Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Keang Karchan - Woodpeckers, Broadbills and Dollarbirds

by Fred Rowe
After less than a month, between Feb 2nd-5th I was back at Keang Karchan National Park with friends, it was surprising how the birds had changed in less than a month between the two visits. The most notable among these was the number of Dollarbird we saw, on the first trip we had managed to see just one, during the second visit we saw at least 20 including at several pairs and small groups chasing each other and displaying. Broadbills were much more vocal and we enjoyed good views of both Silver-breasted and Banded, also hearing Black and Yellow. A great selection of woodpeckers was also seen including two or three Heart-spotted Woodpecker, at least eight Great Slaty, with 3 at kilometer 9 and 5 by the first stream and a Crimson-winged Woodpecker between streams one and two. 

The area between streams one and three and by the Bang Krang Campsite were the most productive area, with additional species recorded here including Tickell's Brown and Great Hornbill, Orange-breasted Trogon, Banded Kingfisher (heard only), 4 Black-thighed FalconetBlue-bearded Bee-eater, Violet and Drongo Cuckoo, Chesnut-breasted Malkoha, Large Woodshrike, Sultan Tit, Ruby-cheeked Sunbird and Yellow-vented Flowerpecker.

Kalij Pheasant
by Fred Rowe

Bar-backed Partrdige
by Fred Rowe

Green-legged Partrdige
by Fred Rowe
During our visit to Keang Krachan we stayed at Baan Song Nok, where the bird blind there provided excellent views of a small selection of species, which included pairs of Kalij Pheasant, Bar-backed Patridge, Green-legged Partidge, good numbers of Greater and Lesser Neckalced Laughingthrush, Siberian Blue Robin, several Pale-lgged Leaf Warbler and Tickell's Blue Flycatcher.   

Monday, February 15, 2016

Pied Cuckoo!

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 StonechatAsian Golden and Baya Weaver

 by Fred Rowe
Back on the coast at Leam Pak Bia/Pak Thale a great selection of waders were seen, as well as an Osprey, good numbers of Painted Stork, Barred Buttonqail and Indochinese Bushlark.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Winter Birding at Mae Wong National Park

On Jan 23rd we arrived at our resort at Khlong Lang, just outside Mae Wong National Park, late in the afternoon in glorious hot sunshine, little did we know how things would change in the next few days. Before dawn next morning we headed into the park and towards the Chong Yen Campsite, stopping at a flowering tree on the way were we saw several Coral-billed Scimiter Babbler and a pair of Striated Yuhina. Carrying on towards the campsite, it did not take long before we hit low cloud and thick fog, things were even worse at the campsite with visibility of just 20-30 meters and temperatures creeping just into double figures. 

Flavescent Bulbul
by Fred Rowe
We hung around the campsite at Chong Yen for several hours, the Flavescent Bulbul's keeping us amused for a while, followed by a pair of Silver-eared Mesia. In a slightly brighter spell of weather we ventured down the Umphang Trail, a number of fruiting and flowering trees, attracted  a nice selection of species, which included a very obliging Small Niltava, Speckled Piculet and several Black-throated Sunbird. Species seen in a fast moving, mixed species feeding flock included, Golden-throated Barbet, a male Clickling Shrike Babbler, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Yellow-cheeked Tit, Claudia's and Davison's Leaf Warbler, Sulphur-breasted Warbler and a White-tailed Robin. By mid-afternoon the fog closed in again, so we decided to head down the mountain in search of better weather, finding only more rain and fog, things were brighter but wet at the resort and we abandoned birding for the day, convinced the weather could not be any worse the next day. 
Blue Whistling Thrush
by Fred Rowe
At dawn we again headed into the park, it felt cold, but the fog wasn't as bad, we saw a great selection of pigeons at a stop on the way, with Wedge-tailed, Pin-tailed and Thick-billed Green Pigeon and Mountain Imperial Pigeon in one fruiting tree, along with at least four fly over Barred Cuckoo Dove. Higher up the mountain the weather deteriorated further, becoming colder, winder and wetter, we stopped at a blind which overlooks a stream, a few birds were present here including several Streaked Wren Babbler, 2 White-tailed Robin, a pair of Buff-breasted Babbler, Blue Whistling Thrush and a Hill Blue Flycatcher.

