Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Butterflies of Thailand

Tuesday picked up the recently published second edition Butterflies of Thailand English Edition, from the Siam Insect Zoo in Chiang Mai. An impressive volume weighing in at just under 3kg and 943 pages, covering all of the 1604 species and sub-species recorded in Thailand. Initial impressions are that it is good and will be a valuable resource, my only criticism is the omission of any flight period data. Copies are currently available at the Siam Insect Zoo priced 1750 Thai Baht, internatioanl postage and package will probably double the price. More information can be found at

Prior to heavy rain this morning whilst birding I did manage to identify and photograph a number of species around the temple at Chiang Dao including Common Five Ring, Common Chocolate Demon, Forest Quaker, Chocolate Pansy, Orange Oakleaf, Lime Butterfly, White Dragontail, Red-breasted Jezebel, Psyche, Yellow Orange Tip, Common Wanderer, Plain Tiger, Common Indian Crow, Common Palmfly, many unidentified Grass Yellows and various others still to identify.

Forest Quaker Chiang Dao

Common Chocolate Demon
Chiang Dao
Common Five Ring
Chiang Dao

Common Sailor
Chiang Dao
The Lime
Chiang Dao

Wan Awk Pansa

Sooty-headed Bulbuls
Chiang Dao

Spent the morning birding around Wat Tham Pha Phlong Chiang Dao, the temple was much busier than usual due it being Wan Awk Pansa the final day of the buddist lent period, despite this there were plenty of birds around the temple car park and road. Fruiting trees just past the wildlife sanctuary held good numbers of bulbuls with Black-crested, Black-headed, Sooty-headed, Puff-throated, Stripe-throated, Red-whiskered and Grey-eyed all recorded. In the tall trees many Black-hooded and Black-naped Orioles were noted, along with several Violet Cuckoo, Greater-racket Tailed Drongo and party of 15 Large Woodshirkes. There were also many leaf warblers around especially Yellow-browed and Two-barred, but also at least five Blyth's Leaf. In Bamboo along the steps there was several Yellow-bellied Warblers, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta and a Purple-naped Sunbird. In a quiet corner of the car park a male Siberian Blue Robin showed briefly and a much more obliging Grey-backed Shrike was present. Other species recorded around the temple included several calling Scaly-breasted Partridge, Blue-eared Barbet, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Blue Rock Thrush, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Scarlet Minivet, Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike, Grey Wagtail and many Streaked and Small Spiderhunters.

Nearly back at the resort a White-rumped Shama sang loudly and a pair of Blue-beared Bee-eater were showed well and the sky was full of Crested Treeswift and Striated Swallow.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Busy Week

It has been a busy few days recently, with an extended Chinese family funeral in Chantaburi and the playing taxi driver for grandkids in Lampang. Little if any birding done, though being Thailand have seen various bits and pieces from the car and hotels etc, including:

Painted Stork - two over road near Suphanburi 26th
Red-breasted Parakeet - two near Suphanburi 26th
Spot-billed Pelican - three over road Chonburi 28th
Amur Falcon - group off five over Lampang Town his morning

Off to Chiang Dao later today for a couple of weeks, hopefully regular posts will resume.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Patch Ticks

Great Egret Suphanburi

A quick walk around the local patch this morning produced two new birds for the site, with three Spangled Drongo over high and a Dollarbird. Plenty of waders still 19 Grey-headed Lapwing, 80 Wood Sandpiper, a Spotted Redshank, 9 GreenshankGreen Sandpiper, 35 Marsh Sandpiper, 280 Black-winged Stilt and 30 Little Ringed Plover. Lots of Egrets this morning including a very obliging Great Egret. Also flock of 30 Black Baza south.

Great Egret Suphanburi

Also noted 8 Yellow BitternWatercock, 80 Baya Weaver, 4 Pallas's Grasshopper, 2 Lanceolated Warbler, 9 Dusky Warbler and 3 Red Avadavat.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Nok Nam

Lesser Whistling Duck 'Nok Nam'
Beung Bhoraphet
Yesterday afternoon on the way back from Phitsunoluk we dropped into the waterbird park (Nok Nam Park) at Beung Bhoraphet, this time last year the whole area was flooded and under several meters of water, which killed off most of the emergent vegetation, with far less rain this year, the main area of open water was well over a kilometer away. The rich and lush lake margins held many thousands of Lesser Whsitling Ducks, which were constantly being flushed by several Eastern Marsh Harrier revealing at least 400 Garganey amongst them.   

