Share our Experience of Birding and Photography
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Malaysian Plover
Malaysian Plover
 
 
 
Spot-billed Pelican
Spot-billed Pelican
 
 
 
Ferruginous Pochard
Ferruginous Pochard
 
 
 
Garganey
Garganey
 
 
 
Grey-backed Shrike Grey-backed Shrike
 
 
 
Green-tailed Sunbird
Green-tailed Sunbird
 
 
 
Crested Goshawk
Crested Goshawk
 
 
 
White-browed Shortwing
White-browed Shortwing
 
 
 
Brown-breasted Flycatcher
Brown-breasted Flycatcher
 
 
 
Violet Cuckoo
Violet Cuckoo
 
 
 
Clicking Shrike-babbler 
Clicking Shrike-babbler
 
 
 
Yellow-browed Tit
Yellow-browed Tit
 
 
 
Wallcreeper
Wallcreeper
 
 
 
Blue-winged Minla
Blue-winged Minla
 
 
 
Short-tailed Parrotbill
Short-tailed Parrotbill
 
 
 
White-throated Fantai 
White-throated Fantai
 
 
 
Baikal Bush Warbler
Baikal Bush Warbler
 
 
 
Collared Babbler
Collared Babbler
 
 
 
Great Slaty Woodpecker
Great Slaty Woodpecker
 
 
 
Silver-breasted Broadbill
Silver-breasted Broadbill
 
 
 
Mekong Wagtail
Mekong Wagtail
 
 
 
Asian Golden Weaver
Asian Golden Weaver
 
 
 
Japanese paradise Flycatcher
Japanese paradise Flycatcher
 
 
 
Mugimaki Flycatcher
Mugimaki Flycatcher
 
 
 
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher
 
 
 
Himalayan Cuckoo
Himalayan Cuckoo
 
 
 
Chinese Sparrowhawk 
Chinese Sparrowhawk
 
 
 
Ferruginous Partridge
Ferruginous Partridge
 
 
 
Spotted Owlet
Spotted Owlet
 
 
 
Little Bronze Cuckoo
Little Bronze Cuckoo
 
 
 
Black-throated Babbler
Black-throated Babbler
 
 
 
Buff-necked Woodpecker
Buff-necked Woodpecker
 
 
 
Crested Jay
Crested Jay
 
 
 
Keeled Slug-eating Snake
Keeled Slug-eating Snake
 

An epic 42 day trip to every corner of Thailand – Mar/Apr 2015

 

This was both the longest birding trip Jim had ever made and the longest we had ever guided. The plan was to start in Bangkok, do a clockwise tour of the west, north and east and then head down the peninsula. Jim is the owner of a birding tour company based in the U.S. and as well as wanting to see the birds himself he wanted to learn about the country so he could put together some itineraries and offer them to his clients.

Jim wanted to see as many species as possible while also collecting good photos of as many species as possible. One of our jobs was to find the right balance between spending time looking for new birds and spending time trying to get good shots of birds already seen.

 

Day 1 – 16th Mar – Petchaburi coastline

We had all overnighted at an airport hotel in Bangkok so we were up pre dawn to get to Pak Thale by 7am. As we entered the dirt road that leads to the salt pans we stopped at the first pan to check out what the birds were. There was a Red-necked Stint, a Kentish Plover and a Lesser Sand Plover. Nice start but as we drove up to the parking area we noticed that there were very few birds around.

A Spotted Redshank fed behind us but that was about all. Even as we approached the end hut there was nothing to see but as we rounded a large pile of salt we could see the end pond was full of birds of all sizes. It only took Games a couple of minutes to track down a Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Sighs of relief all around as we could now relax and enjoy the rest of the day. Another group turned up and found a second spooner a little further away but showing some breeding plumage.  The usual crowd of Eurasian Curlews hung about at the back and a couple of Great Knots were in among the Sand Plovers but everything was distant so we decided to go and look for something more photographable. We spent the next hour shooting from the car and picked up Curlew Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Chinese Egret, Long-toed Stint and Sanderling.

We then moved down the road to the temple where we called in an Oriental Skylark which performed right in front of us and Oriental Pratincoles flew all around.

At the kings project we picked up some more good birds including Spot-billed Pelican, Temminck’s Stint, Indian Cormorant and Painted Stork.

An hour with Khun Daeng at the sand spit netted everything we were looking for – White-faced Plover, Malaysian Plover, Pallas’s Gull and many species of terns.

The birds were slow after lunch and we were slower. We eventually ground to a halt and slept for a while in the shade of a salt hut. The tide was well out and most of the birds had gone awol so we then drove to Tao Takrao. The lake was alive with birds and we added the rare Black-faced Spoonbill to our list together with an Eastern Marsh Harrier, Oriental Darter and Black-headed Ibis. The ducks which had been there a couple of weeks before seemed to have moved on.

Beer O’clock was called and we made our way back to the rooms.

 

Day 2 – 17th Mar – Laem Pak Bia, Ratchaburi & Bueng Boraphet

We were back at Laem Pak Bia at dawn. We went straight to the km47 track and found a pond very busy with birdlife. It didn’t take Games long to find an Asian Dowitcher and a Nordmann’s Greenshank, our two targets, so we drove north to our next destination.

At Ratchaburi we were disappointed to find that most of the habitat had gone to rubber plantations and the Rain Quail were not in their usual place. Indochinese Bushlarks were singing and displaying nicely but there was not much else around so we pressed on.

We arrived in Nakhon Sawan quite early so we cruised some quiet country roads looking for photo opportunities. After getting some shots of common birds like Zebra Dove and Asian Openbill we moved on to the kings project on the north side of the lake. This is an area of ponds used for a variety of reasons and many unused. Here one can drive around the ponds and do most of the birding and photography from the car. Highlights were Striated Grassbird, Cinnamon Bittern, Pied Kingfisher and Chestnut Munia. Many other common open area birds were seen including Long-tailed Shrike, Dusky Warbler, Oriental Reed Warbler and White-breasted Waterhen.
 

