of December : Got into Bangkok around
lunch, dumped our gear, and headed out for a cold brew. Enough said.
of December : Tu, Jan, and Mr. Toan, the driver and himself
a birder, picked us up at 06:00 for the drive to Khao
Yai. On the way, we stopped at a gas station for some
tea, and started birding. A vacant lot behind the station attracted
a good number of birds, including Pied Fantail,
Taiga Flycatcher, Ashy
Woodswallow, as well as Sooty,
Yellow-vented, and Streak-eared
Bulbuls. Overhead, a single Asian Openbill
cruised past, and there were flocks of House
and Palm Swifts, as well as Barn
and Red-rumped Swallows.
lay in wait, and we were soon on the road again to Moosi, not far
from Khao Yai. An administrative station here still has a number
of huge, partially dead, trees standing around, with the holes in
those occupied by Red-breasted Parakeets.
What a sight, and lifers for both Ha and me. An Ashy
Drongo of the wintering sub-species leucogenis gave
excellent views, as did our first Indian Roller
of the trip. As this was also an animal watching trip, the Variable
Squirrel also seen here was duly noted, as were the Pig-tailed Macaques
we encountered soon after getting into the actual park.
Around the Khao
Yai Camp, we saw a Blue Rock-Thrush
with a deformed bill. It nevertheless seems to be doing well, as
it is apparently the second year it winters here. Driving around
the park turned up the ever-present Red-wattled
Lapwings, Pied Bushchat, a female
Siberian Stonechat, and excellent views
of a Burmese Shrike. Our first larger,
sort of, Mammal was a sole Barking Deer.
On the way up
to Khao Kieow, we came across a fairly large Python which took considerable
persuasion to move on to somewhere safer. On top of the hill, we
had brief views of a Rufous-bellied Eagle,
a truly excellent bird. The Black-throated
Sunbird was none to shabby either, the same goes for the
johnsoni sub-species of Black-crested
Bulbul, with its distinctive red throat. As usual, the views
of Vernal Hanging-parrot were brief,
and announced by its high-pitched call.
On the way down
to the Nong Pak Chi tower, we had great views of a Common
Kestrel and Asian Brown Flycatcher.
We also added another mammal to our list when we saw two Sambar
Walking on foot
to the watchtower, we almost immediately saw both Oriental
Pied and Great Hornbills, both
times in pairs. From the actual tower, there wasn't much to see
apart from some Spangled Drongos and
a Water Monitor. It was dark by now, and we headed back to the Juldis
Resort for some nosh and cold beers.
good birds in the race for Bird of the Day. Ha took the Red-breasted
Parakeet, Jan and Tu the Kestrel for the excellent views it gave,
and I settled for the Rufous-bellied Eagle.
of December : Woke up in the middle of the night, as usual,
and to strong winds. Ha felt decidedly under the weather and decided
to stay at the Resort. She certainly missed out as, right after
entering the Park, there was an Asian Bull Elephant walking along
the road. Whilst not as big as their African counterparts, it was
still a very impressive sight!
Tu knew about
a fruiting Fig tree off the road, and we spent some time there.
This proved well worthwhile; with a large number of birds on or
near it. Both Stripe-throated and Grey-eyed
Bulbuls were present, as were Green-eared
Barbet, Black-winged Cuckooshrike,
and Blue-winged Leafbird. However,
the prize for me here was the single Heart-spotted
Woodpecker, small but smart. Further on, we had the chance
to compare the features of Common and
Great Iora sitting in the same tree.
A Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike was
not shabby, and the first Minivets made an appearance, with both
Ashy and Scarlet
Minivets. A Green-billed Malkoha
was its usual skulking self, whilst the Crested
Serpent-Eagle was much more obliging. Another addition to
the mammal list was Grey-bellied Squirrel.
Tu set up a
camouflaged hide behind the restrooms at the Pha Kluai Mai campground
to look for the resident Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo. A large and
noisy flock of Pig-tailed Macaques dashed all our hopes, but at
least we managed to tick a pair of Siberian
Blue Robins before heading back for lunch, and to pick up
Ha. At the camp site, a pair of Sambar Deer were very tame, feeding
in between the tents.
Well fed, we
headed for the "Crocodile River", seeing a single Dollarbird
at the old Golf course. The Crocodiles failed miserably to show
a single scale, but a Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher
almost made up for it. We headed back up to Khao Kieow to
look for the Asian Black Bear that hangs out around there, but it
was uncharacteristically early that day and had been and gone. At
least we saw a Large-tailed Nightjar
on the road home, or rather to the hospital to get Ha checked up
at a Hospital in Pak Chong.
