3rd June - We arrived at Phuket airport in the
afternoon where we met with Tom and after a short drive we were
soon birding in an area at the northern edge of Khao Phra Teow NP.
Our brief stop in this spot produced Red-billed Malkoha, Yellow-breasted
Flowerpecker, Crimson Sunbird, Banded Bay Cuckoo and Spectacled
Bulbul amongst others. Not bad for a quick start but it was time
for our first real target for the trip. At the eastern edge of the
same NP we went to some rubber plantations at the forest edge. Soon
after dark we heard an Oriental Bay Owl and it didn’t took
us long before we got splendid looks in our spotlight. A Brown Hawk
Owl certainly was a nice extra to see on the way back to the car.
Dinner and the hotel for the night were in Phang-nga which was an
hour or so to drive.
June - All morning was spent birding at Tone Pariwat WS.
This is mainly (very productive!) roadside birding but also a short
trail to a waterfall where we got Chestnut-naped Forktail. Birds
seen from the road which has no traffic were ; a Black Eagle soaring
overhead, Whiskered Treeswifts on their usual dead sticks stake-out,
a whole lot of bulbuls with Scaly-breasted Bulbul the best and another
target species down. The Streaked Bulbul isn’t bad either
to see in the south as we learned from Tom. Brown Barbet, Crimson-breasted
Flowerpecker, Plain Sunbird, Blyth’s Hawk Eagle and Fiery
Minivet were all good finds while Silver-rumped Needletails came
by low enough for good views. A Blue-winged Pitta called somewhere
in the distance but we didn’t try to see it as it was far
up the hillside and Tom was pretty confident we would get it later
easily at other sites, and it was. A pair Lesser Treeshrew we spotted
by the roadside and White-handed Gibbons were heard singing. We
did very well at this site with the bird list at nearly 40 species
seen this morning, which is a high total for a morning in the forest
in southern Thailand.
We had a fairly
long drive in the afternoon heading north but we had some time for
a few stops that produced lovely River Lapwings. Bridled Tern and
White-bellied Sea Eagle showed at Laem
Pakarang. An Oriental Pied Hornbill was seen from the car as
it flew across the road some way north of Takua Pa town.
Arrived at Khlong
Naka WS in time to put up the tents while some Dusky Langurs showed
near the HQ. Got a Collared (or Sunda if you split) Scops Owl not
far from our tents later in the evening.
June - Up early for some less easy walking inclusive 3
river crossings, all worth it as we saw some top-birds inside this
reserve. Blue-banded Kingfisher was most important and it soon flew
by as we were knee-deep in the river and after some more walking
along the river we found it again, perched. Great Argus called all
the time but is apparently very hard to see here. Both Green Broadbill
and a female Banded Kingfisher were some very exciting birds to
see but the surprise came with stunning views of a party White-crowned
Hornbills taped in by Tom after he heard them pretty far off into
the forest. This got us up front with our target species as we had
not expected to get a chance to connect with White-crowns before
Khao Sok. Rufous-crowned
Babbler, Rufous-winged Philentoma and Bushy-crested Hornbill were
other goodies seen on the way back.
Our drive back
south produced a lone Hill Myna seen from the car in flight. Late
afternoon got us to Sri Phang-nga
NP but soon after arriving it started raining. We got a bungalow
instead of tents and some fine food could be found in the cafeteria.
We had planned some owling and spotlighting in the park for the
evening but with the rain we decided to give it a try before dawn.
June - Up at 3h30! for spotlighting along the track to
the waterfall in the park. Nothing happened for a while and it was
not before we almost got back at our bungalows that a Javan Frogmouth
was heard very close-by. Seconds later we got incredible looks at
this strange bird.
Food is only
served in the cafeteria by 9am so we had a snack on the campground
at first light, waiting for the pair Great Hornbill that appears
to fly overhead here every morning. It wasn’t long before
they whooshed over indeed. White-handed Gibbon was seen hanging
down for quiet a while from some branches before swinging away on
Back on the
waterfall track most notable species we saw were Drongo Cuckoo,
Hairy-backed Bulbul and Raffles’s Malkoha. Near the picnic
spot there’s some more open views and we now were able to
see a fantastic Helmeted Hornbill that had laughed at us before.
Back on the
campground we decided to spend some more time to scan the hillsides
and keep an eye on the air. Brown-backed Needletails and Grey-rumped
Treeswifts had to entertain us for an hour or so until our waiting
paid off with a nice Wallace’s Hawk Eagle flying over the
same way the Hornbills did this morning.
Time to move
on to Takua Pa where we had our lunch not before ticking off the
Jungle Myna’s that are resident in the town’s vicinity
but otherwise scarce in southern Thailand.
us arriving at Khao Sok NP.