Day 3 – 18th Mar – Beung Boraphet & Mae Wong

We had breakfast at the HQ car park whilst watching Coppersmith Barbets, Eastern Jungle Crows and Black-naped Orioles. The next three hours were spent photographing from the boat as we cruised around the water lily beds. Pheasant-tailed Jacanas in breeding plumage were photographed together with Cotton Pygmy Goose. Thousands of Garganey flew around and we found a small group of Ferruginous Ducks. Common Kingfishers were just that and we found one Black-headed Kingfisher.

We got to the top of Mae Wong in the late afternoon and set up the tents. The main hide was quiet with only Buff-breasted Babbler and Blue Whistling Thrush coming in so we took a stroll down the road where we found a group of six Long-tailed Sibias. Olive Bulbuls and Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters were seen too.
 

Day 4 - 19th Feb – Mae Wong

We walked the road starting at the top viewpoint. One of our main targets here is always the Coral-billed Scimitar-Babbler and we had three come in to call right next to us at the viewpoint. Oriental White-eyes and a young male Scarlet Minivet moved around the small trees on the edge. A Blue-bearded Bee-eater sat up in a dead tree but too far away for a good shot. A few Black Bulbuls came through with some Mountain Bulbuls and a Dusky Warbler fed along the road edge. A group of Striated Yuhina and a Black-throated Sunbird came in to the Collared Owlet call.

We then had a short break before walking down the old Umphang road from the campsite. We soon got on to a small flock of birds moving along the edge. Marten’s Warbler and Yunnan Fulvetta showed best but were with Streaked Wren-Babbler, Spot-necked Babbler and Grey-throated Babbler. A Golden-throated Barbet was spotted calling at the top of a tree and on our way out we followed a hornbill calling. After a short run up the road and a quick search it turned out to be a Great Hornbill. Nice but not the one we really hoped for, Rufous-necked Hornbill.

During the heat of the day we returned to the main hide where we improved our photos of yesterday’s birds and also got the Babblers seen on the trail.

Down at the bird bath on the Umphang trail we enjoyed watching the various birds come in to wash – Yunnan Fulvetta, Grey-throated Babbler and Silver-eared Mesia. A Small Minivet was seen singing above the bath.

The late afternoon was spent at the Pheasant hide where Grey Peacock-pheasant showed along with White-tailed Flycatcher and Rufous-bellied Niltava. As we got back up to the campsite a Grey-backed Shrike allowed us to get close and some Black-throatedLlaughingthrushes came through.

We went out owling after dinner and although we got within a few metres of a Mountain Scops Owl we could not see it.
 

Day 5 – 20th Mar – Mae Wong

During breakfast a Grey Treepie perched up at the top of a tree in the campsite. Jim was back in the Pheasant hide at 7am and got both birds he still wanted there – Rufous-throated Partridge and White-necked Laughingthrush.

We next drove down the road 1km to an area known for White-throated Bulbul and sure enough they were calling in the area and we were soon onto them so we moved back to the Umphang trail to try for skulkers.  Rufous-browed Flycatcher called nearby but would not show. We got Sulpher-breasted Warbler in a mixed flock and a Hainan Blue Flycatcher came close by. At the bird bath a Rufous-backed Sibia had a morning wash.

The rest of the day was spent in transit to Li ready for our morning at Mae Ping.
 

Day 6 – 21st Mar – Mae Ping & Doi Inthanon

We got to Mae Ping before dawn and cruised the road listening for woodpeckers. First heard were White-bellied Woodpeckers so we jumped out of the car and had some good flight views. Large Woodshrikes were plentiful and some Rosy Minivets came in above us. Greater Yellownapes and Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpeckers showed and a group of White-crested Laughingthrushes came in. Black-hooded Orioles and Golden-fronted Leafbirds were the most common species.

We stopped a couple of km short of the campsite and took a long walk along the road which netted Black-headed Woodpeckers, Changeable Hawk Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Yellow-streaked Warbler and Common Woodshrike.

We arrived at Doi Inthanon in the mid afternoon and went to the top to start on the skulkers up on the boardwalk. It usually takes a couple of visits and a few circuits to clean up but we did very well. Snowy-browed Flycatchers were the first to show followed by a Eurasian Woodcock sitting out in the open. White-browed Shortwing was much more difficult but finally found and a Pygmy Wren Babbler performed nicely for us. Along the way we had also seen Green-tailed Sunbird, Rufous-winged Fulvetta, Ashy-throated Warbler, Bar-throated Minla and Silver-eared Laughingthrush. On the way down we bumped into a Bamboo Partridge at the side of the road which felt like a real bonus and then checked for Speckled Wood Pigeons and found about 30 in a tree getting ready to roost. A yellow-bellied Fantail hawked from a power line and a Green Cochoa called but did not show.
 

Day 7 – 22nd Mar – Doi Inthanon

As we had done so well at the top the previous afternoon we spent the morning doing general birding along the km34 track instead of going for specific targets. One of the first birds seen was a large flock of Grey-breasted Parrotbills moved along the edge of the track through the bamboo thickets. We rarely see this bird so it was a great start. Next we had a female Vivid Niltava perching on an open branch. A tricky one to identify but a real treat to see. Twice Slaty-bellied Tesias called nearby but would not come in. Blue-winged Minlas gleaned for insects high up and Buff-throated Warblers did the same near the ground. Also seen were Little Pied Flycatcher and a female Slaty-backed Flycatcher.  Hume’s Leaf Warblers showed in the pines area with Japanese Tits and in the open grassy area an adult and a young Crested Goshawk circled. Hill Prinias moved noisily through the grass and Siberian Rubythroats called but did not show.

