Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A hard to see Woodie!

Most folks get excited at seeing the remarkably decorated Heart-spotted Woodpecker. By no means a guarantee but not necessarily left without on a birding trip.
However this WP, the Black and Buff is a lot harder to see and easily confused with the Heart-spotted.
It has a rather restricted distribution range stretching from Northern and Central Myanmar all the way to Vietnam but not reaching into China.

The nape and the hindneck is all white which is the easiest way to tell the birds from Heart-spotted.
The male has a read submoustachial strip something the female is not adorned with.

Not a bird but never the less a lifer. The rare Fea's Barking Deer. Much darker in complextion then the regular Barking Deer so often seen.

Monday, November 29, 2010


The forest is as we all know a real challenge to photograph birds. (Yes, I know, even seeing birds can be very hard at times) it was with great anticipation I set behind a blind at Bahng Songnok waiting to see what would show up.
I was under the impression that the Red-legged Crake is a wet season visitor at Kaengkrachan so I was surprised to see this bird show up.

This bird was the definite highlite of my day as I have been wanting to photography it for a long long time. Often encountered on a birding walk but seldom seen.
Large Scimitar Babbler. Also from Bahn Songnok.

This lovely resident warbler has an easily recognized voice. It likes bamboo in the hills. Yellow-bellied Warbler.

The Golden Babbler likes it in the thick scrub. This one was lured out with playback

Likewise the Red-bearded Bee-eater is a hard to find bird at Kaengkrachan. With its striking colors a definite highlight of my day at Panern Thung.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

An upgrade!

A couple of days back I managed to get closer to the Spoon-billed Sandpiper.
There were 2 birds mixed in with a flock of 200 Red-necked Stints all feeding in a frenzy within 12-15 meters from the car I was in.

Friday, November 12, 2010


The dry season is just around the corner and with it comes the opportunity to see some global rarities. On the 11th I had my first trip for the season in search of Spoon-billed Sandpiper. 4 Germans were on a 10 day birding trip to Thailand and they asked me to help them with the waders. It worked out real well and it didn't take long to locate this lone bird.

Each year we have a fair number of Nordmann's Greenshanks over wintering. This time we found 12 individuals.

The 3rd rarity is a bird not to be counted on as it is a passage migrant. We were fortunate enough to come across a single bird: Asian Dowitcher.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

2 days at Petburi September 2010

Splendid sunset at Kaengkrachan damm.

2 day trip to Petburi 21-22nd of September 2010

John and Gordon from Scotland did a short stop over on their way to Australia.
The goal was to see as many birds as possible in a gentle but steady pace.
J and G had never visited SEA before.

We played things by ear and visited several sites.

Khok Kham:

Someone had recently seen an over summering Spoon-billed Sandpiper here. When we got there it was low tide which meant birds had left for the mudflats.
The good news is that an extensive cemented boardwalk has now been put up at the mangroves and one can view the birds pretty good through a scope out there.
There were thousands of birds and with so many birds around and the waters retreating we had little chance of finding the Sandpiper. Still, for John and Gordon it meant some new waders: Red-necked Stint, Long-toed Stint, Lesser Sand Plover, Broad-billed Sandpiper being a few.

Mai Taeng Reservoir:

This is an excellent site for River Lapwing and Rain Quail.
We did get there a bit late and didn’t see the quail but we did get cracking views of the Lapwings and picked up many other open area birds.

King’s Project:

This mangrove research station is always full of birds. We got there late but revisited later in the afternoon. Many Pin-tailed Snipes were in full view at the experimental reed beds.

Lampakbia sandspit:

Several pair of Malaysian Plovers and 7 Pacific Reef Egrets. Too early for White-faced Plover and Chinese Egret.
A surprise was a Stork-billed Kingfisher in the mangroves on the way back.

