South Thailand: 10-17 September 2011


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10-17 September 2011.
Mixed, mainly cloudy with persistent heavy rain showers first three days. Thereafter mainly dry with varying cloud cover. Warm and humid.
Thai Mueang, Laem Pakarang, Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary, Khao Luang National Park, Khao Phra Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary, Nong Plak Phraya Non-Hunting Area, Satun Mangroves, Had Yao Area, Phang-nga Mangroves.

10 Sept. With Ian Dugdale, Punjapa Petsri (Games) and Paul Carter. This trip had been in the planning a couple of months. The main focus was to look for a few specific southern target species, plus to check out a few sites not previously visited to assess them for habitat and potential as birding localities. Left Chiang Mai early afternoon on the Air Asia flight to Phuket departing and arriving almost 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Met up at airport and headed north off the island to Thai Mueang, arriving about 16:30, with a first stop in the open fields south of Thai Mueang. Ignoring several kids firing air rifles walked about the wet ditches and grassy banks (plenty of leeches) searching without success for Slaty-breasted Rail. The highlights were Tiger Shrike and a Black Bittern, a bird rarely seen in the south, perched up in bamboo and flying around. Toward dusk headed along the road toward the Thai Mueang National Park, where a brief look in scrub produced an early Asian Brown Flycatcher and Spotted Wood Owl. Dinner at a beach restaurant and overnight at Thai Mueang Resort.

Khlong Saeng
Wet weather at Khlong Saeng

Four-lined Tree Frog
Four-lined Tree Frog

Mountain Crab
Crab sp

11 Sept. Heavy rain overnight easing in the morning, but still cool, overcast and wet at first light. First stop for coffee then into a morning glory farming area for open country birds and another unproductive search for Slaty-breasted Rail. After a couple of hours drove toward Tha Khun town through some pretty heavy rain to arrive at the pier at Ratchaprapha Dam for our pre-arranged boat at 14:00. The ride across the open lake into Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary took us through some further heavy rain showers but clearing weather and the impressive limestone karst scenery more than made up for it. A concerted effort of checking tree snags and quiet edges of the lake was rewarded with Lesser Fish Eagle, a pair of Oriental Hobby and a Stork-billed Kingfisher. After a 30 kilometre ride arrived at the rustic accommodation at the Khlong Mon Ranger Station late afternoon - a beautiful setting, though few birds present around the lake. An excellent dinner of fish and green curry with cold beer. After dark we persuaded the boatman to take us on a boat trip primarily to look for Guar, which although not seen, did produce several Buffy Fish Owl and one Sambar Deer.

12 Sept. Further rain showers overnight, but at least not as heavy as previously.

White-bellied Sea Eagle
White-bellied Sea Eagle

Buffy Fish Owl
Buffy Fish Owl

Up and ready waiting for the boatman as agreed at 06:00, but as expected the weather didn't raise enthusiasm for the boatman who was eventually ready by 06:30 as we rode around some of the edges in search of mammals. Due to the cool, damp and overcast conditions birds were few and far between with the species of note being Plume-toed Swiftlet, a couple of Lesser Fish Eagle, Rufous-bellied Swallow and Common Kingfisher. Half an hour later the rain became persistent and heavy forcing us to take shelter in an overhanging precipice. Reluctantly, as the rain seemed unlikely to cease, headed back to the accommodation to hefty portions of fried rice. With clearing conditions packed up and headed back to pier. Birding en route, included further Stork-billed Kingfisher and the much sought after Helmeted Hornbill. Repacked a lot of wet gear before heading off to Krung Ching at Khao Luang National Park, where we arrived at 16:30. Clearing weather gave us the chance of birding along the approach road, finding Violet Cuckoo and Fiery Minivet. Dinner at Krung Ching Garden and back into the forest along the access road and waterfall trail from 20:30 - 23:15. Highlights were Red Giant Flying Squirrel, Masked Palm Civet, calling Brown Wood Owl, Blyth's Frogmouth and Pegu Bent-toed Gecko.

