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Khao Yai and around Bangkok, 26-28th March & 16th April 2005
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During March-April 2005 we spent 2-1/2 weeks birding in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. To reach Bhutan from Los Angeles we had to fly by way of Bangkok, so arranged to have a several day layover in Thailand on either side of our Bhutan flights. Wanting to do some birding but daunted by the idea of hiring a car and trying to find our own way around Bangkok, we contacted Nature Trails, a Thai company that offers a variety of guided 1-3 day short birding breaks in the Bangkok area. We arranged for them to take us to Khao Yai National Park, located about 2-1/2 hrs northeast of Bangkok, for 2 days prior to our Bhutan trip. On our return layover we would do a one-day trip to the Rangsit wetlands and other sites around the northern perimeter of Bangkok. This arrangement worked very well, and we had some excellent birding, seeing approximately 154 species in our 3 days with Nature Trails.

While in Bangkok we stayed at the Twin Towers Hotel, a large luxury hotel with numerous restaurants and other amenities on site. Through the Asia Bookings internet reservation service, we were able to get a double room for $33 US per night, a bargain by any standards. The hotel was in downtown Bangkok and convenient to places such as Lumphini Park, but in retrospect staying at a hotel situated nearer the airport would have reduced the travel time to the various birding sites we visited, all of which were north of the city.

26 March : Lumphini Park
Having arrived in Bangkok at 1:30 a.m. after a 17 hr flight we were in no hurry to get up in the morning. We did, however, manage to make it to the hotel's complimentary breakfast before the 10 a.m. closing time, and then caught a took-took (motorcycle taxi) to Lumphini Park, a large city park that was about a 10 min drive from the hotel. Despite it being a weekend morning the park was relatively empty and the birding very good, serving to acquaint us with many of the more common Thai species. Coppersmith Barbets, Streak-eared Bulbuls and Oriental Magpie-Robins were very common in the park, and we saw our only Black-collared Starlings here. Other species of interest included Black-naped Oriole, Asian Pied Starling, Olive-backed Sunbird, Indian Roller, Chinese Pond-Heron, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Yellow-browed Warbler and Pied Fantail. We returned to the hotel for a late lunch, and then went on a long-tailed boat tour of Bangkok's canals and floating markets. Although interesting from a sight-seeing perspective, the canal trip did not add any species to those we had already seen in the park, apart from some swifts that were too distant to ID positively.

27 March : Wat Prabuddhabaht Noi and Khao Yai NP
Our guide from Nature Trails, Wisnu Chotikapakorn, picked us up at our hotel at 6 a.m. Despite it being a Sunday we immediately encountered the infamous Bangkok traffic, first having to inch our way through an early morning market around the corner from the hotel, and then running into a traffic jam on the highway past the airport, the aftermath of a collision between a cement truck and an oil tanker. After finally clearing the traffic and the city limits, we asked Wisnu to make a detour to Wat Prabuddhabaht Noi, a temple where Limestone Wren-Babbler is resident. Along the main highway we saw numerous Asian Openbills and Little Egrets in the wet fields. As we drove through dry, open country along the road to the temple we encountered a variety of other birds we would not see at Khao Yai, including Red Collared-Dove, Plain-backed Sparrow, Greater Coucal, Green Bee-eater, Racket-tailed Treepie, White-throated Kingfisher, Asian Koel, Long-tailed Shrike, Common Iora, Plain Prinia, and Sooty-headed Bulbul. At the temple we walked a short distance along the hill to the right of the parking area, and within about 3 minutes found a Limestone Wren-Babbler hopping around the limestone boulders. Too easy!

