Sunday, January 11, 2015

Chinese Egret and Bhraminy Starling

Have just returned from a couple of days birding with friends on the coast at Laem Pak Bia/Pak Thale, as always loads of good birds to see. The first afternoon we took a boat trip out onto the sand spit with Khun Deang, all the usual species present. including an obliging Chinese Egret.

Chinese Egret
Both male and female White-faced Plover showed well, along with half a dozen Malaysian Plover. Other waders present included Kentish and Lesser Sandplover, several Sanderling and good numbers of Broad-billed Sandpiper.

White-faced Plover
by Fred Rowe
Despite some disturbance by anglers there was a decent gull/tern roost, which included 4 Pallas's Gull, 5 Lesser Crested, 70 Great Crested and 40 Caspian Tern, along with good numbers of Brown-headed Gull, Common and Little Tern.

Caspian and Greater Crested Terms, Pallas's and Brwon-headed Gulls

The rest of the afternoon was spent in the research project where, several Ruddy-breasted Crake and a Slaty-breasted Crake. Also present was a Ruff, several very close Night Heron and a pair of Racket-tailed Treepie.

Ruddy-breasted Crake
by Fred Rowe
Night Heron
The next day we started birding at Pak Thale, working our way south back towards Leam Pak Bia, huge numbers of waders and terns in the area, with good numbers of Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Red-necked and Long-toed Stint, Curlew and Broad-billed Sandpiper, Marsh SandpiperLesser Sandplover,  Kentish Plover and smaller numbers of Temminck's Stint, Spotted and Common Redshank and Common Greenshank.

Temminck's Stint
Red-necked Stint, Curlew and Broad-billed Sandpiper

Great Knot
Scarcer waders included a Spoon-billed Sandpiper, 15 Red-necked Phalarope, 1200 Great Knot, 5 Red Knot, 24 Nordmann's Greenshank and 3 Terek Sandpiper

We finished the mornings birding at the rubbish tip, near the abandoned building, but were  disappointed to find that virtually all the scrub and trees in the area have been cleared and the land put up for sale. There were however a few birds still in the area, the best a Bhraminy Starling, a Thai rarity, the only other birds of note were a pair of Indochinese Bushlark.

Streaked Weaver
by Fred Rowe
We spent the afternoon birding fields and scrub around a pond inland from Pak Thale, despite the heat plenty of birds around, including several hundred weavers, which included very good numbers of Streaked and Golden. Among the weavers at least 10 Chestnut Munia were present and half a dozen Red Avadavat, some of which showed well. 

Red Avadavat
by Michael Rooney
A male and female Pied Harrier were present in the area, and on the small pool Ruddy-breasted Crake, Bronze-winged Jacana, Yellow Bittern were all present. In nearby fields there were several Purple Heorn along with small numbers of Red-throated Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Eastern Stonechat, Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler, Wood Sandpiper and two Pintail Snipe

Bronze-winged Jacana

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Pitta and Forktail

Rusty-naped Pitta
(hopefully Fred has some much better photos)
For the final few days of Fed and Marian's trip to Thailand we visited Mae Wong National Park, between November 20th and 23rd. Despite our visit co-coinciding with a weekend, which saw the Chong Yen Campsite packed to overflowing with campers and resurfacing and widening of the road up to Chong Yen, we saw some excellent birds. We arranged through one of the park rangers to visit two of the feeding stations/blinds, near the Chong Yen Campsite. Initially on our first visit it was very quite, but before long a few birds started to appeared with Buff-breasted Babbler and White-tailed Robin being the first, followed a little while later by a Rusty-naped Pitta which spent the next forty minutes feeding in the open down to a few feet, giving amazing views and allowing Fred to take very many photos. This was followed a few minutes later by a Northern White-crowned Forktail which also fed right in front of the blind, though we had seen Northern White-crowned Forktail on previous trips, views had always been brief and fleeting. Other birds to appear included a Blue-whistling Thrush, two Spot-necked Babbler, two Streaked Wren Babbler, several Silver-eared Laughingthush and Hill Blue Flycatcher.
Spot-necked Babbler

Male and female White-tailed Robin
We also visited another blind near the campsite, were Rufous-throated Partridge were seen, along with Rufous-bellied Niltava, White-tailed Robin and a Rufous-browed Flycatcher. When not busy, time was also spent birding around the campsite, along the Umphang trail and back along the road. Along the Umphang trail we found a very large mixed species feeding flock, which included good numbers of Silver-eared Mesia, several Blue-winged Minla and in the undergrowth additional pairs of Spot-necked Babbler and Streaked Wren Babbler. Birds around the campsite included a pair of Yellow-cheeked Tit and several very obliging Grey-chinned Minivet.
White-necked Laughingthrush
Numerous Bay Woodpeckers were heard back along the road, but only one was seen briefly, whilst a Green Cochoa called repeatedly from road side trees but frustratingly failed to show. Among the numerous Ashy, Mountain and Flasvecent Bulbul, three Olive Bulbul were seen, a dull but fairly localized Thai species. Several large and very noisy groups of White-necked Laughingthrush were noted, along with several Black-throated.  

