Thailand, 5th - 16th April 2016
When John Plampin contacted me about a birding trip to Southern Thailand
in April 2016 we began to discuss which birds to target and which
locations he wanted to visit; having been to Bala with me in the past
we decided to visit different locations and to target some specialities
of other sites even though Bala is the best birding site in the south.
Unfortunately, due to the poor health of John's traveling companion,
Patrick, he was not able to accompany me for the whole trip. However,
I continued alone, following the same itinerary as we had decided
upon, hoping to find some of the birds that I had never before seen
in Thailand, with some success.
I used a 4-door Toyota Vigo which had lots of storage space
in the covered back section and was very stable at high speeds
on rough roads as well as being able to handle dirt tracks and
muddy areas. Fuel efficiency was very good in this vehicle although
it was made more complicated than necessary with rather too
many buttons and gadgets.
Greenview Resort at Sri Phang Nga - a pleasant hotel set
in attractive grounds. Quite a walk to the restaurant from some
Nga Bay Resort Hotel at Phang Nga Bay National Park - a
decent hotel that has seen better days but has spectacular views
over the national park. Perfectly acceptable with breakfast
included, very convenient for birding the mangroves.
Maritime Park & Spa - Excellent hotel, just outside
Krabi town, with great views and breakfast buffet.
House - Suk has 4 air-conditioned rooms on the entry road to Krung
Ching Waterfall. Her home-cooked food is delicious and she will prepare
an early breakfast and packed lunch for birders going into the forest.
Buri Hotel in Satun - A very clean and comfortable hotel convenient
for the nearby mangroves, not too far a drive from Thalebun NP but
a long drive from Wang Tai Nan Waterfall.
As is usual in Thailand good food was easily found everywhere we went.
Food in hotel restaurants can often be rather bland and this was the
case on this trip but eating local food was always good and a special
mention goes to Suk's home cooking which was excellent, by far the
best food of the trip. In Satun I bought food in the market which
was a short walk from the hotel, as usual this was very good too,
although some dishes were very spicy.
Notes on Finding Birds
As usual in Southern Thailand forest birding was very difficult with
all species being difficult to observe. However, this year has been
the driest in Thailand for over 50 years and this coupled with temperatures
of 36-40C every day meant that there was no real period of morning
activity and that birding was exceptionally tough in all forests,
making sightings even more special than normal. Only in mangrove forests
was birding quite rewarding and easy with most target species easy
to find in the morning and late afternoons.
Field Guide to the Birds of South East Asia by Craig Robson
of Thailand - Thai language field guide by various contributors
Guide to the Large Mammals of Thailand by John Parr
Laem Pakarang: Grey-tailed Tattler, Terek Sandpiper,
Greater Sand Plover, Lesser Sand Plover
Sri Phang Nga: Malayan Banded Pitta, Chestnut-naped
Forktail, Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Scaly-breasted Bulbul, Grey-bellied
Bulbul, White-throated Rockthrush, Wallace's Hawk Eagle, Great Hornbill,
Phang Nga Bay National Park: Mangrove Pitta, Chestnut-bellied
Malkoha, White-chested Babbler, Black-and-red Broadbill, Brown-winged
Kingfisher, Streak-breasted Woodpecker
Bang Phut Mangroves: Copper-throated Sunbird, Mangrove
Whistler, Brown-winged Kingfisher
Krung Ching Waterfall: Scarlet-rumped Trogon, Green
Broadbill, Dusky Broadbill, Banded Broadbill, Black-and-yellow Broadbill,
Southern White-crowned Forktail, Red-bearded Bee-eater, Banded Kingfisher,
Blue-eared Kingfisher, Sooty Barbet, Maroon Woodpecker, Grey-and-buff
Woodpecker, Red-legged Crake, Scaly Thrush, Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo,
Laem Thalamphuk: Pied Triller, Ferruginous Flycatcher,
Mangrove Whistler, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Blue-throated Bee-eater,
Wang Tai Nan Waterfall: Diard's Trogon, Green Broadbill,
Malayan Banded Pitta, Hooded Pitta, Chestnut-naped Forktail, White-crowned
Hornbill, Bushy-crested Hornbill, Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, White-chested
Babbler, Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker, Buff-necked Woodpecker, Olive-backed
Woodpecker, Buff-rumped Woodpecker
Satun Mangroves: Mangrove Pitta, Mangrove Blue Flycatcher,
Ruddy Kingfisher, Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, Cinereous Tit, Copper-throated
Thalebun National Park: Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot,
Rufous Woodpecker, Hooded Pitta, Blue-winged Pitta, Malayan Banded
Pitta, Mugimaki Flycatcher, Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Sooty Barbet,
Black-capped Babbler, Tiger Shrike
Trang Botanical Gardens: Red-crowned Barbet, Blue-winged
Pitta, Banded Woodpecker
5th April - Bangkok to Sri Phang Nga
Leaving Bangkok at around 5am I drove to Sri Phang Nga National
Park, making a small detour to Laem Pakarang to photograph shorebirds.
Arriving at around 3pm I spent several hours sitting at the waterside
allowing feeding waders to approach me so that I could get some
photos. Quite spectacular were both Lesser and Greater Sand Plovers
in breeding plumage; although these are common birds in Thailand
their transformation from fairly dull winter plumage to full breeding
colours is wonderful and I was very pleased to get photos of both
species as they came very close. Large numbers of Terek Sandpipers
were also present and I found a single Grey-tailed Tattler as well
as a close-up encounter with a male Malaysian Plover. Other species
enjoyed in lovely late afternoon sunlight included Javan & Chinese
Pond Herons in breeding plumage, Pacific Reef Egret, Whimbrel, 1
Ruff, 1 Eurasian Curlew, Grey Plover, Pacific Golden Plover, Red-necked
Stint, Sanderling and Ruddy Turnstone.