Most of the afternoon was spent circling the walkway at the summit looking for the Dark-sided Thrush. We had no luck but improved our photos of the other birds there. At around 5pm we set up the hides at the campsite in hope of seeing the now elusive Black-tailed Crake. After an hour of waiting one finally showed briefly but unluckily Jim missed it.
 

Day 8 – 23rd Mar – Doi Inthanon

In the morning we walked from km38 back to the second checkpoint and then onto the jeep track. Notable birds along the road were Mountain Tailorbird and a pair of courting Asian Emerald Cuckoos. Also new were Ashy Drongo, Dark-backed Sibia and Black-winged Cuckooshrike. The jeep track was very quiet with only repeat birds and a few heard birds. Things picked up very nicely at the stream at the start of the km34 track with Slaty-bellied Tesia, White-crowned Forktail and the rarely recorded Brown-breasted Flycatcher.

After lunch we went chasing the local specials we still needed. Black-backed Forktail was easily found a couple of km south of the HQ but no sign of the Plumbeous Water Redstart at the waterfall gardens. We did though get an Eyebrowed Wren-babbler there and then it was back up to the summit for the Dark-sided Thrush. After 45 minutes of peering into the gloom we finally found one tossing leaves about, and then a second one joined it. What relief. Along the way we Jim found a Himalayan Bluetail and then we bumped into two Ashy Wood Pigeons behind the gents so it ended up that we had cleaned up at the top. We drove down to try again for the Black-breasted Crake and to our surprise it was out waiting for us so we didn’t even have to put the blind up but took some photos from the car.
 

Day 9 – 24th Mar – Doi Inthanon, Mae Taeng & Doi Ang Khang

This was a travel day but we had a couple of hours at the base of Doi Inthanon looking for White-rumped Falcon which we could not find. As usual the area was quiet but we found a Eurasian Jay and brought in a Violet Cuckoo to eye level.

En route we called in at Mae Taeng and soon found a Wire-tailed Swallow. Green Sandpiper was seen in the river.

Doi Ang Khang was in cloud when we arrived but luckily the army camp was fairly clear. It took us a while but we eventually found the Daurian Redstart and also added Yellow-streaked Warbler and Olive-backed Pipit to our list.
 

Day 10 – 25th Mar – Doi Ang Khang

We wanted to be the first at the mushroom farm so we were in position before 7am. Our main target was the Rusty-naped Pitta which had been showing for a few weeks. We waited two hours and although the bird was calling nearby it did not come in so we had to be happy with Siberian Blue Robin, Hill Blue Flycatcher and some other previously seen birds. At about 9am we gave up and had a walk around the gardens where we were rewarded with Spot-billed Grosbeak and Common Rosefinch. At the campground lookout a Burmese Shrike perched on one of the posts and Large Hawk-cuckoo called. Over near the Chinese cemetery we brought out some White-browed Laughingthrushes and some Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-babblers. On the way back to the resort we stopped as some Scarlet-faced Liocichlas crossed the road and while we were watching them a couple of Spectacled Barwings came by.

After lunch Jim spent some time photographing the White-capped Redstart at the waterfall after which we went for a walk the highlight during which was a Hodgeson’s Hawk-cuckoo, a lifer for everyone on the trip. Another hour was spent at the mushroom farm in hope of seeing the pitta but to no avail.
 

Day 11 – 26th Mar – Doi Lang

There were more birds for us at Doi Lang than Doi Ang Khang so we had an early start and changed mountains. We first stopped in the pines area and our first bird was a Giant Nuthatch, result.  Cook’s Swifts were flying over by the hundred and we spotted a male Sapphire Flycatcher.

At the hides section we enjoyed watching a Hodgeson’s Frogmouth on the nest with two chicks. A Siberian Rubythrout hopped around one of the waterholes. As we walked down the road we chanced upon a Spot-breasted Parrotbill. Remarkably a Bay Woodpecker showed well, a rare thing indeed.

After lunch we cruised the road for a while hoping to see a Pheasant but had no luck. Our afternoon really started with a White-gorgetted Flycatcher at the main hide then a male and three female Mrs Hume’s Pheasants walked onto the road behind us and allowed us to get close for 15 minutes of photo shoot. White-bellied Redstart showed up at another hide and then a family of Hume’s Treecreepers came through. At yet another hide we were enjoying seeing a female Slaty-blue Flycatcher when a couple of Grey-headed Parrotbills came in for a drink. The last good bird of the day was a Clicking Shrike-babbler seen at the fallen log in the pines area.

 

Day 12 – 27th Mar – Doi Lang

Up the mountain again but this time from the Thaton side. On the drive up we found two groups of Red Junglefowl and a pair of Mountain Bamboo Partridges. As we approached the bridge we chased an Oriental Turtle Dove down the road. From the bridge we spotted a Lesser Yellownape next to a Maroon Oriole warming themselves on a snag. A female Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon called and we got the scope onto her. After an hour or so we drove up to the border police checkpoint where a flock of small birds was moving around. We found Buff-barred Warbler and Bianchi’s Warbler among them. A little down the road a male Slaty-blue Flycatcher showed well at a feeding station and we had to work hard to get onto a Large Niltava calling in the forest. Another flock of small birds gave us the bird of the day – a Yellow-browed Tit. Other good birds seen on the walk included Chestnut-crowned Warbler and Crimson-breasted Woodpecker.

After lunch we slowly made our way off the mountain but it was early afternoon and the only bird of note seen was a Red-naped Trogon.
 

Day 13 - 28th Mar – Chiang Saen

Earlier during the trip we had received a phone call telling us that there was a Wallcreeper near Chiang Saen, a second for Thailand. We’d all been keeping our fingers crossed that it would stay long enough for us to see it. Today was the day. We drove from Fang in the early morning and got to the quarry at about 7.30am. It only took us a few minutes to find the bird working the rockface. It was not at all shy and just continued to feed when approached.