An hour and some heavy rain later we set off on the track which
ends at a closed café. It’s amazing how rain can cool
down the air so much. Unfortunately it didn’t get the birds
very active again in the evening. Ferruginous Babbler and a few
Wreathed Hornbills made more than up for things being quiet otherwise.
At dusk 3 Asian Elephants crossed the track in front of us. We felt
uneasy with them so close but Tom told us they aren’t that
bad. “Just be quiet and keep a respectable distance and you’ll
be all right” sounded pretty self-assured and this gave us
confidence so we continued on. Spotlighting on the way back produced
a Colugo that was seen close up and a Bay Owl called in the distance.
June - All day at Khao Sok walking the track and trail
beyond in the morning. During some light rain at noon we had lunch
and some rest. We explored the trail which starts at the back of
the campground in the late afternoon.
included a fantastic male Rufous-collared Kingfisher on its stake-out
at dawn, both White-browed Piculet and Bamboo Woodpecker in the
bamboo area at the first part of the track, Grey-headed Fish Eagle
high above the river, Banded Pitta on the trail beyond the café
and 2 Hooded Pitta’s in the afternoon. Thick-billed and Grey-breasted
Spiderhunter and Great Iora were seen in the trees near the HQ.
Another spotlighting session in the evening got us 2 Three-striped
Palm Civets before rain forced us back to our bungalows.
June - Another morning on the wide track to the café
; Maroon Woodpecker, Short-tailed Babbler, Grey-bellied Bulbul,
Red-billed Malkoha, Black-and-yellow Broadbill and Green Iora to
name the best. Both Helmeted Hornbill and Great Argus were much
more active calling than they did yesterday.
In the afternoon
we visited Wat Bangriang, a temple and huge Buddha statue nicely
positioned on a hill overlooking the surrounding greenery. We could
agree indeed when Tom told us this must be the best temple in southern
Thailand, not only for it being very beautiful and in a superb location,
but also with some birds and Giant Black Squirrels of which we saw
4 thrown in. Nothing spectacular bird-wise but of note were Thick-billed
Pigeons, Blue-winged Leafbird, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Lesser Cuckoo-shrike
and Yellow-vented Flowerpecker. Black-and-yellow Broadbill was heard
only. We stayed for the night in Ao Luk, which is only a short drive
from the temple.
June - The morning saw us at the northern edge of Khao
Phanom Bencha NP in an area that was surprisingly active with birdlife.
In no time we got a decent list of birds inclusive 4 superb Dusky
Broadbills, easily crowned bird of the day. Other goodies were Black-bellied
Malkoha, Raffles’ Malkoha, Gold-whiskered Barbet, 5 Wreathed
Hornbills, Grey-bellied Bulbul, Green Broadbill and Black-capped
Babbler. A few of the commoner birds around in the area included
; Red-throated and Blue-eared Barbets, Greater Green Leafbird, Black-naped
Monarch, Silver-rumped Needletail, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Banded
Bay Cuckoo, Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker and Greater Racket-tailed
In the afternoon
we paid a short visit to Wat Tham Sua, not an especially nice temple
but an excellent place to see Streaked Wren Babbler, we saw 2 birds.
We left nearby
Krabi for what it is
as there’re no waders around in June and all of the mangrove
specialities were promised to be much easier (and cheaper-no boats
necessary) to get from the Phang-nga boardwalks. This proved to
be right again, as you can read further on. Instead we headed straight
for Khao Nor Chuchi and
our accommodation, complete with Blue-winged Pitta in the garden!
it was time for an important target species again and we got it
in no time ; White-fronted Scops Owl. We must have been lucky however
as usually it’s not that easy to see them.
A bit of spotlighting later in the forest produced a handsome Slow
– 13th June -our full days at Khao
Nor Chuchi is longer than most birders stay here but it’s
certainly worth it. For those with patience this reserve has a lot
to offer on top of Gurney’s Pitta. Additionally, with more
time one should be able to find his own GP without having to use
the services of Yothin, he’s expensive indeed!
