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A Report from

Southern Thailand,

David Kelly

25 November - 12 December 2000

David Kelly, Prestonpans, East Lothian, Scotland

This was not a birding trip, my wife wanted a beach holiday with a difference, so the trip list is a little light. To be honest I was quite happy to go along with Lillian as I expected Thailand to be filled with new birds. This optimism was misplaced as southern Thailand is a very difficult place to bird. I had been warned about this but I was not prepared for just how difficult birds are to see in that part of the world. The lack of birds did nothing to diminish my enjoyment of being in Asia for the first time, especially as Thailand is such a beautiful country, the limestone karst land and seascapes of the south being particularly stunning. Thailand is also fortunate in its welcoming and friendly people.

We left Edinburgh on 24 November 2000 and flew to Bangkok by Lufthansa via Frankfurt, arriving in Bangkok on 25 November. Here we spent the night in the Viengtai Hotel before departing the next day on the overnight train to Surat Thani. From there we drove by sungtheow to Art's Jungle Lodge on the edge of Khao Sok National Park. We spent two nights here before going on to Rafthouses located at the far end of the huge reservoir which dominates the northern part of Khao Sok. In Khao Sok I saw a few birds but one late afternoon walk on my own was reasonably productive, producing a flock of Pin-tailed Parrot Finches in some extensive stands of Bamboo between Art's Jungle House and the park entrance.

After Khao Sok we went to Krabi where we were to have one night staying with a local family before heading out to the islands in the Andaman Sea. Here we spent two nights on "Bamboo Island" where we shared our campsite with a Dollarbird and Grey Nightjar as well as a number of large Fruit Bats. The shores of the island were home to my first Pacific Reef Egrets and Collared Kingfisher as well as a few Little Herons. One day we took a trip to Ko Phi Phi and on the way we saw White-bellied Sea Eagle, followed by a Brahminy Kite while we were picnicking on the beach. On the way back we saw lots of Frigate-Birds, mostly Christmas Island but with a few Lessers that I could identify but no Greaters.

We left the island and stayed 3 nights in the Dream Valley Resort on Ton Sai Beach near Ao Phra Nang. From here I went onto Krabi to arrange to go out with Mr Dai. I was passing the Chan Phen travel agency on the sea front when I heard a shout of "Mr Dai!" I arranged to go out with Mr Dai the next morning through this agency. The Mangroves were disappointing, Mr Dai explained that early December was one of the worst times as the winterers had not yet arrived and the breeding birds were not calling or displaying . Mr Dai saved the day by taking us out into Krabi Bay and showing us Chinese Egret and Nordmann's Greenshank. Mr Dai is an excellent guide and I can only reiterate all of the recommendations made by other birders, just don't go in early December. One bird mystified me in the mangroves was an egret with a pale blue body and a white head, I assume it was a strange plumaged Reef Egret but I just don't know.

We returned to Bangkok and on the last day I arranged to go out with Peter Ericsson to Khao Yai National Park. We arrived at around 8am and Peter explained that there was a lot of development going on in the Park and that this was a National Holiday in Thailand so the park would be busy. He also explained that December was not the best time but I saw more birds here in a day than I had in four days in Khao Sok. Highlights included a White-throated Rock Thrush and a Black Eagle, both lifers for Peter. I enjoyed the more common birds such as a stunning pair of Scarlet Minivets, a male Verditer Flycatcher, a flock of Red-whiskered Bulbuls, a mixed flock of Laughing-Thrushes, an obliging roadside Blue-bearded Bee-eater and a pair of Wreathed Hornbills which were almost the last birds we saw. I wish that I could have spent more time in Khao Yai, especially to catch the early morning. Peter saw a White-browed Scimitar-Babbler while looking for the Laughing Thrushes but I failed to see this.

Peter was a good person to go birding with, without him I think I would have struggled in Khao Yai but he knows most of the bird calls. He was accompanied by a young friend, Sammy, who had sharp eyes and was often the first to spot birds. I was grateful to them both for their time and for showing me this beautiful park with its great birds.

Thailand is a beautiful country with friendly people. Costs are cheap and the food is superb, especially the seafood. The birding, in the south, was very difficult but this was exacerbated by the time of year and my lack of experience with Oriental birds. One day I will go back but it will be in the early spring.