Bahn Song Nok:

Ba Aek (Auntie Aek) is the name of the lady that for years have fed and kept an eye on birds on her property adjacent to forest covered hills.
We avoided rain and had a fabulous morning in her garden. Kalij Pheasent, Lesser and Greater Necklaced Laughingthrushes, Green-eared Barbet, Common Flameback,
Orange-breasted Flowerpecker, Yellow-vented Flowerpecker, Vinous-breasted Starlings, Banded Bay Cuckoo and Vernal Hanging Parakeets were some of the birds seen.

Bahn Maka:

This excellent resort has many interesting birds on the grounds besides good food and a bird feeder at the restaurant. The owner: Khun Gun is a keen photographer as well and information about local conditions can always be shared.

Some nice birds here around lunch time. Taiga FC, Black-naped Monarch, Abbott’s Babbler, Green-billed Malkoha, Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike, Crimson Sunbird,
White-rumped Shama, Small Minivet, Orange-breasted Flowerpecker and Striped Tit Babbler

John and George wanted an extension after the 2 days and so we visited a few sites in and around Bangkok.

Suang Luang (King’s Park)

Most noteworthy birds were the regular flock of Small Minivets.
Also a returning Asian Brown Flycatcher. Good place for Olive-backed and Brown-throated Sunbirds, Coppersmith Barbets and Paddyfield Pipit.

Bang Poo

This site is known for the big numbers of over wintering Brown-headed Gulls. The gulls haven’t arrived yet and we mainly went there for lunch and taking in the atmosphere. Some Blue-tailed Bee-eaters were probably the highlight in the pressing heat.

Muang Boran fishponds:

We spend only one hour here as it was midday but got all the target birds except for Striated Warbler that wasn’t calling: White-browed Crake and Bronze-winged and Pheasant-tailed Jacanas.

I then dropped off the Scots at the airport. I must say it was a very well spent time for them with loads of birds, good food, good transport, good weather as well as getting a touch of the local people and Thai culture.


