spent a couple of days doing "touristy" things in Kanchanaburi
I was itching to get out and see some birds, something my girlfirend,
Srasri, wasn't too enthusiastic about; so a visit to Hellfire
Pass offered me the chance to do some birding without
the visit appearing to be a birding trip: sneaky!
about 7.30 am the car park was quiet with a number of common, open-country
birds in evidence; Spotted Dove, Common
Iora, White-rumped Munia and
Lineated Barbet were all easily seen
whilst attempting to locate the beginning of the trail. I was keen
to find the small trail which the interpretative map indicates winds
through limestone outcrops, with the possibility of seeing Limestone
Wren-babbler. After finding this trail we had walked only a few
metres along it when a noisy party of Laughingthrushes drew my attention.
Both Greater and Lesser
Necklaced Laughingthrushes were foraging in and around a
large tree which we were able to look down upon from atop a limestone
outcrop, giving us a great view. One or two Racket-tailed
Treepies also contributed to the chorus as did a Greater
Racket-tailed Drongo, mimicking the call of a Green Magpie.
the trail the forest appeared promising, however it revealed little
other than a few Yellow-bellied Warblers,
common birds in this sort of habitat. Mosquitos proved themselves
to be abundant though and we were soon forced to apply insect repellant
which Srasri had thankfully packed. This activity proved how beneficial
periods of quiet standing can be when searching for birds in forests
as just as the insect repellant had been packed away along came
a noisy pair of Limestone Wren-babblers
scolding each other amongst the cracks and crevices of the rocky
outcrops. So intent on bickering were they that we went unnoticed
and obtained fantastic close-up views of this much sought-after
species; these were birds of the crispifrons
subspecies, their dark plumage and larger size leaving no room for
confusion with Streaked Wren-babbler.
of these birds and the pestilential mosquitos prompted us to move
on and take a look at Konyu Cutting which was nick-named Hellfire
Pass by Allied prisoners of war. Seeing this excavation through
hard rock, which was largely dug by hand was a sobering thought;
add to this the boiling heat and mosquitos in plague proportions,
the thought of young men working under brutal conditions here was
From here the
trail continues along the route of the railway for four kilometres,
offering the chance to explore the surrounding countryside and no
doubt see quite a number of birds, however, the insect repellant
was rapidly sweating off so after stopping to watch Hill
Blue Flycatcher, Puff-throated babbler
and Forest Wagtail we turned around
for a look at the now-opened museum.
refreshments were available in the museum, as was the benefit of
air-conditioning. Although small, the museum is very interesting,
with a short video showing the history of the railway playing on
a continuous loop.
and rewarding morning, both historically and ornithologically, came
to a nice end with a beautiful male White-rumped
Shama perched on a tree stump outside the museum.