Monday, December 14, 2015

Woodpeckers Galore...

Woodpeckers Galore...

This was my first trip to Huai Kha Khang as from what I had read previously, special permission was needed to enter this wildlife reserve. I was told this was not really the case now and that you can just turn up and pay at the gate. Finally we got there after making a few wrong turns, paid the fees and entered the sanctuary. The 10km entrance road is mainly dry dipterocarp forest with a few areas of grassland and bamboo forest at the lower levels. Towards the end of the road the forest was literally alive with woodpeckers…  Groups of 6-8 Black Headed Woodpeckers seemed to be everywhere we looked. Also a good number of Common Flamebacks were seen here too.

Black-headed Woodpecker
                                                          Black-headed Woodpecker

                                                    Common Flameback Woodpecker

After setting up camp, a good walk about was in order to explore the trails. At the carpark, a ranger pointed out a Lineated Barbet at his hole in the tree right next to the gate house.Towards the memorial area a single White-bellied Woodpecker was seen. Other birds seen in this area were Thick-billed Green Pigeons, Imperial Mountain Pigeons, Greater Racked Tailed Drongos Black-hooded Orioles, Sooty Headed Bulbuls and a White-throated Kingfisher.

Lineated Barbet
                                                                Lineated Barbet

Imperial Mountain Pigeon

              Imperial Mountain Pigeon                                          Thick-billed Green Pigeon                                               

                                                              Black-hooded Oriole

After a spot of lunch, we decided to bird along the road leading to the campsite. I was rewarded with some excellent views of a White-bellied Woodpecker and a large flock of Red-billed Blue Magpies.
The Red-billed Blue Magpie is a cracking bird and relatively easy to see, but I just never seem to get them out in the open for a good shot…

White-bellied Woodpecker
                                                       White-bellied Woodpecker

A fairly interrupted night ensued as the deer around the campsite were being chased and disturbed around 1am by ………?? What?? I don’t know. Could it have been the “big cat”? To be honest, I really didn’t feel brave enough to venture out for a look.
The next morning we walked the “Home of Tiger” trail. Again, plenty of Black-headed and Flameback Woodpeckers were present. A nice surprise was a pair of Rufous Treepies.

                                                               Rufous Treepie

We packed up and decided to bird the access road for a few hours before heading back.  Again the forest was brimming with woodpeckers. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to see a Great Slatey Woodpecker, but this park truly is the best place I’ve ever been to for woodpeckers. We walked the “Dry Dipterocarp Forest” trail, but not much was seen here and the blazing sun soon forced us back to the truck.
Around the “Pong Chang Puak” trail area we saw a flock of Red-breasted Parakeets, a pair of Blue-bearded Bee-eaters, another Rufous Treepie and a single Hoopoe

                                                           Red-breasted Parakeet

I highly rate this reserve and will be spending some more time here in the very near future. Unfortunately, I was very limited for time this week, so we didn’t have time for the observation towers or to bird the “Khao Hin Daeng” trail. I am thinking around Christmas/ New Year, so if anyone would like to join me get in touch or leave a comment below…….
I will be writing a new description with maps for soon, so look out for that one coming soon….

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Finally... Pak Pli Revisited

Pak Pli

Finally, after all the hassle with my truck, it was finally great on Saturday to get it back again all fixed with the aircon now blowing nice and cold. So, where to on Sunday?? I had been chatting with Gary booth mid-week about Pak Pi as I had posted a picture of a Bluethroat for Ray Pearce’s challenge, 7 birds in 7 days. I thought “Off for the Bluethroats then”. We agreed to meet up on Sunday, promising ourselves not to get too rat-arsed on Saturday night. (Although I think I did!) I arrived at Pak Pli just after 7am and the sun was already scorching. I met up with Gary and we said our “Hello’s” then off to the birding. There must have been over 500 Black Kites at the roost site waiting for the thermals to give them their rides to the top of the sky. Up to 10 Kites in one small tree really is a sight to behold.

