Southeast Thailand: 1-12 May 2011


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1- 12 May 2011.
Hot and dry at Laem Phak Bia/Pak Thale. Very wet in the east.
Laem Phak Bia, Pak Thale, Khok Kham, Khao Soi Dao, Khao Yai and Wat Phra Phutthabat Noi.

1 May. This trip, planned with Ian Dugdale and Games Punjapa Phetsri Phetsri, was mainly aimed to suss out whether Khao Soi Dao could be added to the South Thailand Birding list of tours. The scope was extended to include a couple of days in the Phetchaburi area. Left Chiang Mai at 06:00 with most of the day was spent driving to Laem Phak Bia. On arrival at Hat Chao Samran the intention had been to stay at one of the local resorts, but being a holiday on 2nd May all resorts here were full. The last hour of light was spent scanning some of the salt pans near Chao Samran where a small group of Spot-billed Pelican and eleven Pied Avocet were the highlights. At dusk returned to Phetchaburi where a small resort was found easily - everyone was staying on the beach!

Mily Stork
Milky Stork with Painted Stork

2 May – Early morning spent at the same pans as the previous evening with roughly the same species present, so moved to check the mangroves and ponds at the nearby King’s project. All the usual suspects were present but a pair of Greater Painted-snipe were noteworthy. The main intention of visiting this area was to look for the Milky Storks that had been reported on and off in the area for a while, so the rest of the morning was spent slowly driving northward toward Pak Thale and scanning through any Painted Stork found. This was rewarded with two Milky Storks located just north of the oil storage depot in the heat of the day. Unfortunately views were distant and they took off shortly after.

Driving back to Chao Samran met up with Ian and Games from Phuket and following lunch resumed the search for both Spot-billed Pelican and the Milky Stork, locating both is the same areas as previously that morning. Overnight at the same resort in Phetchaburi.

Asian Dowitcher
Asian Dowitcher with Black-tailed Godwit

3 May – Another early start in an attempt to photograph the Spot-billed Pelican and Milky Stork, with mixed success.  A further session at the King’s project produced few new birds, so we decided to head up the coast to Khok Kham, as the tide should be good for waders in the late afternoon. With a high tide at around 19:00 our timing at around 15:00 was just right and we were able to get some shots of Asian Dowitcher flying past. A nearby local resort for the night.

4 May – As tide times are decidedly odd along this Inner Gulf coast the next high tide was at 04:00 this morning, so we were back at the mangrove study area at first light to catch the waders flying out again. Surprisingly not as successful as yesterday with a smaller selection of species, though some nicely plumaged Asian Dowitcher and Curlew Sandpiper.  Left Khok Kham in good time for the drive to Khao Soi Dao in Chanthaburi, which was the be the main focus for the next week or so. On arrival at Khao Soi Dao our attempts to contact park staff were not that successful as being a government holiday key staff not present. The last couple of hours of light were spent along the road to the waterfall with Dusky Broadbill a highlight. Overnight at the Wang Pla Soi Dao Resort, just outside the sanctuary which for 350 baht, including aircon and hot water, was pretty good value.

Dusky Broadbill
Dusky Broadbill

5 May. Early birding along the road to waterfall whist waiting for the park HQ office to open at 08:00. The first task was to seek permission from the head man to be able to climb up either or both of the Khao Soi Dao mountains (north and south). At his suggestion, our request to have a ranger to accompany us up Khao Soi Dao Nua was turned into having two rangers and two porters and to spend a night camped high above the falls. This seemed like a fine idea so arranged an 07:00 departure for the following morning, giving us, and them, a day to prepare equipment and food.

Late afternoon walked the Loop Trail, but lacking maintenance this proved more an exercise in jungle orientation than birding. We did finally make the loop after three hours but saw few birds in the process. Birding at Khao Soi Dao was proving really difficult. Another night at Wang Pla Soi Dao Resort.

