Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Leeches, Scorpions and Elephants

Went to Khao Yai National Park for the day yesterday - arriving via the North (Pak Chong) gate and exiting via the southern gate. Lots of the best birds of the day were unfortunately 'heard only' records, but the overall haul was pretty nice.

The day started with three Great Hornbills seen at my first stop, as well as a Brown Needletail, a couple of Moustached Barbets and a Blue-winged Leafbird. A walk along the road near the first viewpoint (if coming from Pak Chong) gave me a distant calling Hooded Pitta.

Great Hornbill

Moustached Barbet

My second stop produced nice views of a male Ashy-headed Green Pigeon carrying nesting material, and the first of six calling (but all unseen, because I didn't look for them!) Blue Pittas,  a couple of Hill Mynas and a Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike.  I also picked up a couple of leeches here - I told a colleague at work today and he said I should of kept them for him (I work with some odd people!).

Some open grassland birding gave me photo opportunities for a Bright-headed Cisticola, as well as views of Green-billed Malkoha, Crested Goshawk and Scarlet Minivet.  Rather surprisingly, from the isolated patches of forest in the grassland I heard a Coral-billed Ground-Cuckoo and a pair of Long-tailed Broadbills!

Bright-headed Cisticola

Further open country birding produced this hard-to-clinch immature Mountain Hawk-eagle - the possible confusion species being Changeable Hawk-eagle, but I sent this picture to Phil Round who agreed with me about it being Mountain.  Confusingly the fieldguides to Thailand have Mountain Hawk-eagle as a non-breeding visitor to Khao Yai, but Phil informs me that the species has be found to breed in the National Park.

imm. Mountain Hawk-eagle

Lunchtime birding in the vicinity of Pla Kluy Mai campsite produced calling (but not seen) Banded Broadbill and Red-headed Trogon, pointblank views of Abbott's Babbler, brief encounters with a Greater Flameback and a Crimson Sunbird, prolonged views of a showy pair of Orange-breasted Trogons and brief views of immature Golden-crested Myna, Oriental Pied Hornbill and Heart-spotted Woodpecker.

Orange-breasted Trogon

Birding along the road near Haeo Suwat waterfall produced nice views of an undisputed Everett's White-eye (first confirmed in Khao Yai in 2004), whilst the Radar Road was a bit quieter than anticipated  (apart from a huge Scorpion!) until I got to the last half KM below the radar station, where I had up to five Blue Pittas calling.

Everett's White-eye

Putt-throated Bulbul

Grey-eyed Bulbul

The drive down to the southern gate was enlivened by meeting a group of five Asian Elephants, including two mischevious youngsters who keep getting brought into line by the adults.


And finally - I have a magic trick for you.  I saw these beetles feeding on a tree trunk...

 ...and whilst watching them I suddenly realised they were not alone!


Anonymous said...

Hi David ,
I am a British birdwatcher and I am coming to Bangkok with my wife for the second time since 2008. It's very interesting to read your Blog. We visited Khao Yai last time we came and approached it from the north and left the same way, so it was interesting to see that you left via the southern gate which we were not aware of. Is is easy enough to drive back to Bangkok from the southern gate ? Regards, Chris Rae.

David Gandy said...

From the southern gate it is a shorter drive back to Bangkok actually Chris. The only thing you need to be aware of is that there are increased chances of meeting elephants on the road in the southern part of the park, so drive cautiously, especially in the last hour of daylight, early morning or at night.