6th April - Sri Phang Nga National Park
Breakfast in the campsite/HQ area of Sri Phang Nga national park
while waiting to see what turned up in this open area. With the
park staff not allowing visitors through the gate to the trails
until 8am birding around the campsite is the only option until that
time. Although activity was low, a fruiting tree nest to the HQ
buildings drew birds in throughout the day and several sessions
underneath this one tree gave us the only Scaly-breasted and Grey-bellied
Bulbuls of the trip; both fairly scarce species and among the most
attractive of the bulbuls. Other birds seen in this fruiting tree
included Blue-eared & Coppersmith Barbets, Red-eyed Bulbul,
Black-crested Bulbul, Black-headed Bulbul, Grey-eyed Bulbul, Cream-vented
Bulbul, Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Arctic Warbler, Asian Brown Flycatcher,
Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Orange-bellied Flowerpecker, Crimson-breasted
Flowerpecker, Brown-throated Sunbird, Thick-billed Flowerpecker,
Grey-bellied Spiderhunter and Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker. A quick
walk around the accommodation blocks resulted in 2 Forest Wagtails
and a fine White-throated Rockthrush.
Our main targets at Sri Phang Nga were Malayan Banded Pitta and
Chestnut-naped Forktail so as soon as we were allowed through the
gate we drove the short distance to the start of the trail. From
the parking area we walked along the small forest trail which begins
to the immediate left of the toilet block, walking a distance of
3-400 metres, crossing the stream four times, to a spot which has
become a regular stakeout for Malayan Banded Pitta and, indeed,
a group of photographers were already waiting there with the Pitta
sitting, preening in the undergrowth. Shortly after an Abbott's
Babbler appeared on a log in front of us to feed on mealworms but
it was quickly displaced by the male Malayan Banded Pitta, giving
us incredible views of this stunning bird - probably the most beautiful
of the Pitta species occurring in Thailand.
this success we then moved back down the trail to another hotspot,
this time for Chestnut-naped Forktail. Again, this species arrived
on cue and gave us incredibly good and prolonged views of this
attractive and usually very shy bird. After this birding in
the forest became very hard indeed with brief views of Plain
Sunbird, a Crow-billed Drongo, a party of Chestnut-winged Babblers
and a family group of 3 Raffles's Malkohas the main sightings
over the next few hours. Indeed, things became rather disappointing
with very little activity, only Spectacled Bulbul and Silver-rumped
Needletail being added to the list of sightings before lunch.
After lunch a visit to a different ranger station revealed some
good habitat but few birds. A pair of Pacific Swallows sat nicely
on a wier and a Hairy-backed Bulbul made a brief appearance
but little else apart from an Osprey over a small reservoir
among palm oil plantations on the way back to the main entrance
to the national park where an afternoon session produced very
Malayan Banded Pitta
(Photo by Nick
7th April - Sri Phang Nga National Park & Phang Nga Mangroves
A repeat of breakfast at Sri Phang Nga national park campsite where
this time I spotted a Wallace's Hawk Eagle perched on a high tree.
This species is frequently seen in this area and through the 'scope
it was a great view. A calling Gold-whiskered Barbet was a nice sighting
too but a walk along the waterfall trail produced almost nothing,
just a couple of Streaked Bulbuls and a perched Whiskered Treeswift.
The incredibly low levels of activity were hard to explain particularly
as at this time of the year birds are breeding and are usually vocal.
There was a flypast of a Blue-banded Kingfisher as well as a brief
view of one perched but as the birding was so unrewarding I decided
to move on to Phang Nga mangroves to look for some specialities there.
On the way towards Phang Nga Bay I made a quick stop on a bridge over
a river on highway 4090 to Kapong where River Lapwing is a resident
species. Within seconds I spotted 5 birds and a little more searching
turned up Grey Plover, Common Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper and Common
Sandpiper while a Brahminy Kite soaring close to the bridge was very
Continuing to Phang Nga a late afternoon session around Phang Nga
Bay National Park HQ was rewarding with the main target species, Mangrove
Pitta, found without much trouble at all. The mature mangroves in
this area make it quite easy to see into the vegetation and spot calling
Pittas. Other good sightings included a pair of Black-and-red Broadbills,
2 Chestnut-bellied Malkohas, a female Streak-breasted Woodpecker,
Ashy Tailorbird, a Blue Rockthrush of the resident subspecies madoci,
a superb Brown-winged Kingfisher as well as Asian Glossy Starling
and Rufous-bellied Swallow at the hotel.
April - Phang Nga Mangroves & Krabi
With the hotel right among the mangroves a short session in
the same place as the previous afternoon seemed sensible. Parking
in the national park HQ two pairs of Black-and-red Broadbills
showed themselves along with a couple of Black-naped Orioles
and a pair of Olive-winged Bulbuls. A little walk along the
road turned up an adult White-chested Babbler feeding two noisy
young. The young birds were quite strange, stretching their
necks up vertically when begging for food, distorting their
shape quite dramatically. After this I wanted to check out the
mangroves at Ban Bang Phut a short drive away, where there is
a walkway through the mangroves. A walk here became rather hot
but was quite productive with a pair of Copper-throated Sunbirds,
several Mangrove Whistlers, Golden-bellied Gerygones, a Common
Iora, 1 Brown-winged Kingfisher and some Oriental White-eyes.
Collared Kingfisher was also common here although not seen at
Phang Nga national park HQ.
On the drive out of this area I scanned the wires for Jungle
Myna, finding one about halfway back to the main road.
(Photo by Nick
this it was an hour and a half to Krabi and a night at the Maritime
Resort. This was an unplanned stop so I decided to check out a few
spots around Krabi that I had not visited for some time - Ban Nai
Chong Forest Fragment and Hat Nopparat Thara.
Although the forest at Ban Nai Chong is a shadow of its former self
there seems to be enough habitat for a few decent and, indeed, a few
years ago I had seen Black-throated Babbler, Banded Kingfisher, Black-and-yellow
Broadbill, White-bellied Munia and Streaked Wren Babbler there. However,
on this occasion things were extremely quiet with just a few Pin-striped
Tit Babblers, an Amur Paradise-flycatcher, a couple of Olive-winged
Bulbuls, Black-headed Bulbul and 2 Red-throated Barbets.