After we all had good shots we moved on to the Mekong where we spotted a Small Pratincole feeding and a flock of Red Avadavats moving through the grass. Along the way we picked up House Swifts flying under a road bridge. Around the corner at the Nam Khan Nature Reserve we got into the Cettia Hide to wait for the Firethroat (1st for Thailand) that had been in the area for a couple of months. Nothing came in for 45 minutes but Jim left the hide to photograph a Broown-cheeked Rail working the edge of a pond. We then got word that the Firethroat was taking a bath in the hide. It had gone when we got there but it re-appeared a few minutes later. It was in partial molt and starting to get the fire. It would be nice to see it in another month when in full plumage but we were well pleased with our morning.

The afternoon was rather quieter as we spent a good deal of our time in the hides. Baikal Bush-Warbler came in briefly and a Ruddy-breasted Crake fed on the edge of the pond where the Rail had been seen earlier.
 

Day 14 - 29th Mar – Chiang Saen

The morning was spent at some paddy fields to the south of Chiang Saen in the hope of finding some Buntings but our luck was out. New birds seen in the area included Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Bluethroat and Chestnut-tailed Starling. A few Indian Spot-billed Ducks flew around and a Pied Harrier came close.

Our boat trip on the lake was also disappointing as most of the ducks had moved on. As well as Lesser Whistling Ducks there were a lot of Indian Spot-billed Ducks and a few Garganey. At the HQ area a Purple Sunbird came in to call and a Lineated Barbet sat fairly low. We were told there was a Common Shelduck at the Yonok Temple ponds so we found our way over there and soon got on to it.

A storm was closing in and the light was fading when we got to the Yonok Harrier roost. Birds were few and far between but we got onto a Thick-billed Warbler and a Lesser Coucal before rain ended play.
 

Day 15 – 30th Mar – Chiang Saen & Doi Phu Kha

A couple of stops along the Mekong looking for Grey-throated Martins didn’t work but a much rarer bird for Thailand was seen, a Common Starling. Also seen was a Barred Buttonquail, a bird which is common but needs luck to be found.

Most of the rest of the day was spent in transit to Doi Phu Kha where we only had a hour of light left. Luckily the local ranger and bird enthusiast had found a nesting pair of Chestnut-bellied Nuthatches, one of our target birds for the area, so we drove a little further up the hill and watched them come in to a hole about ten metres up a tree.
 

Day 16 – 31st Mar – Doi Phu Kha

This was one of our toughest walks of the trip to try and see one of the toughest birds in Thailand, the Beautiful Nuthatch. We had seen it on the same walk a couple of months ago so knew it was in the area. As it happened we didn’t see it this time. We walked about 5km climbing about 600m on a poor forest trail. We saw plenty of other birds though and because this area is rarely visited I will list them all here (some heard only).

Banded Bay Cuckoo

Sulphur-breasted Warbler

Great Barbet

Martens's Warbler

Golden-throated Barbet

Chestnut-crowned Warbler

Blue-throated Barbet

White-browed Scimitar Babbler

Speckled Piculet

Golden Babbler

Long-tailed Broadbill

Brown-cheeked Fulvetta

Silver-breasted Broadbill

Yunnan Fulvetta

White-bellied Erpornis

Eyebrowed Wren-Babbler

Blyth's Shrike-babbler

Buff-breasted Babbler

Black-eared Shrike-babbler

Blue-winged Minla

Ashy Drongo

Silver-eared Mesia

Hair-crested Drongo

Indochinese Yuhina

Grey Treepie

Whiskered Yuhina

Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher

Chestnut-flanked White-eye

Striated Bulbul

Pale Blue Flycatcher

Flavescent Bulbul

Hill Blue Flycatcher

Grey-eyed Bulbul

Small Niltava

Mountain Bulbul

Orange-bellied Leafbird

Mountain Tailorbird

Fire-breasted Flowerpecker

Slaty-bellied Tesia

Mrs. Gould's Sunbird

Black-throated Bushtit

Black-throated Sunbird

Yellow-browed Warbler

Streaked Spiderhunter

Claudia's Leaf Warbler

 

 

Day 17 – 1st Apr – Doi Phu Kha & Phu Suan Sai

This was another transfer day with a six hour drive down to Phu Suan Sai. On a short walk in the morning at Doi Phu Kha things were surprisingly quiet with only Great Barbet added to the list.

At Phu Suan Sai we had more luck. After only a few minutes a pair of Rufous-throated Fulvettas came in to a baiting station. This bird is usually really difficult to get on to but this time we enjoyed excellent views. At a bird bath just down the road a nice variety of birds came in including Red-billed Scimitar-Babbler, Grey-throated Babbler, Buff-breasted Babbler, White-throated fantail and Pin Striped Tit-Babbler.
 

Day 18 – 2nd Apr – Phu Suan Sai

Our mission today was to find the Short-tailed Parrotbill as this is the only location in Thailand for this bird and our main reason for visiting the park. We first looked in the bamboo thickets along the road but to no avail. Blue-winged Leafbird and Yellow-bellied Warbler were seen along the way.

On the nature trail we did better with a small group of Short-tailed Parrotbills coming through with a mixed flock together with White-browed Piculet, Speckled Piculet and Great Iora.

Over lunch we saw our first Pacific Swifts and a Black Baza circled in the distance.

The afternoon was spent in the bird bath hide but things were very quiet with the Fulvetta and the Parrotbill coming very late when Jim was down the road looking for the Slaty-backed Forktail which didn’t show. He did though get some flight views of a pair of Collared Babblers.
 

Day 19 – 3rd Apr – Phu Suan Sai, Phu Hon Rong Kla & Nam Nao

At first light we tried again for the forktail but again we didn’t see it. The next couple of hours was spent in the hide improving our photos of the Fulvetta. One last try at the Slaty-backed Forktail paid off with a pair seen from the bridge.