White-tailed Robin
by Fred Rowe
After an hour and with hypothermia beginning to sent in we left and headed to Chong Yen where the weather was even worse, with heavy rain strong winds and temperatures at 10am of just 7 degree's Celsius, common sense prevailed and we headed back to the resort, seeing 15 Kalij Pheasant on the way down. The rest of the day and the next were spent trying to keep warm, birding around the resort and at nearby Khlong Lan Waterfall, in between spells of heavy rain and strong winds. We managed to find a few birds, including a surprise Forest Wagtail at the resort, where we also saw Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, several Asian Brown Flycatcher and Brown-throated Sunbird and during a short visit to Khlong Lan Waterfall an Eye-browed Thrush and a male Hill Blue Flycatcher

Kalij Pheasents
by Fred Rowe
Towards the end of our stay here, it was increasingly apparent that the extreme weather was taking it's toll on some birds, with large numbers of Swallow and Red-rumped Swallow sitting around on the grass at our resort and in the road, many in a weak condition, later we went on to find several dead. The extreme weather effected much of Central and Northern Thailand and was probably the coldest spell of weather for many years, with many reports of dead hirundines, swifts and smaller birds, at one point the weather was warmer in the UK than over much of Thailand!.

Fred and Marian, birding despite the weather!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park

Yunnan Fulvetta
by Fred Rowe
As it was relatively close to Nam Nao, we spent 22nd till 24th January at Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park, the last stronghold of the Thai communist movement. Our stay here was blighted by low cloud and fog, we had hoped to see Nepal House Martin and Jerdon's Bushchat  by the Taberg Checkpoint, but with visibility of just a few feet it was impossible to see anything. We entered the park after paying an extortionate 500THB entrance fee, per person, for which we were not even given a park leaflet and many of the park signs were in Thai only, clearly this park wants to keep all foreigners away!. 

We stayed in one of the national Park bungalows, which was basic, but adequate, spending much of the time birding along the entrance road and quieter side roads. Along the main road we found a pair of Striped-breasted Woodpecker, a male Slaty-backed Flycatcher and a mixed group of Silver-eared Mesia and Blue-winged Minla. A couple of decent walks along the side road leading to the loop trail was the most productive, with the best birds here being a group of at least 15 Long-tailed Broadbill and a very vocal Rusty-naped Pitta, which despite calling from the side of the road failed to show. Other species seen/heard here included Fork-tailed Drongo Cuckoo, Blue-throated, Blue-eared and Great Barbet, Speckled Piculet, Swinhoe's and Long-tailed Minivet, Clickling Shrike Babbler, Claudia's, Davison's and Sulphur-breasted Warbler and Yunnan Fulvetta
Mountain Bulbul
by Fred Rowe
The campsite and park HQ was less productive, but a fruiting tree did attract a good selection bulbuls including Mountain and Black. Also seen around the campsite were huge numbers of Large-billed Crow scavaging in the dustbins, with lots of Olive-backed Pipit and smaller numbers of Eye-borwed Thrush also feeding under the pines. Other species present in the area included large numbers of Striated Swallow and Cook's Swift, Black-winged and Indochinese Cuckooshrike, Grey-backed Shrike, Pied Bushchat and Green-billed Malkoha.  

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Nam Nao National Park

If each national park in Thailand had a bird as it emblem, for Nam Nao National Park it would surely be the White-crested Laughingthrush, last week whilst we were at Nam Nao from the 18th-21st January, they were ever present, when I have seen them before they are usually shy and quickly disappear off into the forest, but at Nam Nao they feed out in the open around the campsite and at times fed within just a few feet of us on our balcony, this must be the easiest place in the world to see this species

Red-headed Trogon
by Fred Rowe

Used to campers a number of other species are also tame and easy to see, with daily flocks of Red-billed Blue Magpie, several Green Magpie and a male Red-headed Trogon also showing well daily. We also saw an excellent selection of woodpeckers, including a White-bellied and Grey-headed, both of which spent nearly an hour looking at their selfs in one of the toilet blocks mirrors. The lights by the entrance to the campsite, attracted a number of birds early in the morning, to feed on insects attracted by the light, the best of these was an intricate patterned female White-throated Rock Thrush, a Hainan Blue Flycatcher and a very obliging Verditer Flycatcher.

A walk along the entrance road produced at least two Grey-sided Thrush, which seem to have been part of a wide influx into Thailand over the past week. Other species noted, included several calling Bar-backed Partridge, several Northern Boobook, Barred Cuckoo Dove, Orange-breasted Trogon, Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Greater and Lesser Yellownape, numerous Black-winged and Indochinese Cuckooshrike, Rosy and Small Minivet, Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush and Golden-crested Myna.   