This bird was
also Ha's Bird of the Day, whilst Jan, Tu, and myself all went for
the Heart-spotted Woodpecker.
of December : As it was the last morning in Khao Yai, we
started at 05:30 to get some more birding in. Ha had to stay behind
again, but at least she was beginning to feel better.
on the road today, but at least three Blue
Whistling Thrushes (with the yellow bill eugenei??).
Tu found another fruiting Fig tree, and it was teeming with life.
At least three Oriental Pied Hornbills
had a feast, as did the Green-eared
and Moustached Barbets. Two juvenile
male Red Junglefowls were looking for
leftovers under the tree, but the stars in the tree were the White-handed
Gibbons and the lone Binturong, the largest of the Thai Civet cats.
Finally, there was a single Fire-breasted
Flowerpecker of the subspecies cambodianum without
the red breast-patch.
We wanted to
try the "Crocodile River" once more and headed across
the old Golf course, nailing a Dollarbird
in passing. Back down the very steep hill to the river, where a
pair of Tickell's Blue Flycatchers
showed off. After a lengthy search, Tu found one of the two resident
Crocs, trying to shake off the morning chill. A couple of Chestnut-headed
Bee-eaters were very interested in my photo technique.
As Ha did not
go birding today, she was out of the race for Bird of the Day. Jan
liked the Greater Flamebacks best, Tu the Tickell's Flycatchers,
and I went for the Red Junglefowl as I have never had such great
sights of them.
of December : We set off at 05:30 to go to Khok
Kham to look for the Spoonbilled Sandpipers reportedly
there. First critters seen were of the mammal kind though; a troop
of Long-tailed Macaques doing very naughty things by the side of
getting to the site, where a Swedish group of birders was already
looking for the Sandpiper, we saw a Collared
Kingfisher. The salt-pans were teeming with birds, with Black-winged
Stilt, Curlew Sandpiper, Lesser
Sandplover, Ruddy Turnstone,
Common Greenshank, Rufous-necked
Stint, Long-toed Stint, Common
Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Marsh
Sandpiper, Broad-billed Sandpiper,
Sandplover, Little Ringed Plover,
and Temminck's Stint quickly added
to the list. Alas, no Spoonbilled. As a matter of fact, nobody would
apparently connect with them (there were two) for the remainder
of our stay in Thailand. Ah well, good excuse to come back and drink
more Singha, ehh look for Sandpipers. Other birds seen here were
a smart Intermediate Egret, Black-naped
Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Black-headed
and Brown-headed Gulls, and a very
obliging Brown-throated Sunbird. We
drove on to the nearby "Birdland" to look for Nordman's
Greenshank, which we also missed. At least we saw Pacific
Golden Plover and Grey Plover
before the ferocious Mozzies drove us back.
On the way to
Kaeng Krachan we stopped at Wat Sutthi Wata Wararam (try saying
that quickly three times) to take a look at the Germain's
We also stopped
in some rice fields just before Petchaburi to look for Raptors and
were rewarded with numerous Black Kites.
The star was however a sole Greater Spotted
Eagle. A Black-naped Oriole
gave brief views, as did four Asian Pied Starlings.
Ha chose the
Brown-throated Sunbird as her Bird of the Day. Jan, Tu and I were
once again unanimous in our decision: Great Spotted Eagle.
of December : Off to one of my favorite National Parks:
Krachan. As a matter of fact, I had never made it to
the top of the hill, Phanoen Thung, as my previous visit was during
the rainy season; the road was closed because of the very real danger
we had rented for this part, 4WD is advisable even during the dry
season, picked us up at 05:30. It was fairly cool, at least if like
me, you have been living the past few years in the tropics. Even
the Red-wattled Lapwings we encountered
first seemed to feel cold.
Coming to yet
another fruiting Fig tree, we saw a nice Greater
Racket-tailed Drongo, as well as Common
Flameback and Velvet-fronted Nuthatch.
Great Hornbills performed a fly-by,
but most impressive were Tickell's Brown Hornbills.
Nice birds in anyone's book, it was their numbers that were astonishing.
Just as I was saying that there must be at least 4 or 5 of them,
the flock took off and we counted at least 13! Thus warmed up, we
continued further up the road, where we either saw 5 different birds
of the same species, or it was always the same Emerald
Dove that flew ahead of the car. And then the thriller of
the trip: a Leopard that crossed the road right in front of us!!!
We never saw it slink off, but it did disappear, much to the relief
of the Dusky Langurs in a nearby tree.
Cuckoo Dove posed just long enough for me to take a couple
of (bad) shots, as did the two Dusky Broadbills.
