Thursday, October 18, 2018

Waders at Phak Taley

I took these shots with my Canon 7DMarkii, 100-400 1:4.5-5.6 L IS ii USM and Extender EF 1.4x iii...

Shooting waders is always fun. It involves waiting, getting close and preferably catching them in warm morning or evening light.

These were taken at Phak Taley where I was hoping to get some shots of Spoon-billed Sandpiper. 

Lesser Sand Plover

Red-necked Stint

Broad-billed Sandpiper

Common Redshanks

Grey Plover

Curlew Sandpiper

Red-necked Stint

Lesser Sand Plover

Red-necked Stint

Friday, October 5, 2018

Hala Bala, April 2018

Headquarter area  

Hala Bala Wildlife Sanctuary, Naratiwat, Thailand 23-28th/April 2018.

Participants: Peter Ericsson, Paul Farrell, Mark Hogarth and Brian Hewitt
Dennis Farrell was also part of the team but spent his time with dragon flies.


There has been unrest in the deep South for many years which hits the headlines here in Thailand almost on a daily basis. This has led to a clear apprehension of visiting the otherwise very attractive birding areas right at the Malaysian border.

This is my story. About 2 years ago I stopped reading the local paper thus not being bombarded with all the ills of society on a daily basis. I slowly started to realize I was being controlled by fear and not really unbiased news coverage. I did not want to visit the area based only on wanting a long bird list for Thailand knowing I almost invariably had seen the birds elsewhere so I felt it best to let it be. Well, having heard stories from a number of people visiting HB I started to discern what fears were real and which once were unfounded. I decided to ‘faith it instead of fear it’. I later learned that the locals version of what is happening is quite different from the official!

When Paul asked me about the area it was clear to me that this was the right time to go.

It was easy to arrange as there are daily flights from Bangkok and all of us reside in Thailand.


Permission to visit the WS has to be gotten from the department of WS which is part of the National Park Division at the Department of Forestry in Bangkok. I live not too far from it so to apply was easy and to pick up the permission was equally easy. I had no problems with the permission, all they wanted was a formal request and passport copies of everyone.

Contact had been made with a local volunteer that resides near Hala Bala by the name of Sum Nara Nara on Facebook. Sum is very enthusiastic to promote conservation and to educate the youth in the area to the value of nature. Sum had arranged for a van to pick us up at the airport.

At the airport there were several government officials greeting all passengers with words of welcome and tourist police wanted to pose with us for the occasion. A warm welcome it was.

The road from Naratiwat to HB was excellent, paved and wide. We had to through many check points but without issues.

We did stop at a 7-11 to buy some snacks and drinks. The village at HB is alcohol free so bringing our own beers was a must.

There is a new resort with 8 bungalows shortly before the Sanctuary. The bungalows have AC, TV and toilets. Food can be ordered and brought for all meals if one so desire. I could even watch an epic semi-final between Liverpool FC and Roma in the Champions League!

On our first night the resort was not available so we had to stay at the WS. Here the accommodation is the very bare minimum. A mat and a pillow on the floor. A small fan and a squat toilet with a basin of water for showers. We paid 200Baht per person for the park fee and 120Baht per person for the night.

The resort was our abode on the following 3 nights and felt like Heaven after a long day in humid conditions. Rooms were 500Baht/night.

Our last night we had to go back to the Sanctuary and as we left the following morning there was a major issue with the permit as the clergy wanted to charge us 200 per day which is not the case for Sanctuaries. In the end it got solved after a phone call to the chief of the Sanctuary who was away on business.

Research center:

There is a research center not far away from the park HQ . The center is run by a different government division and though seemingly more ready to handle visitors proved difficult to deal with.

One morning we set out to do the famous 1500m trail with 2 helpers. No one told us that the trail hadn’t been in use for at least 2 years. It was totally impenetrable as it was overgrown with rattan, bushes and roots. Add to that the highest number of leeches I have ever encountered we decided to give it a miss after 300m which took us half an hour of misery anyhow.

The center has some planted trees that were fruiting and served well for photographing some bulbuls, flowerpeckers and barbets.


Sum would pick us up in the morning. He wasn’t used to such early rise from birders but we birded along the resort as we waited with some good results. Little Bronze Cuckoo, Banded WP and Violet Cuckoo seen this way.


