by Nick Upton
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Koh Chang, 26-31st October 2012
  Bird Watching Trips:
if you need help organizing a bird watching trip to Thailand, take a look at the suggested itineraries for ideas on creating a tailor-made trip and contact me for advice: Thailand bird tours.
Introduction & Accommodation
This year's autumn holiday were a combination of bird watching and family amusement and so we chose Koh Chang as a beach destination after having spent some time at Khao Yai national park. We stayed at a place called Bai Lan Bay Resort which is situated between Bai Lan and Lonely beaches at the southwestern corner of the island. Although Koh Chang is not generally considered as a prime bird watching location in Thailand, the large areas of undeveloped land and its status as a national park promised that it should provide some birding to those accompanying non-birders on a family holiday.
Notes on Finding Birds
Finding birds on Koh Chang was highly dependent on finding suitable habitat, which was not easy. There are plenty of places to find open country birds but accessing the forested interior is not easily done. Where the forest was entered, finding any birds at all was extremely difficult and this is likely to have something to do with the time of the year, although trapping and hunting may also be a problem here.

Any open or elevated area was quite good for spotting raptors a number of species of which were seen, due to October being peak migration time for these birds.

Field Guides
1. A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand by Craig Robson

Birding Highlights
Great Eared Nightjar, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Pacific Reef Egret, Pacific Swallow, Van Hasselt's Sunbird

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Birding was mainly done between dawn (approximately 6 a.m.) and 9 a.m. along the main road which runs around the island. Short walks into the nearby forest were surprisingly unproductive and exhausting due to steep hills. As the hillsides of Koh Chang drop steeply into the Gulf of Thailand around the southwest side of the island there is no agricultural activity and consequently only very little open habitat can be found and most of this has been developed, containing resorts and bars. Therefore it turned out that birding opportunities are low on this part of Koh Chang. I also found that fun in seeing birds was additionally limited by the presence of dozens of noisy stray dogs.
Despite these problems a couple of species were easily seen - Brown-throated Sunbird and Yellow vented Bullbuls - and a probable male Crimson Sunbird seemed to be far from its usual distribution, according to Robson's Field Guide.

Personally I would not encourage anyone to stay in this area unless one is more prone to tattooing or partying through the night than me; certainly as a birding destination, this part of Koh Chang is not to be recommended.

However, some other parts of the island, visited during day trips, provided some much better birding; the southernmost town on Koh Chang is called Bang Bao and from here the road winds up and down the hills for about five kilometers before ending. In this area more extensive flat costal landscape is present, making it easier to go birding. This area consists mostly of palm groves and rocky as well as sandy beaches. Walking along the main road leads you through these habitats as well as through some evergreen forest. At Bang Bao Beach itself a tidal creek lies between the beach and the road which can be scanned from a kind of quay wall belonging to a resort a little downhill. A number of open habitat birds could be seen around here and I spotted several raptors, including Brahminy Kites and a number of unidentified migrating Accipiters.

Over Koh Chang, as well as towards the isles lying to the south, views of White-bellied Sea Eagles were a daily occurrence with 12 sightings all in all. A one day boat trip for snorkeling and fishing was used for bird watching around some southerly islands down to Koh Run. Again, some raptor migration was observed and a pair of White-bellied Sea Eagles was seen at a nest but otherwise the trip was unproductive and neither here nor on Koh Chang itself any terns or shorebirds, other than Common Sandpiper, were seen. Pacific Swallows were best seen at the harbour of Bang Bao and the ferry to Centerpoint pier.

By far the best birding day on Koh Chang was around the Klong Prao area. Following the main road to the north for a few kilometers and then heading to the Klong Plu waterfall produced many open country species. A good view over the broadleaved forest was obtained at a spot where there is a station for elephant trekking at the road junction. At this point a water reservoir attracted swifts and several raptors such as Crested Goshawk and Crested Serpent Eagle as well as some unidentified Accipiters could be seen above the forest. A kind of landing area about 300m south of the junction to the waterfall held some Paddyfield Pipits and a Pintail Snipe; this spot looked promising for migration times. There was a small river at the northern border of this area and some nice garden habitats were around the Amari Emerald Cove resort which contained several species.