At Phu Hin Rong Kla we stopped before the summit when Games spotted some Nepal House Martins from the car. There must have been 500 flying around us. An hour later they were all gone. At the top we found three pairs of Jerdon’s Bushchat and a Baikal Bush-warbler showed well.

At Nam Nao we only had a couple of hours of light so we spent an hour near the stream where we got Puff-throated Bulbuls and a Black-naped Monarch. At the campsite a pair of Common Hill Mynas screeched from a pine tree and a group of White-crested Mynas bounced around the lawn.

After dinner while the rangers tried to shoo an elephant out of the camp ground we found a pair of Brown Hawk Owls. The elephant wouldn’t budge so we had to leave our car at the HQ and get a lift back to the rooms.
 

Day 20 – 4th Apr – Nam Nao

A full day in the park allowed us to do two full circuits of the 3km trail through evergreen forest, dipterocarp forest and pines. As usual we picked up a good list. As we left the rooms in the morning a flock of 20 or so Blossom-headed Parakeets whizzed by and a Plain Sunbird was called in. A male Red-headed Trogon sat low and a group of Red-billed Blue Magpies passed through. As we approached the trail a Grey-headed Woodpecker was seen in a pine stand. A pair of Golden-crested Mynas sunned themselves at the top of another pine. Puff-throated Babblers came in very close and a Rufous Woodpecker was seen in the dipterocarp forest. As we dropped down to the stream we found an Orange-breasted Trogon, a Black-and-buff Woodpecker and some Ashy Bulbuls. Common Green Magpies did their best not to show but finally gave themselves up. We then had our first passage migrant of the trip with a Yellow-rumped Flycatcher bathing in the stream. During lunch a male Ruby-cheeked Sunbird came by with a flock of White-crested Laughingthrushes.

After a long lunch break we first walked the 1km trail behind the HQ where we found a White-crowned Forktail and a Banded Kingfisher. Back on the stream trail we finally got our first Black Bulbul and Jim flushed a couple of Bar-backed Partridges. In the pines we had a Greater Yellownape and a Common Flameback. We totaled 19 new birds for the trip, the most for quite a few days and we broke the 400 species mark.
 

Day 21 – 5th Apr – Nam Nao & Phu Kieao

We went in search of the Silver Pheasant along the stream trail at first light. At the 4km trail marker we turned right towards the view point and in the drier area called in a family party of Large Scimitar Babblers. At the view point we had better views of the Blossom-headed Parakeets while they fed their young. We then started on the 5km trail back towards the stream and found a female Blue-and-White Flycatcher and some Vernal  Hanging Parrots. The rest of the walk back to the HQ was quiet with the only bird of note being a Clicking Shrike-Babbler.

As we parked up at Phu Kieao a pair of Austen’s Brown Hornbill flew over the car but only Games saw them. The afternoon walk produced nothing but the back end of a Silver Pheasant disappearing into the forest. We then staked out one of the lakes in the hope of seeing a White-winged Duck coming in at dusk. No luck but amongst the Swifts coming in to drink we spotted one White-throated Needletail and two Silver-backed Needletails, both good birds for Thailand.
 

Day 22 – 6th Apr – Phu Kieao

An amazing morning of rarely seen birds. At the rooms after breakfast a pair of Great Slaty Woodpeckers performed by dancing up and down the trunk of an open tree. We then went for a slow drive along the road to see what was about and found a Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo feeding along the roadside. In a small pond in the forest we surprised a White-winged Duck which fled into the grassy edges then a little further down a male Silver Pheasant walked in front of us. A short walk along the road before it got too hot added Moustached Barbet and Pale-legged Leaf-warbler.

After lunch we returned to the pond and got some photos of the Duck. It had been ringed so it was a released bird but it was behaving like a wild bird. On our way to the bird bath we found a pair of Indochinese Cuckooshrikes which responded well. At the bath the mid-afternoon was quiet with only White-bellied Erpornis and a variety of Bulbuls coming in. A pair of Green-legged Partridges walked by and then things started to kick off. We heard some Austen’s Brown Hornbills nearby so dashed out of the hide and found the male feeding in a fruiting tree just metres away. Back in the blind a pair of Silver-breasted Broadbills came for a wash and in the background both male and female Blue Pitta showed. A Pale-legged Leaf Warbler and an Eastern Crowned Warbler joined the party together with many other previously seen birds. What a day!
 

Day 23 – 7th Apr – Mekong at Ubon Ratchatani

As Jim had had a bad night’s sleep and we had cleaned up on the local specials we forewent the morning walk and spent the bulk of the day in transit. We arrived at the Mekong at about 4pm and scanned the rocks for birds. First up were a pair of River Lapwings but nothing else of note was found so we drove down the road to a spot where a large area of exposed rocks on the river can be seen. After 30 minutes of scanning with no results we asked a local lady if we could get boated out to the rocks. Five minutes later we were on our way in a tiny, somewhat unstable craft. Games went one way and we went the other and at the same time Games found three Mekong Wagtails and we found a Great Stone-curlew. Jim ran between the two and managed to get photographs of both. With all three targets under our belts we called it a day.
 

Day 24 – 8th Apr – Transfer day

Another long drive, this time from Ubon to Khao Yai. Jim had been suffering with a bad stomach for a couple of days and needed to rest so almost no birding was done. Golden-headed Cisticola was seen next to the hotel in Khao Yai.
 

Day 25 – 9th Apr – Khao Yai

As we had done so well at Phu Kieao we only had a few target birds at Khao Yai. One was the Barred Cuckoo-Dove which we found at their normal roosting site at dawn and another was the Laced Woodpecker which we found later along the Khao Kieao road. Other new birds seen during the morning included Wreathed Hornbill, White-browed Scimitar-Babbler, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Olive-backed Sunbird, Blue-eared Barbet, Asian Brown Flycatcher and Banded Broadbill.

