Thursday, February 28, 2013

Large Hawk Cuckoo and Forest Wagtail

With little change on the patch recently and temperatures peaking at 37.5 degrees yesterday it has become increasingly difficult to get motivated to walk around the patch, but this morning I did pick up a couple of new birds, the first was a Large Hawk Cuckoo presumably a migrant heading north and the other being a Forest Wagtail also presumably on it's way north.

Plaintive Cuckoo's and Asian Koel seemed to be calling from everywhere, with up to a dozen of each present around the site. Far fewer waders this morning with just 4 Grey-headed Lapwing, Green Sandpiper, 10 Wood Sandpiper and 4 Little Ringed Plover.  Other noteworthy species noted included Watercock, 2 Ashy Minivet,  female Eastern Marsh Harrier, 2 Bhraminy Kite, 8 Golden Weaver and 2 Red Avadavat.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Small Pratincole

Very little new around the local patch during the last two mornings, only significant new sightings were two Small Pratincoles this morning feeding with 80 Oriental Pratincoles the second time, I have recorded this species on the site.

Peak wader counts over the two days 120 Black-winged Stilt, 28 Grey-headed Lapwing, 21 Common Snipe,18 Marsh Sandpiper, 13 Wood Sandpiper, 9 Little Ringed Plover, 7 Pintail Snipe, 4 Painted Snipe, 2 Common Sandpiper and a single Green Sandpiper. There were a few more raptors both mornings than recently, including an Osprey, two Eastern Marsh Harrier, Bhraminy Kite, 4 Shikra and single Kestrel, Black-shouldered Kite and Black Kite. No sign of the overwintering Black Baza both mornings, which may have finally gone.

Night Herons
Counts of winter visitors included 3 Purple Heron, 9 Eastern Stonechat, 7 Brown Shrike, 4 Black-capped and 10 Common Kingfisher, 50 Sand Martin, 4 Black-naped Oriole, Verditer Flycatcher, 20 Dusky and 2 Thick-billed Warbler. Local residents included Watercock, four Yellow Bittern, 20 Night Heron, 11 Pheasant-tailed and 9 Bronze-winged Jacana, 100 Baya, 20 Golden and 2 Streaked Weaver and 2 Red Avadavat.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Freckled-breasted Woodpeckers

Freckled-breasted Woodpecker
This morning the virtual daily pair of Freckled-breasted Woodpeckers were present, with another pair by the house. Freckled-breasted Woodpecker was formerly known as Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker but is treated as specifically distinct from Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker found in the Indian subcontinent.

A group of eight Painted Snipe were flushed from wet paddies and later seen settled and included three bright females. Other waders included 7 Grey-headed Lapwing, 100 Oriental Pratincole, 21 Wood Sandpiper, 11 Marsh Sandpiper, 4 Greenshank and 1-3 Common and Green Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover and a single Temminck's Stint. Verditer Flycatchers had increased to two, at least two of the wintering Black Baza were still present and there was perhaps some signs of northward passage with a group of 11 Black Baza north and single Greater Racket-tailed Drongo and 30 Ashy Minivet present which were not around a few days ago. Two Streaked Weavers where amongst a large flock of Baya and smaller numbers of Golden Weaver.

Also present were Watercock, 3 Yellow and 2 Cinnamon Bittern, 2 Pink-necked Green Pigeon, 4 Red Avadavat, Bluethroat, 2 Siberian Rubythroat and eight White-shouldered Starling.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Kaeng Krachan Butterflies

Having spent a couple of days recently at Kaeng Krachan National Park and having seen some great birds and two Leopards, equally as impressive were the number and variety of butterflies puddling around the streams beyond the Bang Krang Campsite.

Puddling Butterflies Kaeng Krachan
Chain Swordtail
Jewelled Nawab
Orange Gull
Red-spot Marquis
Red-spot Sawtooth
Great Nawab
White-spot Beak
Great Orange Tip
Common Bluebottle
Common Indian Crow
Dark Blue Tiger
Yellow Orange Tip

Oriental Pratincoles Return

After a busy week I finally found time to have a couple of good walks around the patch Thursday and Friday morning, it was evident as soon as I got on site that Oriental Pratincoles were back in force with around 150 on both days. A flock of 9 Small Minivets and 2 Black Baza were in scrub along with a lone Verditer Flycatcher. Despite temperateness's hitting 36 degrees Celsius the last few days there was still plenty of winter visitors around, including 4 Black-naped Oriole, 8 Eastern Stonechat, 5 Brown Shrike, 19 Dusky, 23 Oriental Reed, 11 Black-browed and 6 Pallas's Grasshopper Warblers, 2 male Siberian Rubythroat, Bluethroat, 25 Sand Martin, 11 Red-rumped Swallows, 3 Red-throated Pipit and 11 Eastern Yellow Wagtail.