Pegu Bent-toed Geckoo
Pegu Bent-toed Gecko

Malay Red Harlequin
Malay Red Harlequin

Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Blue-tailed Bee-eater

13 Sept. A early breakfast and headed out along the Krung Ching Waterfall Trail. Previous storms this year have wreaked havoc with the trees along the access road and first kilometre of the Waterfall Trail with the area reminiscent of a war zone. A much better day with excellent weather; warm, sunny and plenty of butterflies active. Walked all trail as far as Sala 2, coming out of the forest by 14:00. The undoubted highlight was a pair of Maroon-breasted Philentoma. Other good birds included Scarlet-rumped Trogon, Rufous-winged Philentoma, Fulvous-chested Jungle Flycatcher, Blyth's Hawk-Eagle, Banded Broadbill and Fluffy-backed Tit Babbler. A longish drive to Satun and the Nong Plak Phraya Non-Hunting Area, arriving just before dark where we were able to talk to one of the rangers about birds in the area. We'd intended to stay overnight in nearby Satun, but discovered that all hotels in the area were totally full due to a School children's day tomorrow, and ended up having to drive 50 km out toward Hat Yai before finding available accommodation.

14 Sept. We returned early to the Nong Plak Phraya Non-Hunting Area and walked the road around the northern half of the lake. White-browed Crake and some swamphens. Although the swamphens in this area are usually documented as the Black-backed Swamphen, clearly this is an intergrade area with Grey-headed Swamphen as many birds show characteristics intermediate betweeen the two. Due to heavy rain earlier in the week the back road leading to the forest and office was flooded, so had take an alternative route to get there. Although the forest here is inaccessible, growing on steep limestone karst, it can be scanned from the road along its edge, and in a few hours here we found Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Blue Whistling Thrush and Streak-breasted Woodpecker. Continuing along the road by vehicle we were able to do a loop of several kilometres through farmland but in the heat of the day little was seen. After lunch went for a scan from the observation tower by the lake, where in addition to the swamphens, a few Purple Heron were seen. A quick stop off at Angyee's Guesthouse, and on to the Mangrove Research Centre south of Satun, where Cinereous Tit were quickly found. We next tried the old mangrove walkway leading to the beach from the Langkawi Ferry Terminal, only to discover it had rotted away and was too dangerous to walk. However, by walking through the mangroves we were able to access completed sections of the new walkway which led to the beach, and were rewarded with Pied Triller and Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, a recent addition to the Thai list.

15 Sept. Woke up to discover an ant bite on the arm from the previous day was looking rather red and swollen. First off we revisited the forest edge from yesterday with the earlier arrival giving increased bird activity including Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot, Banded Kingfisher and Blue-winged Pitta. With the heat of the day moving in returned to town to find a pharmacy for the expanding arm. In the afternoon we did a further walk around the lake for hour and a couple more hours by the forest, adding Peregrine. At 17:00 left for Khlong Thom near Khao Phra Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary, where needed a quick visit to the hospital for better drugs to combat the swollen arm. Overnight Khlong Thom.

16 Sept. An early drive to Khao Phra Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary and breakfast at the Morokot resort. A three hour walk in various forest fragments were rewarded with our target Black Magpie plus Rufous Piculet, Ferruginous Babbler, Yellow-bellied Warbler, Arctic Warbler and Eastern Crowned Warbler. Took lunch at one of the small restaurants by the parking area where an extensive menu included Sea Fried and Friendly Rice. With time to spare the afternoon was spent driving areas around Amphur Wang Wiset and east of Krabi looking for suitable habitat for White-headed Munia, without success. Toward dusk found some interesting fields and paddies around Had Yao with Greater Painted-snipe, Slaty-breasted Rail and stunning views of King Quail. Overnight again at Khlong Thom with Eastern Barn Owl over the resort.

