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Hala Bala Wildlife Sanctuary


Hala Bala Wildlife Sanctuary is composed of two separate forest areas. Hala is further North and higher in altitude and hence is home to a few birds not found in Bala like the Fire-tufted Barbet and Mountain Fulvetta. Hala is unfortunately difficult to reach and has no amenities and is hence rarely visited. This article will therefore concentrate on the Bala section of the sanctuary where the headquarters are located.
Bala is home to the largest variety of forest birds in Southern Thailand. In one visit recently we found 160 species including many rarities like Reddish Scops Owl, White-fronted Scops Owl, Gould's Frogmouth and Giant Pitta. We also found six species of Broadbill, seven species of Hornbill, seventeen species of Bulbul and seventeen species of Babbler. It is near the limit of the ranges of many Sundaic species and hence is the only place in Thailand that birds such as Short-toed Coucal, Finsch's Bulbul, Malaysian-eared Nightjar, Garnet Pitta and Grey-chested Jungle-Flycatcher can be seen.
Bala is in the province of Narathiwat in Thailand's far South. For many years there has been civil unrest in the area. There are frequent incidents between the antagonists and the authorities so there is some risk in visiting the area though tourists are not specifically targeted. We minimise any risk by driving through the area during daylight hours and then staying inside the sanctuary for the duration of our visit.

The Road

Rusty-breasted Cuckoo
 Silver-breasted Broadbill
Yellow-crowned Barbet
Finsch's Bulbul
Chestnut-backed Scimitar-Babbler

Crested Jay
 Helmeted Hornbill
Temminck's Sunbird
Red-naped Trogon
Whiskered Treeswift
The road through Bala provides the best forest edge birding in south Thailand. During a visit of a few days we will walk most sections of the 15km and see most of our birds along it. Hornbills are frequently flying overhead and the fruiting trees will help us find the local Bulbuls and Barbets.

The Trail

Malaysian Honeyguide
Rufous-chested Flycatcher
Short-toed Coucal
Olive-backed Woodpecker
Green Broadbill
We usually spend a morning or two on the trail. This is quite an event as we start by fording the river to get to the start of it. Along the trail we look out for Thai rarities like Malaysian Honeyguide, Garnet Pitta, Short-toed Coucal, Rufous-tailed Shama and Rail Babbler.

Dto Mo

Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker
Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike
Blue-banded Kingfisher
Grey-chested Jungle Flycatcher
Spotted Fantail
Also known as the goldmine, this trail works it's way along a stream a little way outside the park. In here we target the Grey-chested Jungle Flycatcher, Spotted Fantail, Horsfield's Babbler, Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker and Blue-banded Kingfisher.

Pha Pru

Black and Red Broadbill
Fluffy-backed Tit-Babbler
Malaysian Blue-Flycatcher
Buff-necked Woodpecker
This is a large area of peat swamp outside the park. We normally visit for an afternoon while making our way from the airport to the park. It is the only spot in Thailand for Malaysian Blue Flycatcher and the best spot for Fluffy-backed Tit-Babbler.
All the photographs shown on this page were taken by ourselves at Bala.
Miss Punjapa Phetsri (aka Games)
Site owner and guide.
White-fronted Scops-Owl
Reddish Scops-Owl
 Gould's Frogmouth
Wrinkled Hornbill
Grey-bellied Bulbul
Cinereous Bulbul
Blue-eared Barbet
Red-throated Sunbird
Horsfield's Babbler