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A Report from birdtours.co.uk

SOUTHERN THAILAND ; Bankok, Khao Nor Chuchi, Krabi, Phang Nga 1-29/3/01.,

Author

INTRODUCTION

My girlfriend and I travelled to Thailand for a month's birding and 'chilling out' - or so I was told! So as such, this was not a totally dedicated birding 'burn-out'. The main goals were Spoon-billed Sandpiper, which I knew to be still there to within a week or so, Gurney's Pitta, Nordmann's Greenshank, and possibly Masked Finfoot. We scored 3 out of 4. Obviously a month's dedicated birding would have scored more than the 191 that we saw. In fact, we were still seeing 'trip ticks' at KNC on the day we left. In this respect, I find KNC a little underrated - there's more to it than 'ticking off Gurney's Pitta' [in fact, five Pitta species are quite possible here]. All the more reason to afford it greater protection. Bird densities may be low, but in my experience they're much higher than in lowland forest on Mauritius or central Luzon [which I guess isn't saying much!]. The Thai people are very friendly, it seems very safe [including Bangkok], the food is superb, and everything is cheap; a delightful place within which to travel. In this report I have tried to update available information on these areas, and add some info that I myself would have found useful, pre-trip.

MONEY

We found sterling travellers cheques best; the commission was about 20 baht/transaction. The banks are closed on Sundays [except on Ko Phi-Phi]. There are plenty of cash dispensers everywhere, but Visa etc charge for cash withdrawals. In Bangkok there is a huge HSBC on Silom Street with cash dispensers. HSBC charge 1.50/transaction for current account holders.

NB; NOBODY can change 1000 baht notes! - best done when withdrawing money.

EXCHANGE RATE AT TIME OF TRIP

63 baht = 1

OPTICAL EQUIPMENT/WEATHER/HEALTH/FOOD.

A scope is essential for Samut Sakhon, Krabi mudflats, more open parts of KNC, and possibly even Ko Bida; on a flat, calm sea, on the boat, in the lea of the island, I wish I'd had my scope; the Frigatebirds can be quite high.

Be prepared for rain! The rainy season started two months early this year - at the beginning of March. 4-5 days out of 28 it rained virtually all day. At KNC this triggered an early breeding season as well as hampered our birding. Some trails became temporarily impassable. The humidity was high, with leeches and mosquitoes becoming more of a problem. Possibly a weather 'blip' as it seemed worse than the actual rainy season - who knows.

Health. We took no malaria precautions as we went nowhere near the Burmese border [ie Kaeng Krachan]. We used Boots Repel Plus [20% DEET] to good effect. Anything without DEET we found useless. Non-smokers would find a cigarette lighter useful for leeches.

We drank gallons of bottled water at 5 baht/bottle. We also used sachets of rehydration powders frequently - readily available from chemists.

Food. We ate and drank most things except tap water. Any malais incurred was largely self induced! [BEWARE DEHYDRATION!]. We had no bad food. Some Thai dishes have large amounts of ginger in them, eg tom yam kung [sea food soup]. There are some good Indian restaurants in Bangkok. In Krabi the night-market on Sukon Road is excellent for stir-fry, barbeque, Thai, Chinese, etc - some stalls have tables and serve beer also. It would appear that most of the fish landed at Krabi quay goes straight to Ao Nang, Ko Phi-Phi etc.

SITES

BANGKOK; Lumphini Park is worth a couple of hours. It's the only place where we saw Black-collared Starling and White-vented Myna. Also apparently holds Vineous-breasted Starling.

SAMUT SAKHON (KHOK KHAM); Excellent wader site worthy of far more time than we gave it [about 4 hours], only an hour or so's drive from Bangkok. Looks good for winter/migrating raptors also. Now well documented as a recent[?] wintering site for Spoon-billed Sandpiper. DIRECTIONS;

Head south from Bangkok on route 35. After about 40 kms exit expressway signposted SAMUT SAKHON. On entering town turn left at traffic lights with large statue in road - signposted WAT CROK CRAK [or similar!]. After a short distance there's a junction/cross-roads, with a large building with billboard ahead. The road ahead splits into two; bear right over railway line and humpback bridge. After 4.8kms there is a sign for 'T'-junction - follow road round to left. C.3kms along road to double bridge. Just before bridge is Mr T's 'birding-centre'. If he's not there, try going over the bridges, first right, over another bridge first left, after 2.8kms park. Do track on right between large area of shrimp-ponds. The whole area looks worth 2-3 days.

KRABI; Temple forest patch [as mentioned by Pete Holt ]. The Lowland Forest Project Office has gone. The forest within the temple grounds is still worth doing, although we found it particularly mosquito infested [ probably the weather ].

Meritime Hotel, also covered by Pete Holt; definitely worth a couple of hours. Down on the jetty is a good spot. We had calling Mangrove Pittas here, 2 or 3 kingfisher sp. and a family party of Smooth Otters.

Mangrove boat trip. We used Mr Dai for the mangroves up-river [250 baht/hour], and Dam [200 baht/hour] for the mudflats down-river. Ask the boatmen on the quay - they all know each other. Mr Dai was OK; he knows the calls, etc and tried reasonably hard for Finfoot. We met no birders that had seen the Finfoot; perhaps April/May would be better, as their exact status seems to be unclear. Dam was excellent and knew just where to take us for waders on the falling tide. We went once at low tide, landing twice on different areas of the mudflats, which was actually better than just after high tide, the second trip.

