Thursday, May 24, 2012

Early morning visit to Suan Rot Fai, just to double check that there were no interesting summer migrants around - I was right!  Very little of note apart from a single Openbill, and the lingering Black-crowned Night Heron.  The only Pond Herons around were two Javans.

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!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Little Prat!

Work seems to have taken over in the last couple of weeks and I have had zero time to do any birding. The last week has been especially bad, with working  in Mae Sot on the Thia-Burma border, staying in the office for several late nights, walking back to my hotel (and running the risk of getting attacked by the towns infamous dogs) and getting up at 5am to start all over again.

The only birding I got to do was at Sukothai airport, whilst waiting for a flight back to Bangkok yesterday morning - I scanned the runway and picked up a few typical wetland birds (eg Purple Heron, Lesser Whilstling Duck) but was surprised to see a distant "wader" going away from me, which I suddenly realised was actually a Small Pratincole - a species I had only seen once before (in Burma, back in February).  I quickly lost it but then picked up a couple of Oriental Pratincoles, and then got back on the Small Prat (infact there may have been two or three birds).

I have been to this airport many times before but have never seen them there, and must admit I'm a bit confused by the status of Small Praticole in Thailand as I had always thought it was known mostly from the Mekong in the far north, but I know that Gerry Brett has them breeding in Ratchaburi, plus there have been a few records from Pak Thale.

Whatever, two pratincole species together was nice to see after two weeks of no birding.