Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bali day trip

Bali 29th of August 2011

I visited Bali on the way home from Sulawesi/Halmahera. This day trip was
inspired by Stijn de Win’s article:

I booked a room at Tune Hotels at Kuta and used the excellent services of
Oswald Huma and his assistant Hery.
Air Asia flies directly to Bangkok so it is a very accessible site for people living
in Thailand.
I was picked up at 4 am and arrived at Bali Barat National Park 3 hours later.
It was great to be back in the Greater Sundas again with many familiar species.
The birding was excellently guided by Hery, a young man employed for the day
by Oswald. We visited a number of sites within the park and I ended up with 10 lifers. Quite a haul for a day’s birding.

Javan Banded Pitta is easy at one of the sites and for those wanting to photograph the bird it can easily be arranged through Oswald/Harry. August-October being the best time as it is the dry season.

Here is a list of what I saw in no particular order.

1. Cave Swiftlet – common, lifer
2. Common Sandpiper – 1 bird in flight
3. Javan Plover – 6, lifer
4. Red-necked Stint – 20
5. Lesser Sandplover (or it might have been Greater, couldn't tell) – 1
6. Long-toed Stint – 1
7. Little Heron – 1
8. Javan Pond Heron – 1
9. Little Egret – 1
10. Black-naped Tern – a few in open sea
11. Beach Thick-knee – 3 birds in flight over open sea
12. Little Blue Kingfisher – 6 birds seen, lifer
13. Collared Kingfisher – 5
14. Rufus-backed Kingfisher – 1
15. Pied Fantail – 2
16. Black-naped Monarch – 1
17. Fulvous-breasted Jungle Flycatcher - 2
18. Yellow-vented Bulbul – a few
19. Grey-cheeked Bulbul – 1
20. Bar-winged Prinia – 1, lifer
21. Olive-backed Sunbird – a few
22. Great Tit (Gray Tit) – a few
23. Chestnut-headed Bee-eater – a few
24. Blue-tailed Bee-eater – a few
25. Crested Serpent Eagle – 1
26. Black-thighed Falconet – 1
27. Bali Starling - 6 seen well, lifer
28. Black-winged Starling – 2, lifer
29. Zebra Dove – a few
30. Island Dove – 2, lifer
31. Small Minivet – one flock
32. Javan Cuckoo Shrike – 2, lifer
33. White-shouldered Triller – 2
34. Australian Bushlark – 1
35. Black Drongo – 1
36. Hair-crested Drongo – 2
37. Lemon-bellied White-eye – a few
38. Lineated Barbet – 3
39. Coppersmith Barbet – 6
40. Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker – 6
41. Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker – 2
42. Common Flameback – a pair
43. Long-tailed Shrike – 1
44. Common Iora – a few
45. Javan Banded Pitta – 3, one seen, lifer
46. Green Junglefowl – 6, lifer
47. Racket Treepie – 2
48. Orange-breasted Pigeon – 1 male
49. Black-winged Flycatcher Shrike – 1
50. Dollarbird – 2
51. Red-breasted Parakeet – 1 in flight
52. Crescent-breasted Babbler – sadly only heard

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Siamese Fireback

It is amazing how big birds like Pheasents are still so hard to see inside the forest. At times I will come across them along a trail but they normally quickly dissappear in the under growth.
This time I came upon a group of 5 males and 1 singele (normally it is the other way around) in the morning as they were crossing a road at Khao Yai National park.
They hung around for quite some time so we had time to observe, take pictures and listen to their vocals as well as heavy wing blurr as the male displayed.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Rainforest Discovery Centre, Sandakan, Sabah late July

(view from one of the watch towers along the elevated walkway at RDC)

I have been to Sabah 3 times. Each time I only visited Mt Kinabalu as I fell in love with the mountain. Thus I post phoned a visit to the low land rainforests of Sepilok and Kinabantangan until now.

I pre booked my tickets with Airasia quite some time back. Flew Bangkok – Kuala Lumpur – Sandakan and back for 200$US.
The flights went well and I found myself at Sandakan around 8:30pm.
A half hour taxi ride driven by an elderly gentleman took me to Sepilok B&B some 400m from my birding spot: Rainforest Discovery Center.

The B&B has an older section and a newer. It is run more as a hostel then anything and I would best classify it as adequate as the personnel were friendly but rather untrained. Breakfast is a cup of coffee and two slices of bread plus a banana if you are lucky. Eggs have to be bought. Breakfast served 7 am.