1. Lesser Frigate-Bird, Fregata minor - A few seen between Bamboo Island and Ko Phi Phi.
2. Christmas Island Frigate-Bird,Fregata andrewsi - Dozens seen between Bamboo Island and Ko Phi Phi.
3. Little (Striated) Heron, Butorides striatus - Common on the coast and 1 seen Khao Yai
4. Chinese Pond Heron, Ardeola bacchus- the commonest heron.
5. Cattle Egret, Bubulcus ibis - Seen in Paddies around Bangkok.
6. Pacific Reef Egret, Egretta sacra - Common on rocky coasts.
7. Little Egret, Egretta garzetta- Common in paddies and in Krabi Bay.
8. Chinese Egre,t Egretta eulophotes - Six seen in Krabi Bay
9. Great Egret, Casmerodius albus - Less common than Little Egret but still numerous in paddies and a few in Krabi Bay
10. Asian Openbill Stork, Anastomus oscitans - one seen over the road between Bangkok and Khao Yai
11. Black-shouldered Kite, Elanus caeruleus - A few seen hunting over paddies.
12. Brahminy Kite, Haliastur indus - One seen on Ko Phi Phi
13. White-bellied Sea Eagle, Haliaeetus leucogaster - Pair seen on Ko Phi Phi
14. Besra, Accipter virgatus - two seen in Khao Yai
15. Blyth's Hawk-Eagle, Spizaetus alboniger - one perched on a dead tree at Khao Sok in front of the raft houses.
16. Grey-faced Buzzard, Butastur indicus - One Khao Sok
17. Black Eagle, Ictinaetus malayensis - One seen soaring over Khao Yai.
18. White-breasted Waterhen, Amaurornis phoenicurus - One seen in the Krabi Mangroves and one seen in the ground of the Comfort Suites Hotel, Bangkok Airport.
19. Black-winged Stilt, Himantopus himantopus - Common paddyfield bird.
20. Red-wattled Lapwing, Vanellus indicus - pair seen Khao Yai.
21. Grey Plover, Pluvialis squatorola - A few seen Krabi Bay
22. Pacific Golden Plover, Pluvialis fulva - A few seen Krabi Bay
23. Kentish Plover,
Charadrius alexandrinus - Only one identified among Sand Plovers in Krabi Bay
24. Lesser Sand Plover, Charadrius mongolus - Common in Krabi Bay.
25. Greater Sand Plover, Charadrius leschenaultii - Common in Krabi Bay.
26. Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus - Common on coast
27. Eurasian Curlew, Numenius arquata - A few in Krabi Bay
28. Bar-tailed Godwit, Tringa totanus - Reasonably common in Krabi Bay.
30. Common Greenshank, Tringa nebularia - Around half a dozen seen in Krabi Bay.
31. Nordmann's Greenshank, Tringa guttifer - Four seen in Krabi Bay.
32. Marsh Sandpiper, Tringa nebularia - A few seen in paddies.
33. Common Sandpi, Xenus cinereus - One seen Krabi Bay.
35. Rufous (Red)-necked Stint, Calidris ruficollis - A few in Krabi Bay.
36. Lesser Crested Tern, Sterna bengalensis - Common in Krabi Bay.
37. Gull-billed Tern, Sterna nilotica - Common in Krabi Bay.
38. Common Tern, Sterna hirundo - Common in Krabi Bay.
39. Black-naped Tern, Sterna sumatrana - One seen from Bamboo Island.
40. Little Tern, Sterna albifrons - Common in Krabi Bay.
41. Whiskered Tern, Chlidonias hybridus - Common in Krabi Bay.
42. Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Ducula badia - A large flock was seen behaving strangely in Khao Yai, Peter had never seen such an aggregation and the tree did not appear to be fruiting. There were around 50 birds flying in and out of this tree.
43. Rock Pigeon, Columba livia - Common in towns.
44. Spotted Dove, Streptopelia chinensis - Common and widespread
45. Zebra Dove, Geopelia striata - Common in rural areas.
46. Vernal Hanging Parrot, Loriculus vernalis - One seen Khao Sok.
47. Large Hawk Cuckoo, Cuculus sparveroides - One seen Krabi mangroves.
48. Plaintive Cuckoo, Cacomantis merulinus - Bangkok