White-browed Scimiter Babbler
Very few raptors were seen, but these did include nice views of a Mountain Hawk-eagle, an Eastern Buzzard and a pair of Oriental Hobby which showed well in a roadside tree two consecutive mornings. Whilst heading down the mountain late one afternoon a group of nine Kalij Pheasant crossed the road, in front of the van and a stop at an area of scrub and bamboo produced a couple of White-browed Scimiter Babbler, two Bamboo Woodpecker, two pairs of Great Hornbill and a group of Collared Babbler
Golden-throated Babbler
Additional species recorded during our visit included: Barred and Little Cuckoo-dove, Lesser Coucal, Red-headed Trogon, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Golden-throated Barbet, Speckled and White-browed Piculet, Short-billed Minivet, Maroon Oriole, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Grey Treepie, Chinese Leaf Warbler, hundreds of Oriental and Chestnut-flanked White-eye, Marten's Warbler, Rufous-fronted and Golden Babbler, Blue-winged Minla, Straited Yuhina, Golden-crested and Common Hill Myna and Mrs Gould's Sunbird.  

Once again thanks to Fred Rowe for the use of his photos. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Knob-billed Duck and Glossy Ibis

We spent the 18th and 19th November birding at Beung Bhoraphet Lake near Nakhon Sawan, we took two three hour boat trips out onto the lake  on the 18th, one in the morning and another in the afternoon, with our final morning birding around the Waterbird Park. As usual many thousands of Lesser Whistling Duck were present, along with at least 3500 Garganey and smaller numbers of Northern Pintail, Eurasian Teal, Cotton Pygmy Geese and two possibly five Knob-billed Duck, with two seen in the morning and three over just before dusk in the evening.

Cotton Pygmy Goose
In the evening we spent some time around a small island towards the northern shore of the lake, watching birds come into roost. The star birds here were Glossy Ibis, the first few birds came into roost at around 5pm, followed by a succession of groups till dusk, with the biggest of around 450 and an  impressive total of 1160 by the time we left. The numbers and range of Glossy Ibis has increased significantly in Thailand in recent years and our roost count may have been a new national record count. Others birds entering the roost included around 85 Oriental Darter, good numbers of Indian and Little Cormorant, large numbers of Egrets especially Intermediate Egret with at least 250 noted, smaller numbers of Purple and Grey Heron, with many Black-crowned Night Heron leaving their daytime roost from the island.   

Yellow Bittern
Raptors noted over and around the lake ,including several Eastern Marsh Harrier, a Black-eared Kite and two very photogenic Western Osprey. Two Brown-headed Gulls were noted in the evening, along with around 20 Wiskered Tern and surprisingly 5 Caspian Tern which must be a fairly scarce inland bird in Thailand. Other birds seen from the boat included, 4 Pied Kingfisher, numerous Yellow Bittern, 5 White-browed Crake, many Purple Gallinule, Pheasant-tailed and Bronze-winged Jacana, 50 Eurasian Coot, Straited Grassbird, 5 Asian Golden Weaver and 200 other weavers probably Baya.

Purple Gallinule
Birds around the waterbird park included  a Wryneck, 2 Pink-necked Green Pigeon, Cinnamon Bittern, Ruddy-breasted Crake, Lesser Coucal, Blue-tailed and Green Bee-eater, 2 Ashy Minivet, Black-naped Oriole, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Oriental and Black-browed Reed Warbler, 50 White-shouldered and 25 Chestnut-tailed Starling, 2 Red Avadavat and a Forest Wagtail.  

Ruddy-breasted Crake

25 Oriental Partincole were noted feeding over fields along the road to the waterbird park and a Burmese Shrike was on roadside wires. 

Burmese Shrike

All photos by Fred Rowe

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Nam Nao National Park

15th-17th November was spent at Nam Nao National Park, which in complete contrast to Khao Yai was quiet, even at the weekend, well run, trails maintained and the staff were friendly and welcoming. We stayed in one of the national park bungalows, which unusually for Thai National Parks, were of a reasonable standard and well maintained. We did not have to go far from our bungalow for good birds with the undoubted highlight a White-bellied Woodpecker feeding in the open in adjacent trees. Great-slaty Woodpeckers were heard daily morning and evening, but we failed to track them down, good numbers of Hill Myna were also noted, as were up to half a dozen Black Baza. On our first evening and final morning a very noisy group of White-crested Laughing-thrush fed around the bungalow on some discarded papaya.