We arrived in Khao Yai in the late morning, and as we drove up the entrance road we quickly found both Oriental Pied Hornbill and Great Hornbill perched beside the road, as well as Green-eared Barbet, Dollarbird, a pair of Vernal Hanging-Parrots at a nest hole, and a soaring Crested Serpent-Eagle. We stopped and hiked the trail into the forest at Km 33, where we saw Red-headed Trogon, a noisy pair of Greater Flamebacks and an industrious Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Moustached Barbet, Black-naped Monarch, Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Dark-necked Tailorbird, Yellow-browed Warbler, White-bellied Yuhina, and a magnificent Wreathed Hornbill. We also saw a White-handed Gibbon, a very impressive Black Giant Squirrel, and, sitting along the main road, Pigtail Macaques. Off to a good start, we stopped for lunch at Park HQ, and then spent most of the afternoon hiking Trail 6, where we hoped to find pheasants and, with luck, Coral-billed Ground-Cuckoo. Although neither of those wishes was granted, we nonetheless had good birding all along this trail. At the first stream-crossing we found Asian Fairy-Bluebird, Striped Tit-Babbler, Grey-crowned Warbler, and added Stripe-throated, Puff-throated and Grey-eyed Bulbuls to our earlier sightings of the more common Black-crested and Black-headed Bulbuls. Further in we encountered Green-billed Malkoha, the stunning Common Green Magpie, Hill Blue-Flycatcher, a cooperative Abbott's Babbler, and a small flock of Eye-browed Thrushes feeding high in the canopy of a fruiting tree. The highlight, however, was a pair of Eared Pittas busily kicking through the leaf litter close to the trail. While we were watching them we also got a quick glimpse of a tiny Mouse-Deer running through the understory. Late in the afternoon we worked our way along the famous radar road. In open areas at the top of the hill we saw Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, Blue Rock Thrush, a family party of Red Junglefowl, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Brown-backed Needletails drinking at a pond, and two types of deer, the diminutive Muntjac and elk-like Sambar. Along the wooded lower part of the road we found Blue-eared Barbet, Hill Myna, Laced and Black-and-Buff Woodpeckers, and the very pale, white-faced leucogenis subspecies of Ashy Drongo. We left the park at dusk, getting good looks at a Great Eared Nightjar flying down the road in front of the car. We spent the night at Juldis Khao Yai Resort, a nice hotel a few km down the road from the park entrance.

28 March : Khao Yai NP
Wisnu had arranged for us to be let into the park early (normal opening hour is 6 a.m.) so that we could be at the Siamese Fireback stakeout along the radar road by dawn. We waited quietly beside the road for over an hour with no sign of pheasants, but were entertained by a tree full of very active Ashy, Hair-crested and Lesser Racket-tailed Drongos, and got good looks at both Scarlet and Ashy Minivets. Finally we gave up waiting for the pheasants and walked along the road, seeing a flock of White-crested Laughingthrushes, a Black-throated Laughingthrush, and a brief glimpse of a furtive Puff-throated Babbler. As we were pursuing a very close, calling Blue Pitta through the dense roadside vegetation, out onto the road stepped a male Siamese Fireback, creating an instant dilemma? which way to look? We watched the pheasant for a minute as he stopped traffic in both directions, and then turned back to the pitta, succeeding in getting a quick but unobstructed look at the bird as he crossed a gap in the understory. We returned our attention to the pheasant in time to see the female fly across the road while the male still strutted along the shoulder. After this excitement we drove up to the checkpoint below the radar installation where the only new bird to be seen was a Grey-backed Shrike, but where we enjoyed watching a pair of handsome Yellow-throated Martens cavorting in a tree. As we descended the road from the checkpoint, a female Silver Pheasant crossed the road in front of the car. After another lunch at Park HQ we visited one of the park campgrounds, where we found Taiga and Yellow-rumped Flycatchers, Two-barred Warbler, and a Slaty-backed Forktail along the river. Before leaving the park in the late afternoon we made one last-ditch effort to find Coral-billed Ground-Cuckoo along Trail 6. No cuckoo, but there was again a lot of activity at the first stream crossing and we picked up Blue-bearded Bee-eater, White-rumped Shama, Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Little Spiderhunter, and a flock of Chestnut-flanked White-eyes. As we finally left the park over an hour later than planned, we were stopped by a group of elephants in the road and had to wait a few minutes before they decided to move and let cars by. We arrived back in Bangkok at about 7:30 p.m., knowing we had to be on our way to the airport by 4 a.m. to catch our flight to Bhutan.

