Saturday, 11 January 2014

Thailand Photos... Part 1

Here are a few Thailand photos/notes from my recent trip:

Some of the Highlights... (that I got pictures of!)

Pittas are one of my favourite families and are always a major highlight on any trip where they occur. I'd done a fair bit of research before my trip and everyone I'd spoken to prior to going had told me in no uncertain terms I'd got pretty much no chance of seeing any Pittas at the time of year of my visit. However I say "Never say never".....
Blue Pitta:
 I was walking around an area of forest at Kaeng Krachan NP that looked good for Blue Pitta when a bird called in the distance. After climbing through the forest undergrowth (and climbing through loads of horrible spiders webs) I got to an area where I thought there was a chance of being able to view the bird (almost like a small clearing on the ground). After a 30 minute game of cat and mouse that involved me hiding behind various tree trunks and the bird doing circuits around me, it eventually showed. It came really close but was so fast in its movements that trying to get a photo in the almost-dark forest floor (at 3200 ISO) proved rather difficult, although the views were first rate. A really stunning male.

Eared Pitta:

I spent my first day at Kaeng Krachan in the Lung Sin Waterhole, organised by the very friendly and helpful Tom at Ban Maka. It was about 5pm and I'd been in the hide all day (except for a couple of hours over lunchtime). I was scanning around the small gully that the waterhole is located within, enjoying the spectacle of 5 Siberian Blue Robins hopping about in front of me when I noticed some movement in the almost dark undergrowth right at the back. Pitta! Shocked, staying on it as is moved about in near-darkness was incredibly hard and eventually I lost it. Not to worry as after 5 minutes it popped out much closer and came to the waterhole to bathe. Unbelievable! To say they were amazing views would be no exaggeration! The bird stayed around the pool for over 30 minutes, full in view for all of that time (surrounded at times by several Siberian Blue Roins!) the only downside to this moment was that it was nearing dark so the light for photography was appalling, however I managed a few record shots at 3200 ISO! Enough to document it for anyone who might not have believed it!

Spoon-billed Sandpiper:
An appalling record shot off my phone but Spoon-billed Sandpiper was the main target of my trip (the Pittas were a big bonus!). I arrived at Pak Thale not long after first light on Friday 13th December (what could go wrong!). The GPS co-ordinates got me to the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Centre from Bangkok and it was evident that there were thousands of waders present at the site. All I needed to do was find the needle in the haystack! Although I was initially daunted by the number of birds at the site I was surprised with the ease that I managed to locate the lone "Spooner" on a salt pan, especially given how skittish the waders all appeared. After enjoying great views of the bird it flew off and I realised I'd not taken any photos of it! The next day I went back and found the bird on the same salt pan, got better views of it (it was more active, feeding etc.) but was too distant for my camera so had to settle for a record shot off my phone. A remarkable-looking bird, interesting to watch and globally rare as!

Great Hornbill:
This was one of the most impressive birds I've ever seen. Absolutely huge. The noise of its wings in flight as it flew over the forest at Kaeng Krachan NP was incredible, as it glided over it sounded like an aeroplane! This one was very vocal too, and inquisitive.

Giant Nuthatch:
Any trip to Northern Thailand will have Giant Nuthatch near the top of the target list, quite rightly so as this is one impressive bird. At 19.5 cm (about Common Starling size) Giant is the right name for this bird (here dwarfing a 13 cm Grey-capped Pygmy-Woodpecker). This bird was seen near the DYK Station on Doi Chiang Dao and was one of a couple seen during the day - always in the Pine trees.

Chinese Egret:
Chinese Egret is always high of the target lists of birders visiting SE Asia during the non-breeding season. This bird was found hunting along the shore of the Laem Pak Bia Sand Spit and allowed very good views - and was also nice to be able to see it in the presence of both Little Egret and Pacific Reef Heron - both potential confusion species if not seen properly.

Kalij Pheasant:
Kalij Pheasant (male at front, female at rear) was seen a couple of times at Kaeng Krachan NP. Early morning or late afternoon seemed to be the best time to see these birds as they came out onto the dirt tracks. Really impressive looking birds and always a joy to see a pheasant!

Spot-breasted Parrotbill:
It was getting late on the last day at Doi Lang in Northern Thailand and I was starting to think I was going to miss this fairly common (yet rather impressive) bird. I needn't have worried as a pair flew in to save the day and showed very well. Much larger than I was expecting, huge bills too!

Red Junglefowl:
A really impressive bird! Pretty nervous but occasionally showed well, sometimes in enough light to get a picture.

Some of the Good Feeder Birds....

Golden Bush Robin:

Himalayan Bluetail:

Red-flanked Bluetail:

Chestnut-headed Tesia:

Daurian  Redstart:

Large Niltava:

Red-faced Liocichla: 

Spectacled Barwing:

Ultramarine Flycatcher: 
Got some very, very nice views of some good birds coming to meal worms at Doi Lang and Doi Inthanon, these were some of the highlights!

And Finally (for now)...

Long-tailed Duck:
A surprising bonus bird! This was Thailands second record of Long-tailed Duck! A national MEGA, and a very good bird for my SE Asia list!!!

1 comment:

  1. Some fantastic birds there andy! You didn't miss anything here!