And the bush has friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him, In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended, And at night the wonderous glory of the everlasting stars.

Banjo Paterson (1889)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Thailand Birding - Khao Nor Chu Chi & Gurney's Pitta

After our last minute success with the Mangrove Pittas at Krabi, we arrived in the afternoon at the Morakot Resort near Khao Nor Chu Chi, to begin our hunt for the elusive Gurney's Pitta.

Just minutes drive from Khao Nor Chu Chi, the Morakot Resort is probably the best place to stay. The food and staff here, were wonderful.

The rooms are nice and clean with aircon, but you have to be really good friends if your sharing the room, as the bathroom is in the same room with only a low wall and shower curtain to give you privacy! It's a cold shower only and a bucket to flush your toilet.

Walking in the resort grounds are limited, due to the surrounding ponds and stream, but good for some local birding.

Our favourite spot in the hot rainy afternoons was this roadside table at the Morakot restaurant. A good place to read up on the birds we had seen, plus have a fruit juice or cold beer! Also a good place to watch the bird action across the road.

The small fruit stand selling bananas across the road, always had some birds having a feed, such as this male Orange-bellied Flowerpecker. He looks a bit worried about the big wasp heading his way!

The Brown-throated Sunbirds, such as this female, were also enjoying the bananas. After watching the birds and insects here for a few days, there's no way anyone would buy any of those bananas!

The stream running from the famous Emerald Pool at Khao Nor Chu Chi, and a good area nearby to start looking for Gurney's Pitta, but our first morning was unfruitful for the Gurney's. A pair of nesting Banded Pittas Yotin Meekaeo knew where to find, made up for it though!

So it was off to other areas (including the dreaded palm oil plantations) for the hunt and for other birds as well.

Our new bird guide Yotin (the Gurney's Pitta expert) with he's fantastic spotting eyes, found us this wonderful Gould's Frogmouth.

An amazing bird, but near impossible to see sitting quietly in the tangled undergrowth of the rainforest.

A nearby rubber plantation area surrounded by rainforest provided some new birds, Thick-billed Spiderhunter, Tickell's Blue Flycatcher and Crested Goshawk.

The popular and beautiful Emerald Pool was quite early next morning and very inviting.

A great place for a dip, but we had more birding to do,

It was onwards along the trail to the Blue Pool and past the birdwatching tower.

The tower had great views over the surrounding area, including a nearby fruiting tree that had visits from Great Iora,Yellow-vented Flowerpecker and various bulbuls.

At the end of the trail is the pretty Blue Pool.

The water looks inviting, but no swimming is allowed here, plus there was a large python crusing the water on the far side!

Gurney's hunting along the new walkways near Emerald Pool. Over the two days, Yotin worked hard to get us Gurney's Pitta and yes, we finally succeeded in geting great view of a male and female Gurney's Pitta! Full thanks to Yotin and his network of helpers, without whose help we stood little chance of seeing this extremely rare bird.

No pictures of the Gurney's, as we didn't want to disturb them in any way, but just enjoy the view from a distance! This big Gurney's will have to do! If you're wondering why we didn't want to disturb them or interested in the current situation with Gurney's there, please see the blog post - Gurney's Pitta Update - Hurry if you want to see one.

We are tired and ready to go home, but very happy after a fantastic holiday. 250 birds were seen in total, of these 72 were lifers for both of us.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Thailand Birding - Krung Ching to Krabi

Life has been so busy lately, work, travels and other adventures, including an Albany pelagic trip last weekend, where I was requested by one regular viewer to put up some more blog posts! Ok, yes, it's time I at least finished off the Thailand birding series.

Yes, a silly picture, but one I had to take. We are now at Krung Ching, nice birding area, but unfortunately to park is starting to look very run down!

Some wonderful rainforest reptiles in the area. I still haven't properly ided this lizard, so if anyone can tell me what it is, please do.

The birding was at times was slow and tough, but this fantastic Green Broadbill on it's nest, made it all worthwhile.

This is one of our favourite Asian rainforest birds.

