Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Crikey, Crakes!!!

A little trip out Saturday morning to a relatively unknown spot in the middle of nowhere turned up some real surprising birds. I headed to a small pond in the middle of a rice field after a little bird had whispered in my ear. Upon arrival, a Purple Heron was standing right in front of me with a good sized fish in beak. I struggled quickly to get the camera but alas, the heron was gone as quickly as his fish treat. As I walked into the field, a Harrier passed over quite low and then, further in 3-4 Red Avadavats took flight. This is a bird I have seen many times but have just never managed to get that decent shot. With the hide and camera set, the waiting began. Well, what a shock…. Within about 10 minutes all three crakes were out and picking food from the lily pads. Baillon’s, Ruddy-Breasted and White-Browed Crakes all gave excellent views for the camera.

Baillon’s Crake

Ruddy-Breasted Crake

White-Browed Crake

By 9:30 that was it, all done and dusted… Mission accomplished!! On the way back a couple of Painted Storks made a fly past and a pair of Common Ioras topped off the morning. This is a place that I will return to in the near future. Who knows what else will turn up??? 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Kaeng Krachan with Ramesh

Another trip began at 2am Saturday morning with Ramesh from Malaysia. After pick up in Bangkok we headed straight to Pak Thale for the Spoon Billed Sandpiper. We arrived just as dawn was breaking. As we walked towards the end of the track, plenty of birds were present. Kentish, Pacific Golden, Lesser and Greater Sand Plovers were the first followed by Black-winged Stilts. Towards the end a huge flock of Red and Great Knots soared past. At the pump shed we started scanning a good sized flock of Red-necked stints for a Spoonbill.  Almost immediately, the first one came into sight, then another and another, with one more bringing the tally to four different birds. Two flagged and two unflagged birds. We didn’t stay too much longer, but not before bagging a few Curlews, Egrets, Grey Herons, a Spotted Redshank, a Black Kite and a Long-toed stint. We left with Ramesh reveling in his first Spoonie sightings.

Spoon Billed Sandpiper

Along the road to Kaeng Krachan Chestnut-headed and Blue-tailed Bee-Eaters, White-throated Kingfishers, Cattle egrets, Brown Shrikes and a single Javan Pond heron were seen.

We arrived at Kaeng Krachen and checked in at Samarn Birdcamp. Straight into the park and the first birds were more lifers for Ramesh, a pair of Black-thighed Falconets and a Blue-bearded Bee-Eater. Further along the entrance road a Crested Serpent Eagle posed nicely. After arriving at Ban Krang for a spot of lunch we headed up to Km 28. Bird activity was good, we staked out for the Black and Buff Woodpecker with no result, but were surprised to see a head poking out of the same tree a little higher up. A Buff-rumped Woodpecker, and another lifer..  Other birds of note here were Ratchet-tailed Treepies, Sulpur-breasted warbler, Blue-throated Barbet, Rufous-winged Philentoma, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Black-winged Cuckooshrike and Long-tailed Broadbill. As we left the park, the last bird of the day was a majestic Sultan Tit.

Crested Serpent Eagle

 Buff-rumped Woodpecker

 Day 2

We headed into the park again for a morning session hoping to tick the rest of the Broadbill boxes. Along the entry road we struggled to find the Black and Red, so headed for the streams. Between streams 1 to 3 bird action was buzzing. The Dusky Broadbill was the first Broadbill box ticked on the hunt. A tall tree hosted Oriental Pied and Brown Hornbills along with 4-5 Great Slaty Woodpeckers. During the next few hours we notched up Green Magpies, Greater Yellownapes, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Swinhoe’s Minvets, Asian Fairy Bluebirds, Green-billed Malkoha, Dollar Birds, Collared Falconets, Puff-throated and Rufous-fronted Babblers, a Verditer Flycatcher and 7 species of Bulbul amongst others. A third Broadbill tick was the Silver Breasted. With time running out we headed back to Ban Krang with hopes for the Banded and Black and Yellow Broadbill. The Black and Yellow was calling from far in the distance, but we couldn’t get a lock on for a sighting. Time ran out so we had to head off back to the airport not before an Indian Cuckoo perch a few metres away for those last shots. 

 Brown Hornbill
Indian Cuckoo

Overall a great trip with a great guy, a good number of birds and 17 lifers for Ramesh. Those we dipped on will just have to wait for our next trip

Friday, February 3, 2017

Thai Birds 'n' Pies: Kaeng Krachan with Steve

Thai Birds 'n' Pies: Kaeng Krachan with Steve: A two day trip to Kaeng Krachan with Steve from the US began on Saturday morning bright and early. We arrived at the park at around 6:30 ...

Kaeng Krachan with Steve

A two day trip to Kaeng Krachan with Steve from the US began on Saturday morning bright and early. We arrived at the park at around 6:30 am and headed straight up to Ban Krang. Unfortunately it was the weekend of Chinese New Year so the place was packed out with campers. Undeterred, we birded around the campsite for a couple of hours. The campsite turned up Green-eared and Blue-cheeked Barbets, Grey eyed, Black headed and Black crested Bulbuls, Thick billed Green Pigeons, Verditer Flycatchers, Blue winged Leafbirds, Golden crested Mynas, Crested Goshawk and excellent views of a male and female Greater Flameback Woodpecker busy boring out their nesting hole.

Greater Flameback Woodpecker

Stripe-throated Bulbul

Along the road between the streams was unusually quiet, probably due to the sheer amount of passing traffic. We did manage to get some great views of Asian Pied and Tickell’s Brown Hornbills, Oriental Honey Buzzard and a variety of Drongos and Bulbuls among others.  A brief hide stint at Km 18 turned up White Rumped Shamas, Sultan Tits and an Orange breasted Trogon.

After a spot of lunch we headed up to the Km 27 mark in hope of the Black and Buff Woodpeckers, which sadly didn’t show for us. The disappointment was soon washed away with some great views of 3 Long Tailed Broadbills. On the way back down the track, we briefly saw Kalij Pheasants and a Grey Peacock Pheasant.

Long Tailed Broadbill

On the drive out we made a few stops which turned up more Thick billed Green Pigeons, Black thighed Falconets Little Grebes Vinous breasted Starlings and Ashy Woodswallows. Back at Samarn Birdcamp we were treated to some nice views of Large-tailed Nightjars in the evening.
Sunday morning was spent at Lunng Sin’s waterhole stakeout. It wasn’t long before plenty of Red jungle Fowl turned up, followed by Scaly-breasted Partridges. Siberian Blue Robins, Black-naped Monarchs, Tickell’s Blue Flycatchers, Stripe-throated Bulbuls all showed well for the camera. Then an Orange Headed Thrush joined the party for some amazing views and shots. The morning was topped off when out strolled a male and female Kalij Pheasant.
Tickell's Blue Flycatcher

Black-naped Monarch

Red Jungle Fowl

Kalij Pheasant (M)
Kalij Pheasant (F)

Orange Headed Thrush

The drive back to Bangkok was taken around the rice fields and salt pans in the hope to add a few more specimens to the list. Most of the salt pans were dry so we didn’t get to find too much, but Black-tailed Godwits, Great Egrets, Purple and Grey Herons, Black-winged Stilts and Common Ioras, Black and Brahminy Kites, Brown Shrikes and Indian Rollers all showed well.

 Overall a quite productive weekend enjoyed by all. It was great to meet up with Steve and hopefully we can make another trip together soon.