Excellent weekend birding in Petchaburi province with my friend Chris who was back from a week birding lowland Sabah with Robert Chong, and on his way to lead the Western Pacific Odyssy tour.
Our first stop on Saturday was Pak Thale to get Chris his first Spoon-billed Sandpipers of the year (he's also organising this tour later this year to search for Spooner breeding areas). On arrival at Pak Thale we met Mr Daeng, the boatman from Laem Pak Bia, who already had two birds on a pool beside the track. One of these was in partial breeding plumage, but was less co-operative than the other, winter plum, bird. Whilst checking for more Spooners amongst the Red-necked Stints I picked up an adult Little Stint which was well advanced in attaining summer plumage.
The way we all want to see a Spooner
But they are pretty good even when they look like this!
After admiring the Spooners for a hour we headed down to the Kings Project where we picked up Ruddy-breasted Crake and two male Painted Snipe (as well as Common and Pin-tailed Snipe), Oriental Reed Warbler and the usual waders.
Long -toed Stint
We departed late morning for Kaeng Krachan National Park, and after checking in at Samarn Bird Camp (which is just 1 km from the park gate) we headed into the Park. Birding was somewhat hampered by heavy rain, but we managed to pick up one key target, Ratchet-tailed Treepie (this is the only place in Thailand for the species). We also had nice views of Long-tailed Broadbill and Lesser-necklaced Laughingthrush, brief views of White-browed Scimitar-babbler and a troupe of Banded Langurs crossed the trail we walked during a brief let up in the rain. Traveling out of the Park after dark provided some spotlighting interest, with a couple of Common Palm Civets on the road and a pair of civety-types who decided to hide around the back of a tree as soon as the spotlight was put on them - we couldn't even sort them out with the scope.
Things started slowly on Sunday, with a few woodpeckers being picked up including Rufous 'pecker and Common Flameback, I also picked up a calling Sultan Tit which proceeded to show well, and a single Black Baza perched up for a short while. We had a distantly calling Blue Pitta, and several vocal Grey Peacock-pheasants but nothing close enough to offer views. A stop at a couple of view points rewarded us with five Wreathed and a couple of Great Hornbills, and a pair of Silver-breasted Broadbills nearby, carrying nesting material. The highlight of the day came when we checked a nice shady area of forest at km 24.5 where Chris found a pair of Bar-backed Partridges foraging quietly in the slope forest leaf litter, we followed them for about 15 minutes, getting excellent views.
White-handed Gibbons come in two flavours
Lunch at the upper camp site was not exactly a culinary highlight, but troupes of White-handed Gibbons and Dusky Langurs crossing paths beside the restaurant gave us some nice photographic opportunities. This was followed by some ridge top birding on the road past the campsite which gives stunning views of the forest and provided us with an adult Rufous-bellied Eagle. We also picked up a strange, apparently all-dark swift with a forked tail, which might have been Dark-rumped Swift, but is more likely to be a cooki Pacific Swift, this resident race has much reduced white on the rump which can be difficult to see. Driving back down the mountain in the late afternoon gave us a couple of Red-headed Trogans from the car, and Chris a very brief glimpse of a cat spp, probably a Leopard Cat. We picked up another couple of Common Palm Civets as well as Great Eared and Large-tailed Nightjars just before dusk.