The trail to the Klong Prao waterfall is one of the few ways of accessing the forest at the heart of Koh Chang but, unfortunately, similarly to the broadleaved evergreen forest visited around Lonely beach, the forest in the national park around this waterfall did not produce a single bird which was very disappointing.
Use this interactive map of Ko Chang to look around the island.
  Birdwatching Trips in Thailand:
Finding birds in Thailand can be harder than expected, but by visiting the right locations at the
right times many wonderful species can be found, whether you are on a bird watching day trip or longer tour.

Contact me to arrange a trip and/or to discuss the best birdwatching options for you:
There is not much to add to Ola Ejdren’s Koh Chang list and the forest was particularly disappointing at this time of the year. All in all I only managed to see 51 species which, apart from birding at the wrong places may be a result of birding at this time of year. If I ever went back to Ko Chang I would definitely stay around the main town of Klong Prao where there were far more birds than in the southwest, more attractive and varied birding localities and presumably fewer dogs.
Kay Fuhrmann
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 Birds seen on Koh Chang
The names and taxonomic order used here are those from the official Thai bird checklist issued by the Thai records committee.
1. Striated Heron: 2 at Bai Lan Bay.
2. Chinese Pond Heron: up to 50 throughout southwestern coast.
3. Little Egret: up to 5 at Baylan Beach and Klong Prao.
4. Pacific Reef Egret: up to 2 on two days at Baylan Beach and up to 4 around southwestern isles.
5. Western Osprey: single, southwestern isles.
6. Brahminy Kite: daily up to 5 at various places.
7. White-bellied Sea Eagle: daily up to 4 around southwest aind adjanced isles. Nest at Koh Rang.
8. Crested Serpent Eagle: 1 at Klong Prao.
9. Crested Goshawk: 2 at Klong Prao and Baylan Bay.
10. Peregrine Falcon: single around southwestern isles.
11. Pintail Snipe: single at airfield Klong Prao.
12. Common Sandpiper: singles at various places around the coast.
13. Feral Pigeon: 3 at Klong Prao.
14. Spotted Dove: regularly up to 5.
15. Green Pigeon sp: up to 5 in Lonely Beach and Klong Prao.
16. Vernal Hanging Parrot: 1 at Lonely Beach.
17. Greater Coucal: 2 at Klong Prao and Bang Bao.
18. Great Eared Nightjar: 1 at Bai Lan Bay.
19. Asian Palm Swift: up to 4 at Lonely Beach and Bang Bao.
20. House Swift: 5 at Klong Prao.
21. Indian Roller: 1 at Klong Prao.
22. Dollarbird: 1 at Koh Rang.
23. Black-capped Kingfisher: 3 at Baylan Beach and Klong Prao.
24. Common Kingfisher: singles throughout southwest.
25. Ashy Minivet: up to 2 at Lonely Beach.
26. Brown Shrike: 2 at Lonely Beach.
27. Black-naped Oriole: up to 5 around southwest.
28. Ashy Drongo: up to 10 throughout southwest.
29. Greater Racket-tailed Drongo: up to 4 around southwest.
30. Black-naped Monarch: singles at Bai Lan Bay.
31. Eastern Jungle Crow: up to 3 around southwest.
32. Black-headed Bulbul: up to 2 on two days at Lonely Beach.
33. Black-crested Bulbul: up to 6 throughout southwest.
34. Yellow-vented Bulbul: up to 3 throughout southwest.
35. Barn Swallow: up to 5 around southwest.
36. Pacific Swallow: up to 15 throughout southwest.
37. Two-barred Leaf Warbler: singles throughout southwest.
38. Pin-striped Tit Babbler: up to 6 throughout southwest.
39. Common Hill Myna: up to 5 throughout southwest.
40. Common Myna: up to 30 throughout southwest.
41. White-rumped Shama: single at Lonely Beach.
42. Asian Brown Flycatcher: singles at various places throughout southwest.
43. Taiga Flycatcher: up to 5 around southwest.
44. Blue Rockthrush: up to 5 around southwest.
45. Eastern Stonechat: single at Lonely Beach.
46. Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker: 1 at Bang Bao Beach.
47. Brown-throated Sunbird: up to five throughout southwest.
48. Van Hasselt's Sunbird: singles at Lonely Beach.
49. Crimson Sunbird: single at Lonely Beach.
50. Eurasian Tree Sparrow: up to 20 at Lonely Beach and Bang Bao.
51. Paddyfield Pipit: 3 at Klong Prao.
Ko Chang Bird List  
If you are interested in arranging a bird watching tour you can see some suggested itineraries here - Bird Watching Trips - and you can contact me at the above email address to discuss the best options.

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