Saturday, April 26, 2014

Chaloem Phrakiat

 Uncharted Territory

So, with the school holidays running down fast I had to check out Chaloem Phrakiat NP in Ratchaburi. I've been meaning to do this for quite a while now. I finally found this relatively unknown NP on my GPS and off we headed. Only 2 hours from BKK surprised me (closer than KK). When we arrived you could see that things are pretty basic, one toilet block was about it .... Didn't see a shower block or restaurant.. The upside to this though was we didn't really see any rubbish.


Just outside the park we stopped and watched an industrious pair of Black Bazas collecting twigs and building their nest. A fantastic bird with its majestic crest.

Black Baza

Inside the park, the drive along the lake to the first stream crossing turned up about a dozen  Blue Magpies, Streak Eared Bulbuls, Spotted Doves and a single Rufous Treepie. We also caught glimpses of unknown partridges in the bamboo undergrowth. The forest here is quite dense bamboo along this lower level making photography a real chore... For most of my pictures manual focus had to be used. Across the stream, over the damn and on to the next stream crossing didn't turn up too much, but various Barbets were calling from the treetops and a Woodpecker drumming for his lunch. There were many other birds singing and calling, but I'm not too great on song identification. The road wasn't too bad, apart from some serious erosion as you cross the damn, but a 4x4 is definitely needed to cross the river to the next level ( I think a 4x4 will be needed for all roads in this park once the rains start) I was a little apprehensive about crossing here as we were the only people in the park that day and it would have been a dam long walk back if we had got bogged down!!! So we decided to head half way back down for a spot of lunch and a coffee. Along the way back more Blue Magpies, Greater Racket -Tailed Drongos and White Rumped Shamas. So I could have kicked myself..... sitting just across the first stream in a nice little bamboo clearing drinking a nice cup of coffee a pair of White Browed Piculets hopped onto the bamboo no more than three metres in front of me... My camera was in the truck!!!!!!!!! Dammit!!!  Still a nice tick.. We left the park around 3pm and headed back. About 2km out a huge storm blew up, trees falling and only about ten metres visibility. Then another first for me in 15 years of living in Thailand.... Hail.. Yes, really hailstones.. Not big, but big enough to deafen me as they fell on the truck's tin roof... I have never seen or heard of hail in central or southern Thailand...
Overall the day was good and I have really high hopes for this place ..I will be back there next week as I think it will definitely turn up more surprises.

Rufous Treepie.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Down South

Sri Phang Nga & KK

Well after my trip up north to Chiang Dao & Doi Inthanon the other week, We decided to head down south to Sri Phang Nga for a few days. The main targets were the Malay Banded Pitta and Chestnut Naped Forktail. We arrived and checked into Khun Da Resort just outside the NP. A great place to stay if you don't want to tent it.. Air con, WI-FI and hot shower for 350bt!!! The following morning we headed into the park and soon connected with the Banded Pittas although I was being plagued with condensation on my lens. Also my meal worms had all died being left in the back of the truck for the drive down..... Luckily we managed to leech off another birder at one site. This was my first sightings of the Banded Pittas..what a stunner!!
Banded Pitta (female)

Banded Pitta (male)

Unfortunately the male didn't show too much, but the
female certainly showed well. Along the stream we saw
Blue Eared and Blue Banded Kingfishers, but only in flight so no pictures.

The following morning we went after the Chestnut Naped Forktail. A couple showed well, but tricky to get good shots as they won't stay still..... The day ended early when a large tree branch fell landing on the roof of my truck, putting dents in the roof, bonnet and wing!!!! Not a happy chap was I!!!!

Chestnut Naped Forktail

 Kaeng Krachan

A few days on the beach on the way back led us to Kaeng Krachan for a few days. The hi-light definitely being the Ratchet Tailed Treepie feeding young. I think we got this just right, as the following day it looked like the young had left the nest.. Long Tailed Broadbills were busy making their nests. The Black and Red at Ban Krang seemed to be sitting on eggs as it didn't show very often.
Nice views of Greater Yellownapes feeding young along the road. Many birds were either sitting on eggs or feeding young at this time. Lesser Racket Tailed Drongo, Red Bearded Bee-Eater, Thick Billed and Imperial Mountain Pigeon were all seen this way.
Greater Yellownape
Ratchet Tailed Treepie

Red Bearded Bee-Eater

Lesser Racket Tailed Drongo