6 May. Arrived as agreed at 07:00 but were not surprised to find we were the only people to turn up. At 07:30 one ranger arrived and looked very surprised that we’d actually brought camping equipment as no porters had been asked for. Hmm. After a further hour of faffing around the head man announced that no rangers and porters were available due to them having “normal work” to do, so ended up with a single ranger as we started a day trip up the waterfall trail to see how high we could go. We’d hoped to be able to at least see some of the area’s speciality species but after a two hours slog arrived at the top (level-16) of the waterfall at only 620 m where the trail seemed to die out and our ranger informed us he’d never gone higher and didn't know the trail. To make matters worse rain started in earnest.  Needless to say we were not very impressed with the way the day had panned out so decided to cut our losses and walk down. Rain most of the afternoon, so we made do with some more birding along the road to the waterfall. Although the forest looked good, finding birds was proving a real struggle. Another night at Wang Pla Soi Dao Resort.

7 May. As we felt we could walk the Loop Trail without getting lost we decided to hit it early. Certainly there was a better selection of species than in the heat of the day but still none of the region's specialities could be found. In the afternoon headed south to Pong Nam Ron to meet Khun Dia who acts as the local organiser for trips to climb Khao Soi Dao Dai. This meeting went much better than expected and we made arrangements for guide and porters to climb the mountain starting Monday. In the late afternoon visited the captive breeding centre just outside town, where there were certainly large captive populations of Silver Pheasant and Green Peafowl. Overnight at the Iyara Resort which had pleasant views and a negotiated piece of 700 baht/night for two nights. Low cloud and rain didn't look good for climbing mountains.

8 May. Returned to the water fall trail early on. However, rain started 07:30 and continued on/off all day. The afternoon spent around the HQ  watching the occasional needletails, and were eventually rewarded with good but brief views of Silver-backed Needletail.  Returned to Pong Nam Rong and checking the weather forecast were not optimistic for climbing the mountain as two days heavy rainfall was expected. Overnight again at Iyara Resort.

Black-throated Laughingthrush
Black-throated Laughingthush

9 May. We met up with Khun Dai at 06:00, and as expected he expressed concerns about the weather, especially the possibilities of high winds bringng down trees. Two days camping in heavy rain and potentially high river crossings meant we had to abandon the climb. Opted to leave the area and head up to Khao Yai National Park in an attempt to look for Eared Pitta. Here we started on the Gully Trails 5, 6 and 7 and the Nature Trail behind the HQ, but other than leeches and rain didn't see a lot. A visit to the radar station was cool and foggy but on the lookout Trail we saw Common Green Magpie and Black-throated Laughingthrush. Overnight at some cheap and cheerful backpacker’s resort a couple of kilometres outside the park, which would not be recommended.

10 May.  An early session on the Nature Tail with more leeches than ever previously seen, before again back on 5, 6, and 7 trails – this time completing the loop to Mo Sing as well as getting caught in very heavy rain. Afternoon on Nong Phak Chi Nature Trail but little seen. Overnight as yesterday.

11 May. Much better weather today as it didn't even look like rain! Early morning on Nong Phak Chi Nature Trail where the best bird found was Golden-headed Myna. After lunch at the Khao Yai restaurant headed to Wat Phra Phutthabat Noi near Saraburi. Overnight in a small guesthouse nearby.

12 May. Early morning at the wat where we tried for Limestone Wren-Babbler at the traditional areas around the temple complex, failing completely. For a change of tactic we tried the areas to the right of the school nearer some small temple buildings and were eventually rewarded with brief views of a pair of Limestone Wren-Babbler. Around 10:00 headed back to Chiang Mai.