We had two more targets to look for in the area but they were both outside the park. After a long lunch break we found a Yellow-eyed Babbler in a bushy field next to our rooms and then moved on to the Red-breasted Parakeet roost at the local government offices. The last hour of the day was spent at the bat cave looking for raptors. Three Black Baza moved around and the area was full of Pied Hornbills. At 18:20 the bats started leaving the cave and formed a ribbon across the sky. A Shikra flew alongside looking for an opportunity to catch one.
 

Day 26 – 10th Apr – Saraburi & Nakon Nayok

After an hour’s drive from our rooms outside Khao Yai we arrived at some limestone outcrops in Saraburi province. It only took a few minutes to find a Limestone Wren-babbler but it didn’t show well so we walked down the track a little and found a pair which came out better.

At Baak Phli we drove a dirt road slowly looking for Bushlarks but before long we found Asian Golden Weavers nest building in some reeds in an irrigation canal. A little further along a Horsfield’s Bushlark fluttered across the road and landed in a ploughed field. With both of the morning’s targets under our belt we drove down to Rayong.
 

Day 27 & 28 – 11th & 12th Apr – Kho Man Nai

The Man Islands are just off the coast of Rayong province and provide respite for birds flying over the gulf of Thailand on their northerly migration. Some birds seen here are rarely seen elsewhere in Thailand. We spent two full days on the island getting over by a small fishing boat. On the trips over we saw Black-naped Terns and Bridled Terns. Once on the island we share our time between the exposed areas around the turtle conservancy buildings and the trail through the forest. I will list here the  migrants seen on this trip.

Grey-headed Lapwing

Lesser Sand Plover

Greater Sand Plover

Grey-tailed Tattler

Yellow-vented Green Pigeon

Large Hawk-Cuckoo

Himalayan Cuckoo

Hooded Pitta

Blue-winged Pitta

Ashy Minivet

Tiger Shrike

Black-naped Oriole

Crow-billed Drongo

Arctic Warbler

Two-barred Warbler

Pale-legged Leaf Warbler

Eastern Crowned Warbler

Eyebrowed Thrush

Blue-and-white Flycatcher

Siberian Blue Robin

Yellow-rumped Flycatcher

Narcissus Flycatcher

Mugimaki Flycatcher

Forest Wagtail

 

Day 29 – 13th Apr – Kaeng Krachan

Yet another travel day. We stopped off at Bang Phli to look for the Freckle-breasted Woodpecker but no luck.

We got to Kaen Krachan in the early afternoon and spent the rest of the day at Baan Song Nok hides. Greater Necklaced Laughingthrushes and Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrushes were eating bananas as we arrived. Over the afternoon a good array of birds came in but only Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher and Abbott’s Babblers were the only new birds.

After dinner we had no problem finding an Oriental scops Owl.
 

Day 30 – 14th Apr – Kaeng Krachan

We arrived at km7 before sunrise when everything was quiet. Within an hour we had seen Black-and-red Broadbill, Sultan Tit, Chinese Sparrowhawk, Green-eared Barbet, Blck-thighed Falconet  and Greater Yellownape.

At the streams section we concentrated on the Dusky Broadbill nest but although one of the birds was in the nest the others did not show up.

In the afternoon up at km37 we enjoyed watching the Buff-rumped Woodpeckers and the Black-and-buff Woodpeckers move in and out of their nests. A Ratchet-tailed Treepie showed briefly together with Lesser Racket-tailed Drongos.

The top was quiet but on the way out we slowed down at the Dusky Broadbill nest and were rewarded by two birds sitting out in the open.

A short owling session added Collared Scops Owl to our growing list of night birds.
 

Day 31 – 15th Apr – Kaeng Krachan

In the morning we went straight up to km26 for the Red-bearded Bee-eater which was feeding his partner in the nest. Good photos were taken and as the area was quiet we went back down the hill to make sure we got a couple of spots at the Ferruginous Partridge stakeout. The first couple of hours were quiet with only White-rumped Shama, Orange-headed Thrush and Siberian Blue Robin. In a strange repeat of our Phu Kieao experience we rushed out of the hides to see Austen’s Brown Hornbill in the trees above us and a Hooded Pitta wandered in. Shortly after 3pm a pair of Ferruginous Partridges came in and stayed for 20 minutes. Excellent.

A short walk on the km18 trail gave us good views of Slaty-backed Forktail and a Silver-breasted Broadbill came through with nesting material.
 

Day 32 – 16th Apr – Wat Khao Luk Chang & Khao Sam Roi Yot & Chumphon

At Wat Khao Luk Chang about 30 minutes from Kaeng Krachan there is a remnant forest of dipterocarp trees which is worth a visit. We only spent an hour there in the morning and picked up Rufous Treepie, Spotted Owlet, Blue-throated Bee-eater and at the lake a Greater Painted Snipe.

A short stop mid-morning at Sam Roi Yot for the Manchurian Reed-warbler failed but no surprise given the time of day and time of year.

At Chumphon it took us an hour to find a pair of Vinous-breasted Starlings.

We stopped in the late afternoon at a waterfall substation of the Nam Tok Ngao NP and found a Dark-sided Flycatcher hawking from a snag and a pair of Blyth’s Hawk-eagles trying to grab each other talons in an aerial display.
 