49. Greater Coucal, Centropus sinensis - Seen from the train south of Bangkok.
50. Lesser Coucal, Centropus bengalensis - Krabi mangroves.
51. Grey Nightjar, Caprimulgus indicus - Seen flying around our camp at dusk on Bamboo Island.
52. Edible-nest Swiftlet, Aerodramus fuciphagus - Seen on Ko Phi Phi and on Bamboo Island.
53. Himalayan Swiftlet, Aerodramus brevirostris - Seen over Khao Sok.
54. Asian Palm Swift, Cypsiurus balasiensis- Common.
55. Pacific Swift, Apus pacificus - Seen over Khao Yai
56. Little Swift, Apus nipalensis - Common
57. Brown Needletail, Hirandapus giganteus - Seen Khao Yai
58. Grey-rumped Treeswift, Hemiprocne longipennis - Single seen Krabi.
59. Common Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis - One seen in Krabi mangroves.
60. Brown-winged Kingfisher, Halcyon amauroptera - Three seen in Krabi Mangroves.
61. Black-capped Kingfisher, Halcyon pileata Singles seen in Bangkok, Khao Sok and Krabi mangroves.
62. White-throated Kingfisher, Halcyon smyrnnensis - A few seen from train on trackside wires.
63. Collared Kingfisher, Halcyon chloris - Bamboo Island
64. Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Merops leschenaulti - Seen in Krabi mangroves and Khao Yai
65. Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Nytiornis athertoni - A single seen by the road in Khao Yai was one of the day's highlights
66. Indian Roller, Coracias bengalensis - Common in Khao Yai, also Krabi Mangroves.
67. Dollarbird, Eurystomus orientalis - Pair seen Khao Sok and one seen on Bamboo Island.
68. Bushy-crested Hornbill, Anorrhinus galeritus - Single seen Khao Sok.
69. Wreathed Hornbill, Rhyticeros undulatus - Pair seen in Khao Yai.
70. Green Eared Barbet,
Megalaima faiostricta - Seen and heard Khao Yai. A fruiting tree in the campsite attracted some of these.
71. Coppersmith Barbet, Megalaima haemacephala - heard Bangkok.
72. Lesser Yellownape, Picus chlorolophus - heard and briefly seen in Khao Yai.
73. Sand Martin, Riparia riparia - Seen Khao Yai.
74. Dusky Crag Martin, Hirundo concolor - Seen in Khao Yai.
75. Barn Swallow, Hirundo rustica - The commonest swallow around Bangkok and in Khao Yai.
76. Pacific Swallow, Hirundo tahitica - Common in the Krabi area.
77. Richard's Pipit, Anthus novaeseelandiae - Single large pipit seen in Khao Yai was probably this species of one of the migrant races.
78. Forest Wagtail, Dendronanthus indicus - Single seen on road in Khao Sok.
79. Pied Triller, Lalage nigra - Small group seen in Krabi mangroves.
80. Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Hemipus picatus - Single seen in Ton-Sai.
81. Black-winged Cuckoo-Shrike, Coracina melaschista - Common in Khao Yai.
82. Scarlet Minivet, Pericrocotus flammeus - pair seen in Khao Yai.
83. Black-headed Bulbul, Pycnonotus atriceps - Foraging flock seen in Khao Sok, common in Khao Yai.
84. Red-whiskered Bulbul, Pycnonotus jocosus - Foraging flock seen in Khao Yai. A common cagebird in the south.
85. Streak-eared Bulbul, Pycnonotus blanfordii - Bangkok.
86. Stripe-throated Bulbul, Pycnonotus finlaysoni - Common in Khao Sok.
87. Puff-throated Bulbul, Criniger pallidus -Khao Yai
88. Grey-eyed Bulbul, Hypsipetes propinquus - Seen in Khao Yai at the campsite fruiting tree.
89. Black Drongo, Dicrurus macrocercus - Common bird of open country.
90. Ashy Drongo, Dicrurus leucophaeus - One of the most frequently encountered birds in Khao Yai.
91. Bronzed Drongo, Dicrurus aeneus - One seen Khao Yai.
92. Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Dicrurus paradiseus - Two seen Khao Yai.