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Baer' s Pochard

Saturday 16th January was spent birding at Beung Bhoraphet, with six hours on a boat around the lake and several hours at the Waterbird Park. The highlight of the visit was seeing three Baer' s Phochard, a species which is rapidly heading towards extinction due hunting and habitat destruction and may well become extinct in the wild within a few years.
Garganey and Pnitail
by Fred Rowe
Other wildfowl/waterbirds recorded on the lake included 850 Garganey, 800 Cotton Pygmy Geese, 420 Pintail, 290 Coot, 15 Ferruginous Duck, 5 Tufted Duck and 3 Pochard. As usual there were lots of egrets, herons and Open-billed Stork as well as 30 Glossy Ibis, 6 Painted Stork and one Black-headed Ibis. Raptors included several Black-eared Kite and Eastern Marsh Harrier. A single Chestnut-winged Cuckoo was unexpected for what is normally a wet season visit and passage migrant and we also enjoyed good views of at least 25 Chestnut Munia, as well as several singing Striated Grassbird and Streaked, Golden and Baya Weavers. On the way back towards dusk, huge numbers of Swallows and Sand Martin gathered over the lake, with two Pied Kingfisher and two Lesser Coucal also seen.
Coot by Fred Rowe
In roadside trees at the waterbird park two Freckled-breasted Woodpecker were watched down to a few feet, as were a pair of Plain-backed Sparrow and a small flock of White-shouldered Starling. Elsewhere around the park a Wryneck was seen briefly, with a single Pink-necked Green Pigeon and several Yellow-vented Bulbul showing much better.
Purple Swamphen
by Fred Rowe
Whilst out on the boat, we were surprised to see a Greater Flamingo, past examples have automatically been assumed to have been escapes from bird parks, but with a range which includes much of the Indian sub-continent, a vagrant could occur, but........

Friday, January 22, 2016

Black Panther

January 11th-16th was spent birding at Keang Karchan National Park and surrounds, we spent two three full days in the park, a day at Lung Sin Hide outside the park as well as time birding around the grounds of Baan Makka Resort our base for the duration of stay. 

Black-headed Bulbul
by Fred Rowe
Several visits were made to forest 9-10 kilometer along the entrance road, where best birds were 2 Great-slaty Woodpecker, 2 Heart-spotted Woodpecker and 2 Golden-crested Myna. Fruiting trees here attracted huge numbers of bulbuls, especially Black-headed and other birds in the area included several Thick-billed Green Pigeon, DollarbirdCommon and Greater Flameback, Greater Yellownape and a single Emerald Ground Dove which showed exceptionally well.   
Oriental Pied Hornbill
by Fred Rowe
Extended periods were spent birding around the Bang Krang Campsite, were a decent selection of common species were recorded, including excellent views of a Jerdon's Baza, but the star birds here for the group were Blue-eared and Green-eared Barbets which showed exceptionally well whilst excavating nesting holes and a party of four Sultan Tit which fed on the ground in the campsite just a few feet in front of us, allowing Fred to take some excellent photos. Frustratingly a calling Banded Broadbill and several very vocal Drongo Cuckoo failed to show. Commoner species noted at the campsite included Violet Cuckoo and Banded Bay Cuckoo, numerous Oriental Pied Hornbill including a very tame hand reared bird, 2 Orange-breasted Trogon, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Greater Yellownape, Stripe-breasted Woodpecker, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Common Woodshrike, Rosy Minivet, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Buff-vented and Ochraceous Bulbul, Eastern Crowned Warbler, Great Iora, Rufous-fronted Babbler, Blue-winged Leafbird, Ruby-cheeked and Crimson Sunbird.    

A visit to Paneom Tung was less successful with relatively few birds seen, due to partly to only being able to bird the flat sections of the road and around the campsite, most noteworthy sightings here included two Grey-rumped Treeswift, Bamboo Woodpecker, a Blue-throated Barbet making a nest hole, Wreathed Hornbill, Ashy and Mountain Bulbul, Long-tailed Broadbill and a selection of common species.
Racket-tailed Treepie
by Fred Rowe
We spent a day in Lung Sin Hide outside the park, though activity here was much less than on previous visits, we still managed some good birds and as always some excellent views of commoner ones. Highlights included two Kalij Pheaseant, 3 Bar-backed Partridge, Asian Green Magpie, Racket-tailed Treepie, three Large Scimiter Babbler, 2 White-browed Scimiter Babbler and the usual Lesser and Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush.
Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush
by Fred Rowe
Both Cinnamon and Yellow Bittern  were seen daily on the lake at Baan Makka, along with several Bronze-winged Jacana.