Moving on to Hat Nopparat Thara I was hoping for Pale-capped Pigeon,
a rare bird that I had seen at this spot twice, in April, in previous
years. However, in the past some offshore islands were only accessible
at very low tides but now a permanent causeway has been built out
of dredged sand, increasing the amount of human disturbance and no
pigeons showed themselves, despite waiting until gone 6pm. The only
birds seen were 1 Pacific Reef Egret, a distant White-bellied Sea
Eagle, several Greater Sand Plovers, Collared Kingfishers, 1 Common
Sandpiper, 1 Blue Rockthrush and a few Brahminy Kites.
April - Ban Nai Chong & Krung Ching
After a nice breakfast it seemed like Ban Nai Chong would be
worth checking out again despite it being very quiet yesterday.
Unfortunately it did not turn out to be any different with only
brief sightings of a few common species and a Siberian Blue
Robin as well as a Raffle's Malkoha. The extremely hot weather
would seem to play a role in the total lack of activity here
but the habitat fragment is surely too small to support populations
of most species now.
The drive from Krabi to Krung Ching took four hours and after
checking in at my accommodation I went straight into the HQ
area. Even in the heat at around 3pm there were 3 Sooty Barbets,
a male Greater Green Leafbird, several Orange-bellied Flowerpeckers
and a male Ruby-cheeked Sunbird feeding on flowering trees in
the campsite. However, I had decided to look for harder-to-see
species along the trail to the waterfall so that is where I
spent the bulk of the rest of the afternoon.
The trail at Krung Ching is sealed in concrete for part of the
way and can be quite slippery in wet conditions. On this visit
there had been no rain so it was not slippery but the very steep
part, around 700 metres in, is really hard to negotiate in the
hot, humid conditions and potentially dangerous for those not
in good health or with any mobility limitations. Birding was
predictably slow at this time of day but over the course of
the afternoon I saw Chestnut-winged and Moustached Babblers,
a single Blyth's Paradise-flycatcher, 2 Raffles' Malkohas, a
close-encounter with a Maroon Woodpecker and superb views of
3 different male Scarlet-rumped Trogons. As the afternoon wore
on birds began to call and a Banded Kingfisher showed itself
as well as one of four calling Red-bearded Bee-eaters; these
birds were to be heard calling every day of my stay here.
made it out of the trail in time for a short walk along the access
road where I saw some of the common Bulbuls of the south, Cream-vented,
Red-eyed and Spectacled, as well as hearing a Green Broadbill call
from thick foliage. A quick burst of call playback lured this amazing
bird out into the open, what a stunning creature!
10th April - Krung Ching
Early morning birding was spent along the access road to the HQ. At
first things were quiet but as it warmed up more birds became active.
Particularly nice were a pair of Grey-and-buff Woodpeckers tapping
away on a dead snag which were then joined by 2 Vernal Hanging Parrots.
A Rufous-tailed Tailorbird showed itself and both Yellow-eared and
Spectacled Spiderhunters perched out in the open for a brief time
before I located a singing Dark-throated Oriole - quiet a complex
song but unmistakeably the song of an Oriole. Black-and-yellow Broadbill
is always a great bird and one perched close by, eating a large insect
before launching into its crazy call although a Banded Woodpecker
made a lot of noise but refused to come into the open.
By about 8.30am I decided to walk along the waterfall trail, armed
with plenty of water and a packed lunch. Walking up the steep part
of the trail was something of a toil but resulted in some excellent
sightings, not least that a Leopard Cat strolling along just feet
away from me as it concentrated on its prey. Bird sightings were good
too with a small party of Grey-headed Babblers, a skulking Red-legged
Crake and a real surprise - a Scaly Thrush foraging in the undergrowth.
On looking at the field guide I found that there was a small dot for
Scaly Thrush in the region of Krung Ching but I doubt that sightings
are made very often at all, I certainly have never heard of one until
now. Birding along the trail for the rest of the day was certainly
not easy and despite much effort, there was no sign of Rail Babbler,
one of the key species here, although I did hear a Great Argus calling
repeatedly not far away but searching for it through thick forest
was not an option; it is really easy to get lost in this environment.
Slow walking and patience turned up some nice birds with a pair of
Short-tailed Babblers, a family group of Green Broadbills, a few male
Rufous-winged Philentomas, another male Scarlet-rumped Trogon, Grey-cheeked
Bulbul, Yellow-bellied Bulbul, a pair of Buff-rumped Woodpeckers,
Red-throated Barbet and lots of Moustached Babblers. At times the
lack of activity and humidity was difficult to deal with but a sighting
of Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo reminded me that persistence usually pays
off. An Indian Cuckoo was another nice distraction and a male Orange-breasted
Trogon just after my lunch stop was like a jewel in the dark forest
but it was nice to go back to my room for a few hours to cool off
and rest between 2-4pm.
In the late afternoon I explored a trail that heads into the forest,
along an old road, from the helicopter pad along the access road.
Things were quiet but again with patience I turned up some good sightings
including 5 Dusky Broadbills, a Banded Broadbill and a really close-up
sighting of a Southern White-crowned Forktail. This latter species
is not split by all authorities but the dramatic difference in size
from its northern relation suggests that it may be a full species.
Dinner and bed were welcome after a long and tiring day.
Drongo and a couple
of Taiga Flycatchers. Resident birds were quite active too with a
group of 7 Blue-throated Bee-eaters catching insects over an open
area - the only individuals of this species seen on this trip.
