Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Pak Thale and Kaeng Krachan with Mario and Rhonda.. 4-5 Nov 2017

After an early start picking up Mario and Rhonda, we headed straight to Pak Thale shorebird site in hope of some good views of the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper amongst others. We arrived just after first light and immediately began our hunt. There were plenty of birds present, but as we scanned the flocks the Spoonie wasn’t to be seen. We continued the hunt farther along the road ticking off Red-necked Stints, Broad-billed and Curlew Sandpipers, Ruddy Turnstones, a broad range of Plovers, Redshanks and Greenshanks, but still no Spoonie… At the end of the road there was a huge flock of Eurasian Curlews and Black and Brown-headed Gulls. With a closer scan of the gulls we managed to single out one Slender-billed Gull. Another nice sighting was a flock of 20+ Caspian Terns. As we walked back and neared the truck, finally one single Spoonie was sighted. We headed up toward the view point and ticked off many more birds including Collared Kingfishers, Common, Whiskered, Little, Gull-billed and a single White-winged Tern. One more look back where we had seen the Spoonie turned up a Nordman’s Greenshank among a small group of Spotted Greenshanks. We had ticked off over 40 species in a few hours when we decided to head off down to Kaeng Krachan NP.

Caspian Terns

We arrived at the park at around lunchtime, so we headed straight up to Ban Krang for a spot of lunch. After lunch we began birding along the road between the campsite and stream three. It was pretty tough going, maybe because the weather had recently changed and there was now quite a chill in the air or just that nobody had told the birds that the park had re-opened on 1st Nov. We really didn’t get too much, so we decided to bird the access road for the last couple of hours on the way out. As it turned out it was a good move as the numbers started climbing again. A fruiting tree was full of Thick-billed Green Pigeons, Asian Fairy Bluebirds and Black-naped Orioles.  We also sighted Black-thighed Falconets, Red and Blue-throated Barbets, Pied Hornbills, Dollarbirds, Drongos and a nice Black-capped Kingfisher. We arrived back at the resort just after six for a great meal and a few cold beers.
Thick-billed Green Pigeon

Sunday morning, up for breakfast at 5:30 and then off to Luung Sin’s waterhole. There really was a chill in the air and very overcast. The birding started a little slow but soon picked up with Chinese-blue Flycatcher, Siberian Blue-Robin, Emerald Doves and Stripe-throated Bulbuls putting in the first show. Soon the Scaly-breasted Partriges and Kalij Pheasants put in an appearance. A really nice surprise was the appearance of a Bay-banded Cuckoo. Either a Pale-legged or Sakhalin leaf Warbler called by, but with no sound it will have to remain unknown. 

Kalij Pheasant

Pale-legged or Sakhalin leaf Warbler

Emerald Dove

Scaly-breasted Partrige

Siberian Blue-Robin

Stripe-throated Bulbul

Bay-banded Cuckoo
After lunch back at our resort we headed back to Bangkok, but not before taking a slow drive through the Phetchaburi rice fields. 

Overall a pretty successful trip considering the conditions. Over 100 birds seen and about 20 lifers for Mario. Thanks again to Mario and Rhonda, really pleasant people and a great couple to bird with. I hope to meet them again someday…

Mario and Rhonda

Friday, October 6, 2017

Ratchaburi Rapture.

First Trip.

After spending many hours exploring at my little known National Park in Ratchaburi for the last year or two, things took a dramatic turn recently. I was contacted by a friend regarding another entrance into the park. We met up to try to find the Rusty-naped Pitta which had been spotted in recent weeks. This area, “the other side” of the park looked really promising. We set up hides and waited….. White-rumped Shamas were first to show, followed by Abbot’s, Buff- breasted and Puff-throated Babblers and a pair of Scaley-Breasted Partridges. Then the first Blue Pitta turned up. After getting a few shots, the Rusty-naped Pitta began calling. We waited for a while getting more shots of the Blue but the Rusty didn’t show this time. 

Blue Pitta

Buff- breasted Babbler

Puff-throated Babbler

Scaley-Breasted Partridge

An interesting lizard showed for a while giving us an amazing insight into its camouflage and colour changing abilities. I think I am right in saying it was a “Boulenger's Pricklenape”.