Our Bungalow and Transport at Nam Nao National Park

Much of our time was spent birding around the large and very pleasant campsite, were one of the commonest birds were  White-crested Laughing-thrush, with several large groups encountered, which unlike elsewhere were very tame and approachable. A pair of Red-headed Trogon showed down to a few feet each morning by the campsite entrance and on our first morning several very noisy Green Magpie also showed well. On the Sunday afternoon once everyone had gone home a group of up to eight Red-billed Blue Magpie were watched feeding on the ground out in the open for nearly half an hour. Other noteworthy birds seen around the campsite included Great Barbet, Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Greater Yellownape, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Bamboo Woodpecker,  Large Woodshrike, Eurasian Jay, Yellow-bellied Warbler, Black-throated and Lesser Neck-laced Laughing-thrush, Golden-crested Myna, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Plain Flowerpecker and Ruby-cheeked Sunbird.

Red-billed Blue Magpie
by Fred Rowe
We walked the nature trail and river trails once, both were very quite part from many leeches, with the best birds being several Red-billed Scimiter Babbler and a pair of Northern White-crowned Forktail. In the evening at least two Savannah Nightjar were seen over the car park by the restuarants. Birds in the drier open forest included Blossom-headed Parakeet and Large Cuckoo-shrike.

Others species seen/heard included Bar-backed Partridge, Barred Cuckoo Dove, Green-billed Malkoha, Asian Barred Owlet, Blue-eared Barbet, Speckled Piculet, Lesser Yellownape, Ashy Minivet, Black-hooded Oriole and Sulphar-breasted Warbler.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Khao Yai National Park

Asian Elephants Khao Yai
November 11th-13th, we spent four days birding at Khao Yai National Park, we stayed outside the park at Balios Resort, there were a few birds in the resort grounds, including a singing male Pied Bushchat and good numbers of Red-breasted Parakeets flying over, with small numbers in dead trees near the hotel each day from late afternoon.  

We entered the park each day at 6am, as soon as the park gates opened, paying the very high 400 Thai Baht entrance fee each day. The first few hours were spent birding along the entrance road and various view points, by 9am the entrance road resembled a formula 1 grandprix circuit we then headed to the quieter parts of the park. The birding was hard work, made worse by the large numbers of leeches en-counted, We did however see some good birds, at our first stop on the first morning a pair of Great Hornbill flew into roadside trees and posed for photographs, a bit further along the road we found two groups of Siamese Fireback, with another group found on one of the trails the next day. Along the lower parts of the radar road we found a male Silver Pheasant, several Orange-breasted and Red-headed Trogon, a mixed group of White-crested, Black-throated Laughing-thrush and Large Scimiter Babbler. Large numbers of Hill Myna and several Golden-crested Myna were seen daily in flowering trees, along with lots of Vernal Hanging Parrot. Disappointingly very few raptors were seen with the best single Changeable Hawk Eagle and a Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle. Whilst watching birds come in and out of a fruiting tree  a smart male Siberian Thrush appeared briefly before disappearing of into the forest. 

Other species seen/heared included several Green-legged Partridge, Barred Cuckoo-Dove, Oriental Pied and Wreathed Hornbills, Laced Woodpecker, Common Flameback, Sulphar-breasted Warbler, Eastern Crowned Warbler, Golden-headed Cisticola, Dark-sided Flycatcher and Buff-bellied Flowerpecker.  

We also did reasonably well for mamals with two Yellow-throated Martin in the road early one morning, a small family party of White-handed Gibbon in trees above our head and a group of Asian Elephant crossing the road, early one afternoon on the way out of the park. 

Having not been to Khao Yai National Park for a few years, I was surprised how busy the park was, even in the week, by 9am the entrance road begins to get very busy and by late morning, there is a constant stream of cars, motorbikes, mini bus heading towards the HQ, many travelling at high speeds, resulting in several monkeys being killed by cars. It is also becoming increasingly difficult to get onto the trails, with several now closed one due to poisonous insects and those that are open are poorly maintained and for which additional permits and guides are now needed. I stood reading one of the no access signs at the start of a trail and was told very rudely by a park official not to go on the trail, not to park along the roadside, he then continued with more abuse in Thai, some of which i understood, apparently us westerners stink! he soon shut up when i called him a Water Monitor Lizard in Thai.  The park is a world heritage site, but the park officials do not seem interested in the parks wildlife or those that come to see it, with proposals to turn the entrance road into a duel carriageway to cope with the volume of traffic, the future of the parks wildlife must be in doubt. Is Khao Yai still worth visiting?, probably, but the increasing hassles make it less attractive, avoid weekends and public holidays at all costs and don't expect a friendly Thai welcome by park staff.  In contrast staff at Nam Nao and Mae Wong National Park, were helpful, friendly and seemed interested in the parks wildlife