Dusky Langur
Dusky Langur

Brown-winged Kingfisher
Brown-winged Kingfisher

Had Yao sunset
Had Yao sunset

17 Sept. An earlier start in order to get to marshy areas near Had Yao, so off at 05:30 with Western Barn Owl still present around the resort. Quick 7-11 stop en route and arrived at general area around 06:30 to an overcast sky. In the excitement of getting into the paddies we all forgot rain gear. Thirty minutes later regretted not taking the umbrella as the heavens opened and we got pretty drenched. Rain stopped after 30 minutes, but the heavy shower had taken it's toll with one camera malfunctioning. The next hour spent walking the fields and paddy edges seeing several King Quail, Slaty-breasted Rail and Greater Painted-snipe, but no real additions to yesterday's list. Left the area and continued driving around searching for similar habitats; a difficult task in the over-growing sea of oil palms and rubber trees. The next hour produced more waders, Striated Heron and a couple of Jungle Myna, before heading off toward Phang-nga. After a lazy lunch continued on to mangroves at Ban Bang Phat where the despite the heat of the day a good selection of mangrove birds included Small Minivet, Black-hooded Oriole, Brown-winged Kingfisher and Oriental White-eye. On the road out stopped at suitable looking habitat and had Slaty-breasted Rail and Oriental Pratincole. Arrived back in Phuket into heavy traffic. All in all a great trip and very productive.