1. Little Cormorant - plenty
2. Indian Shag – seen at 3 sites
3. Little Grebe – 1 in paddies, many at MB
4. Grey Heron – a few
5. Purple Heron - 2
6. Javan Pond Heron - common
7. Cattle Egret - common
8. Pacific Reef Egret – 7 at LPB
9. Little Egret - common
10. Intermediate Egret – 2 at LPB
11. Great Egret – common
12. Yellow Bittern – 1 MB
13. Little Heron - 5
14. Black-crowned Night Heron – several at mangroves
15. Painted Stork – 4 at LPB, a dozen at Bangpoo
16. Openbill - common
17. Spot-billed Pelican – 20 in flight over paddies in Petburi
18. Lesser Whistling Tree-duck – 200 at wetlands in Petburi, 2 MB
19. Brahimy Kite - common
20. White-bellied Sea-Eagle – 1 immature at Bahnsongnok
21. Japanese Sparrowhawk – 1 mobbing the Sea Eagle
22. Oriental Honey Buzzard – 4 over a hill at Bahnsongnok
23. Crested Serpent Eagle – Heard only
24. Kalij Pheasent – 4 females at BSN
25. Junglefowl – 6 at BSN
26. Scaly-breasted Partridge – Heard only
27. Rain Quail – Heard only
28. White-breasted Waterhen – a few here and there
29. Red-wattled Lapwing - common
30. River Lapwing – 4 at Mai Taeng Reservoir
31. Pacific Golden Plover – common at Khok Kham
32. Little Ringed Plover – many at LPB
33. Lesser Sand Plover – many at Khok Kham
34. Greater Sand Plover – many at LPB
35. Eurasian Curlew – 5 at Khok Kham
36. Whimbrel – 5 at Khok Kham
37. Black-tailed Godwit – 3 at Khok Kham
38. Spotted Redshank – 5 at KK
39. Common Redshank – 5 at KK
40. Common Greenshank – at KK
41. Marsh Sandpiper – KK and LPB, many
42. Wood Sandpiper – KK and LPB, many
43. Common Sandpiper - LPB
44. Terek Sandpiper – 2 at LPB sandspit
45. Ruddy Turnstone – 1 at LPB sandspit
46. Red-necked Stint – common at LPB
47. Temminck’s Stint – 1 at LPB
48. Long-toed Stint – common at LPB
49. Sanderling – 20 at LPB sandspit
50. Dunlin – 2 at Khok Kham
51. Curlew Sandpiper – several at BP and LPB
52. Broad-billed Sandpiper – 6 at Khok Kham
53. Ruff – 3 at LPB
54. Pintail Snipe – 6 at LPB
55. Oriental Pratincole – 1 MB, 4 paddies at Petburi
56. Black-winged Stilt - common
57. Common Tern - common
58. White-winged Tern – 1 only
59. Whiskered Tern - common
60. Little Tern - common
61. Pind-necked Pigeon – 1 on wire
62. Rock Pigeon - common
63. Spotted Dove - common
64. Red-collared Dove - common
65. Peaceful Dove - common
66. Vernal Hanging Parakeet – 3 at BSN
67. Banded Bay Cuckoo – 1 seen well at BSN
68. Asian Koel – a few
69. Greater Coucal - LPB
70. Green-billed Malkoha – 1 BSN
71. Large-tailed Nightjar – 1 at Gangpet restaurant Kaengkrachan on post
72. Common Kingfisher – 2 BP
73. Collared Kingfisher - common in mangroves
74. White-throated Kingfisher – a few here and there
75. Stork-billed Kingfisher – 1 surprise one at the mangroves on the way back from the sandspit
76. Green Bee-eater - common
77. Blue-tailed Bee-eater – many at BP
78. Indian Roller - common
79. Hoopoe – 2 at LPB
80. Pied Hornbill – 1 at Bahn Maka ( a wild one)
81. Coppersmith Barbet – many at Suan Luang
82. Lineated Barbet – Heard only
83. Green-eared Barbet – 1 at feeder BSN
84. Common Flameback – 1 at feeder BSN
85. Asian Palm Swift – many over fields in Petburi
86. Germain’s Swiftlet – common in Petburi
87. Barnswallow – common
88. Ashy Wood Swallow - common
89. Indo-chinese Bushlark – 1 at field
90. Paddyfield Pipit – common
91. Yellow Wagtail – LPB, Suan Luang
92. Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike – 2 at Bahn Maka
93. Small Minivet – 1 at BM, several at Suan Luang
94. Common Iora - common
95. Gold-fronted Leafbird – 2 at BSN
96. Streak-eared Bulbul - common
97. Sooty-headed Bulbul – a few
98. Black-crested Bulbul – 4 at BSN
99. Stripe-throated Bulbul – 3 at BSN
100. Black Drongo - a few in open areas
101. Greater Racket-tailed Drongo – 1 BSN
102. Hooded Oriole – Heard only
103. Racket-tailed Treepie – 2 LPB
104. Large-billed Crow - common
105. Puff-throated Babbler – Heard only
106. Abbott’s Babbler – 1 BM
107. Striped Tit Babbler – 1 BM
108. Large Scimitar Babbler – 1 at Bahnsongnok, came in briefly to a waterhole
109. Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush – 10 at BSN
110. Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush – 4 at BSN
111. Oriental Reed Warbler – 1 LPB, 2 MB
112. Arctic Warbler – 1 Bahn Maka
113. Rusty-rumbed Warbler – 1 in flight at fields
114. Plain Prinia - common
115. Grey-breasted Prinia – 2 at Mai Taeng Reservoir
116. Yellow-bellied Prinia – Heard only
117. Zitting Cisticola – 5 Mai Taend Reservoir
118. Common Tailorbird - common
119. Dark-necked Tailorbird – 2 BSN
120. Gold-bellied Gerygone – many at LPB
121. Magpie Robin - common
122. White-rumped Shama – 1 BSN, 1 BM
123. Taiga Flycatcher – 1 BM
124. Pied Fantail - common
125. Black-naped Monarch - BM
126. Brown Shrike - common
127. Asian Pied Starling - common
128. Common Myna - common
129. White-vented Myna - common
130. Vinous-breasted Starling – a pair at BSN
131. Crimson Sunbird – 1 BM
132. Olive-backed Sunbird - common
133. Brown-throated Sunbird – a few
134. Ruby-cheeked Sunbird – 1 at BM
135. Yellow-vented Flowerpecker – 2 at BSN
136. Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker – common
137. Orange-bellied Flowerpecker – several at BM and BSN
138. Plain-backed Sparrow – 2 at Mai Taeng Reservoir
139. Eurasian Tree Sparrow - common
140. House Sparrow – found a roost with atleast 1000 birds near LPB
141. Asian Golden Weaver – 2, Petburi
142. Baya Weaver – 12, Petburi
143. Scaly-breasted Munia – common
144. Chestnut Munia – 2 at paddies Petburi