Boulenger's Pricklenape

Boulenger's Pricklenape
We stayed around the area for a few more hours, meeting up with some interesting guys that gave us more information on exciting sightings of this area. The weather was now closing in, so we made the drive back down the mountain vowing to return for further explorations.

 Second Trip.

The following weekend we planned to meet up again. I left the house at 3:45 am, driving for about 2 hours in the pouring rain. Arriving at the park area the rain had stopped and it was looking good. As I arrived at the top of the mountain, the rain began again. It didn’t last too long and I was soon in the hide hoping for some Rusty action….. Blue Pittas seemed to be everywhere, but Rusty was silent. All the previous week’s birds showed plus a Banded Broadbill was seen and a Silver-breasted Broadbill was heard. Some Hornbills flew overhead but were not seen. From the sound, I would say more than likely Great Hornbills. Walking around the area turned up more Blue Pittas, Asian Fairy Bluebirds, various Bulbuls, Lesser-necklaced Laughingthrushes and Oriental Honey Buzzard. 

Blue Pitta

The drive back down the mountain also turned up many more birds including: Blue-bearded Bee-Eaters, Yellow Vented Flowerpeckers, Olive-Backed Sunbird and of course another Lizard.

Blue-bearded Bee-Eater

Yellow Vented Flowerpecker

Olive-Backed Sunbird

 I will definitely be back in there soon. Anyone interested in finding out more about this place, drop me a line at

Monday, August 28, 2017

Solo Run

After promising myself a trip out alone on my Jack’s for the last 3 weeks or so, I finally got around to getting out and about. First stop was to my local patch to get some better shots of the breeding Pheasant-Tailed Jacanas. Driving down the track there were many Pintail (Swintail??) Snipes plugging away in the mud for breakfast. A male Pheasant-Tailed Jacana was enjoying a morning stroll through the rice field when he suddenly saw me and took flight. 

Pheasant-Tailed Jacana

Pheasant-Tailed Jacana

Plain Prinia
I headed to the pond to see what was about, 4 or 5 Bronze-Winged Jacanas, Whistling Ducks and Little Grebes were all showing well and a Watercock was calling from the other side. A pair of Plain Prinias decided to join me, so I gladly gave them their 5 minutes of fame and rattled off a few shots. Then the commotion started; A Monitor Lizard had decided he fancied eggs for breakfast, but the jacanas had other ideas… Both male and female were screaming and attacking the large lizard, flying up and systematically dive bombing the intruder with feet and beaks.. The hungry monitor soon decided his egg breakfast wasn’t worth losing an eye for and swum away, probably muttering to himself, “I will be back, you know”….

Pheasant-Tailed Jacana

Pheasant-Tailed Jacana

Pheasant-Tailed Jacana

Pheasant-Tailed Jacana

Pheasant-Tailed Jacana
At about 10:30 I headed off to Lat Krabang in hope of shooting some Red Avadavats. After a typical Saturday morning drive across Bangkok, I finally arrived. The sun was well overhead and by now the heat was damn near on unbearable. The little Reds soon showed, but were always too far off for a decent shot. A couple of Doves made for a few nice shots.
Red Avadavats

Spotted Dove

Zebra Dove

Zebra Dove
I moved the hide and waited again. Finally at about 3 o’clock they started to arrive again, only this time they were getting braver and moving a little closer. Only one pair were obliging enough to perch on a reed about 5 metres from me. They posed for their shots and then they were gone. 
Red Avadavat

Red Avadavat

Red Avadavat

Red Avadavat

Red Avadavat
Trotting down the track was a grumpy, old looking dog that had decided that the birds were not allowed on his road… He soon made that clear to them, and then trotted off back down the track, feeling pleased with himself I’m sure. With the shots in the bag, I decided to call it a day myself and headed home for a cold one… Overall, a great day, with some great shots to boot…

Grumpy Dog !!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Kaeng Krachan with Tim Bromilow