April - Krung Ching & Laem Thalamphuk
For my final morning at Krung Ching I began along the access
road where a Banded Broadbill showed itself well before a Banded
Bay Cuckoo revealed itself. A few other species included Green
Iora, Large Woodshrike and Asian Drongo Cuckoo, but I was keen
to go along the trail again. A couple of Wallace's Hawk Eagles
were noisliy displaying to each other along with many small
birds mobbing them, making it easy for me to spot them in the
mid canopy of the forest. Amazingly another male Scarlet-rumped
Trogon sat out in the open for me, meaning that I had seen more
of these birds in the last 3 days than I had in the previous
15 years! Most of the remaining birds I saw were the same commoner
species from before but I also added a nice Red-billed Malkoha
to my list of sightings as well as some more Green Broadbills.
After a shower and lunch I began on my way to Laem Thalampuk,
to look for Pied Triller. The journey took around 2 hours and
on arrival it was very hot with little bird activity. However,
as the afternoon drew on I found a few interesting migrants
including a Ferruginous Flycatcher, a Crow-billed
(Photo by Nick
Gerygone, Malaysian Pied Fantail, Collared Kingfisher and Common Tailorbird
were very common and I also saw several Mangrove Whistlers and Ashy
Tailorbirds in a short walk around the HQ area within the casuarina
woodland while at the tip of the spit there were large numbers of
terns including around 12 Caspian Terns, c200 Whiskered Terns and
perhaps as many as 20 White-winged Black Terns. I searched some other
areas of casuarina but was unable to find any Pied Trillers which
was surprising as on a previous visit I had found them very easily.
Around 30 minutes away in the town of Nakorn Sri Thammarat I found
a nice hotel and dinner.
12th April - Laem Thalamphuk & Wang Tai Nan Waterfall
The next morning I drove back to Laem Thalamphuk to look again for
Pied Triller but it proved elusive. However I did locate a Chestnut-winged
Cuckoo, 2 singing Arctic Warblers, 1 Brown Shrike and a single Tiger
Shrike. I saw most of the same species from the previous afternoon
too but also added Common Flameback, Dark-necked Tailorbird, Oriental
White-eye, Yellow Bittern and Yellow-vented Bulbul to the species
at this location. After much searching I finally found a male Pied
Triller but did not manage to watch it for very long before losing
it - a lot of searching for a very short view. On my way towards my
next destination, Satun, I saw a few species in surrounding wetlands
that I had not seen elsewhere; Black-winged Stilt, Lesser Whistling
Duck, Intermediate Egret and Asian Openbill.
The journey to Satun only took about 3 hours and after checking into
the hotel I headed straight towards Wang Tai Nan waterfall. This is
a seldom-visited location and somewhere I had never been to before
so I was not sure what to expect. I had been told that there was a
trail through good lowland forest to a waterfall but I had no idea
how long the trail was and locating the right place could be tricky.
However, by following the signs to Phu Pha Phet Cave I was taken all
the way from Satun town to within a kilometre of my destination. About
1km before reaching Phu Pha Phet Cave there was a sing in yellow Thai
script to Wang Tai Nan ranger substation and a drive of about 1km
long dirt roads got me to the trail head at two disused buildings.
From Satun to the trail had taken around 1.5 hours, rather too far
to be convenient but I had chosen to stay in Satun for flexibility
(not knowing what Wang Tai Nan might be like) so that I could split
my time between several sites. The trail turned out to be easy to
walk on, mostly flat, through excellent lowland forest, surely one
of the last peices of remaining lowland forest in Thailand, although
in the late afternoon it was really quiet. Even then I was able to
find Moustached Babbler, Chestnut-naped Forktail, Malayan Banded Pitta
and Green Braodbill although almost nothing else. As I was one my
way out of the trail I was alerted to a buzzing bird call above me
which turned out to be Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker, an extremely
range-restricted bird in Thailand and one of my target species here.
An excellent result before heading back to Satun.
13th April - Wang Tai Nan Waterfall & Satun Mangroves
In the early morning it took a little over an hour to reach the head
of the trail at Wang Tai Nan from Satun town. I spent half an hour
in a clearing at the trail head hoping to see some activity but apart
from several Black-headed Bulbuls, 1 Hairy-backed Bulbul, 1 Lesser
Green Leafbird and 2 Banded Broadbills there was not much action so
I started off down the trail.
Walking very slowly along the trail, listening for movements in the
undergrowth, I soon came across a male Malayan Banded Pitta quickly
followed by an inquisitive Green Broadbill. Very shortly after that
I heard the call of some Woodpeckers which did not take long to locate
and proved to be a pair of Buff-necked Woodpeckers - a nice start
to the day! However, the remainder of the morning turned out to be
difficult birding with birds turning up in ones and twos through a
tiring 4km walk to the waterfall and back. 2 Olive-backed Woodpeckers
were a highlight as well as 2 more Malayan Banded Pittas and a Chestnut-naped
Forktail while at the waterfall itself was a Ferruginous Flycatcher.
Throughout the morning I came across a single Short-tailed Babbler,
several groups of White-bellied Erpornis, the only Asian Fairy Bluebird
of the trip, Moustached Babbler, Chestnut-winged Babbler, a female
Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker and several of the commoner Bulbuls.
Although the habitat seemed excellent the bird abundance was very
low indicating that perhaps hunting is a problem here. On the way
back I did locate a flock of 5 Bushy-crested Hornbills but by the
time I got back to the car I was very hot and tired with just enough
energy to spot a couple of male and one female Yellow-rumped Flycatchers.
like a change of scenery I drove back to Satun, stopping briefly
at Nong Plak Phra Ya Non-hunting area where waterbirds included
several Purple Herons, 10+ Purple (Black-backed) Swamphens,
a small flock of Lesser Whistling Ducks and some Asian Openbills.
My main destination was the mangroves just outside of Satun
and I arrived there at around 4pm, still a little hot but a
quick stop at the mangrove research station was productive with
several small birds bathing in a small pool of water - Oriental
White-eye, 1 Cinereous Tit and a pair of Copper-throated Sunbirds.
