Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Kaeng Krachan with Paul and Japie



After picking up Paul in the early hours, we set off for the park. We arrived at Kaeng Krachan at around 6am, quickly dropped our gear at Samarn Birdcamp and headed in. The first bird of the day was the Black-Thighed Falconet. What a great little raptor it was, swooping in from a high tree with prey in its beak to feed its young. We stayed around this spot for a while snapping Oriental Pied Hornbills, Hair Crested Drongos and a Green-Billed Malkoha collecting material and building its nest.

Black-Thighed Falconet

We headed a little further along the road and soon spotted a pair of Black and Red Broadbills and a Blue-Eared Barbet which was busily in and out of his hole feeding young. Further up, near Bang Kran campsite we saw Green-Eared Barbets, Black and Yellow Broadbills, Thick-Billed Pigeon, Banded Bay Cuckoo and Asian Fairy Bluebird along with many others.
Black and Yellow Broadbill

Banded Bay Cuckoo
Along the road between the streams we were blessed to see a Javan Frogmouth sitting on her nest.    A rare bird to find, as it sits almost motionless and its camouflage is amazing.  Truly an amazing looking bird which warranted the amount of pictures taken.
Javan Frogmouth

Javan Frogmouth

Javan Frogmouth

Javan Frogmouth
One of Paul’s target birds was the Hooded Pitta, so I made a few enquiries with a few people as to whether it had been seen yet this year. Everyone was giving me the same bad news and saying it hadn’t been seen yet this year, so I decided we would do this……We headed up to a known spot and set up the hides. It only took about 20 minutes and a little playback before 3 individuals were calling back..  One to the left, one to the right and one directly behind us !!! Then it happened, one flew up and perched on a branch right in front of us, Paul rapidly clicked away and rattled off a good few shots, then it was gone. I believe this was the first pictures taken this year, well done Paul…
At about 1:30 we headed up the road to Panoen Thung. At the Km27 mark we spotted Long Tailed Broadbills and Mountain Imperial Pigeons among others. We tried for the Ratchet-Tailed Treepie, but it didn’t show.. Up at the Orchid Trail a Red-Bearded Bee-Eater showed well. We headed back down at 4 and headed back to the resort to meet up with Japie.
Day 2. Back into the park at 6:30, we again stopped for the Falconet which showed really well, perching on a low branch this time. An Oriental Pied Hornbill was feeding in a low bush, which gave the chance for some great shots. We stopped the same places again for Japie to photograph the birds from the previous day and then headed back for the Hooded Pitta. We sat for around2 or 3 hours, but sadly there was to be no sounds or sightings of this “mythical bird”. A walk between the streams turned up a few more birds, including a Dusky Broadbill and Crested Serpent Eagle. Although 3 different Pittas were calling, we didn’t get any sightings.
Black-Thighed Falconet
After lunch, the rain came and put a dampener on the day. We tried for more birds around the campsite and along the road between showers, but we didn’t fair to well. As we left the park we managed to get a fair few more birds around the lanes and fields. So, it was back to the resort for some great food and conversation.
Day 3. We had already made a reservation at Luung Sin’s waterhole and a Blue-Winged Pitta had been seen there the day before. Unfortunately, we had had more rain during the night and the birding was slow. Not much showed apart from a Hill Blue Flycatcher, Brown Cheeked Fulvetta, Red Jungle Fowl and Streak-Eared Bulbul. A very frustrating morning !! The drive back to Bangkok still turned up a good few lifers including, Baya, Streaked and Golden Weavers, Bronze-Winged Jacana, and White Fronted Waterhen.

Brown Cheeked Fulvetta
Overall, a really nice trip with 2 really great guys.. Many birds were seen and some great photos taken. Can’t wait to meet up again to nail the Pittas…
Paul and Japie

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Mae Wong & Huai Kha Kaeng with Ramesh





What was to be another great trip began early Saturday morning as Ramesh was picked up from his Bangkok hotel at 4 am. As we headed towards Mae Wong National Park, we drove through downpour after downpour of torrential rain. Finally as we arrived just after 9, the rain cleared and a glimpse of sunshine gave us a glimmer of hope. We checked in to our resort and headed straight to Chong Yen. Along the way the road was pretty devoid of birds until we spotted some Pied Bushchats in the grassy reeds. Other birds seen along the way up were Ashy Woodswallows, Chinese Sparrowhawk, Crested Serpent Eagle, Blue-Bearded Bee-Eater and Grey-Backed Shrike. We stopped near the top to check out a stream for the Rusty-Naped Pitta, but only saw White-Gorgeted and Rufous-Browed Flycatchers and Streaked Wren-Babblers. Once we reached Chong Yen the rain Started falling heavily again. From the shelter of waterproofs and an umbrella we still saw White-Necked, Black-Throated and Silver-Eared Laughingthrushes, Silver-Eared Mesias, Golden-Throated Barbet, Black-Throated Sunbird, Marten’s Warbler, Mountain Bulbuls plus many others. We headed back to the resort and sill managed a few more ticks on the way down.

