eight days in Thailand (16-23 Feb 2008), I chose to hire a 4WD pickup
truck (Vigo) and stick to the central locations. I was very pleased
with the three locations, all offering something different. I did
not see anything particularly unexpected but with this trip report
I hope to provide some up-to-date information on where to find the
birds to other independent birders who are not familiar with these
an easy country to travel around. Navigation can be a bit difficult,
due to the language barrier, although many road signs now include
English as well, which is very useful.
I hired my vigo
from QCars, which was a lot cheaper than an international car hire
place from the airport. For information I mostly relied on thaibirding.com
which is an excellent site. I also gleaned some information from
trip reports and by asking questions on BirdForum.
Pak Bia/Pak Thale
I spent about a day and a half at Laem
Pak Bia and Pak Thale, which is well worth visiting. The number
and variety of waders is really impressive. It took me a few hours
to work out the lie of the land, however, and got quite lost at
the beginning. My advice on finding the place is as follows:
Head into the
centre of Phetchaburi, and you should soon pick up a sign for Ban
Laem. Once in Ban Laem it is easy to pick up the coastal road heading
towards Had Chao Samran, which passes Pak Thale and the other sites
of interest. On this road you soon start to enter salt pan territory.
Pak Thale is
the first place you come to, where the two Spoon-billed Sandpipers
were to be found. First you pass a place with a sign in English
saying "Bak Pak Thale Nok" - this is not Pak Thale, but
seemed to be the start of good wader territory. Pak Thale is soon
afterwards, indicated by large local government buildings with bright
blue roofs on the left. You should take the second road on the left,
which goes along side the SE side of the village, with salt pans
on your right. Take the first proper track on the right, which leads
straight through the salt pans to a little parking place surrounded
by bamboo wind shield. From here, walk about 100m NE along little
mud banks alongside the salt pans, and the two Spoonbilled Sandpipers
were feeding alone (not with stints) in the middle of a large pan.
Also a lot of waders and terns in this area, plus some mangroves
closer to the sea.
See Figure 1,
my attempt of a map of Pak Thale area. The signs for Pak Thale are
only in Thai script, so I've included a copy of the Thai script
for Pak Thale in the bottom left of the picture, which I hope is
right and should help spot the right sign.
Spoonbills were to be found near the harbour - see the map on thaibirding.com.
Some 1.8km south of the harbour, there is a dirt track to the right
of the main road which leads to a large, derelict building that
appears to be missing its front and back walls and was clearly never
completed in construction. Behind this building is a large pan,
and the two BH Spoonbills were roosting with about 6 Grey Herons.
Also Richards Pipit here.
See Figure 2,
outlining this area.
Plover" the newly discovered species/subspecies(?), was present
at the end of the sand spit at Laem Pak Bia, accessable by boat
from the harbour. Towards the end of the buildings on the harbour
(south side of river) is a hut with pictures of White-faced Plovers
on the wall. The woman here speaks English and she sent me out with
the boatman (speaks no English) who took me to see the bird. I wish
I had taken my scope, but we got good views in the end. Also Malaysian
Plover, both Sand Plovers and both Crested Terns here. Well worth
doing. Takes about 1.5 hours and they charged 500 baht, which might
be haggleable - I didn't try.
Khao Yai is a beautiful
place, but certainly not an undiscovered place. I stayed at the
Pa Gluay Mai campsite, where all the birds are. It was good to be
staying in the middle of the birding action, but dont expect peace
and quiet here - it was more like Glastonbury festival than wilderness.
And also surprisingly cold at night.
There is a new
stakeout for Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo. It is behind the shower
block on the left hand side as you enter the campsite, i.e. on the
other side from the restaurant. Behind the block there is a small
path that enters the forest, and just 5 metres into the forest one
can sit down and quietly watch down into a damp gully where the
bird turns up. While I was there it seemed to turn up early in the
morning (before 10am) and in the late afternoon (after 3-4pm). Also
a beautiful male Blue Pitta and Siberian Blue Robin at exactly the
See Figure 3
Also many other
birds around the campsite, including White-throated Rock Thrush,
many sunbirds and flowerpeckers and minivets and Chestnut-throated
Shrike Babbler. Someone else had Siamese Flameback just up the road
towards the waterfall. I had Red-headed Trogon along Upton's Trail
A just on from the campsite.
I saw little
else along trails and roads away from the campsite. The campsite
was definitely the most productive place during my 2.5 day stay.
Krachan is a beautiful park and much more like real wilderness than
Khao Yai. Outside of the weekend, there is hardly anyone there,
apart from a few birders. The forest is full of birds and there
is a distinct difference between the birds of the lower Ban Krang
camp area and those of the higher Paneon Tong campsite.
There is a wealth
of info on Kaeng Krachan on thaibirding.com
and on trip reports. All I can suggest is:
- Hire a 4WD so you can go up to Paneon Tong campsite. Actually
you dont need 4WD as such, just decent ground clearance, as there
are streams to cross and the road is pretty rough and steep.
- Others I spoke to had Black and Red Broadbill from the path that
starts just before Ban Krang campsite (HQ side) and crosses the
stream. Black and Yellow Broadbill found around the first stream
to the west (other side).
- There are Long-tailed Broadbills to be found about 1km down from
the KM27 car park. Listen out for their calls.
- There is a fruiting tree near KM27 which is good for birds
Wren Babbler is easily found at this temple near Saraburi, on the
way to Khao Yai NP. About 11km north of Saraburi on the highway
1, there is the Pu Kae junction where Highway 21 splits off from
Highway 1. Follow Highway 1 to the left, but then do a U-turn after
500m at the special U-turn lane, and return back through the junction.
Turn left after 200m from the junction on to a small tarmacked road
labelled route 1002 (although signs only visible once you are on
this road). Follow this road for 10.6km, then turn left when the
1002 turns right, and then take the second right into the temple.
The birds were
easily found on the path that leads around the big impressive limestone
rock to the right of the parking area. The nuns were very friendly
and dont seem to mind birdwatchers turning up unannounced. Well