Species List

  Laem Phak Bia, Pak Thale Count   Khok Kham Count
  Little Egret 200   Little Egret 200
  Spot-billed Pelican 25   Little Grebe 2
  Lesser Whistling Duck 50   Striated Heron 4
  Little Grebe 1   Chinese Pond Heron 2
  Milky Stork 2   Javan Pond Heron 200
  Painted Stork 215   Eastern Cattle Egret 10
  Black-crowned Night Heron 10   Grey Heron 10
  Striated Heron 4   Purple Heron 1
  Javan Pond Heron 50   Great Egret 50
  Eastern Cattle Egret 10   Little Cormorant 100
  Grey Heron 20   Indian Cormorant 4
  Great Egret 100   Brahminy Kite 2
  Intermediate Egret 2   Black-winged Stilt 200
  Little Cormorant 100   Pacific Golden Plover 100
  Indian Cormorant 25   Lesser Sand Plover 3000
  Brahminy Kite 10   Asian Dowitcher 30
  Ruddy-breasted Crake 2   Black-tailed Godwit 250
  Black-winged Stilt 300   Common Sandpiper 2
  Pied Avocet 14   Red-necked Stint 200
  Red-wattled Lapwing 10   Curlew Sandpiper 100
  Pacific Golden Plover 10   Brown-headed Gull 2
  Grey Plover 4   Gull-billed Tern 2
  Lesser Sand Plover 100   Caspian Tern 5
  Greater Sand Plover 5   Little Tern 20
  Greater Painted-snipe 2   Eurasian Curlew 4
  Black-tailed Godwit 16   Spotted Redshank 40
  Common Sandpiper 10   Common Redshank 20
  Red-necked Stint 2   Marsh Sandpiper 4
  Long-toed Stint 2   Common Greenshank 20
  Ruff 2   Greater Coucal 2
  Oriental Pratincole 1   Plaintive Cuckoo 3
  Brown-headed Gull 40   Germain's Swiftlet 4
  Gull-billed Tern 10   Asian Palm Swift 20
  Caspian Tern 50   Collared Kingfisher 3
  Little Tern 20   Golden-bellied Gerygone 20
  Whiskered Tern 400   Black Drongo 2
  White-winged Tern 20   Malaysian Pied Fantail 10
  Rock Dove 30   Barn Swallow 20
  Whimbrel 2   Dusky Warbler 1
  Spotted Redshank 10   Pied Myna 20
  Common Redshank 5   Oriental Magpie-Robin 10
  Common Greenshank 20   Brown-throated Sunbird 1
  Wood Sandpiper 1   Eurasian Tree Sparrow 20
  Red Turtle Dove 20      
  Greater Coucal 4   Khao Yai Count
  Plaintive Cuckoo 3   Little Egret 1
  Germain's Swiftlet 10   Green-legged Partridge 10
  Asian Palm Swift 20   Red Junglefowl 12
  White-throated Kingfisher 4   Siamese Fireback 2
  Green Bee-eater 10   Rufous-bellied Eagle 1
  Blue-tailed Bee-eater 20   Barred Buttonquail 2
  Golden-bellied Gerygone 50   Red-wattled Lapwing 4
  Common Iora 10   Orange-breasted Trogon 2
  Brown Shrike 2   Red-headed Trogon 4
  Black Drongo 10   Indian Roller 2
  Malaysian Pied Fantail 6   Oriental Dollarbird 3
  Indochinese Bush Lark 6   Greater Flameback 2
  Barn Swallow 20   Spotted Dove 4
  Dusky Warbler 2   Barred Cuckoo-Dove 2
  Oriental Reed Warbler 10   Common Emerald Dove 4
  Black-browed Reed Warbler 10   Zebra Dove 2
  Zitting Cisticola 10   Thick-billed Green Pigeon 4
  Common Tailorbird 2   Mountain Imperial Pigeon 6
  Great Myna 400   Vernal Hanging Parrot 1
  Common Myna 100   Greater Coucal 4
  Pied Myna 40   Green-billed Malkoha 5
  Oriental Magpie-Robin 4   Asian Koel 2
  Plain-backed Sparrow 4   Brown-backed Needletail 10
  Eurasian Tree Sparrow 40   Asian Palm Swift 20
  Baya Weaver 20   House Swift 10
  Scaly-breasted Munia 4   Oriental Pied Hornbill 1
  Eastern Yellow Wagtail 1   Great Hornbill 5
        Wreathed Hornbill 10
  Khao Soi Dao Count   Lineated Barbet 2
  Green-legged Partridge 6   Coppersmith Barbet 1
  Red Junglefowl 10   Lesser Yellownape 1
  Black Baza 1   Laced Woodpecker 3
  Crested Serpent Eagle 2   Common Flameback 1