Day 33 – 17th Apr – Kaeng Krung & Khao Sok

The original plan had been to try for the Pale-capped Pigeon at Chumphon but recent information led us to believe that the birds would have left already so we came up with a quick alternative.  We arrived at Kaeng Krung NP with no previous knowledge but enjoyed a couple of hours birding along a dirt track which leads to a river. The sky was full of swifts and swallows and we quickly picked out Brown-backed Needletails, Glossy Swiftlets and Grey-rumped Treeswifts. As this was our first southern forest almost everything was new and birds were showing well. Amongst the best were Banded Woodpecker, Rufous Piculet, Black-and-yellow Broadbill, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Chestnut-winged Babbler, Rufous-crowned Babbler, Purple-naped Sunbird and Black-bellied Malkoha.

We then made our way to the pier at Khao Sok and took a boat out onto the reservoir. On the way to the rooms we found Bamboo Woodpecker, Blue-eared Kingfisher and White-bellied Sea-eagle. The highlight of the day though was a pair of Bat Hawks swooping and playing at dusk while we enjoyed a cold beer. After dinner we went out in the boat again and after 30 minutes got onto a Buffy Fish-Owl.

During the day we had passed the 500 species mark.
 

Day 34 – 18th Apr – Khao Sok & Phang Nga province

We changed the itinerary after learning that we had a good chance of Great Argus at Sri Phang Nga. This meant we had a morning on the lake at Khao Sok followed by a whistle stop tour of Phang Nga province in the afternoon which would allow us to spend the morning at Sri Phang Nga in a couple of days.

At Khao Sok we went out before breakfast and got a Lesser Fish-Eagle with a large fish. A pair of Helmeted Hornbills flew over and Games spotted a pair of Great Hornbills on a ridge. Rufous-bellied Swallows were nesting on a cliff and we enjoyed watching a troop of White-handed Gibbons swinging around a fruiting tree.

At Laem Pakarang there was nothing of great interest but we added Whimbrel and Terek Sandpiper to the list. Down at Thai Muang we had good luck with the Spotted Wood-Owl finding it within a couple of minutes. At the marshes a couple of Richard’s Pipits were identified by call. A Watercock was also seen moving through long grass.

The last hour of the day was spent at Ao Phang Nga mangroves where a pair of Ruddy Kingfishers came in to call and Brown-winged Kingfishers showed well. Mangrove Pitta was heard only.
 

Day 35 – 19th Apr – Phang Nga mangroves & Sri Phang Nga

We had a poor start to the day at Bang Phat mangroves with only Golden-bellied Gerygone and Jungle Myna new for the trip. Repeat birds seen included Black-and-red Broadbill and Mangrove Whistler.

At Phang Nga Mangrove Park things took a turn for the better. Two Mangrove Pittas were having a slanging match as we arrived and it took no time to get onto them. Olive-winged Bulbuls seemed to be nesting as they returned to the same spot a few times.

In the early afternoon at Sri Phang Nga the Malayan Banded Pitta showed well and did its best to lord it over a recently arrived Hooded Pitta. A Chestnut-naped Forktail got in on the act too which meant we didn’t have to stake out the stream for it. Also seen in the area were Grey-bellied Bulbul and Chestnut-breasted Malkoha. Jim sat at the bird bath during the afternoon getting good shots of Spectacled Bulbul, Hairy-backed Bulbul and a few others.

As the day had been brutally hot and we were getting up early for the Argus we had an early finish and headed back to the rooms.
 

Day 36 – 20th Apr – Sri Phang Nga & KNC

Up at 3:30am for the Argus. The local guide was somewhat late due to transport problems but arrived at 4:30am with a bike and sidecar. Thirty minutes later we were walking in the dark through the forest towards the hide which had been set up close to the bird’s lek. Roughly two hours after arriving the Great Argus came wandering in and with disgust chased a rogue leaf off his otherwise tidy lek.

Uncharacteristically he hung around the lek the whole morning calling from time to time and rushing off to investigate any females calling back.

Most of the rest of the day was spent transferring to KNC (Khao Nor Chuchi) where we only had a couple of hours of late afternoon birding along the main track. We got a couple of local specials with Puff-backed Bulbul and Van Hasselt’s Sunbird and also added Buff-vented Bulbul, Cream-vented Bulbul and Red-throated Barbet to our list.

A short owling session got us Sunda Scops Owl in the resort gardens.
 

Day 37 – 21st Apr – KNC & Krung Ching

A morning walk along trail “A” at KNC looking for babblers turned up absolutely no babblers. However, at the open area before the blue pool we found Spectacled Spiderhunter, Grey-breasted Spiderhunter, Yellow-eared Spiderhunter and the rare Thick-billed Spiderhunter. Also seen in the area were Orange-bellied Flowerpecker, Raffles’s Malkoha and Plain Sunbird. Add to that the Little Bronze Cuckoo seen at the resort after breakfast and the morning was far from a failure.

Jim was having some issues at home which took some time to resolve but we managed a couple of hours birding at Krung Ching along the entrance road during which we got Grey-headed Babbler, Fiery Minivet, Dark-throated Oriole and Silver-rumped Spinetail.

 

Day 38 – 22nd Apr – Krung Ching

Another chance to look for forest birds including Babblers. We were on the waterfall trail by 6:45am. Unfortunately it was busy due to someone telling the police that there was a body 1km up the trail. It turned out not to be true but half the village turned came to check anyway. We managed to find a Short-tailed Babbler, a Golden-whiskered Barbet and a Brown Barbet during the frenzy but only started birding for real once we were past the 1km area and things were quieter. Black-throated Babblers and Fluffy-backed Tit-babblers showed well and are always crowd pleasers. We got our first Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker and the highlight of the morning was a male Maroon-breasted Philentoma. A Rufous-tailed Tailorbird confused us by using a strange call but allowed us to see him well.

During the lunch break we trawled for the Rail-babbler but it was not around. On the way out a Scarlet-rumped Trogon came in close and at a flowering tree at the HQ we had some Crimson-breasted Flowerpeckers. Near the HQ we also found a pair of the rare Horse-tailed Squirrels which seemed to have moves into the area recently.
 

