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)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thailand Birding - Khao Yai to Kaeng Krachen

Early last year we were birding in the north of Thailand, now it was time to look for the birds in more southern regions, especially the pittas! We had 13days of full birding and for most of it we were to be with bird guide Nick Upton from Thaibirding. We had a big wish list, with lots of pitta species, I think this made Nick sweat a little bit, he had his work cut out for him!

First stop Khao Yai for 3 days (after Limestone Wren-babblers at Wat Praputtabaht Noi). Blue-winged Pittas were easy to get, as they seemed to be calling all over the countryside, but the others would be harder. Climate change it seems has affected Thailand's rainforest birds, with many not calling or responding, and many on nests. Lots of walking along tracks and in the rainforest did result in us seeing wonderful birds such as Long-tailed Broadbills, Moustached Barbet and Banded Kingfisher.


Our second pitta species was this beautiful Hooded Pitta, shy, but not as shy as the Blue Pitta which came next. I got a fairly good quick look, but my wife Liz was sweating, as she only caught a non-tickable glimpse. We were to get better views later at Kaeng Krachen.

A big area of dense rainforest for a little pitta, or even a Giant Pitta to hide in. We managed to get good views of a number of Siamese Firebacks, but Coral-billed Ground Cuckoos were not to be seen, it seems they are not as easy to see in the park as they use to be. One bird we were very lucky to get good close views of, was the hard to find Jerdon's Baza!

Lots of walking along rainforest trails in Khao Yai, interesting fungi, but also lots of hungry leeches. At the end of the trip, the score was 5 leech bites for Liz and only 1 for me. Maybe it was because often I walked last and managed to usually see the hungry little (and big) guys waving around and dodge them!

One evening was spent looking around for Great-eared Nightjar, which we got in an open section of the park, an area often frequented by these lovely Red Muntjacs.

It was time to head back to Bangkok before heading towards Kaeng Krachen, but first a stop at the Muang Boran fishponds, a wonderful area near Bangkok for waterbirds.

The fishponds had big numbers of these (often scruffy looking) Asian Openbill Storks, which fed on the introduced Giant Snails. The area also had large numbers of Indian Cormorants, Pheasant-tailed and Bronze-winged Jacanas, as well as Cotton Pygmy-goose, Lesser Whistling Duck and Black Bittern. 

After a night in Bangkok, it was off to Kaeng Krachen with it's amazing birds and fantastic butterflies (which I'll have to find the names of one day).

These butterfly photos were all taken while standing at a small bridge for 10 minutes!

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