Species List

  Thai Mueang Count   Nong Plak Phaya Count
  Lesser Whistling Duck 4   Lesser Whistling Duck 150
  Black Bittern 1   Little Grebe 6
  Eastern Cattle Egret 20   Eastern Cattle Egret 30
  Great Egret 3   Purple Heron 10
  Little Egret 1   Little Egret 2
  Black-winged Kite 1   Black-winged Kite 1
  Brahminy Kite 10   White-bellied Sea Eagle 1
  White-breasted Waterhen 1   Shikra 1
  Ruddy-breasted Crake 1   Black-thighed Falconet 12
  Black-winged Stilt 4   Peregrine Falcon 1
  Red-wattled Lapwing 4   Slaty-breasted Rail 4
  Pacific Golden Plover 2   White-breasted Waterhen 6
  Little Ringed Plover 2   White-browed Crake 4
  Pin-tailed Snipe 4   Black-backed Swamphen 20
  Common Redshank 1   Black-winged Stilt 4
  Wood Sandpiper 3   Red-wattled Lapwing 3
  Common Sandpiper 2   Wood Sandpiper 1
  Rock Dove 3   Whiskered Tern 1
  Spotted Dove 4   Spotted Dove 10
  Orange-breasted Green Pigeon 10   Common Emerald Dove 1
  Greater Coucal 1   Zebra Dove 15
  Green-billed Malkoha 1   Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot 3
  Asian Koel 2   Greater Coucal 3
  Spotted Wood Owl 3   Lesser Coucal 1
  Grey-rumped Treeswift 1   Asian Koel 1
  Black-nest Swiftlet 100   Plaintive Cuckoo 3
  Germain's Swiftlet 30   Grey-rumped Treeswift 2
  Asian Palm Swift 2   Germain's Swiftlet 200
  Indian Roller 1   Brown-backed Needletail 70
  White-throated Kingfisher 3   House Swift 1
  Common Kingfisher 1   Oriental Dollarbird 2
  Chestnut-headed Bee-eater 12   Banded Kingfisher 2
  Lineated Barbet 1   White-throated Kingfisher 6
  Coppersmith Barbet 1   Common Kingfisher 2
  Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker 2   Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher 2
  Common Flameback 2   Blue-tailed Bee-eater 4
  Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike 2   Lineated Barbet 4
  Common Iora 1   Red-throated Barbet 1
  Tiger Shrike 1   Coppersmith Barbet 1
  Brown Shrike 1   Streak-breasted Woodpecker 1
  Large-billed Crow 20   Greater Flameback 1
  Black-headed Bulbul 1   Rufous Woodpecker 2
  Yellow-vented Bulbul 2   Blue-winged Pitta 1
  Streak-eared Bulbul 10   Common Iora 6
  Barn Swallow 2   Pied Triller 1
  Pacific Swallow 20   Tiger Shrike 1
  Yellow-bellied Prinia 3   Brown Shrike 2
  Common Tailorbird 4   Black Drongo 1
  Great Myna 20   Large-billed Crow 4
  Common Myna 10   Yellow-vented Bulbul 20
  Asian Brown Flycatcher 1   Streak-eared Bulbul 6
  Orange-bellied Flowerpecker 10   Barn Swallow 10
  Brown-throated Sunbird 10   Pacific Swallow 4
  Little Spiderhunter 1   Rufous-bellied Swallow 12
  Eurasian Tree Sparrow 10   Pin-striped Tit-Babbler 10
  Scaly-breasted Munia 30   Asian Glossy Starling 30
  Eastern Yellow Wagtail 20   Great Myna 10
  Grey Wagtail 1   Common Myna 20
  Paddyfield Pipit 3   Blue Whistling Thrush 1
        White-rumped Shama 3
  Laem Pakarang Count   Yellow-rumped Flycatcher 1
  Pacific Reef Heron 1   Tickell's Blue Flycatcher 2
  Eurasian Curlew 1   Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker 2
  Paddyfield Pipit 1   Brown-throated Sunbird 10
  Brahminy Kite 2   Olive-backed Sunbird 4
  Common Sandpiper 3   Eurasian Tree Sparrow 20
  Pacific Swallow 3   Scaly-breasted Munia 100
  Grey-tailed Tattler 4   Paddyfield Pipit 2
  Little Tern 4      
  Red-necked Stint 6   Khao Phra Bang Khram Count
  Lesser Sand Plover 20   Thick-billed Green Pigeon 4
  Terek Sandpiper 30   Greater Coucal 2
  Ruddy Turnstone 40   Chestnut-breasted Malkoha 1
  Greater Sand Plover 50   Green-billed Malkoha 1
  Whimbrel 50   Eastern Barn Owl 2
        Sunda Scops Owl 1
  Khlong Saeng Count   Grey-rumped Treeswift 3
  Brahminy Kite 1   Germain's Swiftlet 10
  White-bellied Sea Eagle 2   Red-throated Barbet 4
  Lesser Fish Eagle 4   Blue-eared Barbet 3
  Crested Serpent Eagle 1   Rufous Piculet 4
  Shikra 1   Black-and-yellow Broadbill 2
  Blyth's Hawk-Eagle 1   Green Iora 1
  Oriental Hobby 3   Brown Shrike 2
  Pacific Golden Plover 2   Blyth's Paradise Flycatcher 3
  Greater Coucal 1   Black Magpie 2
  Green-billed Malkoha 1   Stripe-throated Bulbul 1