Black Kite

I left the kite roost for the area I had seen the Bluethroats before. Plenty of Stonechats were present, but no sign or sounds of the Blues. Along the road, 2 Common Kingfishers, a stunning Long-tailed Shrike and a solitary Wood Sandpiper were seen.
Gary rejoined me, and as he put it “The circus had just arrived!” Truckloads of happy snappers arrived for the spectacle of seeing the mass of Kites. I had noticed a lot more signs along the road that morning, it looks as if Pak Pli has become a popular tourist attraction now. (Wait for the entrance fees!!!) 

We waited and wandered around the road area for an hour or two, but still no luck. Gary went off in search of getting some better views of the Kites and I opted to go off to the right down past the ponds. Along the road were plenty of Paddyfield Pipits and Indo-Chinese Bushlarks, but I didn’t see any Rosy’s. About 20 Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, 1 White-Throated and 1 Black-capped Kingfishers graced the pond, hunting for their prey.
For some reason, today the sun and the heat just seemed so intense that a lot of my birding had to be done in the aircon from the truck.

Long-tailed shrike

Indochinese Bushlark

Plain-backed Sparrow

Striated Grassbird

Just after midday, I drove around the perimeter road to meet up with Gary. He pointed out some Spot-billed Pelicans far in the distance and we noted an Oriental Darter, a Black-capped and a Common Kingfisher.

I moved on again, taking the loop back to our original starting point. More Bee-eaters and Stonechats were ever present, with a pair of Bronze-winged Jacanas with a juvenile and Purple Herons gracing the fields. A single Striated Grassbird was pumping his lungs out atop a eucalyptus tree. A little further along I stopped at a small fish rearing lake which held 40+ Spot-billed Pelicans and a single Grey Heron. Due to the terrible stench from the lake I opted to not venture any further there!!  

Juvenile Bronze-winged Jacana

Spot-billed Pelican

As I was heading back, I stopped to chat with a Thai birder who was waiting it out for the Booted Eagle that had been seen the previous day, he informed me of a usual perching spot for an Osprey. I decided to wait with him for a while. Sure enough the Osprey returned with a freshly caught fish in its talons, it perched and began its feast, ripping the fish apart. Unfortunately, it was so far off, my 300mm lens had no chance of getting me a decent picture. Gary had turned up and thankfully with the aid of his scope we manage a few pictures with our mobile phones.


With the time getting on now, I really wanted to spend a little more time to see if the Bluethroat would make an appearance, so I drove back to the site. As I arrived I met a young Thai lady taking pictures of a distant tree in the field. She pointed out the bird and I guessed it could be another Osprey, It was only when Gary came to the rescue again with his scope we could confirm it was a Marsh Harrier.

Marsh Harrier

Purple Heron

One more quick drive to the end of the road nicely turned up another Purple Heron (5) and Yellow Bittern (3)
Overall a good days birding with a few lifers for me and great to meet up with yet another Facebook friend. Many thanks and a pleasure to meet you Gary Booth. Hopefully the Bluethroats will be making an appearance soon so I can get back there and get a few more shots of this cracking little bird.

If anyone is interested in making this trip, please let me know at bootly661@ or through Thaibirdsot

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Out and about at last...

Finally got the truck back at the weekend, so I was itching to get out and about again (6 weeks no transport was a real bind) Well, as it turned out I didn't get very far but a trip around my local patch did turn up a few birds. Kingfisher Lane turned up 4 White-throated and 2 Common, but still no Black-capped. A Black Eagle was a nice surprise appearing low out of the rice field and disappearing into a distant palm. Other sightings included ; 6 Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, 2 Indian Rollers, 4 Black Drongoes, 1 Black-shouldered Kite, 1 Black Bittern, 2 small flocks of Scaly-breasted and Chestnut-headed Munias. As always, vast numbers of Asian Openbills, Egrets and Pond Herons adorned the rice paddies. Hopefully this weekend, I may have time to venture a bit further afield..

