January 31st to Feb 2nd was spent birding with friends on the coast at Leam Pak Bia/Pak Thale, late afternoon on the 31st we visited an area of rice paddies and scrub inland from Pak Thale, whilst birding here we found a small group of birds feeding in a lone tree on caterpillars, they included a Green-billed Malkoha, Plaintive Cuckoo and several Myna's, among them was a medium sized black and white bird, partly obscured, after a few minutes it appeared out in the open and we were surprised to find that it was a Pied Cuckoo also known as Jacobin Cuckoo. I had seen this species previously in India and Africa, but never in Thailand, where it is a rare breeder in very small numbers at Beung Bhoraphet during the wet season, where its host is Striated Grassbird. This appears to be the first winter record for Thailand. A return visit to the area the next day failed to relocate the bird.
An excellent selection of open country/freshwater species were seen over the two visits, including a great selection of raptors which included at least two Greater Spotted Eagle, Booted Eagle, Pied Harrier and several Eastern Marsh Harrier. Several Ruddy-breasted Crake were noted, as well as a Watercock which unusually showed very well, a Yellow Bittern and several Purple Heron were also seen. Smaller birds included several Red Avadavat, Chestnut Munia, Black-browed and Oriental Reed Warbler, 2 Lanceolated Warbler, good numbers of Eastern Stonechat, Asian Golden and Baya Weaver.
by Fred Rowe