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.