  Buffy Fish Owl 4   Asian Red-eyed Bulbul 1
  Plume-toed Swiftlet 2   Pacific Swallow 2
  Asian Palm Swift 20   Arctic Warbler 1
  House Swift 10   Eastern Crowned Warbler 1
  Oriental Dollarbird 1   Common Tailorbird 2
  Stork-billed Kingfisher 3   Chestnut-winged Babbler 10
  Common Kingfisher 2   Pin-striped Tit-Babbler 4
  Oriental Pied Hornbill 4   Moustached Babbler 2
  Great Hornbill 4   Ferruginous Babbler 2
  Helmeted Hornbill 2   Puff-throated Babbler 3
  Greater Flameback 2   Great Myna 5
  Large-billed Crow 4   Common Myna 2
  Rufous-bellied Swallow 5   Orange-bellied Flowerpecker 1
  Abbott's Babbler 3   Little Spiderhunter 2
  Asian Fairy-bluebird 1      
  Blue Rock Thrush 2   Had Yao Count
  Grey Wagtail 1   King Quail 4
        Striated Heron 2
  Krung Ching Count   Eastern Cattle Egret 4
  Crested Honey Buzzard 2   Little Egret 2
  Blyth's Hawk-Eagle 1   Slaty-breasted Rail 2
  Vernal Hanging Parrot 3   Black-winged Stilt 4
  Greater Coucal 2   Red-wattled Lapwing 5
  Raffles's Malkoha 4   Greater Painted-snipe 6
  Red-billed Malkoha 1   Pin-tailed Snipe 26
  Black-bellied Malkoha 1   Wood Sandpiper 20
  Violet Cuckoo 1   Red Turtle Dove 6
  Banded Bay Cuckoo 2   Spotted Dove 4
  Brown Wood Owl 3   Zebra Dove 4
  Blyth's Frogmouth 1   Greater Coucal 1
  Asian Palm Swift 20   Germain's Swiftlet 40
  Scarlet-rumped Trogon 3   Asian Palm Swift 4
  Orange-breasted Trogon 2   Collared Kingfisher 1
  Banded Kingfisher 3   Brown Shrike 6
  Red-bearded Bee-eater 1   Greater Racket-tailed Drongo 1
  Golden-whiskered Barbet 3   Yellow-vented Bulbul 4
  Red-throated Barbet 2   Barn Swallow 2
  Rufous Piculet 1   Pacific Swallow 4
  Rufous Woodpecker 1   Rufous-bellied Swallow 10
  Black-and-yellow Broadbill 5   Zitting Cisticola 2
  Rufous-winged Philentoma 4   Yellow-bellied Prinia 1
  Maroon-breasted Philentoma 2   Common Tailorbird 1
  Fiery Minivet 3   Jungle Myna 2
  Tiger Shrike 1   Common Myna 10
  Bronzed Drongo 2   Oriental Magpie-Robin 1
  Greater Racket-tailed Drongo 2   Eurasian Tree Sparrow 10
  Black-naped Monarch 4   Baya Weaver 4
  Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher 2   Paddyfield Pipit 4
  Spectacled Bulbul 1      
  Ochraceous Bulbul 10   Ban Bang Phat Count
  Grey-cheeked Bulbul 2   Little Grebe 1
  Yellow-bellied Bulbul 3   Little Egret 1
  Hairy-backed Bulbul 1   Crested Serpent Eagle 1
  Arctic Warbler 2   Slaty-breasted Rail 1
  Common Tailorbird 1   Barred Buttonquail 1
  Dark-necked Tailorbird 2   Black-winged Stilt 2
  Grey-throated Babbler 1   Red-wattled Lapwing 2
  Chestnut-winged Babbler 4   Little Ringed Plover 20
  Fluffy-backed Tit-Babbler 3   Lesser Sand Plover 2
  Abbott's Babbler 4   Greater Sand Plover 2
  Moustached Babbler 1   Common Redshank 1
  White-rumped Shama 4   Oriental Pratincole 1
  White-crowned Forktail 1   Spotted Dove 2
  Fulvous-chested Jungle Flycatcher 2   Zebra Dove 4
  Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker 3   Greater Coucal 1
  Purple-naped Sunbird 2   Germain's Swiftlet 20
  Grey-breasted Spiderhunter 4   Asian Palm Swift 20
        Brown-winged Kingfisher 2
  Satun Mangroves Count   Ruddy Kingfisher 1
  Brahminy Kite 4   White-throated Kingfisher 4
  Shikra 2   Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker 1
  Zebra Dove 5   Small Minivet 7
  Chestnut-bellied Malkoha 1   Brown Shrike 2
  Germain's Swiftlet 100   Black-hooded Oriole 2
  White-throated Kingfisher 4   Malaysian Pied Fantail 5
  Collared Kingfisher 2   Yellow-vented Bulbul 2
  Blue-tailed Bee-eater 4   Barn Swallow 2
  Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker 1   Pacific Swallow 4
  Golden-bellied Gerygone 20   Dark-necked Tailorbird 2
  Malaysian Pied Fantail 6   Oriental White-eye 2
  Cinereous Tit 2   Jungle Myna 4
  Yellow-vented Bulbul 4   Common Myna 10
  Arctic Warbler 2   Orange-bellied Flowerpecker 2
  Ashy Tailorbird 2   Ruby-cheeked Sunbird 5
  Asian Brown Flycatcher 1   Eurasian Tree Sparrow 10
  Ruby-cheeked Sunbird 4   Eastern Yellow Wagtail 1
  Olive-backed Sunbird 10   Paddyfield Pipit 2
  Paddyfield Pipit 1