by Nick Upton
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Kaeng Krachan National Park, 25th September 2000
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Steve was to be back for another day a week later. I picked him up at 6:30 a.m. and we started on our way to Kaeng Krachan. This park is further away and we had to drive through the city on the expressway, which can get quite clogged up. We felt that even though the trip would involve many hours of traveling (all in all 600 km for the day) it would be worth it for Steve to be able to at least sample the park.

Along the way we stopped for a few minutes by a salt pond and viewed Black-winged Stilts, Common Redshank, Marsh and Wood Sandpiper, Little and Great Egrets, a big flock of Little Cormorants and Black-shouldered Kite on a pole. The road towards the park also had perching Green Bee-eaters, Brown Shrike and White-throated Kingfishers, while Red-wattled Lapwings occurred in the fields.

We arrived at headquarters at 10 a.m. While I took care of necessary paper work and kindly was informed that cars wouldn’t be allowed through the checkpoint until 1 p.m. Steve enjoyed watching Racket-tailed Treepie, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Olive-backed Sunbird and Common Iora in a tree next to us. Common Kingfisher also gave full display in a pond nearby. We rushed our way to the checkpoint ignoring the potential Bushlarks in the brush along the way. The ranger at the checkpoint was cooperative as no other visitors had entered as of yet and let us through. (It was Monday and we had the park all to ourselves throughout the whole day)

We had decided to stop at strategic places along the road while working our way to the top so as to get a picture of the whole area. Our first stop was to be around km11. Here we found a fruiting tree and a flock of Blue-eared Barbets feeding. Other birds in the tree were Coppersmith and Green-eared Barbet. It was 11 o’clock and quite hot. Normally things are very quiet during this time of day so we were encouraged with the good start.

Opposite campground at km 15, a very handsome Black-capped Kingfisher was perching on lower branches above the stream. As it flew off exposing its full splendor (bill bright red, plumage mainly blue with white wing-patches and contrasting black and white head) we were impressed with the serenity of it all. A dark beautiful male Crested Serpent-Eagle was soaring on high letting its call be heard all over. A smaller Accipiter was likewise in the air.

We then went to km 15, which really is where the birding starts. Here the road is under an umbrella of trees stretching their long arms across the road reaching for each other. It provides shelter for the more shy forest dwelling species and gives escape from the hot sun. We immediately had a mid-day birdwave, which amongst other things had a brilliant Sultan Tit, Blue-winged Leafbird, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch and Large Wood-shrike.

As we slowly worked our way down a little side road in here, much to my surprise and much to Steve’s delight, a young Blue-winged Pitta was hopping on the ground. I don’t know what had kept it here as its departure day for other grounds was long overdue. Orange-breasted Trogon with its diagnostic call seems to be easy in here and one came in full view. Green Magpies were sort of everywhere today starting from km13 all the way to km 27. This is really a pearl of the forest if even though a bit mean looking. We headed towards the top going strait westward and upwards into this pristine wilderness. The view is incredible and absolutely no civilization in sight. At the top we refreshed ourselves with cold drinks and then enjoyed a pair of Ashy Bulbuls, Dark-sided Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Warblers, Rufous-fronted Babbler, Grey Treepie, Oriental White-eyes and a White-browed Scimitar-Babbler. Beautiful masked Dusky Leaf-monkeys were feeding in a tree.

The guards told us no cars are allowed downhill until 4:30. We didn’t fancy the thought as the skies were mounting with dark clouds and so pleaded our cause promising to drive down slowly.We kept stopping as things flushed. All along the road either Forest or Grey Wagtail gave us company taking the lead in front of our car. We then had a very interesting stop at km 27. A White-hooded Babbler and a White-browed Scimitar-Babbler came dashing across the road going up the slope. We quickly stopped and viewed this favorite of mine. Then something with a Treepie looking head popped out its face through the foliage. Excitedly waiting for the bird to fully reveal itself I was wondering if I finally was to see much talked about Ratchet-tailed Treepie. Yes, we were not to be disappointed. Even though if perhaps not such a spectacular bird at least I had found the bird. Around here we also had Scarlet Minivets, Mountain Bulbul and Puff-throated Babbler.

Down between km 15-18 we again had the Pitta but added Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush, a party of Scaly-breasted Partridges, Ochraceous Bulbul, Streak-breasted Woodpecker, Greater Yellownape and Common Flameback. We also heard Crested Jay with its strident call and Spot-necked Babbler with its soft three tonal whistle. A flock of noisy Pied Hornbills came around, but they were to be the only Hornbills for the day. We had another wave in here and added the exciting Black-yellow Broadbill. Seems like the Broadbills are hard to see outside breeding season but at least I was able to show Steve four different types of nests.

Very satisfied, we started our way back home as dusk started to set in. A Heart-spotted Woodpecker came to wish us a warm Bon Voyage as we stopped to photograph the setting sun over the valleys and mountain tops.

Driving out of the park illuminated a pair of sparkling eyes on the road. Nocturnal Indian Nightjars were coming out to feed.

I dropped Steve of at the airport and headed home for a good night’s rest.

All in all we saw around 100 species in the two days Steve came through and I believe we were most richly blessed!
I am indebted to Steve who contacted me and that it all worked out. If anyone else is interested in my company while visiting Thailand, please feel free to let me know and perhaps something could be worked out.

PS. Other birds seen at KK were: White-rumped Shama, Pond-Heron, White-rumped Munias, Blue-throated Barbet, Crested Honey-Buzzards, Black-headed and Black-crested Bulbuls. Stripe-throated and Grey-eyed Bulbuls, Ashy Drongo, Indian Roller, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Red-throated Flycatcher, Blue Rock-Thrush, Green-billed Malkoha, Palm Swifts, Barn Swallows as well as Grey-headed Flycatcher.

Peter Ericsson
Peter Ericsson can be contacted at
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