Wi Fi is free and there are cold Tiger beers available howbeit twice as expensive as
in Thailand at 7 Ringit per can. The closeness to RDC makes up for any lacks though and I would use the place again. Rooms were clean.

I google earthed the Sepilok area before I left home and it showed the RDC being at the Northern edge of a larger forested area. I enjoyed 2 and a half days of absolutely great birding, walking the many trails in a varied landscape. It felt like magic land and as I look over the birdlist I can only marvel at the diversity and beauty of what I saw in this rather small area. Walking alone along these trails in anticipation and letting all my senses be tuned in to the surroundings left me with thrills and feelings of joy!

Here are some of the birds I saw and managed to photograph. See if you can tell what they are?

Thursday, June 16, 2011


April - June is really the time to see Broadbills. Funny how it is but I can go throughout the dry season only seeing the random bird. Then when the wet season starts the birds seem to suddenly 'appear' in the area between the 3 streams at Kaengkrachan. Especially Silver-breasted becomes easy to spot as it often build its nest close to the road.

Black-Red Broadbill is always found nesting over some water with its nesting ball hanging from a thin twig.

With both these species I used a portable blind.

The female has a nice silver necklace.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Thailand definitely is a good place for Kingfisher lovers. Many can be seen on phone wires along highways or near mangroves. Several occupy open woodlands and not everyone feed exclusively on fish.
The following 3 species are only found in forested areas.

This incredibly attractive male Banded Kingfisher is often heard but can be quite tricky to see inside the forest. I am not sure if it actually ever feeds on fish. I was watching it come to feed its young and all the prey were bugs, scorpions, spiders and lizzards.

I sat in a hide for 4 hours. The male only came twice during that time

But the female came a lot more often. As usual they took perch on a branch a few meters from the nest before entering. I believe the chick was about a week old.
Their nest was inside a termite nest on an old log.

This little jewel: Black-backed Kingfisher (Oriental Dwarf) on the other hand has its nest in a burrow on a bank near a stream. The birds kept feeding all kinds of insect including fish. They would come every 5 minutes to bring food. I understand that the chick left the nest successfully only 2 days later.
Outside of the breeding season I basically never see this bird. It is so small and prefers the streams of deep forests.


The last bird is another stream dwelling bird that I found at Sri Pangnga National Park in the South. On the day I visited the chick fledged so I didn't get many shots nor watch the adults bring feed to the chicks.

Blue-banded Kingfisher

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Khok Kham

This month of April I didn't have many people visiting so I took the opportunity to visit Khok Kham at Samut Sakorn on a few half day trips.
At Khok Kham there is one spot where one can drive the car out inbetween the pans. The trick is to be there during high tide or there is nothing to shoot. It is still challenging to get close to the birds. They in general seem to accept my presence in the car but still remain a bit away.

Khok Kham also has an excellent boardwalk at the mangroves. Here is a good spot for observing birds through a scope or practicing flight shots.

1st shot is of a Red-necked Stint in breeding plumage. Note the red throat and lack of red on the primaries and secondaries.

There are many Golden Pacific Plovers around. This one moulting into breeding plumage.

This one almost in full breeding plumage.

Another more scenic image.

There were plenty of Lesser Sand Plovers around.
Here is a male in breeding plumage.

And yet another. The light was in my favor.

Broad-billed Sandpipers were around in the beginning of April

I have to include one of my favorite shorebirds: Long-toed Stint. This one got real close.

Here is more of a 'birdscape' image. Pacific Plover coming in for a landing.

Likewise a Ruddy Turnstone in breeding plumage landing in the salt pan.

The Whiskered Terns are all dark looking.

But not as deeply dark and smart as this handsome White-winged. The White-winged has a much more rapid flight and are harder to photograph.

Lastly, a Little Tern in breeding plumage.

Any comments are more then welcomed........

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Little and Red-necked Stints

These two species are almost impossible to separate in non breeding plumage.
They used to be considered identical, Red-necked considered the Eastern version
of Little.

Now that the birds are getting some color I tried to pick out a few.

Some differences:

Red-necked has slightly thickened tip of bill, medium sized primary projection and rather 'stocky' neck and shoulders and somewhat shorter legs.

In breeding plumage the throat is red/rufous while Little is white.
Little also is more complete red then Red-necked in breeding plumage.

Little has longer primary projection thus making them look more slender but taller as the tibia is longer. The bill is more fine and slightly drooping.

I hope I have identified these correctly.