufous Piculet, Banded Broadbill and  Black-throated Babbler, all photographed well.

Some other birds seen and heard: Dark-throated Oriole, Raffles Malkoha, Black-yellow Broadbill, Scaly-crowned Babbler, Fulvous-chested Jungle Flycatcher, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Chestnut-winged Babber, White-crowned Hornbill, Silver-rumped Spinetail, Red-throated Barbet, Brown Barbet, Red-billed Malhoha
.



Friday, August 1, 2014

A few from the South in May 2014

Francesco Veronesi  and his birding friend Leonardo Beghellini had been asking me to see the Malaysian Rail Babbler for a long time. So when I got news of one showing at Krung Ching in Southern Thailand they immediately wanted to visit. Francesco is a dedicated photographer with over 3200 species in his portfolie as well as a lister and Leonardo is a global lister with over 6000 birds seen.

Along with the Babbler they gave me a list with rather difficult birds and so I was faced with both a logistic challenge as well as finding the birds. I couldn’t set a fixed itinerary since we didn’t know how long it would take to nail down the Babbler.

I flew down to Krabi in advance as I wanted to visit Satun some 4 hours drive to the South of Krabi.
I used a Honda City from Hertz which turned out to be a reliable vehicle for the entire trip.


It was interesting to see the landscape and the make up of this area as I drove through the western part of the very South. Satun has not had any influence of the violence found in the bordering provinces of Naratiwat, Yala and Pattalung and the people seemed rather relaxed.

I visited the mangrove forest as I was targeting Cinerous Tit. I have only seen Cinerous Tit on Komodo Island but that is a different subspecies. It was quite strait forward to see it inside of the grounds of the mangrove research and learning center. The birds also sang away with songs reminding me of Great Tit from my home country.

I also recorded Mangrove PItta, photographed Brown-winged Kingfisher and noted Mangrove Whistler, Golden-bellied Gerygone and Common Flameback in the mangroves.

Unfortunately I didn’t see the Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker and the Pied Triller and it wasn’t until a couple of weeks later I found out there is a boardwalk near the port itself and that is the place for these birds. Ouch! Next time!

Lodging was easy and these days most accommodation in Thailand has free WiFi, air-con and hot showers as well.

I spent one night in Krabi. Loads of Guest House style of lodging right in town. Had a simple meal at the market by the river and prepared for the days to come.




I


Friday, April 25, 2014

Man Nai Island, Rayong

Man Nai Island, Rayong, Thailand
24th of April 20014

For the last two years Fairy Pitta has been photographed at this island as the birds pass through on their way to their breeding grounds in China and Taiwan, having spent the winter in tropical Borneo. (Or elsewhere?)

This year I found myself in Thailand in April, something I try to avoid due to the intense warm weather during this time.

So, I hoped for the opportunity to visit the Island and was waiting and waiting for someone to give the ‘green light’, meaning the birds were not only showing but possible to photograph.

Well, this year a banding station had been set up for the entire month of April which make access to the hill side not possible. In other words there were no regular Fairy Pittas being reported coming for worms.

In the end I decided I better go anyhow before it was too late. Seeing the island itself is a worthy experience and the possibility of various migrants is exhilarating.

I joined up with some Thai birders/photographers in the early morning and we shared two vehicles to get to Klang in the province of Rayong. A bit tricky to find the port, Makampom, but eventually we arrived to the waiting boat.

The trip to the island took around 40 minutes and went smooth.
Some Black-naped Terns were in the area. I haven’t seen them for long so that was very nice to see.

Once at the island, (Kor Man Nai in Thai) we left our food etc in a  safe area.

The island has a turtle breeding station and some marine life research going on.

It is picturesque with some lovely beaches and clear blue water. Further out at sea is Man Klahng and yet further away is Man Nok. These two islands have upscale resorts on them and I suppose must harbor the same birdlife as on Man Nai

Man Nai has a brick laid walkway that goes around the island. It doesn’t take more then 15-20 minutes to walk when walking with intention.