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Snipe's Return

The Snipes are back in town!!


Pintail or Common????

Well, I can safely report from yesterday afternoon's drive around my local area that the Snipes are back... At least a dozen were spotted (thaibirdspotted) around the perimeter of four rice fields. (Does anyone know why they prefer the edges as I never see them deeper in the fields)

So it's coming up to that time of year again for my local patch. Blue-tailed and Green Bee-Eaters a plenty, Common, White-throated, Stork-billed, Pied and Black-capped can usually all be seen along a 2 km  lane running parallel to a little canal, Brown, Burmese and Tiger Shrikes line the farm fences in the sunny morns with the sounds of Zitting Cistoculas and Prinias somehow bringing back memories of balmy sunny days back home. Baya, Streaked and Asian-golden Weavers go about their weaving.

Plaintive Cuckoo

 A great place for Plaintive Cuckoos is a little pond full of Lotus flowers next to a small local restaurant where the cuckoos feast on caterpillars in the evening as I finish my day with a cold beer....

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Chaloem Phrakiat NP

Continuing my quest to explore this park and to take a break from ,
I was back there again this week for another forage around.
Today was the best birding I've had there so far with some new ticks for this little known park.
The highlights for me had to be White-browed Piculets in two different locations and a Rufous-bellied Niltava (a lifer for me). Blue-winged Pittas were out in abundance with one pair feeding chicks. I got a good idea of the nest location, but didn't venture any further so not to disturb them too much.

Drongo ???

Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker

Green-eared Barbet

Other sightings included Spangled and Greater Racket-tailed Drongoes, Green-eared Barbets, Yellow-vented and Scarlet-backed Flowerpeckers, Abbot's and Puff-throated Babblers, Lesser-necklaced Laughingthrushes, a Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Mugimaki Flycatchers, Hill and Golden-crested Mynas and a single Hooded Pitta was heard.

White-browed Piculet
White-browed Piculet

Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker

Puff-throated Babbler

Rufous-bellied Niltava
Yellow-vented Flowerpecker

 To my mind this place just keeps getting better with every visit. Although I have seen most of these species many times before, it's been a real buzz finding them again without KNOWING exactly which spot to head for as with KK. I will return there again next Saturday and hopefully the young Pittas will be out and about.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Chaloem Phrakiat NP

  We went to check out Chaloem Phrakiat NP again today.. My claims that this park has real potential came to more fruition today. Arriving at the park HQ at around 9am (A fair bit later than I would have liked) we were greeted by the sounds of Puff Throated and Abbot's Babblers. The lower gardens seemed to have quite a lot of bird activity, but we headed straight for the first stream. At the first stream, Blue Winged Pittas were calling all around  from the undergrowth. A quick search of the area told us that there were at least 3-4 birds there, but none were seen. A solitary White Rumped Shama was giving full verse amongst many Bulbuls and Drongoes as we crossed the stream. The track was littered with fallen bamboo, and on the first stop to clear the road a Blue Pitta was heard from deep inside the jungle. At the next crossing (the weir) we stopped to see if we could make further progress on the other side. Sadly, the track was far too rutted and degraded to get the truck up the first incline even with 4WD. (I would have attempted it if there had been other vehicles about.) We stayed around the weir area for about an hour or so notching up Golden Fronted Leafbirds, Scarlet Backed Flowerpeckers, Greater Necklaced Laughingthrushes, Blue Eared Barbets, Grey Headed Woodpeckers and plenty of LBJs. Up in the canopy, Pied Hornbills were making their usual racket. A pair of Piculets made a brief visit, but they were too silhouetted to get a clear ID ( I guess they were Rufous, as I have seen them here before) Back down to the first crossing again and the Pittas were still active, but still eluded any good views. After a spot of lunch ( If you can call Mama noodles lunch!!) we headed back down the first track along the lake. Plenty of Egrets and Red Wattled Lapwings about and a single Oriental Darter sitting in a tree over the water. A Banded Broadbill was also possibly heard around this area. At the end of the track at the corner we decided to check out an old track that I've never investigated before. It was full of activity with more Laughing Thrushes, a Fairy Bluebird, a pair of feeding Mugimaki Flycatchers and more Blue Winged Pittas. This time we got good views of the Pittas, which looked to have a nest in the area. This day was more dedicated to the exploration of the park than photography, so we didn't really get any pictures of worth. I really believe this park has great potential for birding, although saying that, the birds really have to be looked for as there are no feeding stations or known areas for particular birds as with Kaeng Krachan. I will return by myself next week to make the hike to the upper levels where I am positive many surprises lay in wait of discovery....