I investigated the mangrove boardwalk which begins at Tammalang
pier but at this time of day it was busy with noisy tourists
and an area that had been formerly secluded had now been developed
into a concrete platform so birding did not seem like it would
be rewarding. With this in mind I went back to the mangrove
research area where I immediately heard a Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker
call and tracked it down within a few seconds. This is one of
the main targets in this area and the only known site for this
species in Thailand so it was very nice to find it and a little
surprising to find it on exactly the same tree as I had seen
it two years previously.
Copper-throated Sunbird (female)
(Photo by Nick
this success I drove two a small patch of mangrove/plantation at the
back of the hotel I was staying in to see if anything interesting
came in to roost in the area. Apart from large numbers of Pale-rumped
Swiftlets there was very little until I heard a Ruddy Kingfisher calling;
a little mimicking of the call and two of these beautiful Kingfishers
came into view for a very nice end to the day.
14th April - Wang Tai Nan Waterfall & Satun Mangroves
With the habitat at Wang Tai Nan being so good and the potential for
rare species being high, I made another trip to walk the trail again
in the early morning. Things were similarly difficult but once again
Malayan Banded Pitta and Green Broadbill were keen to show themselves.
In a small fruiting tree I saw a small group of Red-throated Barbets
along with a single Dusky Langur and a Prevost's Squirrel, one of
the most colourful squirrels I have ever seen. A Hooded Pitta foraging
in a small stream bed was a nice sighting and after some effort I
finally tracked down a calling White-crowned Hornbill, surely one
of the craziest looking birds in Thailand. Rufous-winged Philemtoma
was a nice sighting and a few other birds I added to my list included
Chestnut-breasted Malkoha, Brown-streaked Flycatcher and Buff-vented
Bulbul but overall things were slow and as I was tired I made an early
retreat to my hotel.
However, in the late afternoon I made another trip to the nearby mangroves,
hoping to find Mangrove Blue Flycatcher. This species has very seldom
been seen at this location, most Thai birders who want to see this
bird make a somewhat dangerous trip to Yaring mangroves in Pattani
province where there are frequent bombings and shootings. I found
a short piece of road through the mangroves to a small fishing village
and slowly walked up and down, finding Ashy Tailorbird and 2 calling
Mangrove Pittas as well as Collared Kingfisher, Malaysian Pied Fantail
and a single Cinereous Tit. After about 40 minutes I heard a faint
sound which was reminiscent of a Cyornis flycatcher so played
the call a little, receiving a longer answer to confirm my suspicions.
As it was some way into the mangroves I entered the area (fortunately
it was low tide) to get closer and it did not take long before the
bird came into view. It was a female Mangrove Blue Flycatcher, easy
to identify with the white spot above the base of the bill, and it
gave me plenty of opportunity to watch it catch prey. Only my second
lifer of the trip and very satisfying - I headed back for a shower
April - Thalebun National Park & Satun Airfield
I had arranged for a ranger to take me into a restricted area
to look for Dusky Eagle Owl, an extremely rare and localised
resident species in Thailand, but before my appointment I had
time for some birding around the headquarters of Thalebun National
Park. Arriving early I was waved in without paying the entry
fee by the security guard but later I was asked to pay. Several
fruiting trees at the car park provided easy birding with 3
Blue-crowned Hanging Parrots being an excellent sighting. Lots
of Black-headed, Red-eyed, Streaked and Spectacled Bulbuls were
feeding too along with Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker, Spectacled
Spiderhunter and a couple of Sooty Barbets. Standing and watching
the activity around a fruiting tree can be rewarding and a short
wait turned up a couple of Yellow-rumped Flycatchers and a female
Mugimaki Flycatcher while overhead a group of 8 Grey-rumped
Treeswifts were busy hunting.
A walk along the nature trail revealed 2 Blue-winged Pittas
as well as 2 Hooded Pittas and a pair of Rufous Woodpeckers
although not much else until another fruiting tree with much
the same species as I had seen at the first one. At 9am it was
time for my appointment with the ranger and together we drove
to the Wang Pra grassland ranger station followed by a hot walk
through very stunted and dry-looking forest. On reaching the
known area for the Dusky Eagle Owl my ranger proceeded to look
for the birds but after much hunting and checking all the established
roost spots we failed to locate them! In the heat of the day
in this open habitat there were very few birds, just Brown Shrike,
Greater Green Leafbird and Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, although
the walk back gave us incredibly close-up and lengthy views
of Black-capped Babbler. It was a shame to miss the owl, particularly
as I was told that there was an 80% success rate but I will
just have to go back some time. For those wishing to look for
themselves, contact ranger Boonrit - 0845874120. I spent some
more time around the park HQ finding Tiger Shrike and Forest
Wagtail but with it being so hot I jumped back into the car
and headed back to Satun.
Several kilometres before reaching Satun there is an old airfield
that appears to be disused but kept prepared perhaps for emergencies.
I spent the late afternoon looking around the adjacent areas
of this airfield hoping that perhaps some of the rarer Green
Pigeons might use the scrappy woodland nearby, in particular
I was hoping for Little Green Pigeon. Although I failed to find
this bird it still looks a potential site for it, particularly
as I did see Pink-necked Green Pigeon there. A few open country
species I saw at the airfield and nowhere else included Asian
Pied Myna, Oriental Pratincole, Paddyfield Pipit, Red-wattled
Lapwing and Grey Heron. I also came across several groups of
Jungle Myna, the largest being 9 birds together. This species
seems to be becoming increasingly scarce in Thailand so these
sightings may be more significant than they would have been
in the past.
Watching Trips In Southern Thailand:
Birding in Southern Thailand can
be difficult but the rewards can be great with a
great many fantastic
to search for. By visiting a number of sites over
the course of 8-14 days it is possible to build
up an exciting list of sightings.
Contact me to arrange a trip and/or to discuss the
best birdwatching options for you: firstname.lastname@example.org
April - Wang Tai Nan Waterfall - Trang Botanical Gardens
A final morning along the trail at Wang Tai Nan provided further difficult
birding; if anything it was even quieter than on the previous visits.