Wood Sandpiper
There was clear signs that many species are breeding or at least thinking about it, with Streak-eared Bulbuls feeding young, Olive-backed Sunbirds and Baya Weavers nest building, Plaintive Cuckoo's and Paddyfield Pipits in song and a few very bright Golden Weavers.  There was a good scattering of waders across the site, peak counts 11 Pintail Snipe, 9 Common Snipe, 22 Marsh, 30 Wood, 4 Common and one Green Sandpiper, 60 Black-winged Stilt, 8 Little-ringed Plover and 6 Grey-headed Lapwing.

Night Heron
Other species present included 2 Freckled-breasted Woodpeckers, 2 Stork-billed and 4 Black-caped Kingfisher, 2 Watercock, 3 Ruddy-breasted Crake, 4 Whiskered Tern, male Eastern Marsh Harrier, 6 Night Heron, 3 Vinous-breasted Starling and 4 Yellow-vented Bulbul.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chestnut Munia

On our final morning last Thursday and with a couple of hour spare before breakfast we had a look around some scrub and a small lake near our resort at Cha-am. At least a dozen Chestnut Munia were present along with plenty of Black-browed Reed and Oriental Reed Warbler, Indochinese Bushlark, several Purple Gallinule, 2 Purple Heron, an Oriental Pratincole, 20 Red-rumped Swallow, Hoopoe and a few Wood and Marsh Sandpiper.

Mick and Wendy Saunt
After breakfast on the way back to Bangkok we stopped of at Nong Pla Lai where best raptors were a pale morph Booted Eagle, a Greater Spotted Eagle, 6 Black Kite, 15 Oriental Pratincole and a few Blue-tailed Bee-eaters.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Great Hornbill and Slaty Woodpeckers

Great Hornbill
Uthai Cheummarung

Wednesday morning we headed back into Kaeng Krachan National Park, we walked between kilometers 9 and 10, though the forest here looked degraded we saw a fantastic range of species many of which we had excellent views. Several flocks of Oriental Pied Hornbill flew over just after dawn, followed by a Great Hornbill which flew over the road and then fed for a while in a fruiting tree just a few meters off the road. The area was excellent for woodpeckers with 2 Great Slaty Woodpeckers seen well, along with multiple sightings of up to half a dozen Greater Flamebacks, 3 Greater Yellownape and a Grey-headed Woodpecker. There were plenty of fruiting trees in the area, which was probably why there was at least 100 Thick-billed Green Pigeons and 3 Golden-crested Myna in the area. Two Black-thighed Falconet showed well in a dead tree and also in the area where up to 4 Dollarbird, 12 Black-naped Oriole, 2 Greater necklaced Laughingthrush, Crested Goshawk, 4 Blue-eared Barbet, 6 Grey-rumped Treeswift, 4 Racket-tailed Treepie and 2 Vinous-breasted Starling.  

As we approached the 10 kilometer marker we surprised to see yet another Leopard walking down the road a few hundred meters in front of us, which was followed a few minutes later by a Golden Jackal crossing the road.       

Asian Emerald Cuckoo
The rest of the day was spent birding along the road between stream one and three, like the previous visit there was always plenty of birds around, Silver-breasted Broadbill were once again very much in evidence with 4 seen and another half a dozen heard, half a dozen Orange-breasted Trogon were also either seen or heard, including some which showed down to just a few feet. A group of 9 Tickell's Brown Hornbills were seen between streams 2 and 3, where there was also at least one Heart-spotted Woodpecker, an Asian Emerald Cuckoo and a very vocal pair of Banded Broadbill which called for half an hour without showing themselves. The two White-fronted Scops Owl were at their usual roost by the second stream. Also in the area were a Grey-capped Pygmy, Rufous Woodpecker, 3 Common Flameback, Green-eared Barbet, 8 Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, 2 Swinhoe's Minivet, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Blue-throated Flycatcher, 2 Sulphur-breasted Warbler and 4 Sultan Tit.
Orange-breasted Trogon
The small group of White-handed Gibbons were again between streams 2 and 3 and there were plenty of Dusky Langur around.

