Khao Yai national park has long been a favourite place for birders to visit, but birding there can be a bit hit and miss; at its best there can be plenty of sightings of colourful and enigmatic forest species; on other days it can be hard to see anything much at all, particularly with the increased amount of disturbance with large numbers of visitors in recent years. However, my recent visit with a group of 6 birders resulted in a surprisingly peaceful forest, with few people around and many excellent birds from 14-16th February.
On arrival rain made it look like our visit could be less than fruitful but although it was slow to begin with, over the few days that we stayed at Khao Yai we saw some excellent birds. A pair of foraging Eared Pittas viewed at length was the undoubted highlight on our second afternoon, but our last morning produced excellent sightings of male Siamese Fireback and 3 different male Silver Pheasants and these birds were not far behind.
Orange-breasted Trogon, Red-headed Trogon, Banded Broadbill and Long-tailed Broadbill were all much-appreciated colourful birds – all seen well – and Orange-headed Thrush, Mugimaki Flycatcher, Black-throated Laughingthrush & Hainan Blue Flycatcher were all found on their regular spots. Great Hornbill is always a bird I am keen to see, and a pair were seen searching for a nest site at Pa Gluai Mai campsite. Another highlight was a male Banded Kingfisher which only I saw when it first came in but luckily we managed to refind it for everyone to get a nice view of this tough-to-find bird.
These birds were all highlights of our visit but the supporting cast of White-crested Laughingthrush, Laced Woodpecker, Black-and-buff Woodpecker, White-throated Rockthrush, Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Yellownape, Golden-crested Myna, Crimson Sunbird & Van Hasselt’s Sunbird were not bad either.
Did anyone vote Bright-headed Cisticola as bird of the trip?
The message to anyone who has visited Khao Yai and struggled to see good birds because of poor weather, large visitor numbers or dead periods is to keep at it and sooner or later they will get a visit like this recent one that is full of good birds.