With that, Jan had seen all of the Thai Broadbills:-( As we still
had some time to make it to the top (cars alternate their ascent
and descent), we walked a little bit. Whilst the rest of the group
were admiring a Crimson-winged Woodpecker,
I was intrigued by some scraping noises from the forest floor. Pitta,
perhaps? After spending ages I saw, more by chance than anything
else, a single Scaly-breasted Partridge
looking straight at me. Not to be outdone, a couple of Wreathed
Hornbills chose the moment to make an appearance. The Ocracheous
Bulbuls rather paled in comparison. Not far from here, I
also managed to connect with a real bogey bird of mine, a Great
Barbet giving views that made up for all the times I missed
it. Turned out this would not be the only one we would see that
day. I don't know if it is only me, but I spend ages trying to get
to grips with a bird, once I have seen it for the first time, it
will pop up at every occasion.
seen on the way up were Blue-eared Barbet,
Sultan Tit, Mountain
Bulbul, Chestnut-bellied Malkoha,
a male Hill Blue Flycatcher, and a
Speckled Piculet, the latter seen only
As the downward
traffic was to commence soon, we headed to the summit, where we
installed ourselves under a flowering tree for lunch. However, all
thoughts of food were soon forgotten as the tree was humming with
birds. The most obvious, but impossible to photograph, were a flock
of 20 or so Vernal Hanging Parrots.
The same tree also held the delicate nest of a White-browed
Shrike Babbler, with a bird sitting on the nest and calling
away for all it was worth. A Streaked Spiderhunter
was also checking out the flowers, whilst the Flavescent
and Grey-eyed Bulbuls only passed fleetingly.
After a very
leisurely lunch, we started walking down, with the car to pick us
up once it was allowed to go down. A good idea it was, too. Soon
after we set off, we came across a female Black-and-Buff
Woodpecker, a lifer for all four of us (no mean feat, as
Tu has seen most birds of Thailand). A Mountain
Imperial Pigeon showed itself very well, we added Lesser
Racket-tailed Drongo, White-browed
Piculet, and Black-throated Laughingthrush.
The star, however, was an Orange-breasted
Trogon sitting in a nest-hole right next to the road. Now,
before anyone gives me grief: yes, we took photos, something I usually
oppose. However, the nest was inches from the road and, this being
a weekend, traffic was heavy. This did not disturb the bird at all,
and I should add that we were a good distance off.
Just as it was
getting too dark, and we were ready to head home, a flock of five
Bar-backed Partridges crossed the road
right next to where we were concealed. A crowning end to an excellent
A lot of contenders
for Bird of the Day today, but Ha settled for Tickell's Brown Hornbill,
Jan the Orange-breasted Trogon, Tu his sole lifer of the trip, Black-and-Buff
Woodpecker, and I chose the Scaly-breasted Partridge.
of December : The last day of birding dawned (actually,
it was well before dawn when we set off). We did not want to head
up the hill today, but rather walked extensively in an area about
half-way between the entrance and the camp site. Lots of birds,
but not a lot of new stuff. One of the first was an Oriental
Honey-buzzard passing overhead. Here, we also saw the only
Green Magpie, Black-naped
Monarch, and White-browed Scimitar
Babbler of the trip. Amazingly enough, here was also the
only time we saw Common Tailorbird,
after having seen Dark-necked everywhere else. We also added the
last mammal of the trip, a Northern Treeshrew. I should not forget
the Racket-tailed Treepie that took
ages to pin down. Somewhat unexpected was a White-breasted
Waterhen crossing the road in front of us, as was the Chinese
We headed up
a bit further, but traffic was rather dense by now. Warblers made
a good show, with Yellow-bellied, Sulphur-breasted,
Two-barred, and Arctic
Warblers seen. A female Orange-breasted
Trogon bade as "au revoir" as we took of for Bangkok.
I forgot to
ask about Bird of the Day, and I will assign them arbitrarily: Ha
gets the Green Magpie, Jan the Oriental Honey-buzzard, Tu the Common
Tailorbird:-), and I will settle for Sulphur-breasted Warbler.
And that was
the end of yet another great trip. We just had enough time for some
serious shopping, before heading back to Vietnam. Talking about
Vietnam, we had excellent Vietnamese food in Bangkok, at the "Le
Dalat" on 14 Sukhumvit 23. Even Ha, a Vietnamese from Ha Noi,
had to admit that it was some of the best Vietnamese food she ever
With a total
of 169 species, and 21 lifers for me (50+ for Ha), I am well pleased.
Ha, Jan and Tu also saw Golden Warbler, which I missed.
Feel free to
contact me for any additional information at: firstname.lastname@example.org.