16 April : Rangsit and Kampangsaen
We had arrived back from Bhutan the previous afternoon and had made another quick trip to Lumphini Park, forgetting that it was the Thai New Year and Water Festival. Not only did we (and our optics) get soaked by the bands of teenagers throwing buckets of water at all passersby, but the park was crowded with families and there were few birds to be seen. Now we were met at 6 a.m. by Kamol Komolphalin, the founder of Nature Trails and a well-known bird illustrator, who would guide us around the northern perimeter of Bangkok. Our first stop was the Rangsit wetlands, an extensive network of small artificial ponds and reed beds located not far from the airport. In the reeds and shrubs we saw Oriental and Black-browed Reed-Warblers, Plain and Yellow-bellied Prinias, a small flock of female or immature Red Avadavats, Chestnut and White-rumped Munias, Dusky Warbler, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Lesser Coucal, Yellow Wagtail, and Yellow-vented Bulbul. Ponds with water held Little Grebe and Little Cormorant, while we found White-breasted Waterhen, Bronze-winged Jacana, Purple Swamphen, Black-winged Stilt, Chinese and Javan Pond-Herons and a Yellow Bittern in those ponds that were drying up.

On our way across the top of Bangkok to Kampangsaen we stopped first at a temple grounds in search of Alexandrine Parakeets, which we did not find. At our next stop, a small fishpond, there was a small colony of Baya Weavers, their intricately woven nests hanging from a palm tree. Kamol told us that these birds are declining as a result of people collecting their nests to use as decorations. At this site we also found a pair of Asian Golden Weavers constructing a nest in what Kamol said was an unusually open location, a small shrub in a water-filled ditch. The fishpond held large numbers of Asian Openbills, Little Egrets, Black-necked Stilts, and roosting Whiskered Terns.

At Kampangsaen we birded a wooded area comprising a rather unkempt arboretum and adjacent scout camp. Visiting the scout camp first, we found Eurasian Hoopoes, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, both Olive-backed and Brown-throated Sunbirds, Ashy Drongo, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Common Iora, and Chestnut-tailed Starling. After a pleasant lunch at a nearby, riverside restaurant we tried the arboretum area, which was fairly quiet in the mid-afternoon heat. We did, however, find lots of Black-naped Orioles and Black Drongos feeding in fruiting trees, a Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, and a Black Baza. A small pond held Common Moorhen and several Lesser Whistling Ducks. When a visit to a larger pond at the nearby university campus failed to turn up any Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Kamol kindly offered to take us to another site where we might find that species, adding an extra hour to our return trip to Bangkok. This site was an extensive fishpond where after considerable searching we did finally locate both a juvenile and adult Pheasant-tailed Jacana, the latter in nearly full breeding plumage. We also saw Purple Heron here, a very distant Black-capped Kingfisher, and on the telephone wires along the road, Blue-tailed Bee-eaters and Ashy Woodswallows. Traffic was very heavy on the way back to Bangkok, and we finally reached our hotel at about 8 p.m. with another very early morning departure for the airport ahead of us.

