I recently had the honor of spending 12 days with Bob and Ann Walton in Central and Northern Thailand. They have birded 50 some years and seen over 8000 species so it was a challenge to find lifers for them. This Red-billed Scimitar Babbler was to be the last of the lifers with me which tallied up to 32 for the 12 days we had together.
Dave Sargeant had tipped me off to a place at Doi Lang where he had previously seen these birds. Sure enough, a pair of them came in to playback and stayed around for some time.
This was only my 2nd encounter of these birds in Thailand so I was very pleased.
I haven't been able to find many pix of the birds online so I suppose it isn't that common anywhere in it's range.
Kaengkrachan National Park is a seriously amazing place with a long long list of quality birds waiting to be seen. As all of you know, reality is a bit different and many of these birds simply don't show that easy.
The best 'weapon' we have in finding our birds are our ears. So, simply listening helps a lot and also connects the mental picture one already have of the bird calling.
The Grey Peacock Pheasant is one such skulker. It is readily heard in the forest and sometimes at quite close range at that. However, trying to see one or let alone get an image is a major event.
One morning I was on my way up to Panern Thung with Martin Lindop from Birmingham, England. Martin was on his way to the Philippines for a tour with BirdtoursAsia but wanted a few days of photography in Thailand.
As we approached higher ground I suddenly heard the loud contact call of the Pheasant.
I looked to my left and there on a branch in the dark stood a female GPP. Needles to say, the image I got was all dark and the bird was gone.
We stayed in the car for a bit and suddenly a male bird came out of the forest on to the road.
Shutter started working but again it was too dark and all images were out of focus. My, oh, my.........what to do?
Well, I had two pop up hides in the trunk of the car so quickly got them set up along the road and started waiting. It took only 10 minutes and the bird was out again. This time camera and lens was firmly anchored on a tripod and even though I had to push ISO to 3200 I managed some very rewarding images. So happy I was with a photographer as it would have been very different with a van load of birders! Ha!
(PS: On the Internet there has been a lot of cracking pictures of this bird of late. A pair has been showing at Mae Wong National Park where they subsequently have been fed daily thus allowing the photographic community of Thailand to take pictures of the birds at will.)