A Morning at Suan Rot Fai: Thailand Birding

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Yesterday morning I found myself with some free time in which I decided to head into town and visit Suan Rot Fai where a Hartert’s Leaf Warbler has been in residence for a few weeks. The information I had been given by others who had already seen the bird was that it had been occupying an area near the toilets close to the butterfly and insect house, so that is where I headed to, arriving around 7am.

Other information that I had read online suggested that the bird had been loosely associated with a Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher which was easy to locate due to its frequent vocalization. Within a few minutes I had located the Flycatcher as well as a Taiga Flycatcher and a pair of Black-naped Monarchs. It did not take long for the Hartert’s Leaf Warbler to follow in their trail and I was able to observe it several times as it foraged for insects. Each time the small flock disappeared it was easily relocated by the noisy Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher. Excellent, the target bird was located and seen well very quickly but there were to be some problems.Phile Round had posted on face book that he had been “chased off” by a member of staff and when I arrived there were many signs which said the area was “Staff Only”. I thought that I was respecting that by not crossing any fenced area but after about 45 minutes of watching the Leaf Warbler a male member of staff came over to me and told me to get back onto the main track. I told him that I was not entering the fenced areas but he rudely told me that any area off of the main track was off limits.

Although this seemed ridiculous to me, as I had seen the bird well and did not want to cause problems for birders who regularly visit Suan Rot Fai, I complied with his pedantic request and continued birding around the park.

Over the next few hours I did not find anything else of much note; plenty of Asian Brown Flycatchers, Taiga Flycatchers, another Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, several Black-naped Orioles and a Thick-billed Warbler. A couple of Chinese Pond Herons in breeding plumage were also of note but I spent the rest of my time taking photographs of many of the commoner species in the park.

Suan Rot Fai is an oasis of green in the heart of the busy city and is a good place to find unusual migrants, particularly in migratory periods, but the roar of the traffic, hoards of people and unfriendly staff did not make this a particularly enjoyable morning’s birding, despite good views of the Hartert’s Leaf Warbler; the first record of this species in Thailand.

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