However, once again there were easy sightings of Malayan Banded Pitta
and Hooded Pitta to enjoy although seeing anything else proved to
be almost impossible. Surprisingly there was a group of local Thais
going up and down the trail on motorbikes, taking their things out
after spending a night camping. From the things they had with them
it seemed as if they had been poaching, although it may have been
as innocent as a simple fishing trip. However, a group of 6 Sakai
aboriginal men with blowpipes were definitely on a hunting trip and
this may explain why although the habitat at this location is exceptional,
there seemed to be a very low abundance of birds, although it may
be also explained by the very hot conditions. As it was beginning
to look like a fruitless morning a couple of Banded Woodpeckers began
to call but before I was able to locate them I also heard the very
loud call of a Diard's Trogon back down the trail. It did not take
long to locate a stunning male and soon after the female joined him.
I was able to watch these birds for some time as they called to each
other and as this was only the second time I have seen this species,
the sighting was very special.
This was the last species I saw at Wang Tai Nan before beginning the
journey back home but as I was passing Trang Botanical Gardens I decided
to make a stop there. Unfortunately the midday heat was at its worst
but it was interesting to see even at this time of day the abundance
of common species was quite good; this being a place with no hunting
taking place. Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Orange-bellied Flowerpecker,
Red-eyed Bulbul and Thick-billed Pigeon among others, were feeding
on a fruiting tree and I got lucky with first 2 Red-throated Barbets
then a Red-crowned Barbet feeding on the same fruit. This latter species
is almost extinct in Thailand due to the almost complete loss of its
lowland forest habitat and Trang Botanical Gardens is one of the few
sites remaining where this bird can be seen. I was very lucky to see
it in the middle of the day, mornings would be better. A calling Blue-winged
Pitta was easy to see and finally a Banded Woodpecker reacted to call
playback to give me a nice view before the journey back home drew
Although birding was consistently harder than in other parts of Thailand,
with patience and persistence, coupled with visiting a number of birding
sites, it was possible to build up a long list of excellent sightings
and see many of the species which are restricted to the south. 4 species
of Pitta, 11 species of Woodpecker, 7 species of Kingfisher, 3 species
of Trogon, 5 species of Broadbill, scarce birds such as Pied Triller,
Red-crowned Barbet, Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, Mangrove Blue Flycatcher,
Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot, White-crowned Hornbill, Scarlet-breasted
Flowerpecker, Wallace's Hawk Eagle, Chestnut-bellied Malkoha
and Grey-tailed Tattler all demonstrate that a lot of excellent birds
can be found given time, local knowledge and knowledge of bird calls.
list with notes
names and taxonomic order used here are those from the official Thai
bird checklist issued by the Thai records committee.
Sri Phang Nga National Park: SPN
Phang Nga National Park: PN
Bang Phut Mangroves: BP
Kapong Bridge: KB
Hat Nopharat Thara: HNT
Ban Nai Chong Forest Fragment: BNC
Krung Ching Waterfall: KC
| Laem Thalamphuk:
Wang Tai Nan Waterfall: WTN
Satun Mangroves: SM
Nong Pluk Praya: NPP
Thalebun National Park: TB
Satun Airfield: SA
Trang Botanical Gardens: TBG
Lesser Whistling Duck: A few at LT
2. Asian Openbill: A
few near LT.
3. Yellow Bittern: 1 at
4. Striated Heron: LP, SPN,
5. Chinese Pond Heron: LP,
SPN, PN, LT, SM & TBG.
6. Javan Pond Heron: A few
at LT & BP.
7. Eastern Cattle Egret:
A few here and there.
8. Grey Heron: 1 at SA.
9. Purple Heron: A few at
10. (Eastern) Great Egret:
A few at most wetland sites.
11. Intermediate Egret: 2
12. Little Egret: Common
in suitable habitat.
13. Pacific Reef Egret: A
few at LP & HNT.
14. Little Cormorant: A few
in all suitable habitats.
15. Western Osprey: 1 at
16. Black-winged Kite: 1
17. Crested Serpent Eagle: KC,
WTN & TB.
18. Wallace's Hawk Eagle: 1
at SPN & 2 at KC.
19. Shikra: 1 at WTN.
20. Brahminy Kite: Common
in coastal areas.
21. White-bellied Sea Eagle: 1
distant bird at HNT.
22. Red-legged Crake: 1
23. White-breasted Waterhen:
A few at LT.
24. Purple (Black-backed) Swamphen: a10
25. Black-winged Stilt: A
few at LT.
26. River Lapwing: 5 at KB.
27. Red-wattled Lapwing: 1
28. Pacific Golden Plover: 2
29. Grey Plover: 5 at LT
& 1 at KB.
30. Malaysian Plover: 1m
31. Lesser Sand Plover: LP.
32. Greater Sand Plover: LT
33. Bar-tailed Godwit: 3
34. Whimbrel: a40 at LP.
35. Eurasian Curlew: 1 at
36. Common Greenshank: 1
37. Wood Sandpiper: 1 at
38. Grey-tailed Tattler: 1
39. Terek Sandpiper: Many
40. Common Sandpiper: LP
41. Ruddy Turnstone: c30
42. Sanderling: A few at
43. Red-necked Stint: c70
44. Ruff: 1 at LP.
45. Oriental Pratincole: 2
46. Caspian Tern: 12 at LT.
47. Lesser Cested Tern: c15
48. Little Tern: c25 at LP
& c60 at LT.
49. Whiskered Tern: c200
50. White-winged Black Tern: c20
51. Feral Pigeon
52. Red Collared Dove: 4
53. Spotted Dove: Common
in open country.
54. Common Emerald Dove: SPN,
KC & WTN.
55. Zebra Dove: A few in
56. Pink-necked Green Pigeon: 1m
57. Thick-billed Green Pigeon: A
few at SPN, KC, HTN & TBG.
58. Greater Coucal: Several
at LT & SM.