Time for a break from the hard birding, lunch at a small roadside cafe in the nearby village. This lady could work wonders with a wok!

I'm hot and tired, but the food here is great.


After birding for so many days, Liz and I are both tired, but look at our poor guide Nick, he looks exhausted!

Our accomodation near Krung Ching, good food and lots of it.

Nice looking cabins, but you only get a cold shower. The water seemed to be very cold!

Krabi and our last day with Nick. Our main target here was the Mangrove Pitta.

Krabi is an interesting town with lots of limestone formations, and a short but good boardwalk in the river mangroves.

No Mangrove Pittas were seen that day (heard once), but we did get good looks at Brown-winged and Ruddy Kingfishers. We said goodbye to Nick, a great time with an excellent birding guide.

Next day we were on our own, and it was back to the mangrove boardwalk in the morning, for one last shot at Mangrove Pitta before we left Krabi.

We searched all along the boardwalk, with lots of Blue-winged Pittas calling in the distance, but not our target.

With only minutes to spare before having to return to our hotel, we heard and spotted two Mangrove Pittas feeding near the boardwalk. We are very happy!

Not the best of photos, but at least we had got our target!

Now it was time to catch a taxi and head towards Khao Nor Chu Chu and our biggest and most important bird target of the whole trip, Gurney's Pitta.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Thailand Birding - Kaeng Krachan to Krung Ching

We are now inside Kaeng Krachan, one of the best birding areas in Thailand, a mecca for any visiting birders.

Not everything is what it seems. Just a bunch of dried old vines and leaves caught in a tree?

No, it's a Silver-breasted Broadbill's nest.

This nest was fairly high up, so mum's not too worried. Some other broadbill nests weren't in such good locations, one built low over a well used track and constantly being swung around as cars went by!

The forest had huge groups of wonderful butterflies drinking salts on the edges of most creeks.

Mind-blowing arrays!

Most forming groups of their own species.

This rainforest creek had a fantastic surprise waiting....

One of the rarest rainforest birds, 2 White-fronted Scops Owls. We were very lucky again.

And also one of the commonest rainforest birds, Black-naped Monarch at it's nest (with nestlings).

The area had wonderful birds we had been hoping to see and finally did, such as Kalij Pheasant, Blue Pitta, Crested Goshawk, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Streak-breasted, Bamboo and Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Great and Tickell's (Brown) Hornbill, Racquet-tailed and Ratchet-tailed Treepie.

Another surprise waited for us on the way back to our accommodation one afternoon, a Leopard!
Liz had been snoozing in the back of the van as we travelled back, waking and hearing our commotion in the front, thought it must be some new bird and promptly stuck out half her body out the window to have a look. She quickly realised that she was staring eye to eye with a Leopard only 4 metres from the van! She was a little white and in shock for rest of the journey back.

The pleasant ' for birders' accommodation near Kaeng Krachan, Ban Maka Resort, about 30 minutes from the park.

Good, clean air-conditioned rooms.

Nice gardens for some local birding.

Next morning and it's time to head to the rice fields at Petchaburi.

There's a light rain falling, but the Asian Golden Weavers are busily going about their business at the rice fields.

Interesting looking nests, but not many birds to be seen....

When birds do arrive, they quickly shoot up the long semi-transparent tube into the nest chamber. How do they do that, using wings, legs or both?

Finally a view of one of the nest builders, Baya Weaver.

The rice fields had large numbers of Spot-billed Pelicans, Painted Storks, Black-headed Ibis and being near the coast the usual Collared Kingfishers.

A small dry woodland area nearby, produced this nice Rufous Woodpecker.

Another beautiful woodpecker in the area, this time a Black-headed Woodpecker at it's nest hole.

A visit to Huay Mai Teng Reservoir produced great views of Pied Kingfisher, Small Pratincoles, Oriental Pratincoles and fleeting views of Rain Quail.

This lovely Oriental Pratincole was getting very annoyed as we approached, it's possibly on a nest?

It was time to head back to Bangkok for a bird free day and a much needed relax and rest at the airport's Novotel hotel, before flying and driving to the other birding hotspot Krung Ching, for more full on birding.