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Pak Thale/Leam Pak Bia early November 2014

Long-toed Stint
I have just spent Nov 8th and 9th birding the coast near Petchaburi with friends Fred and Marian Rowe, as usual the birding at Pak Thale and Leam Pak Bia was excellent with many thousands of waders and terns now present in the area for the winter. We visited the salt pans at Pak Thale a couple of times at high tide, soon finding two Spoon-billed Sandpiper, one feeding with a handful of Red-necked Stint and one roosting with stints on a dry salt pan. Large numbers of Eurasian Curlew were present in the area, but too distant and the light to poor to pick out any eastern birds, but a dozen Red-necked Phalarope were closer, with another found feeding with Marsh Sandpiper right by the roadside. 

Marsh Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper and Long-toed Stint
Huge numbers of waders were roosting on the last few salt pans before the sea, at Pak Thale including 24 Asiatic Dowitcher, 3 Red Knot and several hundred Great Knot, Black-tailed Godwit and Whimbrel. A coffee break overlooking nearby mud flats, added several Terek Sandpiper and at least 200 Broad-billed Sandpiper to the trip list.     

Spotted Redshank
An additional stop at salt pans nearer Leam Pak Bia, found a flock of 42 Nordmann's Greenshank, at least 24 Pied Avocet, 8 Ruff, many thousands of terns which included huge numbers of Common, Whiskered and Little and smaller numbers of Gull-billed, Caspian and White-winged Black.  A group of four Pintail among the terns looked out of place.  
Little Ringed Plover
We made several visits to the research project at Leam Pak Bia, including one till dusk, three Spot-billed Pelican were present on the pools and at dusk many Night Heron appeared from out of the mangroves, with thousands of Black Drongo and mynas heading into them to roost. Good numbers of White-shouldered Starling were recorded heading in with at least 500 logged by dusk, many of which paused in nearby trees giving good views and allowing us to pick out several Chestnut-tailed Starling and a surprise Purple-backed Starling

Night Heron
At a freshwater area slightly inland  24 Grey-headed Lapwing were present, along with a dozen Temminck's Stint, several Red-throated and Richard's Pipit and singing Oriental Skylark.

Other species recorded over the two days included many Black-capped Kingfisher, Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper, Pacific Golden Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, hundreds of Brown-headed Gull, Osprey, 2 Peregrine, Kestrel, Oriental Darter, 4 Ashy Minivet, Oriental Reed Warbler and Eastern Yellow Wagtail.

Saturday evening several thousand Fruit Bats were seen leaving the mangroves.

Many thanks to Fred and Marian Rowe for supplying photos.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Streaked Wren Babbler

Streaked Wren Babbler
by Fred Rowe
Have just spent a couple of days at Chiang Dao, where most birding was carried out around Wat Tham Pha Plong. Despite several hefty thundery downpours a decent selection of species was seen, including some which seem much easier to see at Chiang Dao than elsewhere in Thailand. Green-legged Partridge were heard calling form at least four different localities, 2 pairs of Blue-bearded Bee-eater showed well as did two Violet Cuckoo around the car park, two Pin-tailed Green Pigeon were noted among a flock of 20 Thick-billed Green Pigeon, a very obliging Streaked Wren Babbler showed well on the temple steps as did two Purple-naped Sunbird by the bridge over the dry stream, a regular hangout for this species.

Blue-bearded Bee-eater
Other species recorded included 2 Bay Woodpecker, Great and Blue-eared Barbet, Orange-breasted Trogon, 3 Drongo Cuckoo, two Banded Bay Cuckoo, 20 Brown-backed Needletail, 50 Crested Treeswift. Collared Owlet, 8 Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Emerald Ground Dove, 2 Grey-backed Shrike, 2 Green Magpie, Great Iora, 15 Large Woodshrike, Hill Blue Flycatcher, 30 Striated Swallow, 4 Claudia's Leaf Warbler, 2 Grey-crowned Warbler, three Buff-breasted Babbler, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta and Yellow-vented Flowerpecker.

Despite spending the heat of the day gazing up at the sky, the only raptors recorded were a single Crested Goshawk and Grey-faced Buzzard. Asian Barred Owlets were heard in the evenings, along with a Collared Scops Owl and on Monday evening a Spot-bellied Eagle Owl flew across the road at dusk.