59. Raffle's Malkoha: 3 at
SPN; a few at KC; 2 at WTN.
60. Red-billed Malkoha: 1
61. Chestnut-breasted Malkoha: 2
62. Chestnut-bellied Malkoha: 2
63. Asian Koel: 1m &
1f at SA.
64. Violet Cuckoo: Calling
male in flight at SPN, KC & WTN.
65. Banded Bay Cuckoo: 1
at KC & 1 at WTN.
66. Plaintive Cuckoo: 1m
at Maritime Resort, Krabi.
67. Asian Drongo Cuckoo: 1
68. Malaysian Hawk Cuckoo: 1
69. Indian Cuckoo: 1 at KC.
70. Great Eared Nightjar: 1
at Maritime Resort, Krabi.
71. Grey-rumped Treeswift: 8
72. Whiskered Treeswift: 1
73. Pale-rumped (Germain's) Swiftlet: Most
74. Silver-rumped Needletail: A
few at SPN, KC, WTN & TB.
75. Asian Palm Swift: SPN.
76. House Swift: 2 at PN.
77. Scarlet-rumped Trogon: 3m
78. Diard's Trogon: 1m &
1f at WTN.
79. Orange-breasted Trogon: 1m
80. Indian Roller: A few
81. Oriental Dollarbird: 1
82. Banded Kingfisher: 1
at KC; heard on a daily basis at KC & WTN.
83. Brown-winged Kingfisher: 1
at PN & 1 at BP.
84. Ruddy Kingfisher: 2 at
85. White-throated Kingfisher: 1
at BNC, 1 at TB.
86. Collared Kingfisher: Common
at BP, HNT, LT & SM.
87. Blue-banded Kingfisher: 2
88. Blue-eared Kingfisher: 1
89. Red-bearded Bee-eater: 1
at KC & 1 at WTN.
90. Blue-throated Bee-eater: c10
91. White-crowned Hornbill: 1
92. Great Hornbill: 1 at
93. Bushy-crested Hornbill: 5
94. Gold-whiskered Barbet: 1
at SPN & 1 at KC.
95. Red-crowned Barbet: 1
96. Red-throated Barbet: 2
at BNC; 1 at KC; 4 at WTN; 2 at TB.
97. Blue-eared Barbet: 2
at SPN; heard in all forests.
98. Coppersmith Barbet: 1
at SPN; 1 at SA.
99. Sooty (Brown) Barbet: 3
at KC & 3 at TB.
100. Rufous Piculet: 1 at
101. Grey-and-buff Woodpecker: 2
102. Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker: 1
103. Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker: 1
104. Banded Woodpecker: 1
105. Streak-breasted Woodpecker: 1f
106. Olive-backed Woodpecker: 2
107. Common Flameback: 1m
108. Maroon Woodpecker: 1
109. Rufous Woodpecker: 1
at KC & 2 at TB.
110. Buff-rumped Woodpecker: 2
at KC; 2 at WTN & 2 at TB.
111. Buff-necked Woodpecker: 4
112. Vernal Hanging Parrot: 2
113. Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot:
3 at TB.
114. Green Broadbill: Numerous
birds at KC & WTN.
115. Black-and-red Broadbill: 2
pairs at PN.
116. Banded Broadbill: 1
at KC & 2 at WTN.
117. Black-and-yellow Broadbill: Seen
and heard at all forest sites.
118. Dusky Broadbill: 5 at
119. Malayan Banded Pitta:
2m at SPN; 3m at WTN & 1m at TB.
120. Hooded Pitta:
2 at WTN & 2 at TB.
Blue-winged Pitta: 2 at TB &
1 at TBG.
122. Mangrove Pitta: 2
at PN & 2 at SM.
123. Golden-bellied Gerygone: BP,
124. Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike: A
few at KC, WTN & TB.
125. Large Woodshrike: 1
at KC & 1 at WTN.
126. Rufous-winged Philentoma: A
few at KC, WTN & TB.
127. Common Iora: 1 at BP;
2 at SM.
128. Green Iora: 2 at KC;
2 at WTN & 2 at TB.
129. Great Iora: 2 at KC.
130. Lesser Cuckooshrike: 1
at KC; 1 at TB.
131. Ashy Minivet: 2 at LT.
132. Scarlet Minivet: 2 at
133. Mangrove Whistler: A
few at BP & LT.
134. Tiger Shrike: 1 at LT
& 1 at TB.
135. Brown Shrike: Singles
at PN, BP, LT & TB.
136. White-bellied Erpornis: Several
at KC & WTN.
137. Dark-throated Oriole: A
few at KC.
138. Black-naped Oriole: 2
139. Black Drongo: 1 at PN.
140. Ashy Drongo: Singles
at BP & LT.
141. Crow-billed Drongo: 2
at SPN & 1 at LT.
142. Bronzed Drongo: 2 at
143. Greater Racket-tailed Drongo: 1
at KC; 3 at TBG.
144. Malaysian Pied Fantail: BP,
145. Black-naped Monarch: 1m
& 1j at KC.
146. Blyth's Paradise-flycatcher: 2
at KC & 1 at WTN.
147. Amur Paradise-flycatcher:
2 at BNC; 1 at WTN.
148. Large-billed Crow: Several
in mangrove areas.
149. Sultan Tit: 2 at KC.
150. Cinereous Tit: 2 at
151. Black-headed Bulbul: SPN,
KC, WTN, TB & TBG.
152. Black-crested Bulbul: SPN,
KC, TB & TBG.
153. Scaly-breasted Bulbul: 1
154. Grey-bellied Bulbul: 2
155. Stripe-throated Bulbul: A
few at SPN.
156. Yellow-vented Bulbul: A
few at LT.
157. Olive-winged Bulbul: 2
at PN, 3 at BNC, 2 at TBG.
158. Streak-eared Bulbul: 2
159. Cream-vented Bulbul: SPN,
KC, WTN & TB.