Day 39 – 23rd Apr – Krung Ching & Thale Noi

We had another morning to try and pick up a few more birds at Krung Ching so we started at the entrance gate and walked down to the HQ. We knew what we wanted and also where to look for them. As we walked down the road we picked up Crimson Sunbird, Green Iora, Green Broadbill, Lesser Green Leafbird and Greater Green Leafbird. A lone Bushy-crested Hornbill flew over and in a fruiting tree at the HQ we got Scaly-breasted Bulbul.

In the afternoon we called in at Thale Noi. As expected we found nothing new but enjoyed the spectacle of hundreds of birds feeding in the marshes below the elevated road.

 

Day 40 – 24th Apr – Yaring mangroves, Pha Pru & Bala

We left Haat Yai at 6am and arrived at Yaring Mangroves an hour later. The timing is intended to maximize our safety as we drive through the troubled south. At Yaring we had no problem getting Ashy Tailorbird and it only took us a few minutes to find a male Mangrove Blue Flycatcher. As these were our only two realistic targets we moved on the the peat swamp at Pha Pru Sirindorn.

We were again disappointed to find out that neither of the mangrove walkways were walkable due to disrepair. We did talk to the headman who explained that one of them should be open in three months as they were expecting funds to arrive soon. Luckily though we found a pair of Malaysian Blue Flycatchers next to the old toilet block so our visit had not been wasted.

After setting up camp at Bala we drove to the highest point of the road and took a long walk back down towards the HQ. A few new birds were found including a Long-billed Spiderhunter near its nest, a pair of Spotted Fantails, a Lesser Cuckooshrike, a Brown-breasted Flycatcher and many Brown Fulvettas.

At the bird bath we had a male Japanese  Paradise-flycatcher join the usual crowd of Bulbuls and Babblers.

After dinner we found a couple of Blyth’s Frogmouths near our rooms.

 

Day 41 – 25th Apr – Bala

We walked the trail at Dto Mo in the morning and had some good birds including Rufous-necked Kingfisher, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Horsfield’s Babbler, Chestnut-rumped Babbler and Rusty-breasted Cuckoo. On the drive back to the rooms we saw a Wallace’s Hawk-eagle circling in a thermal.

We spent the first part of the afternoon trying to dodge rain showers. Once we were done with that we managed a couple of hours of roadside birding during which we added Buff-necked Woodpeckers, Checker-throated Woodpeckers and Rhinocerous Hornbill to our list. The highlight was a Crested Jay which did the unusual thing of actually staying still long enough to be photographed.

 

Day 42 – 26th Apr – Bala

We first went hunting for some new birds along the road and found Streaked Bulbul, Finsch’s Bulbul, Yellow-crowned Barbet and Moustached Babbler. There was then an interlude during which we were trying to get permission to go onto the 1500m trail.

We finally got onto the trail at 10:30am and quickly got onto Scaly-crowned Babbler and Black-capped Babbler. A Rail-Babbler called so we set up a hide and waited an hour but it did not come in. As we crossed a stream a pair of Blue-banded Kingfishers flew by and perched upstream.

At this point everything went wrong, a Large Wren-Babbler was seen but not by Jim, it then started raining and the Malaysian Honeyguide went missing and on the way out Jim was busy dealing with an onslaught of leeches when a Rufous-chested Flycatcher sat out in the open.

On the drive out to a shop to top up the beer supplies we found a few Javan Mynas with a herd of cows.

 

Trip count – 599. Photo count – not sure, but around 200.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Painted Stork
Painted Stork
 
 
 
Common Kingfisher
Common Kingfisher
 
 
 
Pheasant-tailed Jacana
Pheasant-tailed Jacana
 
 
 
Purple HeronPurple Heron
 
 
 
Coral-billed Scimitar-babbler
Coral-billed Scimitar-babbler
 
 
 
Eurasian Woodcock
Eurasian Woodcock
 
 
 
Black-tailed Crake
Black-tailed Crake
 
 
 
Grey-breasted Parrotbill
Grey-breasted Parrotbill
 
 
 
Asian Emerald Cuckoo
Asian Emerald Cuckoo
 
 
 
Snowy-browed Flycatcher
Snowy-browed Flycatcher
 
 
 
Spot-winged Grosbeak
 
 
 
Slaty-blue Flycatcher
Slaty-blue Flycatcher
 
 
 
Firethroat
Firethroat
 
 
 
Purple Sunbird
Purple Sunbird
 
 
 
Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch
Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch
 
 
 
Rufous-throated Fulvetta
Rufous-throated Fulvetta
 
 
 
Jerdon's Bushchat - female
Jerdon's Bushchat - female
 
 
 
White-throated Needletail
White-throated Needletail
 
 
 
Indochinese Cuckooshrike
Indochinese Cuckooshrike
 
 
 
White-winged Duck
White-winged Duck
 
 
 
Blue-bearded Bee-eater
Blue-bearded Bee-eater
 
 
 
Limestone Wren-Babbler
Limestone Wren-Babbler
 
 
 
Ashy Minivet
Ashy Minivet
 
 
 
Tiger Shrike
Tiger Shrike
 
 
 
Black-naped Tern
Black-naped Tern
 
 
 
Pacific Reef Heron
Pacific Reef Heron
 
 
 
Black-and-buff Woodpecker
Black-and-buff Woodpecker
 
 
 
Long-tailed Broadbill
Long-tailed Broadbill
 
 
 
Hooded Pitta
Hooded Pitta
 
 
 
Great Argus
Great Argus
 
 
 
Thick-billed Spiderhunter
Thick-billed Spiderhunter
 
 
 
Long-billed Spiderhunter
Long-billed Spiderhunter
 
 
 
Checker-throated Woodpecker
Checker-throated Woodpecker
 
 
 
Yellow-crowned Barbet
Yellow-crowned Barbet