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













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