160. Red-eyed Bulbul: SPN,
KC, WTN, TB & TBG.
161. Spectacled Bulbul: SPN,
KC, WTN & TB.
162. Ochraceous Bulbul: SPN
163. Grey-cheeked Bulbul: 1
at KC, 1 at WTN & 1 at TB.
164. Yellow-bllied Bulbul: 1
165. Hairy-backed Bulbul: A
few at SPN, KC, WTN & TB.
166. Grey-eyed Bulbul: A
few at SPN.
167. Buff-vented Bulbul: 1
at WTN & 1 at TB.
168. Streaked Bulbul: SPN,
KC, WTN & TB.
169. Barn Swallow: A few
170. Pacific Swallow: All
171. Rufous-bellied Swallow: PN
172. Yellow-bellied Warbler: A
few at SPN & KC.
173. Arctic Warbler: SPN,
BP, KC, LT, TB & TBG.
174. Eastern Crowned Warbler: 1
at SPN & 1 at WTN.
175. Yellow-bellied Prinia:
1 at LT.
176. Common Tailorbird: A
few in gardens and open areas.
177. Dark-necked Tailorbird: 2
178. Rufous-tailed Tailorbird: 1
at KC, heard at WTN & TB.
179. Ashy Tailorbird: 1 at
PN; a few at LT; 1 at SM.
180. Grey-headed Babbler: Several
groups at KC.
181. Chestnut-winged Babbler: SPN,
BNC, KC, WTN & TB.
182. Rufous-fronted Babbler: A
few at SPN.
183. Pin-striped Tit Babbler: SPN,
BNC, KC, WTN, TB & TBG.
184. Brown-cheeked Fulvetta: A
few at SPN.
185. Abbott's Babbler: 1
at SPN; 1 at TB.
186. Short-tailed Babbler: 2
at KC; 1 at WTN.
187. Moustached Babbler: KC,
WTN & TB.
188. White-chested Babbler: 3
at PN; 1 at WTN.
189. Puff-throated Babbler: 1
190. Black-capped Babbler: 2
191. Oriental White-eye: A
few at BP & SM.
192. Asian Fairy Bluebird: 1f
193. Asian Glossy Starling: PN
& Satun town.
194. White-vented Myna: A
few at SM & SA.
195. Jungle Myna: 1 at BP
& 11 at SA.
196. Common Myna: All open
197. Asian Pied Myna: 5 at
198. Oriental Magpie Robin: All
open areas & mangroves.
199. White-rumped Shama: 1m
& 1f at KC.
200. Asian Brown Flycatcher: All
201. Brown-streaked Flycatcher: A
few at WTN & TB.
202. Ferruginous Flycatcher: 1
at LT & 1 at WTN.
203. Mangrove Blue Flycatcher: 1f
204. Chinese Blue Flycatcher: 1m
205. Verditer Flycatcher: 1
at KC; 1 at TB.
206. Siberian Blue Robin: A
few at SPN, KC, WTN , TB & TBG.
207. Chestnut-naped Forktail: 3
at SPN; 2 at WTN.
208. Southern White-crowned Forktail: 1
209. Yellow-rumped Flycatcher: 2m
1f at SPn; 3m 1f at WTN; 2m 1f at TB.
210. Mugimaki Flycatcher: 1f
211. Taiga Flycatcher: 1
at SPN; a few at LT.
212. Blue Rockthrush: 1 at
SPN; 1 at HNT.
213. White-throated Rockthrush: 1m
214. Greater Green Leafbird: 1m
at KC; 2 at TB.
215. Lesser Green Leafbird: A
few at SPN, KC, WTN, TB & TBG.
216. Blue-winged Leafbird: Pairs
at SPN & TB.
217. Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker: A
few at SPN, KC & TB.
218. Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker: A
few at SPN, KC & TB.
219. Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker: 2m
& 1f at WTN.
220. Thick-billed Flowerpecker: 1
221. Yellow-vented Flowerpecker: 1
at KC; 2 at TB.
222. Orange-bellied Flowerpecker: SPN,
KC, WTN, TB & TBG.
223. Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker: A
few at SPN & TBG.
224. Ruby-cheeked Sunbird: KC,
LT & TBG.
225. Plain Sunbird: 1 at
SPN; 1 at KC; 1 at TB.
226. Brown-throated Sunbird: All
227. Purple-naped Sunbird: KC,
WTN & TB.
228. Copper-throated Sunbird: Several
at BP & SM.
229. Olive-backed Sunbird: A
few at SPN & LT.
230. Crimson Sunbird: 1m
at SPN; 1m at TBG.
231. Little Spiderhunter: A
few at SPN, KC, WTN & TB.
232. Spectacled Spiderhunter: 1
at KC; 1 at TB.
233. Yellow-eared Spiderhunter: 1
234. Grey-breasted Spiderhunter: 1
235. Eurasian Tree Sparrow: All
open and urban areas.
236. Scaly-breasted Munia: A
few at SA.
237. Forest Wagtail: 2 at
SPN; 1 at KC; 1 at LT: 2 at TB.
238. Grey Wagtail: 1 at Kuraburi
239. Paddyfield Pipit: 2
Common Treeshrew: At most forest sites.
2. Long-tailed Macaque: Satun.
3. Dusky Langur: 1 at WTN.
4. White-handed Gibbon: 1 at
5. Black Giant Squirrel: 1
6. Plantain Squirrel: At most
8. Prevost's Squirrel: 1
9. Horse-tailed Squirrel: KC, WTN TB.
10. Low's Squirrel: KC.
11. Leopard Cat: 1 at KC.
Upton can be contacted at email@example.com
information on Sri Phang Nga
More information on Ao
Phang Nga National Park
More information on Laem
|More information on Hat Nopparat
information on Thalebun
More information on Satun
you are interested in arranging a bird watching tour you can see some
suggested itineraries here - Birdwatching
Trips - and you can contact me at the above email address to discuss
the best options.