by Nick Upton
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Huay Kha Kaeng, Uthai Thani 28-29/06/08
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I have always wanted to visit Huay Kha Kaeng wildlife sanctuary in the province of Uthai Thani. This sanctuary is part of the large forest complex of Western Thailand and is situated around 300 km from Bangkok.

As it was, I needed to do a trip to visit a needy school for Burmese refugees at Mae Sot. On my return I decided on a short visit to Huay Kha Kaeng.

I arrived at the turn off with a big sign to the sanctuary around 4 pm. Here, stands of deciduous broadleaf forest started to line the road. I heard some shrilling shrieks and stopped the car. It didn’t take long to identify a pair of Black Baza’s. These birds are resident in the area and always a bird to be enjoyed. Several Yellow-footed Pigeons were stirred up by their antics. These Green Pigeons are hard to see well as they blend so well with the lush trees during the wet season. The Pigeons are normally found on low elevations and are rather uncommon birds.

As I drove on, the forest changed into a very healthy looking dry dipterocarp forest, much looking like the one in Mae Ping National Park in the North. This type of forest is more open, with relatively short trees and often hold good numbers of medium sized birds. It didn’t take long before I heard the characteristic laughter of Black-headed Woodpeckers. These birds are most often seen by visiting birders at the lower levels of Doi Inthanon but by no means a guarantee. The best place I have found is at Mae Ping. I tried real hard to stalk the birds for some images but they always seemed to stay one step ahead of me. They move about in small parties and make a lot of noise as they go. Their red rumps flashed brilliantly as they flew from tree to tree.

I got within arms reach of a Collared Falconet which was just as startled of the encounter as I was. Unfortunately the camera settings were wrong so I missed out on a picture.

The entrance fee is 200 Baht for foreigners and is paid 9 kilometers before headquarters. I kept driving till I got to the headquarters. I was impressed how well kept the huge lawn and adjacent buildings were. Many a ranger seemed to be about. The sanctuary holds an impressive number of mammals and lots of research and various projects are being conducted.

Lodging available has to be negotiated from Bangkok in advance unless one is happy with a tent. Tents have to be brought by one self. I ended up staying at a little home stay right outside where I had paid the entrance fee. The bungalow was clean, had air-con and was relatively cheap at 500Baht.

Homestay: Rimbeung Resort 09-8180658, 02-9702966 or 081-9622232

The next morning I drove back in to the park. Once at headquarters I had a ‘jolly good time’ walking around with my camera and enjoying species I find hard to see in the more regular parks such as Khao Yai and Kaengkrachan. Several Hooded Orioles, a flock of Green Imperial Pigeons, a huge flock of Yellow-footed Pigeons (shy birds they are), several flocks of Black-headed Woodpeckers that I managed to get close to. A big flock of Red-billed Magpies was a nice encounter. A calling pair of Blue-winged Pittas along the nature trail responded well to playback but didn’t come close enough for a picture.

Brunch at the only restaurant was a simple but tasty treat.

At 11 am I had to leave having sampled a lovely park with many interesting species. I definitely will revisit when possible.

Peter Ericsson
Note: Peter has some lovely photographs from his trip here: Huay Kha Kaeng.
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 Other Birds Seen
Black-headed WP
Green Imperial Pigeon
Thick-billed Pigeon
Yellow-footed Pigeon
Spotted Dove
Lineated Barbet
Coppersmith Barbet
Asian Palmswift
Pied Hornbill
Small Minivet
Chinese Francolin
White-crested LT

Common Wood-shrike

Hooded Oriole
Puff-throated Babbler
Sooty-headed Bulbul
Blue-winged Pitta
Black Baza
Collared Falconet
White-throated KF
Blue Magpie
Spangled Drongo
Bronzed Drongo
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker
Peter Ericsson can be contacted at
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