Did an add-on morning at Suan Luang, Bangpoo and Muang Boran….stopped at 14:00. Some additional sightings:

145. White-browed Crake -1 seen well at MB
146. Common Coot – 1 at MB
147. Bronze-winged Jacana – 1 at MB
148. Pheasent-tailed Jacana -3 at MB
149. Yellow-vented Bulbul – 2 at MB
150. Asian Brown Flycatcher – 1 at Suan Luang

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mae Wong

Martin Daniel was on a business trip to Vietnam and decided to stop over in Bangkok
on his way home to England. Since this was Martin’s 12th trip with me in the field there were quite a narrow set of target birds.

We decided to spend the time at Mae Wong National Park some 5 hours drive North West of Bangkok. This area is part of the Western Thailand Forest Complex which stretches over a huge area.
The site is the best in the country for Rufous-necked Hornbills, Burmese Yuhinna,
Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler, White-necked Laughingthrushes and White-throated
Bulbul. Of these Martin had only seen the Hornbill.
The prime birding area is at Chong Yen which is located 1340m above sea level. Here
is a campground overlooking a forest covered valley. Main drawback with the site is
the abundance of sand flies that can be quite a bother.
Since September is right in the rain season it was a bit of a gamble to visit. Sure
enough, we had plenty of scattered showers on our way to and up the mountain but
once up we hardly felt any rain.
Best birds seen was easily a flock of 3-4 Coral-billed Scimitar Babblers right next to the roadside. Martin was elated to see these, to be, only lifers for the trip.
The bright red bill add to the birds make up which along with typical foraging
behavior of the Scimitar-Babbler make them a very attractive bird.
We also had prolonged views of a lovely White-browed Piculet feeding in bamboo.

Great little bird!

A couple of birdwaves kept us busy and a Chestnut-fronted Shrike Babbler stood out
with its attractive plumage.
We spend from 2-6pm and 6:30-14:00pm at Chong Yen.

The Grey-chinned Minivets showed well.

The male White-browed Shrike Babbler is a favorite of mine and a true indication that one is on higher ground.

Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler 4 seen
White-browed Scimitar Babbler 3 seen, many heard
Golden Babbler 3 seen
White-browed Shrike Babbler a pair seen and photographed
Chestnut-fronted Shrike Babbler 1 bird in a birdwave
Dark-backed Sibia a pair seen
Grey-chinned Fulvetta 1 seen, several heard, photographed
Silver-cheeked LT many heard
White-necked LT heard half dozen times but not seen
Grey-cheeked Minivet a pair photographed
Streaked Spiderhunter very common
Little Spiderhunter 1 seen
Black-throated Sunbird a pair at campground seen throughout
Little Cuckoo Dove several birds seen
Barred Cuckoo Dove several birds seen
Mountain Imperial Pigeon many birds seen, flock of 20
Wreathed Hornbill two flocks flying by
Rufous-necked Hornbill heard in the afternoon
Great Barbet 3 seen, heard a lot
Gold-throated Barbet 3 seen, heard a lot
Himalayan Swiftlet 20 seen
Grey Wagtail 2 seen
Grey-headed Flycatcher 2 seen
White-throated Fantail 1 seen
White-crowned Forktail 1 seen
Speckled Piculet 2 seen in wave
White-browed Piculet 1 seen and photographed
Bay WP seen twice, heard a lot
Common Flameback one flight view
Flavescent Bulbul very common
Black Bulbul 3 seen
Ashy Bulbul 1 seen
Mountain Bulbul many seen
Oriental White Eye many seen
White-bellied Yuhinna 1 seen
Changeable Hawk Eagle 1 seen
Crested Goshawk 1 seen
Grey Treepie 10 seen, many heard
Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo 1 seen
Bronzed Drongo 2 seen
White-tailed Warbler 5 seen, many heard
Rufous-throated Partridge, several heard
Grey Peacock Pheasent, heard
Yellow-cheeked Tit, 4 seen, many heard