Chestnut-tailed Starling Beung Bhoraphet

As usual the trails and bunds around the waterpark, produced plenty of birds including 30 White-shouldered Starling and a vocal and mobil flock of 100 Chestnut-tailed Starlings. Several Purple Heron were noted, along with good numbers of Phesant-tailed and Bronze-winged Jacana. Half a dozen Ruddy-breasted Crakes and White-breasted Waterhen scuttled of into the reeds and two Watercocks were flushed. Despite the time of day and the heat, there were plenty of warblers with Dusky, Black-browed and Oriental Reed Warbler noted, along with several Striated Grassbirds and Yellow-bellied Prinia. Huge numbers of Oriental Pratincoles fed high overhead, along with uncountable numbers of Eurasian Swallows and smaller numbers of Sand Martins, Red-rumped Swallow and Blue-tailed Bee-eater.
Oriental Pratincoles Bueng Bhoraphet

Over a hundred Night Herons were flushed from their daytime roost and also recorded were two pairs of Fulvous-breasted Woodpeckers, several Cotton Pygmy Goose, two Arctic Warblers, a Forest Wagtail, Siberian Rubythroat, two Swinhoe's Minivet, two Ashy Drongo and three Black-naped Orioles.  

Conspicuous by their absence were Open-billed Stork, with only a few noted when normally many thousands are present, maybe they were elsewhere or had not yet arrived, though the apparent removal by locals of many roost trees around the lakes margins will not have helped.  

New Walkway Bueng Bhoraphet
A new elevated walkway is currently being constructed at the park, which will offer great views across the lake and hopefully close views of many waterbirds, despite construction still ongoing several Purple Heron, Purple Gallinule and Lesser Whistling Ducks were feeding right along or even underneath the walkway. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012


With virtually no rain over the past ten days, water levels on the local patch are starting to fall, this morning there were many more waders around than yesterday. Counts included 8 Pintail Snipe, 22 Common Snipe, one Common Sandpiper, 7 Common Greenshank, 8 Marsh Sandpiper, 66 Wood Sandpiper, 3 Temminck's Stint, 17 Painted Snipe, 90 Black-winged Stilt, 9 Pacific Golden Plover, 23 Little Ringed Plover and 30 Oriental Pratincoles.

Wood Sandpipers Suphanburi

There was at least 900 Lesser Whistling Ducks on the  sites two remaining fish ponds, along with 8 Pheasant-tailed and 5 Bronze-winged Jacanas. Along the various ditches and drainage channels there were at least 15 Common Kingfisher, 4 Purple Heron, 12 Yellow and 7 Cinnamon Bittern. Other noteworthy species included 2 Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, 4 Ruddy-breasted Crake, Whiskered Tern, 8 Brown Shrike, 14 Eastern Stonechat, 8 Black-browed Reed Warbler, the first Thick-billed Warbler of the winter and at least 20 Oriental Reed Warbler.

Common resident species today included Green-billed Malkoha, Greater Coucal, Asian Palm Swift, House Swift, Red-collared Dove, Linneated and Coppersmith Barbet, Long-tailed Shrike, Pied Fantail, Common Iora, Zitting Cisticola and Plain-backed Sparrow.

Pallas's Groppers Arrive

Saturday was the first visit to the local patch for nearly a week, a few more winter visitors had arrived including three Pallas's Grasshopper Warblers, a dozen Dusky Warblers and the first Siberian Rubythroat and Bluethroat of the winter. There was also a noticeable increase in Black-naped Orioles with around 15 scattered around the site and Taiga Flycatchers had increased to at least a dozen. Passage migrants included another Ashy Drongo, Black-naped Monarch, Asian Brown Flycatcher and two Two-barred Warblers.

