Share our Experience of Birding and Photography
"Phang-Nga 2 days 1 night trip "
16 March 2009 with Paul Carter
 
 
 
We planned a two day/one night trip to Phang Nga but left the details of the birding and hotel locations open as we knew that bad weather might force us to alter our plans. Our friend Paul volunteered to hire the car but when he come to pick us up we couldn’t believe the colour of the car - bright red - very good for birding.

Our first destination was the abandoned golf course at Thai Muang, but the previous week we had seen some Snipe out in the open at a morning glory (local vegetable) farm near the golf course, so we called in there first after a ninety minute drive from Phuket.
 
 
     
                                                                   Morning Glory Farm            Slaty-breasted Rail
 
The first bird we saw at the farm was a Common Snipe, it stayed in the open and we managed to get some decent photos. Behind the Snipe on an embankment we had good views of a Slaty-breasted Rail and a Watercock. The sun was out and a White-throated Kingfisher sat on a post not ten metres from us.

At this point we were hoping for the clouds to roll in to stop us from over-heating on the golf course and to help with the photography, never easy in bright sunlight. No such luck, we spent the next three hours in the hot sun and got nicely burnt. Lesson learned - wear sunscreen on the golf course. 
 
 
 
 
Common Snipe
 
 
White-throated Kingfisher
 
 
 
Watercock
 
   
    
                       
   
Peregrine Falcon              Collared Kingfisher
 
  
We arrived at the Golf course around 9.30am and were surprised not to see plovers all over the grassy areas as we had seen the previous week. Then we saw why - a Peregrine Falcon perching on the top of leafless tree. We were surprised how dark it was and only managed a couple of poor photos before it flew off, still, we’d had a good look through the scope first.

No sign of the Starlings we’d been hoping for but the place was alive with nesting kingfishers. We peered into a recently visited burrow in the wall of a sand bunker but couldn’t see or hear anything.

Various open area and pond birds were seen but we found the highlight of the morning on the way back to the car, an Eastern Marsh Harrier. Good views of it quartering but no photos, a good reason to go back.

We drove on to “White Sand Beach Resort” near Laem Pakarang for a feed and a rest out of the sun. We’d timed it to get to the rocky outcrops of Cape Pakarang for hide tide, the best time to see the shore birds as they congregate near a pool at the end of the sandbank. Unfortunately the weather changed during lunch and we had to make a dash for the car at the end to avoid a soaking. 
 
Thai Muang Golf Course
 
 
 
Little Mushroom Balls
 
 
 
River Lapwing
 
 
 
It was still raining when we got to the cape but the time was well spent reviewing the subtle differences between the various Plovers and Terns we hoped to see. We headed out when the rain stopped thirty minutes later. One of the first birds we saw was a small white egret with a yellow bill. White morph Pacific Reef Egret we thought but once we got the scope on him we could see a large plume on it’s nape.
 
A Chinese Egret. Nice start. A good variety of Terns and Plovers were seen and with help from the book identified a Kentish Plover in breeding colours. When it started to rain again we had to choose between heading North to Sri Phang Nga NP for the Banded Pitta or East to Phang Nga Mangrove Park for the Mangrove Pitta. It’s tough living here. We opted to head East but the rain just kept coming so we went straight to Phang Nga town to find a hotel.

We ended up in the budget Phang Nga Guest House on the main street. Cheap and not bad at all. Bird lists were written and Snipe photos identified over a beer or two. A plan was put together for the next day - up at 6am for a morning’s birding at Ton Pariwat WS followed by a couple of hours at the mangroves.
 
 
      
                                                                   Blyth's Hawk Eagle            Crested Serpent-Eagle
 
 
A quick coffee at the guest house and a thirty minute drive to Ton Pariwat for a 7 am start. There was a little mist on the way but the wildlife sanctuary was clear. We spent a couple of hours walking along the road with the sun on our backs, had a rest near the river and took the river trial back to the car.
 
 
Highlights included a Crested Serpent Eagle perching about twenty metres away and a juvenile Blyth’s Hawk-Eagle perching in the distance. Paul got some great shots of a juvenile snake (Triangle Keelback) taking eggs from a mass of frogspawn. No hornbills today but the usual array of Bulbuls and small colourful forest birds. Good views of a Black Giant Squirrel too. Gibbons were heard but not seen. 
Pacific Reef Egret
 
 
 
Chinese Egret
 
 
Kentish Plover
 
 
Black Giant Squirrel
 
 
 
We went down into the valley to lunch at our usual restaurant next to the river before moving on to the mangroves.


We’d had a lot of luck recently with the Mangrove Pittas but it was looking bad when the clouds rolled in. Games and I had given up and headed to the car to avoid a soaking but Paul came out triumphant having had good views of one in the corner of the park. Must get some walkie talkies. Another viewing of interest was an Ashy Tailorbird’s nest high in the canopy. A bit more time before the winds came would have allowed us to get some good photos but the swirling branches defeated us.


It looked like the bad weather had set in for the day again so we headed home to avoid the rush hour. A great little trip with over one hundred species observed. 
Mangrove Pitta
 
 
Ashy Tailorbird
 
 
 
Miss Punjapa Phetsri (aka Games)
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