From the pier I walked to the left and soon came upon a very small pond/waterhole.
In here a Lanceolated Warbler hung out for a long time, drinking and feeding away. It is very ‘mouse like’ and I quite enjoyed such generous open views.

One of my target birds, Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher suddenly showed for a brief moment. My 1st lifer for the day. Nearby were male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, a Green-backed Flycatcher and Asian Brown Flycatchers.

The island had many Tiger Shrikes and Crow-billed Drongos passing through. These are birds we don’t normally see in Central Thailand except for during migration.

Several Asian Paradise Flycatchers were seen and after a long day I finally got the see the much wanted Japanase Paradise Flycatcher, howbeit without its long tail. This was my 2nd lifer and part of my 3 targeted species.

Near to the pond a Blue-winged Pitta showed pretty much all day. A group of 8 photographers from Peking got their shirts off and parked themselves in their blinds. It kept them happy for most of the day. The hoped for Hooded and Fairy Pitta never showed up at this spot.

I walked up the trail towards the hill but soon came across a sign saying ‘Entry forbidden without permission, bird banding in progress’. No choice but to back down and continue along the walkway. At the back of the island a large colony of some huge fruit bats were very noisy. I tried the Fairy Pitta call and got a single response. No birds in sight though so I kept going.

I paid a couple of visits to the ringing station to see how they process the birds. It all seemed very professional and I got to see some birds real close up.

Suddenly a Cuckoo burst out of a bush. I managed some images and later on had the ID confirmed as a Himalayan Cuckoo. Nice one!

I walked around the island 3 times sweating like a pig. Consumed loads of water and probably shredded a few pounds! Well needed!

Back to the pond.

A Tiger Shrike came to the area. Then the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher reappeared.

Bang!

The Shrike pounded on the Flycatcher and within seconds had it in subjection and out of action (dead). It proceeded to try to pull the bird away but it seemed awkward so the Shrike instead started consuming its newfound meal right in front of us. I have never seen this before and can’t say it was a pleasant to view.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_Shrike

Time for another walk around the island. As I turned the bend a familiar sight of a hopping pitta on the walkway. Yes! Through the bins I finally got to see my Fairy Pitta!

Target bird #3 and lifer #3! Pitta # 18!

Once on the boat one of the guys showed me an image of a Fairy Pitta. He had been poking around behind some buildings in the forest nearby and come across both Blue-winged, Hooed and Fairy Pitta.

The guys who had been their previous years said it wasn’t all that birdy this time of year and that a week earlier would have been better.

So after 600 km in a day I got home to a very much appreciated cold beer and loads of impressions to live by.

I hope I can visit the island  sometime again and that I will be able to access more of the interior which seemed to be the most bird rich part.


My birdlist:
1.      Pacific Reef Egret
2.      Black-naped Tern
3.      Eastern Jungle Crow
4.      Slaty-breasted Rail
5.      Common Myna
6.      Crow-billed Drongo
7.      Ashy Drongo
8.      Zebra Dove
9.      Magpie Robin
10.  Siberian Blue Robin
11.  Himalayan Cuckoo
12.  Indian Cuckoo
13.  Ruddy Kingfisher
14.  Blue-winged Pitta
15.  Fairy Pitta
16.  Tiger Shrike
17.  Streak-eared Bulbul
18.  Yellow-rumped Flycatcher
19.  Green-backed Flycatcher
20.  Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher
21.  Asian Brown Flycatcher
22.  Dark-sided Flycatcher
23.  Asian Paradise Flycatcher
24.  Japanese Paradise Flycatcher
25.  Mangrove Whistler
26.  Forest Wagtail
27.  Lanceolated Warbler
28.  Arctic Warbler
29.  Dusky Warbler
30.  Pacific Swallow
31.  Olive-backed Sunbird