Common Sandpiper Suphanburi

Waders recorded included 7 Common and 4 Pintail Snipe, three Common Sandpiper, 13 Little Ringed Plover, 21 Wood Sandpiper, three Marsh Sandpiper and 11 Oriental Pratincole. Also present were three Purple Heron, 5 Ruddy-breasted Crake, Watercock, nine Yellow, 3 Cinnamon and a Black Bittern, three Vinous-breasted Starlings and a Red Avadavat.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Baan Maka

Common Kingfisher Baan Maka Kaeng Krachan

Wednesday morning we checked out of Cha-am and decided to head towards Kaeng Krachan and check out Baan Maka resort just outside the park. We had only intended to have a look around and get a bite to eat, but were so impressed by the place we decided to stay over night. It was great choice, it was a very friendly, clean resort with some excellent if spicy Thai food and plenty of birds in the grounds.

Bungalow Baan Maka Kaeng Krachan

Garden Baan Maka Kaeng Krachan

View from Baan Maka Kaeng Krachan
With the national park not opening until next month, birding yesterday evening and this morning was confined to the resort grounds and surrounds. Though nothing special was noted, best birds included at least three Pale-legged Leaf Warblers, three Large Scimiter Babblers, six Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush, two Vernal Hanging Parrots, Racket-tailed Treepie, five Oriental Pied Hornbill, a dozen Red Junglefowl, male Eastern Marsh Harrier, Yellow Bittern and 80 Ashy Minivets over. At least 20 Taiga Flycatchers were present around the resort, along with half a dozen Black-naped Oriole, many Two-barred and Yellow-browed Warblers, Hoopoe, Crested Treeswifts, Ruby-cheeked Sunbirds, Little Spiderhunter, 80 Blue-tailed Bee-eater and ten Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike. Also recorded were Crested Serpant Eagle, Shikra, Red-rumped Swallow, Black-naped Monarch, Ashy, Spangled and Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Brown Shrike, Black-capped and Common Kingfisher, White-rumped Shama, Green-billed Malkoha and Asian Fairy Bluebird.

Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Baan Maka
Kaeng Krachan
The garden and lake were also excellent for butterflies and especially dragonflies a few of which I managed to identify including Fulvous Forest Skimmer Neurothemis fulvia, Common Picture Wing Rhyothemis variegata and Yellow-banded Skimmer Pseudothemis jorina.

Fulvous Forest Skimmer Neurothemis fulvia
Baan Maka Kaeng Krachan

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Spot-billed Pelican

Spot-billed Pelican Laem Pak Bia

Just after first light I arrived at Pak Thale, many of the saltpans were either dry or full of water, though there were many waders roosting on the bunds it was quite a time before I found any pans that were shallow enough to hold any feeding birds. One dry pan held around 120 Red-necked Stint and amongst them a winter plumage adult Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Also in the area were at least 700 Great Knot and good numbers of Lesser Sandplover and Kentish Plover, but numbers of Marsh, Curlew and Broad-billed Sandpipers and Red-necked Stints were poor. On pools close to the sea a group of 128 Whimbrel, 100 Grey Plover, 59 Bar-tailed Godwit and 46 Greenshank were roosting until a large female Peregrine caused chaos, taking a Great Knot out of the air. Large numbers of Terns were also present here including 155 Gull-billed Terns and several hundred Whiskered, Little and Common. As the sun began to warm the air and burn away the mist an immature Greater Spotted Eagle lifted out of nearby mangroves, flushing everything within a kilometer radius. Scarcer waders at Pak Thale included several Common Redshank, two Ruff and a Dunlin.Good numbers of Sand Martin's were present in the area with at least 400 feeding over one large area of open water.

Slowly driving south along the coast with frequent stops, it wasn't very long before I located 13 distant Painted Storks and a flock of 650 Eurasian Curlew, which held at least one Far Eastern Curlew. Two Heuglin's Gulls were present amongst 500 Brown-headed Gulls and nearly back at Laem Pak Bia several thousand terns were present, mostly Whiskered and Common and smaller numbers of Caspian, Little and Gull-billed. Numbers of waders were generally poor compared to later in the winter, presumably many have yet to arrive.

Paddyfield Pipit Laem Pak Bia

Spot-billed Pelican Laem Pak Bia

Water Monitor Lizard Laem Pak Bia

The rest of the morning was spent in the research station at Laem Pak Bia, star bird here was a Spot-billed Pelican briefly on one of the pools. As usual many of the birds around the pools were very obliging with excellent views of Pacific Golden Plovers, Marsh, Wood, Common and Green Sandpipers. Around fifty Whiskered Terns fed over the pools along with 13 White-winged Black Terns. Good numbers of Red-collared Doves, Paddyfield Pipits and Eastern Yellow Wagtails were feeding along the grassy margins and a number of huge Water Monitor Lizards ambled across the tracks.

