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Phang Nga Mangroves – Thailand Birding

Over the last few months I have made several visits to two mangrove sites in Phang Nga province; Ao Phang Nga National Park HQ and Ban Bang Phut.  On both occasions the birding has been very rewarding and I have been able to find most of the species that occur in this habitat quite quickly, getting good views of them all. The unusual thing about these visits is that I have been able to find birds at any time of day, on my most recent visit on 2nd July I was able to find Mangrove Pitta a little after having lunch at around 1.45pm in extremely hot and humid conditions. Mangrove Pitta was followed by several other target birds including White-chested Babbler, Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Ruddy Kingfisher, Black-and-red Broadbill and Streak-breasted Woodpecker, all between 1pm and 4pm.

I have found the birding and photographic opportunities at these sites between April and July to be very good, some of my photos, some more comments and checklists follow for these two mangrove birding locations.

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Bala Wildlife Sanctuary Wet Season Birding: Thailand Birding

I recently spent 4 nights at the Bala sector of Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary in Narathiwat province on the Thai-Malaysia border. This is probably the best birding site in Southern Thailand but I have made very few visits due to the long distance from Bangkok, where I live, and the ongoing violence in the area that makes one think before going there.

In truth there has never been any violence in the immediate area of the wildlife sanctuary and although one has to travel through area where shootings and bombings do occur, the chances of being caught up in them are very slim, although it remains that there is some element of risk and on my recent visit there was a motorcycle bomb on the main highway just a few hours after I had passed through.

This wet season visit proved not to be too wet, with thunderstorms confined to the late afternoon and evenings, allowing myself and Jan Hillman to enjoy many excellent species with highlights including Rhinoceros Hornbill, Malaysian Honeyguide, Green Broadbill, Scarlet-rumped Trogon, Red-throated Sunbird, Buffy Fish Owl, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher (Rufous morph), Helmeted Hornbill, Finsch’s Bulbul, Checker-throated Woodpecker and Rufous-chested Flycatcher.

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Birding Petchaburi Province for the Day: Thailand Birding

On 20th May myself and Tom Wilson spent a day visiting various birding sites in Petchaburi province, leaving Bangkok at 5am and returning at around 6pm. It turned out to be a really good day with a large number of species and a wide variety of birds including Black-headed Woodpecker, Milky Stork, Indian Thick-knee, Slaty-breasted Rail, Grey-tailed Tattler, Blue-throated Bee-eater, Indian Pond Heron, Black Bittern, Freckle-breasted Woodpecker and thousands of nesting weavers. We started the day at Wat Khao Luk Chang, moved on to Laem Pak Bia, then Pak Thale and after lunch checked out the fish ponds at Wat Khao Takrao before finishing the day in the rice fields near Petchaburi town; our favourite sightings and some photos follow.

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Bird Persecution Using Mist Nets: Thailand Birding

A couple of days ago on 20th May I was birding in the rice fields near Petchaburi, enjoying the spectacle of Weavers nesting. Baya Weaver colonies seem to be in every small tree, their complicated nests apparently in a constant state of construction, and plenty of small colonies of Asian Golden Weaver are in beds of Typha along drainage ditches. Added to this are less frequent colonies of Streaked Weaver in emergent vegetation and all together there is quite an entertaining level of activity to watch, making for a lot of photo opportunities. However, an extremely upsetting sight was about 20 Weavers (both Baya and Asian Golden) trapped, dead and dying in two mist nets erected next to a small rice field. Alongside a dead Cinnamon Bittern and a White-rumped Munia this tragic scene was not what visiting birders from Australia, who were with me, were hoping to see in Thailand.

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Ancient Birds of Angkor: Birding in Cambodia

Recently I had an email asking me if I noticed many representations of birds around the temples of Angkor during my visit there last March while leading the Zootherabirding tour to Cambodia. A photo I posted previously on this blog of Sarus Cranes – Birding Around Angkor Wat –  on a bas-relief on the Bayon temple at Angkor prompted this question and reminded me of a number of photographs I took of carvings of birds, all from Bayon as far as my memory serves me. As we were on a birding trip our local guide pointed many of these out to us but, considering the scale of the carvings at Bayon and Angkor in general, I am sure there are many more for archaeologically-minded ornithologists to discover. For me the temples at Angkor are wonderful and I got almost as much pleaure at finding birds in the carvings as I did the real things. In this post the photos of Angkor’s ancient birds that I have can be seen.

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Kaeng Krachan & Nearby Sites: Thailand Birding

I have just finished a week away birding at Kaeng Krachan National Park and some nearby sites where we found a lot of really superb birds even though conditions made birding really difficult most of the time. This visit coinciding with migration there were a good number of scarce migrant species including many species of Flycatcher, Hooded and Blue-winged Pittas as well as many commoner migrants. Resident forest species are usually a highlight of Kaeng Krachan at this time of year and while things were quieter than normal April/May and rain on most afternoons, we enjoyed a good number of Woodpeckers, Broadbills and other colourful species. In this blog post I will talk about some of the groups of species we were lucky enough to see, along with photos from the trip.

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Laem Pakarang Shorebirds: Thailand Birding

One of the locations I visited on my recent trip to Southern Thailand was Laem Pakarang in Phang Nga province. This is one of the south’s most visited shorebird sites and makes a nice stop when driving between Phang Nga Bay  and Sri Phang Nga national parks. I stopped there in the late afternoon of 5th April and there were good numbers and variety of waders there, many of them in breeding plumage and all of them looking good in the late afternoon glow. I chose a spot close to the water’s edge and sat on a rock to watch and wait for birds to come close to me while feeding. Scanning through the waders I spotted a single Grey-tailed Tattler but large numbers of Terek Sandpiper and Greater Sand Plover with smaller numbers of Lesser Sand Plover, Red-necked Stint, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone, Grey Plover, Pacific Golden Plover as well as a single Ruff and a male Malaysian Plover.

The Sand Plovers were wonderful in their breeding plumage and they look almost like a completely different species from their rather drab winter colours. Sitting and waiting I was able to get some nice photos of several of the species at Laem Pakarang. Read more »

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