Dusky Langur

Friday, February 8, 2013

Lost with Black-headed Woodpeckers

On Tuesday afternoon we headed around 40 kilometers inland from Cha-am, to the dry forest around Khao Luk Chang, though the number of birds in the area were few it did not take long to find the first of four Red-breasted Parakeets. Whilst following a trail through the forest we flushed a Spotted Owlet and saw several Greater Racket Tailed Drongo and two Rufous Treepie. We were hoping to find Black-headed Woodpecker, after around an hour we eventually heard tapping coming from a woodpecker somewhere off the trail, so we left the trail and eventually heard and had very poor views of two Black-headed Woodpecker as they flew away. We headed back towards the trail but after 20 minutes it was clear that somehow we had missed it and had no idea where we were or where the car was!. With only an hours worth of light left and a slight concern beginning to set in we pushed on in what we though was the right direction and found another pair of Black-headed Woodpeckers right in front of us. Eventually we emerged out of the forest onto a track but still had no idea in which direction to head, we eventually flagged down a passing motorbike and with a combination of my broken Thai and a quick phone call to the wife we were pointed in the right direction and thankfully eventually found the car.
Red Junglefowl
Also seen in the area were five Red Junglefowl, 3 Hoopoe, 4 Racket-tailed Treepie, Purple Sunbird, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater and 5 Olive-backed Pipit.  

Spoon-billed Sandpiper Revisited

Tuesday morning we returned to Pak Thale for another look at the Spoon-billed Sandpipers, within ten minutes of arriving on site we had found five feeding  with a few Red-necked Stint, with no wind and perfect light the views were amongst some of the best I have ever had. Amongst the many hundred of waders present was a single Asiatic Dowitcher, Sanderling, 4 Red Knot, 500 Great Knot and at least 800 Eurasian Curlew.
Common Snipe
Pintail Snipe
We then moved to Laem Pak Bia and took a boat out onto the sandspit and within five minutes of landing had seen male and female White-faced Plover, two Chinese Egret and 3 Malaysian Plover. Also present were at leasts four dark phase Pacific Reef Egret and half a dozen Sanderling. The rest of the morning was spent in the nearby research stagnation, where on saltpans there was a Hueglin's Gull and a Ruff.
Little Cormorant
Indian Cormorant
 As usual there was plenty of birds in the research station, where we had very close views of both Common and Pintail Snipe feeding alongside each other and good views of Pacific Golden Plover, Wood and Marsh Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Whiskered Terns, Night Heron, Eastern Yellow Wagtail and Richard's Pipit.  

Eastern Yellow Wagtail

Baan Song Nok

We spent all of Monday afternoon at the bird hide/screen at Baan Song Nok just outside Kaeng Krachan National Park, though none of the hoped for pheasants or Slaty-legged Crake put in an appearance there was always plenty of birds on view.
Greater Nacklaced Laughingthrush
Lesser Nacklaced Laughingthrush
Upto 15 Lesser and 6 Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush were on almost continuos show, down to a few feet.
Scaly-breasted Partridge
Two Scaly-breasted Partridge came into drink twice and up to 7 Red Junglefowl showed well including a splendid male and his five ladies.
Red Junglefowl
Other birds into drink and bath included 4 Black-naped Monarch, 3 Tickell's Blue Flycatcher, 5 Siberian Blue Robin, 2 Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, 6 Puff-throated Babbler, White-bellied Erponis, Yellow-billed Blue Whistling Thrush, Large Scimiter Babbler, 3 Abbott's Babbler and 12 Brown-cheeked Fulvetta.

Siberian Blue Robin

Stripe-throated Bulbul
There were always plenty of bulbuls around with Streak-eared, Stripe-throated, Black-headed and Black-crested noted.

Large-tailed Nightjar
Also at Baan Song Nok a roosting Large-tailed Nightjar showed well down to a few feet.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Orange-breasted Trogon
Kaeng Krachan 
At dawn yesterday morning we entered Kaeng Krachan National Park and around 10 kilometers past the entrance gate, we were amazed when a Leopard walk across the road in front of the car. A short while after this we encounted a group of 15 Oriental Pied Hornbills sat in roadside trees. The rest of the morning was spent birding the road beyond the Bang Krang Campsite to the third stream and back.
Video by Uthai Cheummarung

The two White-fronted  Scops Owls were in their usual roost near the second stream and a little further along the road there was a group of 7 Tickell's Brown Hornbill.

Silver-breasted Broadbill
Kaeng Krachan

Throughout the morning we saw and heard Orange-breasted Trogon, with at least 10 recorded including a pair which showed down to a few feet right next to the track. We also all enjoyed excellent views of five Silver-breasted Broadbills in bamboo, where there was also a very brief male Pin-tailed Parrotfinch. An excellent selection of species was seen during the rest of the morning including single White-browed Piculet, Greater Yellownape, Common Flameback, Streak-breasted Woodpecker, Great Hornbill, Dollarbird, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Drongo Cuckoo, 2 Asian Emerald Cuckoo, Emerald Ground Dove, Asian-barred Owlet, 2 Golden-crested Myna, 3 Sultan Tit, 4 Radde's Warbler, 4 Sulphur-breasted Warbler and 4 Ruby-cheeked Sunbird.

