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 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!