Yesterday I met David Scott in Cha-am and we went on a tour of various habitats in Petchaburi province.
Dry Dipterocarp Forest at Khao Look Chang
Our first stop of the day was a patch of dry dipterocarp forest at a location called Khao Look Chang, it is right next to the Wildlife Friends of Thailand‘s Wildlife Rescue Centre and is protected by Look Chang Temple. Our first birds were a pair of Rufous Woodpeckers which were amazingly confiding and gave us an excellent start. I then went back to the car to get something I had forgotten and on the way back saw 2 Blue-winged Pittas. I alerted David to this and after a little searching we both got a good view.
I was surprised to see this habitat so close to Bangkok (a little over 2 hours away) and we managed to find some nice birds that I usually have to go further afield to see or struggle to get a glimpse of elsewhere. These included a group of at least 6 Red-breasted Parakeets, many Lineated Barbets heard and a few seen, lots of groups of fairly confiding Greater Necklaced Laughingthrushes, Rufous Treepie and best of all was a group of 4 Black-headed Woodpeckers.
female Black-headed Woodpecker
(Photo by Peter Ericsson)
Other birds we saw were Puff-throated Babbler, Black-headed Bulbul, White-rumped Shama, Dark-necked Tailorbird, racket-tailed Treepie, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Spangled Drongo and Striped Tit Babbler.
The Surrounding Open-country
Khao Look Chang is surrounded by scrubby regenerating forest and abandoned farmland. In these habitats we found many of the typical inhabitants including Hoopoe, Indochinese Bushlark, Black-collared Starling, Red-wattled Lapwing, Green Bee-eater, Indian Roller, Sooty-headed Bulbul and mynas.
Pool near Khao Look Chang
(Photo by Nick Upton)
The area was very dry but at one pool we found a number of birds which included White-throated Kingfisher, Streak-eared Bulbul, Yellow-vented Bulbul and Golden-fronted Leafbird. Also at the pool was a sub-adult Booted Eagle! What it was doing there at this time of year I don’t know, it seems way too early.
Tung Bang Jak
After lunch David and I spent a few hours at Tung Bang Jak, just about 1 kilometre north of Petchaburi town. Here we found large numbers of Baya Weavers nesting in trees, Streaked Weavers nesting in Typha and smaller numbers of Asian Golden Weavers also in the Typha.
The wetlands here also served us up a number of Bronze-winged Jacanas, a few Lesser Whistling Ducks, including one female with 6 ducklings, a Black Bittern, several Yellow Bitterns and countless Asian Openbills. Lots of other common open-country birds were present as always, perhaps the most interesting being a Plaintive Cuckoo.
A short drive away at Wat Khao Takrao we found some migrant shorebirds which included more than 100 Black-tailed Godwits and smaller numbers of Greenshank, Lesser Sand Plover, Wood Sandpiper and Common Redshank but the stars of the show were 4 Spot-billed Pelicans and 12 Painted Storks.
Our final stop was some forest on hill slopes at Tung Faek, close to Cha-am. Unfortunately the rain washed out this part of the day and apart from some Greater Necklaced Laughingthrushes and a brief glimpse of a Greater Yellownape we saw nothing.
Rain is always likely at this time of year but it is much easier to take when you have already had a good day’s birding.