Searching for Short-tailed Parrotbill at Pu Suan Sai National Park: Thailand Birding


Short-tailed Parrotbill is a species which, in Thailand, is restricted to a small corner of the country with the most sightings being made at Pu Suan Sai National Park in Loei province. I made one short trip there a few years ago and was unsuccessful in my search for the Parrotbill although many others have visited the site and seen this species with a number of very nice photos being posted on facebook. With this in mind I recently (May 12-13) made another short visit in order to try and find these birds.

As can be seen from the photograph here, I did manage to see Short-tailed Parrotbill this time; in fact I was able to watch a pair collecting nest material for quite some time; but my best effort to photograph it certainly will not be making any bird photographers jealous. However, finding these birds was not easy due to their inconspicuousness and the conflicting information I had about where to see them

There was no suitable hotel or guesthouse accommodation close to the forest so we arrived at the national park headquarters and arranged some accommodation with the helpful staff who told me of a few places where a number of sightings of Short-tailed Parrotbill had been made, namely along the bird watching trail. On my last visit to Pu Suan Sai this trail was the lair of large numbers of leeches and a quick sortie along it confirmed that things had not changed; in about 10 minutes I picked up 20-30 leeches.

Other information that I had received from a number of other birders was that the Parrotbill could be seen from the road, not more than a few hundred metres from the HQ so over the course of a late afternoon and a morning this is where I concentrated my efforts.

Weather conditions were overcast and oppressive and there was very little bird activity, although I met another ranger who told me where he had seen the birds a few days previously and told me that after 8am was the best time to find them. Despite much searching up and down the road I could not find my target , and very few other birds either, until at around 9.30am the sun began to come out. Birds began to become active and I heard a Blue-naped Pitta calling only 30 metres or so away but although it answered to call playback it did not approach me and the forest was way to dense to go after it.

A pair of singing Rufous-throated Fulvettas were a highlight, seen at exactly the same spot as I had seen them a few years back but after much searching I decided to give up as I had a long drive ahead of me. Less than 50 metres away from where my vehicle was parked I heard a strange chirruping call that I did not recognize and after a short search for the origin of this call I found a pair of Short-tailed Parrotbills. They came close at one point but I made a mess of getting a photo of them, however as they moved out of camera range I was able to watch them busy in the bamboo for around 5 minutes.

With a long drive back to Bangkok ahead this was a very pleasing way to finish. Parrotbills are an interesting and (in Thailand) scarce group of birds and it was nice to have had good views of this one making for a successful trip as I had also seen Rufous-headed Parrotbill at Mae Moei National Park a week earlier.

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