Dusky Langur
Kaeng Krachan

Other mammals recorded included amazing views of a group of White-handed Gibbons including a female with a tiny baby swinging between trees over the track and many Dusky Langurs.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Pak Thale

Pacific Golden Plover
Pak Thale
Yesterday we started the day birding at Pak Thale in complete contrast to the previous day there were waders everywhere. It took us a little while to find Spoon-billed Sandpiper, due to a Peregrine and then Kestrel causing a huge amount of disturbance, but eventually we enjoyed good views of one feeding amongst around 100 Red-necked Stint. Other waders in the area included around 200 Broad-billed Sandpiper, several hundred Curlew Sandpiper, Great Knot, Lesser and Greater Sandplover, Black-tailed Godwit, 400 Marsh Sandpiper, 4 Red-necked Phalarope and smaller numbers of Spotted Redshank, Long-toed StintPacific Golden Plover, Grey Plover and Whimbrel.

Rather than look for more Spoon-billed Sands, we headed towards Laem Pak Bia in search of Nordmann's Greenshank, we soon found a flock of 29 roosting amongst Common Greenshank and around 50 Spotted Redshank. Also in the area were at least 12 Asiatic Dowitcher, 800 Great Knot and 9 Avocet.

Common Greenshank

We then spent the rest of the morning in the research center at Laem Pak Bia, as usual there were plenty of birds, best records a pair of Mangrove Whistlers which showed very well, 3 Racket-tailed Treepie, White-winged Black Tern, 2 Grey-headed Lapwing, Heuglin's Gull, Osprey and several Ruddy-breasted Crake. Early afternoon we birded around the nearby abandoned building, where 49 roosting Caspian Terns, 300 Little Tern, 2 Indochinese Bushlark, 6 Sanderling and a colour flagged Red-necked Stint.

Great Egret
Laem Pak Bia
We finished the day birding around farmland and small pond a few kilometers inland of Pak Thale, which proved to be an excellent area for raptors with 2 Greater Spotted Eagles, Eastern Marsh Harrier, Black Kite and several Bhraminy Kite. With falling water levels on the pond it was also a good site for rails and crakes with at least 5 Ruddy-breasted Crake, 2 Slaty-breasted Rail and a Watercock. Also around or on the pond were two Temminck's Stint, 20 Little Ringed Plover, 15 Wood Sandpiper, several Streaked and Golden Weaver. On adjacent farmland were 10 Grey-headed Lapwing, 12 Red-throated Pipit, 10 Eastern Yellow Wagtail, 3 Common Snipe and a Pintail Snipe.

Also a feature of the day was the northward passage of several small parties of Oriental Pratincoles, with a day total of around 70.  


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Greater Spotted Eagle

Yesterday after meeting Mick and Wendy Saunt at Bangkok Airport, we headed straight for the coast towards Cha-am, on the way we stopped at Nong Pla Lai raptor watchpoint near Petchaburi. It seems to have been a fairly poor year for large raptors in the area, but despite very overcast conditions we did eventually find a Greater Spotted Eagle sat in a distant tree. Other raptors present included at least 30 Black Kite, 4 Bhraminy Kite, 4 Black-shouldered Kite, Osprey and a male Eastern Marsh Harrier. We also had a small group of 5 Oriental Pratincoles head over high to the north, my first returning birds of the year. There were plenty of standard open country birds around the area including several Eastern Yellow Wagtails, Richard's, Paddyfield and Red-throated Pipits, Eastern Stonechats and 3 Plain-backed Sparrow.

Marsh Sandpiper
Pak Thale
After checking into our comfortable hotel at Cha-am, late afternoon we headed to Pak Thale to look for Spoon-billed Sandpiper, probably due to it being low tide there were very few waders in the area, and only a handful of Red-necked Stints. After an hour of looking without success we eventually found a saltpan with lots of waders, mostly Marsh and Curlew Sandpipers but also 5 Red-necked Phalarope and a Ruff. We finished the final hour of the day at the rubbish tip and abandoned building at Laem Pak Bia, best birds here 6 Ruff, two Indochinese Bushlarks, 3 White-shouldered Starling, Yellow Bittern, Wryneck, Peregrine, White-winged Black and Caspian Tern, good numbers of Long-toed Stint and hundreds of Whiskered Terns heading to the coast to roost.