Mangrove Boardwalk Laem Pak Bia

The boardwalk through the mangroves produced two Racket-tailed Treepies, several Collared Kingfishers, at least a dozen Golden-bellied Gerygone, an obliging Mangrove Whistler and many entertaining mud skippers. Off the end of the boardwalk two Greater Crested Terns flew past and a flock of 19 Grey Heron flew south.

Golden-bellied Gerygone Laem Pak Bia

Throughout the time spent at the research station good numbers of Blue-tailed Bee-eaters were overhead and in trees on the way out a dozen White-shouldered Starling were present.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Coastal Scrub

Yesterday after a big family meal in Bangkok we headed south towards Phetchaburi, to check out some hotels for a forth coming birding trip to the area. The plan was to stay one night in Phetchaburi and then bird along the coast towards Cha-am, via Pak Thale and Leam Pak Bia, heavy rain this morning from dawn till mid day soon put an end to this idea, so we headed directly to Cha-am. By mid afternoon the rain had stopped and skies cleared, so I headed to a nearby lake and scrub on the edge of Cha-am for a couple of hours.

Lake Cha-am

Though there was nothing special present, as usual there was plenty of birds to maintain interest. Good numbers of Open-billed Storks, Great, Little, Cattle and Intermediate Egrets fed along the lakes edge, at least eight Little Bitterns, two Purple Herons, nine Night Herons and a single Striated Heron were also recorded.  

Open-billed Stork

Numerous squabbling Purple Gallinules were present, along with a few Moorhen, Ruddy-breasted Crakes and a Slaty-breasted Rail. Out on the lake a few Little Grebes and 50 Lesser Whistling Duck were present, with 20 Whiskered Terns skimming the surface.The only waders present were a Common Sandpiper and four Red-wattled Lapwing. Kingfishers were well represented with Common, Pied, White-breasted, Black-capped and Collared all noted.

Peaceful Dove

At least a hundred Peaceful Doves were feeding around the lake, with smaller numbers of Red-collared Doves. Common Iora, Pied Fantail, Zitting Cisticola, Yellow-vented and Streak-eared Bulbuls were all fairly common in scrub, along with smaller numbers of Taiga Flycatchers, Yellow-browed Warblers, Plain Prinia, White-rumped and Scaly Munia.

Streak-eared Bulbul.

Apart from good numbers of Oriental Reed Warblers, the only other warblers noted were single Dusky, Black-browed Reed and Thick-billed Warblers. A Barred Button Quail was flushed and as usual disappeared immediately, but single Wryneck, Hoopoe and Brown Shrike all showed well. Both Richard's and Paddyfield Pipits fed alongside each other, on one of the dirt tracks and gave a great chance to compare what was once a single species.   

Plain-backed Sparrow

Good numbers of Little Green Bee-eaters and Ashy Wood Swallows fed from roadside wires and small numbers of Plain-backed Sparrows were also present. High overhead huge numbers of swiftlets presumably Germain's fed and were briefly joined by a thermaling Shikra.

Little Green Bee-eater

Very few birds noted off shore at Cha-am, with just the odd Brown-headed Gull, Whiskered and Common Tern passing by.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Oriental Pratincoles

Saturday morning I arrived on the patch just after dawn and almost immediately it was apparent that large numbers of Oriental Pratincole were around, by the end of my visit I estimated that around 5500 were either feeding over the site or had quickly headed south, whether this was a genuine movement or birds leaving a nearby roost I do not know. On 14th October 2007 even greater numbers were present when an absolute minimum of 8500 Oriental Pratincole were noted.

Numbers of winter visitors increased again for a second day with 3 Grey-headed Lapwing, 15 Brown Shrike, 8 Dusky Warblers, a single Lanceolated Warbler and 20 Eastern Stonechats. The only definite passage migrant was a female type Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, which was probably one of the birds from the previous day.

Also noted during the morning were single Cotton Pygmy Goose, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Stork-billed Kingfisher, 40 Marsh Sandpiper, 5 Greater Painted Snipe, 15 Yellow Bittern, male Eastern Marsh Harrier, 80 Baya and 10 Asian Golden Weaver and a single Red Avadavat.