all days separate and detailed isn’t useful really, so I’m
not. Days went like this ; up for breakfast before dawn and into
the forest at first light, lunch and a bit of rest at the resort,
birding the forest again in the afternoon. Of course we had to shelter
for rain a few times but it hasn’t been for long once so we
didn’t lose much birding time. We visited pretty much all
the usual trails and spots but we concentrated on B and C trail,
respectively the best trail to find Gurney’s and trail with
the best primary forest.Best
birds ; Gurney’s Pitta (male on B 11th and female near B-C
12th ), Blue-winged Pitta (easy in the Morakot resort garden), Orange-backed
Woodpecker (3 on trail R), Large Wren Babbler (B and N), Red-bearded
Bee-eater, White-fronted Scops Owl (see 9th ), Spotted Wood Owl
(daytime stake-out), Black-tighed Falconet (clearing beyond Emerald
Pool), Banded Kingfisher, Rufous-backed Kingfisher, Scarlet-rumped
Trogon, Dark-throated Oriole (all 4 on trail C), Black Magpie (trail
B), Collared (Sunda) Scops Owl (Morakot garden), Hooded Pitta (common
but hard to see here, better at Khao Sok), Asian Paradise Flycatcher
(white morph), Grey-cheeked Bulbul, Hairy-backed Bulbul, Puff-backed
Bulbul, Scaly-crowned Babbler, Chestnut-rumped Babbler, Ferruginous
Babbler, Black-capped Babbler, Sooty-capped Babbler, Short-tailed
Babbler, Moustached Babbler (Especially Babblers proved to be very
active in June, can be quiet in April I’ve heard, and oh we
got the common ones too, Puff-throated, Abbott’s, Chestnut-winged
and Grey-throated), Wreathed Hornbills (trail C), Brown Wood Owl
(heard only on H after dark), Spectacled Spiderhunter, Blyth’s
Hawk Eagle, Rufous Bellied Eagle, Great Eared Nightjar (Morakot
June - Our last morning at Khao Nor Chuchi. Birds have
been included above. We had a late lunch in Trang (excellent bakery
and fresh coffee!) before birding the nearby Peninsular Botanical
Garden. This site has a decent patch of primary rainforest complete
with canopy walkway and an excellent boardwalk through some swampy
forest. I can recommend a visit to this place as there’re
some quality birds around too.
we could catch up on Red-crowned Barbet that we had missed at KNC,
they seem so be common in the primary forest section of the gardens.
Banded Bay Cuckoo, Drongo Cuckoo, Large Woodshrike and Great Iora
we saw before it started raining rather heavy and we had to retreat
to the hotel in Trang. No owls for tonight, a lovely dinner made
up for it.
June - Back in the forest 2 hours before dawn and soon
we could hear our target Barred Eagle Owl. It didn’t keep
calling so we went on the trails with the spotlight. We saw 2 Malayan
Pit Vipers in the next hour but not much else until a Gould’s
Frogmouth started calling nearby. Not 1 but 2 birds were found soon
after and we had splendid looks at one of them. Soon after, it started
getting light and the Eagle Owl had to wait till tonight.
The rest of
the day we birded the garden with a short break at noon. Birds ;
Rufous Piculet, Brown Needletail, Dollarbird, Green-billed Malkoha,
Oriental Pratincole (they breed in nearby fields), Black-and-Yellow
Broadbill, Blue-winged Pitta, Brown-streaked Flycatcher, Tickell’s
Blue Flycatcher (common), Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker, Ruby-cheeked
and Crimson Sunbird, Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike, Asian Paradise
and Large-tailed Nightjar were seen from the parking lot at dusk.
Another try for the resident Barred Eagle Owl after dark proved
fruit-full as we got fantastic looks soon after it started calling.
A Common Palm Civet showed in the spot-light later in the evening.
June - Another few hours in the Peninsular Botanical Garden
in the morning produced a Changeable Hawk Eagle along with Green
Iora, White-bellied Yuhina, Plain Sunbird, Thick-billed Green Pigeon,
a few commoner birds and some of yesterday’s stuff again.
spent driving north again with lunch on the way in Krabi. In the
afternoon we birded Manora Forest Park near Phang-nga. A few new
species for the trip could still be added here ; Purple-naped Sunbird,
Yellow-eared Spiderhunter and Blue-eared Kingfisher but little else
was seen. It’s said to be a good site for Streaked Wren Babbler
too but we didn’t bothered as we had seen them at Wat Tham
Sua. Night in Phang-nga.
June - Up early for birding the mangroves near Phang-nga.
From the boardwalk at the intersection near the town we got the
easiest Pitta for the trip, Mangrove Pitta and it even came sitting
on the boardwalk once. Ruddy Kingfisher wasn’t hard to see
either with both ad. and young birds around. Ashy Tailorbird and
White-chested Babbler were a bit more skulky but we got good looks
after a while. Rufous-bellied Swallows and Dusky Crag Martins were
seen overhead from the parking lot. We moved to the HQ area and
birds seen here included Streak-breasted Woodpecker, Black-and-Red
Broadbill, Common Goldenback, Brown-winged Kingfisher, Collared
Kingfisher, Mangrove Pitta and Black-hooded Oriole.
Next we went
into a small side road (between HQ and HW) which ended at a jetty
on a creek lined with mangroves. With time left we decided to go
for a short boat ride to try for our last target and we got it in
the end in the mangroves right next to the jetty on our return,
Chestnut-bellied Malkoha. Other species seen from the boat were
Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Brown-winged Kingfisher and Ashy Drongo.
saw us back on Phuket and on the boardwalk close to Sarasin bridge.
Mangrove Whistler was a nice addition for the list here. After this
it was time to drive to the airport, say goodbye to Tom and catch
& Jessica Allen