We all regarded this trip as a ‘bonus’ trip, not really knowing what to expect in terms of both logistics and birding wise. Everyone had their wish lists and everyone their own style of birding. Thus we were never far apart but not always together as a group either.

Loads of birds were not seen for whatever reasons but there is plenty to be cherished with an avi fauna otherwise only found in Malaysia.

We visited the To Mo area twice. This area is actually outside of the WS but one has to drive through the WS to get to it. Birding next to a stream for about a kilometer or so produced many good birds. Scarlet-rumped and Diard’s Trogon, Green Broadbill, Rufous-winged Philentoma, Chestnut-naped Forktails were some highlights.

The 3rd bridge area was another interesting area with Orange-backed WP, Yellow-crowned Barbet and Rufous-chested FC being the better ones.

The area from the entrance and past the research center gave some general species.

Hornbills were not so abundant but eventually we had good views of Rhinoceros, Great, Wreathed and Bushy-crested. Helmeted was only heard unfortunately.

One the last morning we had our breakfast at Sum’s home where we were served some delicious authentic local food.

Flight home was on time and all of us concluded ‘we must go back’.

Here is a list of birds that I recorded myself, some only heard.

Cattle Egret - Bubulcus ibis
Lesser Fish-Eagle - Haliaeetus humilis
Spotted Dove - Streptopelia chinensis
Asian Emerald Dove - Chalcophaps indica
Zebra Dove - Geopelia striata
Thick-billed Pigeon - Treron curvirostra
Greater Coucal - Centropus sinensis
Raffles's Malkoha - Rhinortha chlorophaea
Chestnut-breasted Malkoha - Phaenicophaeus curvirostris
Chestnut-bellied Malkoha - Phaenicophaeus sumatranus
Asian Koel - Eudynamys scolopaceus
Violet Cuckoo - Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus
Little Bronze-Cuckoo - Chrysococcyx minutillus
Banded Bay Cuckoo - Cacomantis sonneratii
Plaintive Cuckoo - Cacomantis merulinus
Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo - Surniculus lugubris
Large-tailed Nightjar - Caprimulgus macrurus
Silver-rumped Needletail - Rhaphidura leucopygialis
Brown-backed Needletail - Hirundapus giganteus
Germain's Swiftlet - Aerodramus germani
Pacific Swift - Apus pacificus
Asian Palm-Swift - Cypsiurus balasiensis
Whiskered Treeswift - Hemiprocne comata
Diard's Trogon - Harpactes diardii
Scarlet-rumped Trogon - Harpactes duvaucelii
Orange-breasted Trogon - Harpactes oreskios
Rhinoceros Hornbill - Buceros rhinoceros
Great Hornbill - Buceros bicornis
Bushy-crested Hornbill - Anorrhinus galeritus
Wreathed Hornbill - Rhyticeros undulatus
Banded Kingfisher - Lacedo pulchella
White-throated Kingfisher - Halcyon smyrnensis
Blue-throated Bee-eater - Merops viridis
Sooty Barbet - Caloramphus hayii
Blue-eared Barbet - Psilopogon duvaucelii
Red-throated Barbet - Psilopogon mystacophanos
Yellow-crowned Barbet - Psilopogon henricii
Lineated Barbet - Psilopogon lineatus
Gold-whiskered Barbet - Psilopogon chrysopogon
Rufous Piculet - Sasia abnormis
Crimson-winged Woodpecker - Picus puniceus
Rufous Woodpecker - Micropternus brachyurus
Buff-rumped Woodpecker - Meiglyptes tristis
Maroon Woodpecker - Blythipicus rubiginosus
Orange-backed Woodpecker - Reinwardtipicus validus
Black-thighed Falconet - Microhierax fringillarius
Blue-crowned Hanging-Parrot - Loriculus galgulus
Green Broadbill - Calyptomena viridis
Silver-breasted Broadbill - Serilophus lunatus
Banded Broadbill - Eurylaimus javanicus
Black-and-yellow Broadbill - Eurylaimus ochromalus
Golden-bellied Gerygone - Gerygone sulphurea
Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike - Hemipus picatus
Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike - Hemipus hirundinaceus
Rufous-winged Philentoma - Philentoma pyrhoptera
Common Iora - Aegithina tiphia
Green Iora - Aegithina viridissima
Scarlet Minivet - Pericrocotus speciosus
Black-winged Cuckooshrike - Lalage melaschistos
Lesser Cuckooshrike - Lalage fimbriata
Tiger Shrike - Lanius tigrinus
Dark-throated Oriole - Oriolus xanthonotus
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo - Dicrurus paradiseus
Black-naped Monarch - Hypothymis azurea
Blyth's Paradise-Flycatcher - Terpsiphone affinis
Pacific Swallow - Hirundo tahitica
Gray-headed Canary-Flycatcher - Culicicapa ceylonensis
Sultan Tit - Melanochlora sultanea
Black-headed Bulbul - Pycnonotus atriceps
Black-crested Bulbul - Pycnonotus flaviventris
Scaly-breasted Bulbul - Pycnonotus squamatus
Gray-bellied Bulbul - Pycnonotus cyaniventris
Stripe-throated Bulbul - Pycnonotus finlaysoni
Yellow-vented Bulbul - Pycnonotus goiavier
Cream-vented Bulbul - Pycnonotus simplex
Red-eyed Bulbul - Pycnonotus brunneus
Spectacled Bulbul - Pycnonotus erythropthalmos
Hairy-backed Bulbul - Tricholestes criniger
Finsch's Bulbul - Alophoixus finschii
Yellow-bellied Bulbul - Alophoixus phaeocephalus
Buff-vented Bulbul - Iole crypta
Yellow-bellied Warbler - Abroscopus superciliaris
Common Tailorbird - Orthotomus sutorius
Dark-necked Tailorbird - Orthotomus atrogularis
Rufous-tailed Tailorbird - Orthotomus sericeus
Rufescent Prinia - Prinia rufescens
Everett's White-eye - Zosterops everetti
Pin-striped Tit-Babbler - Mixornis gularis
Rufous-fronted Babbler - Cyanoderma rufifrons
Moustached Babbler - Malacopteron magnirostre
Scaly-crowned Babbler - Malacopteron cinereum
Puff-throated Babbler - Pellorneum ruficeps
Black-capped Babbler - Pellorneum capistratum
White-chested Babbler - Pellorneum rostratum
Ferruginous Babbler - Pellorneum bicolor
Asian Fairy-bluebird - Irena puella
Dark-sided Flycatcher - Muscicapa sibirica
Asian Brown Flycatcher - Muscicapa dauurica
Oriental Magpie-Robin - Copsychus saularis
White-rumped Shama - Copsychus malabaricus
Blue-and-white Flycatcher - Cyanoptila cyanomelana
Chestnut-naped Forktail - Enicurus ruficapillus
Korean Flycatcher - Ficedula zanthopygia
Rufous-chested Flycatcher - Ficedula dumetoria
Asian Glossy Starling - Aplonis panayensis
Common Myna - Acridotheres tristis
Javan Myna - Acridotheres javanicus
Great Myna - Acridotheres grandis
Greater Green Leafbird - Chloropsis sonnerati
Lesser Green Leafbird - Chloropsis cyanopogon
Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker - Prionochilus maculatus
Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker - Prionochilus percussus
Thick-billed Flowerpecker - Dicaeum agile
Yellow-vented Flowerpecker - Dicaeum chrysorrheum
Orange-bellied Flowerpecker - Dicaeum trigonostigma
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker - Dicaeum cruentatum
Plain Sunbird - Anthreptes simplex
Olive-backed Sunbird - Cinnyris jugularis
Long-billed Spiderhunter - Arachnothera robusta
Little Spiderhunter - Arachnothera longirostra
Yellow-eared Spiderhunter - Arachnothera chrysogenys
Spectacled Spiderhunter - Arachnothera flavigaster
Gray-breasted Spiderhunter - Arachnothera modesta
Eurasian Tree Sparrow - Passer montanus

Red-throated Barbet, female

Banded Kingfisher, male

Red-throated Barbet, female

Buff-vented Bulbul

Cream-vented Bulbul

Finch's Bulbul

Grey-bellied Bulbul

Green Broadbill

Hairy-backed Bulbul

Rufous-winged Philentoma

Rhinocerous Hornbill

Scaly-breasted Bulbul

Scarlet-rumped Trogon

Spectacled Bulbul

Grey-breasted Spiderhunter

The team

Gigantic tree

Whiskered Treeswift