93. Black-naped Oriole, Oriolus chinensis - One seen at the campsite fruiting tree, Khao Yai.
94. Large-billed Crow, Corvus macrorhynchos - Common.
95. White-crested Laughingthrush, Garrulax leucolophus - One seen among a flock at Khao Yai, most of the flock stayed hidden.
96. Black-throated Laughingthrush, Garrulax chinensis - One seen in the same flock as the previous bird.
97. White-bellied Yuhina, Yuhina zantholeuca - One seen Khao Yai.
98. Oriental Magpie Robin, Copsychus saularis - Common in Bangkok and the south.
99. White-rumped Shama, Copsychus malabaricus - A few seen Khao Sok.
100. White-throated Rock Thrush, Monticola gularis - A single female seen on the road down from the highest point, this was a lifer for Peter.
101. Blue Rock Thrush, Monticola solitarius- One seen in the Grand Palace, Bangkok.
102. Blue Whistling Thrush, Myiophenus caeruleus - Common in the resort area at Ton Sai.
103. Rufescent Prinia, Prinia rufescens - seen in scrub at Ton Sai
104. Common Tailor-Bird, Orthotomus sutorius- Only seen at Khao Sok where very common.
105. Dark-necked Tailorbird, Orthotomus atrogularis - One or two seen at Ton Sai in disturbed forest edge habitat.
106. Golden Spectacled Warbler, Seicercus burkii - one seen near the campsite at Khao Yai.
107. Inornate (Yellow-browed) Warbler, Phylloscopus inornatus - Very common in Khao Yai.
108. Blyth's Leaf Warbler, Phylloscopus reguloides- one seen in Khao Yai.
109. Arctic Warbler, Phylloscopus borealis- one seen Khao Yai.
110. Eastern Crowned Warbler, Phylloscopus coronatus - One seen Khao Yai, a lingering migrant?
111. Red-throated (Red-breasted) Flycatcher, Ficedula parva - very common.
112. Verditer Flycatcher, Eumyias thalassina - male seen at campsite in Khao Yai.
113. Pied Fantail, Rhipidura javanica - A common urban bird in Bangkok.
114. Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Terpisphone paradisi - The only one seen was a female in Khao Sok.
115. Brown Shrike, Lanius cristatus - A Common bird in open country, especially on overhead wires.
116. Long-tailed Shrike, Lanius schach - One seen in Surat Thani.
117. Ashy Wood Swallow, Artamus fuscus - Common in the paddies south of Bangkok.
118. Asian Pied Starling, Sturnus contra - Common in Bangkok.
119. Common Myna, Acridotheres tristis - Very common.
120. Jungle Myna, Acridotheres fuscus - Only seen in Khao Sok area.
121. White-vented Myna, Acridotheres javanicus - Common in Bangkok.
122. Brown-throated Sunbird, Anthreptes malacensis - Seen in Khao Yai.
123. Crimson Sunbird, Aethopygia siparaja - Seen on the Ton Sai beach area
124. Olive-backed Sunbird, Nectarinia jugularis - Seen in Bangkok and Khao Yai.
125. Little Spiderhunter, Arachnothera longirostra - Pair seen in Khao Sok.
126. Buff-bellied Flowerpecker, Dicauem ignipectus- Pair seen in Khao Yai.
127. Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Dicaeum cruentatum - Seen in Bangkok.
128. Tree Sparrow, Passer montanus - The common urban bird.
129. Baya Weaver, Ploceus philippinus - A small number were foraging around Art's Jungle House, Khao Sok.
130. Pin-tailed Parrotfinch, Erythrura prasina - A small flock was seen in tall bamboo near the entrance to Khao Sok.
131. White rumped Munia, Lonchura striata - A flock was seen from the train next to the railway south of Bangkok.
132. Scaly-breasted Munia, Lonchura punctulata - Common in the paddies and seen in Bangkok. The commonest bird seen offered to be freed around temples in Bangkok.

David Kelly
East Lothian

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