  Changeable Hawk-Eagle 3   Long-tailed Broadbill 3
  Red-wattled Lapwing 4   Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike 1
  Rock Dove 50   Common Iora 2
  Orange-breasted Trogon 4   Scarlet Minivet 2
  Indian Roller 1   Greater Racket-tailed Drongo 4
  Banded Kingfisher 3   Common Green Magpie 2
  Greater Flameback 2   Eastern Jungle Crow 1
  Black-headed Bulbul 4   Black-crested Bulbul 4
  Red Turtle Dove 10   Stripe-throated Bulbul 4
  Spotted Dove 4   Puff-throated Bulbul 20
  Barred Cuckoo-Dove 1   Grey-eyed Bulbul 3
  Common Emerald Dove 4   Ashy Bulbul 2
  Zebra Dove 10   Barn Swallow 200
  Thick-billed Green Pigeon 20   Golden-headed Cisticola 4
  Greater Coucal 4   Grey-breasted Prinia 2
  Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo 1   Dark-necked Tailorbird 10
  Green-billed Malkoha 10   White-browed Scimitar Babbler 3
  Asian Koel 2   Rufous-fronted Babbler 4
  Violet Cuckoo 2   Pin-striped Tit-Babbler 30
  Banded Bay Cuckoo 2   Abbott's Babbler 1
  Plaintive Cuckoo 2   Puff-throated Babbler 2
  Collared Scops Owl 1   Black-throated Laughingthrush 6
  Asian Barred Owlet 10   Everett's White-eye 20
  Crested Treeswift 2   Golden-crested Myna 1
  Germain's Swiftlet 5   Common Hill Myna 15
  Silver-backed Needletail 2   Common Myna 1
  Brown-backed Needletail 7   Oriental Magpie-Robin 4
  Asian Palm Swift 20   Northern White-crowned Forktail 2
  House Swift 20   Hill Blue Flycatcher 3
  Blue-eared Kingfisher 1   Blue-winged Leafbird 2
  Blue-bearded Bee-eater 1   Plain Flowerpecker 10
  Oriental Pied Hornbill 5   Buff-bellied Flowerpecker 2
  Great Hornbill 2   Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker 2
  Green-eared Barbet 30   Black-throated Sunbird 1
  Moustached Barbet 1   Little Spiderhunter 2
  Blue-eared Barbet 100   Plain-backed Sparrow 2
  Laced Woodpecker 5   Eurasian Tree Sparrow 10
  Banded Broadbill 4   Paddyfield Pipit 2
  Dusky Broadbill 5      
  Hooded Pitta 4   Wat Phra Phutthabat Noi Count
  Blue-winged Pitta 4   Red Junglefowl 3
  Ashy Woodswallow 10   Lesser Whistling Duck 20
  Common Iora 3   Asian Openbill 20
  Scarlet Minivet 2   Greater Coucal 3
  Greater Racket-tailed Drongo 40   Green-billed Malkoha 2
  Black-naped Monarch 2   Asian Palm Swift 10
  Black-crested Bulbul 20   White-throated Kingfisher 2
  Sooty-headed Bulbul 5   Lineated Barbet 5
  Stripe-throated Bulbul 20   Coppersmith Barbet 1
  Streak-eared Bulbul 3   Common Iora 3
  Ochraceous Bulbul 20   Hair-crested Drongo 1
  Grey-eyed Bulbul 10   Racket-tailed Treepie 1
  Barn Swallow 30   Black-crested Bulbul 4
  Asian House Martin 10   Limestone Wren-Babbler 3
  Striated Swallow 200   Puff-throated Babbler 2
  Grey-breasted Prinia 2   Common Myna 10
  Common Tailorbird 2   Oriental Magpie-Robin 2
  Dark-necked Tailorbird 10   White-rumped Shama 3
  Pin-striped Tit-Babbler 40      
  Puff-throated Babbler 1      
  Asian Fairy-bluebird 10      
  Great Myna 4      
  Common Myna 30      
  Black-collared Starling 10      
  Oriental Magpie-Robin 10      
  White-rumped Shama 10      
  Blue-winged Leafbird 4      
  Yellow-vented Flowerpecker 2      
  Plain Flowerpecker 1      
  Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker 1      
  Ruby-cheeked Sunbird 10      
  Crimson Sunbird 2      
  Little Spiderhunter 2      
  House Sparrow 3      
  Plain-backed Sparrow 5      
  Eurasian Tree Sparrow 20      
  White-rumped Munia 2      
  Scaly-breasted Munia 4