 Flavescent Bulbul

Rufous-Browed Flycatcher

Streaked Wren-Babbler

Day 2. Heavy rain had persisted during the night, but the morning looked good. As we drove up to Chong  Yen again we counted 13 Kalij Pheasants, Grey Peacock pheasants, Red Jungle Fowl, a host of Drongos and Bulbuls, White-Browed scimitar Babblers and a large flock of Striated Yuhinas among others. Once at the top Ramesh set up behind the ranger station for the Grey Peacock-Pheasant whilst I went in search of a Rusty Naped Pitta call. Within 10 minutes one stared calling, so I returned to Ramesh and we headed off for the search. Sadly the Rusty-Naped didn’t show but we really had that feeling that it was there and watching us…. Although it didn’t show, we still racked up many birds including, White-Tailed Robin, Mountain-Imperial Pigeon, Bar-Winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Maroon Oriole, Orange-Headed and Eye-Browed Thrushes, 15 Blue-Whistling Thrushes, Grey Treepies, Pale-Legged Leaf-Warbler, White-Browed Scimitar Babbler, Small Niltava, Hainan-Blue Flycatcher, Olive-Backed Pipit, Golden Babblers and White-Crowned Forktails. We headed back to the resort for a quick clean up and off to a great dinner after a great days birding.

Kalij Pheasant












Maroon Oriole
















Hainan Blue Flycatcher
Eye-Browed Thrush












Striated Yuhina












White-Crowned Forktail
Day 3. Another early start as we headed off for Huai Kha Keang Wildlife Reserve. As soon as we arrived the lifers started rolling in. The first were Red-Breasted and Blossom-Headed Parakeets, followed by Yellow Footed Pigeons, Purple Sunbird, Indo-Chinese Cuckoo Shrike, Green Bee-Eater, Black-Headed and White-Bellied Woodpeckers, Spotted Owlet, Black-Hooded Oriole, Raffles Malkoha and Rufous Treepie. An amazing morning with 12 lifers and many more in about 4 hours!!


Black-Hooded Oriole
















Indo-Chinese Cuckoo Shrike













Yellow Footed Pigeons

Spotted Owlet














Lesser Yellownape
Greater Flameback
Black-Headed Woodpeckers

Overall a great 3 days birding, with nearly 100 species counted and 30 lifers for Ramesh.




Thursday, March 30, 2017

Kaeng Krachan with Donald Snook


After picking up Don from his hotel in Bangkok at 4am, we headed down to Pak Thale for the Spoon-Billed Sandpipers. Waders and other shore birds. We arrived just after first light only to find that it must have rained during the night as the track up to the pump hut was a mire of mud. I always thought you should lose weight by walking, we must have gained at least 10 kilos on that short walk!!!! Well, with so many birds into moult, the area was awash with reds, blacks and browns as the birds were changing their plumage. A huge flock of Curlews were buzzed by a male Peregrine Falcon causing them to take flight. It seemed the Eurasians were spooked and did a runner, whereas the Easterns remained calm and stayed, probing around in the mud without a care in the world. Although we ticked off 27 species here, sadly the Spoonies failed to show.

Curlews





As we drove off to Kaeng Krachan a huge flock of Painted Storks were observed, with many juveniles present.

Painted Stork
Arriving at Kaeng Krachan, we birded along the access road ticking off Blue-Bearded Bee-Eaters, Black-Thighed Falconets, Racket-Tailed Treepie, Crested Goshawk, Dollarbird and Hill Mynas along with a host of Bulbuls, Barbets and Babblers.

 Black-Thighed Falconet

Blue-Bearded Bee-Eater

Hill Myna  
After a brief walk around the campsite we had a spot of lunch and headed along the streams, ready to travel up to Km 27. After hearing a Crested Jay, we stopped to check it out, only for Don to see it sitting on a nest!!  We headed up the mountain for a great few hours birding. Hi-lights were Long-Tailed Broadbills, White-Browed Piculet, Green Magpie, Great Barbet, Mountain Imperial Pigeon and the Ratchet-Tailed Treepie. On the way out of the park we managed to spot Black and Red Broadbills and a Hawk-Cuckoo. The Hawk Cuckoo flew so quickly into the jungle we didn’t manage to get a positive id.

