July is not the time of year that most birders plan a visit to Thailand but if it is the only time that is available it shouldn’t put you off. On 22nd July I visited wetlands at Muang Boran Fishponds, Bang Poo and Bang Poo Soi 119 with Mark and Jonty Hiley and it turned out to be a good visit too.
Wet Season Specialities
There are some birds that are just not around during the dry season or they are scarce and/or in drab winter plumage, but in the wet season they are easily found and/or in summer plumage. We enjoyed beautiful summer plumage Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Javan Pond Herons, Asian Golden Weavers and Baya Weavers and also saw a couple of Black Bitterns and Oriental Pratincoles along with a male Watercock - these sights would not be available in the dry season, although one would see more species at that time of year.
Other Interesting Birds
Two Stork-billed Kingfishers at Muang Boran Fishponds were the morning’s highlight, but Yellow Bittern, Asian Openbill, Painted Stork, Collared Kingfisher, Golden-bellied Gerygone, Striated Grassbird, Bronze-winged Jacana, White-browed Crake and a flight view of Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker were all nice additions to the above mentioned species.
A real surprise was a female Thick-billed Pigeon in a low tree at Bang Poo which was obviously exhausted. Perhaps it had got caught up in a storm and blown from some forest quite distant from Bangkok.
Off to Khao Yai
At around 1pm we moved on to Khao Yai, arriving outisde the park at about 4pm. We did some birding outisde the park, seeing Red-breasted Parakeet, Black-collared Starlings on a nest, Coppersmith Barbet, Lineated Barbet, Ashy Drongo, Spangled Drongo and a female Plain-backed Sparrow but perhaps the best bird was a juvenile Mountain Hawk Eagle near the bat cave which we managed to get perched and viewable in the telescope.
On the 23rd we entered Khao Yai national park. The entry fees now seem to be set at 200 baht for foreigners.
When spending just one day in the forest in the wet season the worry is that it will rain all day and there will be few birds, but apart from about 45 minutes rain in the monring we were lucky. The first sighting was an Asian Elephant feeding by the side of the road from the fire station lookout. We found out later that 2 silly people had stopped their motorbike and got off to take photos and were then attacked by the elephant. Luckily they got away unhurt but give some respect to these animals, they can be dangerous.
(Photo by Merl Arnot)
Although things were slow at times, patience and a positive attitude resulted in a lot of good sightings. the most enjoyable birds of the day were Great Hornbill, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Green Magpie, Laced Woodpecker, Black-and-buff Woodpecker, Red-headed Trogon, Orange-breasted Trogon, White-crested Laughingthrush, White-browed Scimitar-babbler, Green-eared Barbet, Moustached Barbet, Sultan Tit, Hill Myna, Golden-crested Myna and Thick-billed Pigeon, in fact it was a pretty decent list of birds, seen well, for just one day.
The journey back to Bangkok took about 3 hours.