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Rain Quail

For 9 months of the year one neither see nor hear the Rain Quail.
Then during 3 months of the wet season the loud and far reaching 'clink clink' can be heard in suitable habitat such as at Huay Mai Taeng, Ratchaburi.

In the grass lands and scrub near the large dam these little birds are commonly found. Their calls are hard to pin point from where it originates.

I found the best way was to drive around in the grass lands by car.

Normally they aren't seen well as they seem to stay within the thicket of the scrub or grasses. But as the mating season draws near they start calling and proclaiming their territory.

This is best done from a rock where the male will belt out his song.

They were surprisingly approachable with the car. Perhaps too occupied finding or calling their mates?

And this is how I got these images. The week earlier I had seen them only on foot and through a scope but this time Carl-Johan Svensson came along and with the help of his high clearing vehicle we were able to 'get the job done'.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Pheasent-tailed Jacana

The wet season is a good time to see these great looking birds. Unmistakable in flight. Lovely golden 'mane'/neck in breeding plumage as well as a long tail.

Truly precocious as they can walk almost instantly once hatched. Still, quite a feat on that wobbly floating vegetation.

This is a female bird. They have reversed sex roles so that the male is the one raising and incubating the young ones.

Now, I wonder why this male hasn't got a long tail?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Eared Pitta

Pittas sure are exciting birds. Every so difficult to find outside of breeding season but always incredibly rewarding once found. I have birded in Thailand for many years but still can count on one hand's fingers the number of times I have seen Eared Pitta.
So it was with joy I accepted this opportunity to view the bird from a carefully set up blind. It so happened to be the very last day before the chicks left with their mom so I really managed in the 'nick of time'.
The bird perched and called the chicks from a perch some 6-7 meter up for a little over an hour before it went on the ground and slowly approached the nest. I don't know why it had such an incredibly slow approach and I don't think it was aware of my presence. When ever any other birds would come near the Pitta likewise would stop showing. It seemed on high alert until it finally decided to feed and then would come every 5-10 minutes. After 20 minutes of feeding I left the blind. Conditions were very hard for photography and these shots are the only decent ones I managed.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Wet season breeding visitor!

Most folks visiting Thailand don't get to see Blue-winged Pitta for the simple reason that it is a wet season visitor. A few individuals may stay over winter in the South but no where else. Then in late April/May they start coming in from their wintering grounds in primarily Indonesia. In June they breed and in suitable habitat are quite easy to see.

This particular individual was fed worms regularly at the garden of a local bird photographer near Khao Yai. The bird had a nest up the hill but worms strategically placed would overcome its fear and it put on a splendid show.

On the day I visited it showed just about every 10 minutes. The chicks must have been quite big to receive all that food!

I was able to take pictures for a long time and to experiment with different settings. Great fun!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Temple of Heaven

A little bit of greenery behind 4 walls at the Temple of Heaven helped to produce 4 lifers!

Yellow-billed Grosbeak

Azure-winged Magpie

Red-billed Starling

White-cheeked Starling