Day 2. We headed into the park early for a bit of hide work hoping to see the Blue Pitta. We only stayed for around an hour as time was of a premium for the morning. Sadly the Pitta was calling but didn’t show, but we were happy with the few birds that did show. The rest of the morning was spent along the track between the streams. Birds here included, Common and Large Woodshrike, Banded and Silver-Breasted Broadbills, Bar-Winged Flycatcher Shrike, Blue-Winged Leafbirds and a host of Bulbuls.
 After lunch we were treated to a great display of two Silver-Breasted Broadbills fighting, I have never seen this before, one Broadbill with the other’s beak tightly clamped in his and swing it around in the tree!!! A few final birds were Sultan Tits and Green-Eared Barbets.
Green Magpie, 

 Mountain Imperial Pigeon 

Long-Tailed Broadbill

 Ratchet-Tailed Treepie
On the way out of the park we managed to spot Black and Red Broadbills and a Hawk-Cuckoo. The Hawk Cuckoo flew so quickly into the jungle we didn’t manage to get a positive id.
Day 2. We headed into the park early for a bit of hide work hoping to see the Blue Pitta. We only stayed for around an hour as time was of a premium for the morning. Sadly the Pitta was calling but didn’t show, but we were happy with the few birds that did show. The rest of the morning was spent along the track between the streams. Birds here included, Common and Large Woodshrike, Banded and Silver-Breasted Broadbills, Bar-Winged Flycatcher Shrike, Blue-Winged Leafbirds and a host of Bulbuls.
 After lunch we were treated to a great display of two Silver-Breasted Broadbills fighting, I have never seen this before, one Broadbill with the other’s beak tightly clamped in his and swing it around in the tree!!! A few final birds were Sultan Tits and Green-Eared Barbets.
During the drive back we were treated to another great show of Brahimy Kites circling low and picking frogs from a rice paddy

Brahimy Kite
 Another great trip with 96 different species seen and 27 confirmed by sound, bringing the total to 123 birds.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Pu Kieo Wildlife Sanctuary with Paul Farrell



I met up with Paul last week for an overnight trip to Pu Kieo. We met up at 6:30 and set off for the 3 hour drive. We arrived at about 10am and as we drove along the access road, the day’s first tick turned out to be a very nice one indeed. A pair of Collared Scops Owls just a few feet away…. 
Collared Scops Owl
Continuing the drive up we stopped a few times where Blue Pittas were heard, but not seen.
As we arrived at HQ, Eurasian Jays and Red-Billed Blue Magpies were easily observed. We checked in and headed straight to our booked hide. The morning was unusually pretty slow, but still enjoyable. We decided to take a drive around at check out some other points. Again, Blue Pittas were heard very close by but managed to stay out of sight. A Large Woodshrike put on a cool aerial display over a lake and an Osprey passed overhead with a huge fish in its talons. A trip back to the hide for a final hour or so proved to be better than the morning stint with Red-Whiskered Bulbuls, Puff-Throated Bulbuls, Sooty-Headed, Black-Headed and Black-Crested Bulbuls, White-Rumped Shama, Hainan Blue Flycatcher, Black-Throated Laughingthrush and Brown-Cheeked Fulvettas topping the bill… We called it a day after that little flurry of activity and headed for the restaurant.

Black-Crested Bulbul

Black-Throated Laughingthrush

Brown-Cheeked Fulvetta



Hainan Flycatcher








Red Whiskered Bulbul



















Puff-Throated Bulbul
Day 2, we headed straight for the hide again, but nothing much was around yet, so I decided to take a walk around the HQ area. Then, just as we left the hide, there it was….. A male Siamese Fireback was staring straight at me from about 2 metres away !!  We were obviously on “his” track, as he remained staring and grunting at us as if to say ‘Get off of my track !!’

Siamese Fireback
The walk around the HQ area and access road proved rewarding with Red-Billed Blue Magpies and White-Crested Laughingthrushes showing everywhere. A Large Hawk Cuckoo perched briefly, but was gone again before I could get any decent shots off. Other bird of note seen around here were Large Cuckoo-Shrike,   Ashey Minivet, Greater and Lesser Flameback,   Common Iora, Velvet-Fronted Nuthatch, Large Woodshrike and Black-Naped Oriole.


Large Hawk Cuckoo










White-Crested Laughingthrush



Red-Billed Blue Magpie



Velvet-Fronted Nuthatch
We headed out of the sanctuary at about lunchtime and took a slow drive along the access road making a few stops along the way. An Asian Paradise Flycatcher with full tail was seen but he remained too obscured in the undergrowth for any shots.

Overall, a great couple of days birding with 50+ species recorded and a few lifers in the bag for me. It was also great to meet up with Paul. Paul was a great guy to bird with and he certainly knows his stuff at Pu Kieo. Hopefully we will meet again soon for a trip to Doi Lang and Doi San-Ju in Chiang Mai. Watch this space…………