Visit your favourite destinations
Western Europe
North America
Eastern Europe
South America
Middle East
East Indies

A Report from

Khao Yai, Thailand, 22-23/2/02,

Peter Ericsson

Someone wisely once said: 'Nature abhors a vacuum but God loves to fill it'. This is how He filled my aching vacuum in a few short moments.

A week ago I had a visit from Paul Bamford, England. We had the blessing of going out to view our very first Spoonbilled Sandpiper together. Viewing this splendid bird through a telescope was a treat and you can imagine my joy when Paul exclaimed "Peter, the scope is yours, use it well and let lots of kids look through it". Wow, what a gift!

He then proceeded to tell me of all the wonderful birds he had seen during his two weeks in Northern Thailand and also revealed that the latest 'hot spot' for birding was at campsite, Khao Yai. For a couple of weeks a Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo has been showing up at the back of a restaurant whose waste water is being let out behind its kitchen.

Eager to put my scope to use and to get to see real close looks of this elusive bird that has proven so hard to see, I started making plans. Circumstances so had it that it was my turn to use our communal van over the weekend and on top of it, all my kids, ages 3-17, plus wife, agreed to a one night camping trip to Khao Yai. Wonders of wonder!

Leaving the extreme heat of Bangkok behind us, we started climbing the mountain in the early afternoon. A stop at the first lookout gave opportunity for my first try of the scope. A flock of Spangled Drongos with their shiny bluish wings were easy to focus on. A Golden-fronted Leafbird was a bit harder but we all got to see it. Meanwhile Hill Mynas flew over head.

Campground was almost empty and we settled under the main tree with it's many branches.

Orange-headed Thrush
I almost immediately got lost in the excitement of what was to happen 'behind the restaurant'...An incredible mature Orange-headed Thrush was the first bird. Orange and slaty in a nice blend with it's rather gentle appearance makes for a very special bird that I seldom see well in the woods.

Then, up to half a dussin Jungle fowls came around for some left over rice. These ancestors of our domesticated chicken are as colorful as can be and not to be overlooked in spite of their abundance.

Then a juvenile Siberian Blue Robin appeared hopping in  the background. Someone told me that Papa and Mama Robin were to be found behind the ladies room in the building next door and so I set off for an encounter. Rightly so, there they were.
siberian blue reobin

Shy but viewable. Back to the stakeout. Lots of squirrels chasing around. A couple of White-crested Laughing thrushes came for a try. White-rumped Shama wanted it's share. But where was the hero? Mr Ground Cuckoo.  Something in the background moved forward. What's that? A large red bill. A protruding eye. Oh, yes, there he is. Slowly coming forward as if walking on ice, one of the most sought after inhabitants of Khao Yai forest revealed itself. It was now dusk and light rapidly diminishing. A photographer who had placed himself in a blind started firing away. Couldn't keep up with him but hid myself in the kitchen and managed to squeeze my camera through the wooden bars. Pictures came out ok if even a bit dark. Anyhow, not only did I see it but so did my youngest son, Jaime, 6, who has taken up an interest.

Dinner tasted better then ever and we retreated into the evening hours.

Eared Nightjars kept flying around calling aloud. Collared Owlet kept calling along with another Owl with a call I am not familiar with.

Morning came with the whistles of Banded Kingfisher. Quickly I scurried to the stake out. This time in hope for Scaly Thrush, a rare winter visitor. Sure enough, it came along and added to the many species seen. Remarkably enough the Cuckoo showed up later on in the morning inspite of all the commotion caused by onlookers and eager photographers. Must have been hungry?!

Other birds seen while walking between tent and restaurant was 5 species of Bulbuls, Scarlet Minivet, 3 Warblers, including Stub-tailed Bush-Warbler, 3 Flycatchers, Fairy Bluebird, Wreathed Hornbill, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Green-eared Barbet and Green-billed Malkoha. 

Took the kids to a very dried out waterfall for some play and headed back home around lunch hour. Just being out hearing and seeing the wonders of Creation with friends and loved ones will keep me going for days to come.

The Birds of Thailand
Craig Robson: Buy from

  • At last, the quality of field guides for the Far East has caught up with those of Europe and America. Craig Robson's "Birds of Thailand" is a tour de force...950 mouth watering species all beautifully illustrated and expertly described, each with its own distribution map. The natural riches of Thailand make it an ever more popular birding destination and this indispensible guide will set the standard there for years to come.

A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia
Craig Robson: Buy from or

  • A new flexi-cover edition of this superb and influential book is now available (UK) making it far more useful in the field. The birds of South-East Asia details the identification, voice, breeding, status, habitat and distribution of the 1250 species and distinctive sub-species of the region covering Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, West Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. The illustrations are excellent and Craig Robson's text reflects his position as one of the foremost ornithological authorities of S.E.Asia. Indispensable for anyone visiting the area.

Peter Ericsson

Why not send us a report, or an update to one of your current reports?