Friday, January 2, 2015

Mae Wong

Well, with 9 days holiday I just had to get away somewhere for a few days. I immediately chose Mae Wong with my main targets being the Rusty-naped Pitta and Crested kingfisher. We arrived on Monday afternoon and checked into Thiumkae Resort. What a great place .... air-con, TV, fridge, WI-FI,  hot water and even a kettle with coffee all for 500bt!!!!!!  So into the park Tuesday morning, there were hoards and hoards of people!! mainly trippers and not so many birders. The road up to Chong Yen was closed until 9am, so a walk around the headquarters turned up a few flycatchers and Blue Magpies

Blue Magpie

9am up to Chong Yen , it was like the start to Wacky Races, everyone on the start line raring to go. First stop had to be the hide for the pitta. there were already a couple of birders there so we had a little walk about for a bit. On returning to the hide we were informed it had just shown....Damn!!.
We settled in for the wait but it didn't show for a long time, plenty of other action though, Buff Breasted Babblers, a Blue Whistling Thrush, a Rufous Browed Flycatcher, a pair of Silver Eared Laughingthrushes, Spot-Necked Babblers and White Tailed Blue Robins being the highlights.

Buff Breasted Babbler

Blue Whistling Thrush

Rufous Browed Flycatcher

Silver Eared Laughingthrush

Spot-Necked Babbler

White Tailed Blue Robin

Then out he hopped... This was my first sighting and I was surprised at its size. In the hide there the light is not so good, but luckily the nature of this bird seems it likes to freeze motionless for long periods of time allowing good pictures at really slow shutter speeds. I have always tried to avoid high ISO for fear of noise ( I really don't like noisy pictures ) but as the bird was so still I thought I would experiment and play around with different settings. Surprisingly some of the best shots were taken at ISO 2000!!!

Rusty Naped Pitta (Shutter 1/15 s f/7.1
                                    420 mm ISO 2000 !!)

Rusty Naped Pitta

We ventured up to the top at Chong Yen, but there were far to many people about for my liking so we had a slow drive back down to the next point for a bite to eat and to see if the Woodsnipe was still about. Sadly, the rangers said it was about that morning but there were so many people trying to get a look, he decided to fly off!!
 Back down at the headquarters we checked out the location for the Crested Kingfisher for the next morning.

Wednesday morning 5am back to the sight where we were informed from two other birders it hadn't shown yet. We waited 2 or 3 hours with no show but time passed with some nice sightings of a Slaty Backed Forktail and a Grey Wagtail.

Slaty Backed Forktail

Grey Wagtail

We really had to get back home before the evening, so we had to call it a day and pass on this one.
I got the gear out of the hide and just as I was packing it away it happened...... It flew in and sat on the rock no more than 10 ft from me  !!!!!!  I could have kicked myself.... If only.... If we had waited just 1 more minute I would have been merrily snapping away, as it was I was staring straight at this  majestic bird with my camera 5ft behind me!!! I guess that's just the nature of the game....

The "Rock"

Next time !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!