Cathy McFadden & Paul Clarke, Claremont, CA
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 Birds Seen
L = Lumphini Park; KY = Khao Yai NP; W = Wat Prabuddhabaht Noi; R = Rangsit; K = Kampangsaen; F = fishpond south of Kampangsaen, ? = not seen well, ID unconfirmed.
Little Grebe - R,K
Little Cormorant - R,F
Purple Heron - F
Great Egret - W
Intermediate Egret - F
Little Egret - R,F
Chinese Pond-Heron - L, KY,R,F
Javan Pond-Heron - R,F
Cattle Egret - W,R
Striated (Little) Heron - KY
?Black-crowned Night-Heron - F
Yellow Bittern - R
Asian Openbill - W,R,F
Lesser Whistling-Duck - K,F
Black Baza - K
Black-shouldered Kite - R
Brahminy Kite - R
Crested Serpent-Eagle - KY
Red Junglefowl - KY
Silver Pheasant - KY
Siamese Fireback - KY
White-breasted Waterhen - R
Purple Swamphen - R,F
Common Moorhen - K
Pheasant-tailed Jacana - F
Bronze-winged Jacana - R,F
Black-winged Stilt - R
Red-wattled Lapwing - W,KY,R,K
Common Greenshank - R
Wood Sandpiper - R
Whiskered Tern - R
Rock Pigeon - L,W,K
Red Collared-Dove - W,R,F
Spotted Dove - L,KY,R
Emerald Dove - KY
Zebra Dove - L,W,R
Thick-billed Green Pigeon - KY
Mountain Imperial-Pigeon - KY
Vernal Hanging-Parrot - KY
Oriental Cuckoo - K (heard only)
Asian Koel - W,R,K
Green-billed Malkoha - KY
Greater Coucal - W,K
Lesser Coucal - R
Great Eared-Nightjar - KY
Brown-backed Needletail - KY
Asian Palm-Swift - W,KY,R,K,F
Red-headed Trogon - KY
White-throated Kingfisher - W,K
Black-capped Kingfisher - F
Blue-bearded Bee-eater - KY
Green Bee-eater - W
Blue-tailed Bee-eater - F
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater - KY
Indian Roller - L,KY,R
Dollarbird - KY
Eurasian Hoopoe - K
Oriental Pied-Hornbill - KY
Great Hornbill - KY
Wreathed Hornbill - KY
Green-eared Barbet - KY
Moustached Barbet - KY
Blue-eared Barbet - KY
Coppersmith Barbet - L,W,R,K
Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker - K
?Greater Yellownape - KY
Laced Woodpecker - KY
Greater Flameback - KY
Black-and-buff Woodpecker - KY
Heart-spotted Woodpecker - KY
Eared Pitta - KY
Blue Pitta - KY
Sand Martin - R
Barn Swallow - W,KY,R,K,F
Yellow Wagtail - R
Richard's Pipit - W,KY
Black-winged Cuckoo-shrike - KY
Ashy Minivet - KY
Scarlet Minivet - KY
Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike - KY
Black-headed Bulbul - KY
Black-crested Bulbul - KY
Red-whiskered Bulbul - KY
Sooty-headed Bulbul - W,R
Stripe-throated Bulbul - KY
Yellow-vented Bulbul -
Streak-eared Bulbul - L,R
Puff-throated Bulbul - KY
Grey-eyed Bulbul - KY
Blue-winged Leafbird - KY
Common Iora - W,K
Blue Rock-Thrush - KY
Eyebrowed Thrush - KY
Plain Prinia - W,R
Yellow-bellied Prinia - R
Black-browed Reed-Warbler - R
Oriental Reed-Warbler - R
Common Tailorbird - KY
Dark-necked Tailorbird - KY

Dusky Warbler - R
Yellow-browed Warbler - L,KY
Two-barred Warbler - KY
Grey-crowned Warbler - KY
Asian Brown Flycatcher - L,K
Yellow-rumped (Korean) Flycatcher - KY
Red-throated Flycatcher - KY,K
Hill Blue-Flycatcher - KY
Oriental Magpie-Robin - L,W,R,K
White-rumped Shama - KY
Slaty-backed Forktail - KY
Pied Fantail - L,W,R,K
Black-naped Monarch - KY
White-crested Laughingthrush - KY
?Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush - KY
Black-throated Laughingthrush - KY
Abbott's Babbler - KY
Puff-throated Babbler - KY
Limestone Wren-Babbler - W
Striped Tit-Babbler - KY
White-bellied Yuhina - KY
Brown-throated Sunbird - K
Olive-backed Sunbird - L,K
Little Spiderhunter - KY
?Plain Flowerpecker - L
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker - R
Chestnut-flanked White-eye - KY
?Oriental White-eye - KY
Black-naped Oriole - L,KY,R,K
Asian Fairy-bluebird - KY
Brown Shrike - W,KY,R,F
Long-tailed Shrike - W
Grey-backed Shrike - KY
Black Drongo - W,R,K,F
Ashy Drongo - KY,K
Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo - KY
Hair-crested Drongo - KY
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo - K
Ashy Woodswallow - W,KY,F
Common Green Magpie - KY
Racket-tailed Treepie - W
Large-billed Crow - L,W,KY,R
Common Hill Myna - KY
White-vented Myna - L,W,KY,R,K,F
Common Myna - L,W,KY,R,K,F
Black-collared Starling - L
Asian Pied Starling - L,R,S
Chestnut-tailed Starling - K
Plain-backed Sparrow - W,KY,R
Eurasian Tree Sparrow - L,W,R,K
Baya Weaver - R
Asian Golden Weaver - R
Red Avadavat - R
White-rumped Munia - R
Scaly-breasted Munia - L,W,R
Chestnut Munia - R
 Mammals seen
Black Giant Squirrel
Yellow-throated Marten
Pigtail Macaque
White-handed Gibbon
Mouse-Deer sp.
Asiatic Elephant
Catherine McFadden can be contacted at
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