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

Lizard
 I will definitely be back in there soon. Anyone interested in finding out more about this place, drop me a line at  thaibirdspot66@gmail.com

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.

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