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Krung Ching Waterfall, Khao Luang National Park, Nakorn Sri Thammarat province, 26-27th August 2008
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Where does one go birding in the South of Thailand? The most obvious answer is Khao Nor Chu Chi and Gurney’s Pitta. Then what? The mangroves at Krabi are pretty good but something more exotic filled with Hornbills and exotic tropical rain forest species would be nice. The obvious answer is Hala Bala. However, the current problem with that excellent site is the imminent danger to life. Should one risk their life for the thrill of some of the superb birds to be seen there? To me, the answer is most obviosuly no. The bloodshed in the southernmost provinces is astonishing with brutal killings taking place every day. So, I have wanted to visit Krung Ching waterfall at Khao Luang National Park in Nakorn Sri Thammarat for a long time and this was my opportunity.

Krung Ching is a sub station placed at the very northern tip of Khao Luang national park and one either has to get to Surat Thani or Nakorn Sri Thammarat before driving towards the park.

I had some business to take care of in Phuket and PhangNga and decided to head to Krung Ching afterwards. I made a call (075-460000) to reserve a bungalow (600Baht/night) at Krung Ching and arrived at 6 pm after a long drive. No food was available as it was a weekday but a small store offered dried Mama noodles which formed my staple diet for the next 4 meals. (I made up for it once back home).

It was very invigorating to see the rather massive mountains in this part of the country; something I hadn’t seen before. The highest peak in the park is over 1800 meters and holds some good montane birdlife.

The visitor centreat Krung Ching is surrounded by greenery and has a few ponds stuffed full of fish and a female adult Buffy Fish Owl and her offspring made the most of this bounty, showing really well and allowing close approach. Javan Frogmouth is apparently fairly common here but although I heard it several times I failed to connect with it. Another wanted bird often seen is Wallace’s Hawk Eagle but unfortunately I also dipped on this one.

So what did I see then? First of all I must say that it is such a nice change to simply listen to the sounds of the southern forest as it is rather different from the central and northern region. The very distinct calls of Green Broadbills rang clearly and the birds responded well to playback; what a cracking bird it is!

On my first morning walk I discovered a flock of at least 6 White-crowned Hornbills in a fruiting tree with the songs of Dark-throated Oriole, Red-throated Barbet and Gold-whiskered Barbets filling the air. The trail to the waterfall is 3700 metres long and starts out quite steeply after a couple of hundred meters. Once this initial climb is done it is easy walking and the trail goes through some very attractive forest. A couple of Scarlet-rumped Trogons sang in the early morning and one showed well and several types of Babblers naturally were around: Grey-headed, Chestnut-winged, Scaly-crowned being just a few. Black-and-yellow Broadbill was common and pretty easy to see and a flock of Dusky Broadbills were unmistakable. Several Rufous-winged Philentomas also showed well. I only walked about halfway along the trail before heading back to the start and I came across a nice male Banded Pitta on the trail but didn't get any photos.

The forest here at about 3-400meters level was quite healthy with many large trees and the canopy is actually very high and hard to see through. Once outside of the forest I had views of Silver-rumped Needletails, Glossy Swiftlets and even a few Germain’s Swiftlets.

I was only able to stay for a day and a morning but it was well worth the long drive I had from Phuket town. Still, I managed to drive all the way back to Bangkok on the day of return (some 800 km).

So, was the birding here as good as Hala Bala? Certainly not, as it is difficult to beat HB, but for me it was a pleasant learning experience despite the fact that I didn’t add any new species to my Thai list. My photographic exploits and identifying what I saw kept me entertained.

Peter Ericsson (

Scaly-crowned Babbler

Rufous-winged Philentoma

(To see all of Peter's photographs from Krung Ching and many other bird photographs take a look at his photo galleries: Krung Ching Bird Photos.)

 Species list

1. Violet Cuckoo : 1
2. White-rumped Shama : 5
3. Grey Wagtail : 2
4. Grey-cheeked Bulbul : 5-6 pairs
5. Red-eyed Bulbul : 2
6. Yellow-bellied Bulbul : 1
7. Ocraceous Bulbul : 4
8. Grey-headed Babbler : 2
9. Chestnut-winged Babbler : 1 flock seen several heard
10. Scaly-crowned Babbler : 1
11. Striped Tit Babbler : plenty
12. Puff-throated Babbler : plenty
13. Glossy Swiftlet : 1
14. Raffle’s Malkoha : 1
15. Chestnut-bellied Malkoha : 4
16. Black-and-yellow Broadbill : 2 seen, many heard
17. Green Broadbill : 4
18. Dusky Broadbill : 3

19. Buffy Fish Owl : 2
20. Rufous-winged Flycatcher
: 2
21. Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker : 1
22. Red-throated Barbet : 3 seen, many heard
23. Brown Barbet : 3
24. White-crowned Hornbill : flock of 6
25. Bushy Crested Hornbill : 3 seen against the sky flying away, not 100% sure of the ID
26. Great Iora : 2
27. Green Iora : 1
28. Grey-headed Flycatcher : plenty
29. Little Spiderhunter : common, 2 seen
30. Scarlet-backed Trogon : 2
31. Banded Pitta : 1
32. Collared Scops Owl : 1
33. Asian Fairy Bluebird : 3 seen, many heard
34. Dark-throated Oriole : 3
35. Dark-necked Tailorbird : plenty
Species heard only:
1. Moustached Babbler
2. Black-capped Babbler

3. Blue-eared Barbet : many
4. Orange-breasted Trogon : 1
5. Banded Kingfisher : 2
6. Hill Blue Flycatcher : 1
7. Gold-whiskered Barbet : many heard
8. Banded Bay Cuckoo : 2
9. Drongo Cuckoo : 3
Peter Ericsson can be contacted at
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