Raptors moving south over the house, seemingly following the main road south included 27 Oriental Honey Buzzard, 61 Chinese Sparrowhawks, whilst two Black Kites and a single Bhraminy Kite may have been local birds.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Migrants and Winter Visitors Continue to Arrive

With much less rain over the last few days, the local patch was a little drier on Friday (October 12th), though  large areas still remain underwater. There had clearly been an increase in the number of passage migrants and winter visitors. Passage migrants  included a superb leucogenis Ashy Drongo, juvenile Oriental Cuckoo, two female type Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, single Arctic and Two-barred Warblers and a Black-naped Oriole. Winter visitors which had also increased in numbers included 8 Common Kingfisher, 15 Oriental Reed Warblers, 6 Sand Martin, 4 Red-rumped Swallow, 4 Yellow-browed Warblers, 8 Brown Shrikes, 6 Eastern Stonechats and 9 Taiga Flycatchers. Dusky  and Black-browed Reed Warblers numbers still remain low with counts of just 4 and 2 respectively. Small numbers of waders were also present with 100 Black-winged Stilts, 260 Oriental Pratincole, 12 Common Snipe, 10 Wood Sandpiper and a single Common Sandpiper. Others species noted during the morning included 400 Lesser Whistling Ducks, a Watercock, Purple Heron, 11 Yellow Bittern and single Cinnamon and Black Bitterns.

Between 10am and mid day, there was once again a southerly passage of raptors over the house with 19 Oriental Honey Buzzards, 19 Chinese Sparrowhawks and another Osprey.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Southward passage

We needed to head into Bangkok today, whilst outside waiting for the Mrs to get ready (this can be a slow and torturous affair), I noticed a light passage of raptors heading south over the house, in the space of half an hour I had recorded 5 Oriental Honey Buzzard, 2 Grey-faced Buzzards, a flock of around 20 Accipters (probably Chinese Sparrowhawk) and a single Osprey all head south. Whilst on the way to Bangkok an Oriental Darter flew over the road and several Black-capped and Stork-billed Kingfishers were recorded on roadside wires.  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mud Bath

For the first time since arriving back in Thailand I managed to get around some of the local patch at Suphanburi, torrential overnight rain had left all of the tracks, paths and bunds a muddy mess and I ended up spending much of the morning trying to stay on my feet, failing only once. The six months away has seen a lot of changes to the patch, most noteworthy of these has been the construction of a new luxury housing estate which has wrecked one corner of the site. Other new developments has been the removal of further scrub and draining of one of the fish ponds for rice production. Some of the best areas for migrants still remain, but with continuing development all around the outskirts of Suphanburi the site probably does not have many years left.

I decided not to take the camera out due to fear of more heavy rain, predictably I enjoyed amazing views of several species, best of these was juvenile Baillon's Crake feeding out in the open just a few feet in front of me and an adult Black Bittern which sat motionless in full view. It was good to see a decent selection of migrants best was an immature Tiger Shrike and two Yellow-rumped Flycatchers. Other migrants included 6 Taiga Flycatchers, 3 Yellow-browed Warblers, two Black-naped Orioles and single Greater-racket Tailed Drongo, Two-barred Warbler, Eastern Crowned Warbler and Black-naped Monarch. Most winter migrants appeared not to have arrived in any great numbers yet, with low counts of Brown Shrike, Dusky Warbler, Black-browed Reed Warbler and Eastern Stonechat. Resident species noted included two Watercock, 4 Yellow and 3 Cinnamon Bittern, 3 Stork-billed and 2 Black-caped Kingfisher, 50 Oriental Pratincole, 9 Whiskered Tern, Baya and Asian Golden Weaver, Plain-backed Sparrow and Paddyfield Pipits.


Arrived back in Thailand last week, after another busy season on Scolt Head Island Norfolk. Have managed very little birding so far due to combination of sorting various none birding things out, shaking off the after effects of man flu and the remains of a tropical storm which has recently passed through central Thailand dumping a lot of rain.

However have managed to see a few noteworthy species over the last few days, including a superb Black Bittern adjacent to the local shopping plaza, small numbers of Oriental Pratincole and Blue-tailed Bee-eaters over the garden as well as usual local residents such as Black-shouldered Kite, Open-billed Storks and Plain-backed Sparrows.