Day 1. After picking up Tim from his hotel, we headed straight down to Kaeng Krachan. Arriving at around 7am, we were first greeted with both Greater and Common Flameback woodpeckers, Oriental Pied Hornbills and Black Thighed Falconets. As a friend once told me, “If the day begins with a woodpecker, it will surely be a good day”. I was surely hoping this would be the case… After we had got some nice views of the woodpeckers and other birds, we headed a little further along the road adding Grey-rumped Treeswifts and an obliging juvenile Shikra.
Shikra (Juv)

We met up with Ali from The Joys of Birding at Km 14, where a pair of Black and Red Broadbills were nesting. I set up a hide for Tim, where he got some great views of this gorgeous bird. A pair of Collared Falconets also obliged for some nice views whilst they perched and dismembered an unfortunate butterfly.
Up to Ban Krang and a Black and Yellow Broadbill put in a nice appearance. After a brew of coffee and a few bickies, we notched a few more ticks, including Grey Eyed and Streak Eared Bulbuls, Asian Fairy Bluebird and Green Eared Barbet.
Along the road between the streams, a Banded Kingfisher was calling and soon seen for a few shots. An Orange Breasted Trogan was also seen and added to the growing list.
Blue Pittas were heard along the road, but were un-obliging to put in a show. With the weather stating to close in, we grabbed a light lunch at Km 18 before heading up to Panoung Thung. After a brief walk around Km27, we added a female Red-Headed Trogan to the list. Not quite as colourful as the male but nonetheless a cracking bird to see… A Ratchet Tailed Treepie and a Rusty-Naped Pitta were clearly heard, but unseen as the heavens began to open. We headed quickly back to the truck and headed up to the HQ for a coffee and a bit of shelter. Plenty of birds were showing in a fruiting tree at the HQ including Blue-Winged Leafbirds and Blue-Eared and Blue-Throated Barbets. The rain was falling heavily now so birding became pretty much impossible. We headed back down to Ban Krang where the rain had stopped and was becoming a pleasant evening. On the drive out of the park a Crested Serpent Eagle was perched nicely for some great views before it took flight. A good sized herd of 7 or 8 Guar were spotted at a water hole on the way out, but were spooked and bolted quickly back into the jungle before we could get any shots off. Back at the resort we finished the day off with some great food and a few deserved cold beers….
Red-Headed Trogon

Day 2. The next morning we headed first to Luung Sin’s where a Blue-Winged Pitta was feeding chicks. When we arrived both parent birds were continually calling with beaks laden with worms, but not actually feeding the young. I guessed they were encouraging the fledglings out. One by one all four chicks warily left the nest to be fed on the ground just out of sight. Talk about good timing and good luck!!!  If we had arrived 30 minutes later we would have found ourselves staring at an empty nest instead of witnessing this miracle of nature…
Blue-Winged Pitta

Blue-Winged Pitta

Blue-Winged Pitta

And then they were gone.........

Blue-Winged Pitta

With the birds gone, we headed to another water hole and settled in hope of a Kalij Pheasant. Scaly-Breasted Partridges, Red Jungle Fowl, Pied Fantails, Streak-Eared Bulbuls, Puff-Throated Babblers, Lesser-Necklaced Laughingthrushes and an Emerald Dove all appeared before finally three Kalij Pheasants appeared, an adult pair with a young male in tow… Very nice!!
Emerald Dove

Emerald Dove

Lesser-Necklaced Laughingthrush

Puff-Throated Babbler

Scaly Breasted Partridge

Kalij Pheasant

It was time to leave, but we made one more stop at Baan Song Nok for a coffee and some great shots of Stripe-Throated Bulbuls and Orange-Bellied Flowerpeckers.
Stripe-Throated Bulbul

Orange-Bellied Flowerpecker

We made the drive back around the Phetchaburi rice fields. One field alone produced Chinese and Javan Pond Herons, a Purple Swamphen, Watercock, Purple Heron and a White-Fronted Waterhen! All three Weavers were ticked, Baya, Streaked and Golden along with 4 Spot-Billed Pelicans passing overhead. We headed back into Phetchaburi town where the two great days birding finished. It had been another couple of great days with over 70 different species sighted and many others heard. We said our goodbyes and headed back for our respective beers…

Tim and his slow friend..
It was truly great to meet up with Tim and a privilege to bird with him. Hope we meet up again someday in the future.