Poda Island. One of our beach excursions. Paid Dam 550 baht to take us there on a day trip. Nice beach with plenty of shade. Good for Pied Hornbills, Brown-throated and Crimson Sunbirds, flowerpeckers, Lesser Frigatebird, etc. Apparently Great Hornbill occurs here also.

KHAO NO CHUCHI [KNC]. We had hire car, but the going rate for a taxi, Krabi>KNC was about 500 baht. Otherwise bus to Khlong Thom, then taxi from there or hitch.

We found the route between KNC and the Honeyguide site also good birding at times, when we needed a break from the forest. Raptor passage could be good here; cultivated fields and scrub for Barred Buttonquail, Yellow-bellied Prinia, White-headed Munia, etc.

A lot has already been written about the vulnerability of the site. We saw a couple of hunting parties on the road. Most disturbing was the sound of a tree being felled with axes near 'N' trail, distant chainsaw at the Honeyguide site, and smoke from a fire rising from very close to 'U' trail, historically a key Gurney's site.

We did virtually all of our forest birding on trails 'A', 'B', 'C', and 'D'. To give exact location for each species seen would be meaningless in most cases, as most species could occur anywhere here. As ever, fruiting trees were an obvious magnet.

YOTHIN. We hired Yothin for -day to get some of his 'stake-out' species. He gave us 6.00am>5.00pm [rain stopped play], plus 2 hours 'owling' a few days later! He is excellent. We saw about 60 species with him, including about 18 that we subsequently never saw again. These included stake-outs, stuff that he taped in, [particularly Babblers], and some that he picked up that we simply never got onto again. Stake-out species seen included Oriental Scops-Owl, Spotted Wood-Owl, Javan Frogmouth, Whiskered Treeswift, Banded Kingfisher, Malaysian Honeyguide, and Dark-sided Flycatcher. He's very laid back, and has a great sense of humour; an experience not to be missed. Even when not guiding, he's usually out at dawn checking on Pittas, etc, and can often be found having lunch down at the food stalls from about 12.30-13.30. If you want guiding you'll have to ask around for him - he doesn't seem to approach people touting for business.

We spent a total of 8 days at KNC.

PHANG-NGA; Not a recognised birding area - we were up there 'being tourists' - but looks to have potential for anyone with a couple of days to spare. Between Takua Thung and Phang-Nga is the road [ route 4144 ] to Tha Dan, Phang-Nga customs pier and quayside. Opposite is the start of a huge area of mangroves, much larger than at Krabi, which must hold plenty of mangrove species;[ including Finfoot ?]. There are boats for hire at the quay.

At the park HQ, also on Route 4144, 2kms from junction with Highway 4 is a ridiculously easy Mangrove Pitta site. Drive into the HQ, a road goes right of main building, signposted 'restaurant, pier etc'; park at open-air restaurant. Walk back to boardwalk sign and obvious mangrove patch - if the Pittas are calling you'll here them from here. Walk the dilapidated boardwalk to the first creek [c.40 meters ] for stonking views. Also Brown-winged Kingfisher.

KO PHI-PHI; We paid an extortionate 600 baht for a 2 hour trip to Ko Bida for the frigatebird roost, 5.15-7.15pm. Calm weather helps as the birds are quite high.

BIRD LIST

LITTLE CORMORANT P.niger; 20+ Samut Sakhon 3/3.

CHRISTMAS ISLAND FRIGATEBIRD F.andrewsi; 1-2 juvs Ko Bida 24/3.

LESSER FRIGATEBIRD F.ariel; 1 ad fem Poda Island 14/3, 2-300 Ko Bida 24/3.

GREY HERON A. cinerea; 6+Samut Sakhon 3/3.

GREAT EGRET A.alba; 8+Samut Sakhon 3/3, numerous Krabi mudflats.

INTERMEDIATE EGRET E.intermedia; 2 Samut Sakhon 3/3.

LITTLE EGRET E.garzetta; Common.

PACIFIC REEF-HERON E.sacra; Both morphs common around coast.

CHINESE POND-HERON A.bacchus; Common, including Bangkok, KNC etc. Mostly non-bree breeding plumage. Some Bangkok/Samut Sakhon birds may therefore have been Javan Pond-Heron, A. speciosa.

STRIATED HERON B.striatus; Common, including KNC.

BLACK BAZA A.leuphotes; 32 near KNC 9/3.

ORIENTAL HONEY-BUZZARD P. Ptilorhynchus; 3 KNC 7/3, 1 KNC 19/3, 1 Dome Cave 23/3.

BRAHMINY KITE H.Indus; Common.

WHITE-BELLIED SEA-EAGLE H.leucogaster; 1-2 seen daily Krabi. 2-4 seen daily Ko Phi-Phi.1 Phi.1 nesting pair Ko Phi-Phi with 1 fledgling + 1 flying juv.

CRESTED SERPENT-EAGLE S.cheela; 1-2 daily KNC, 1 Phang Nga 22/3. Only 1 juv. seen.

CRESTED GOSHAWK A.trivirgatus; 1 KNC 7/3,1 Poda Island 14/3.

GREY-FACED BUZZARD B. indicus; 13 KNC 9/3.

RUFOUS-BELLIED EAGLE H.kienerii; 1 ad. KNC 8/3, 2 ads. KNC 18/3, 2 ads. KNC 19/3.

BLYTH'S HAWK-EAGLE S.alboniger; 1 ad. KNC 18/3,1 ad.near KNC 19/3.

WALLACE'S HAWK-EAGLE S. nanus; 1 ad. near KNC 19/3 [with 1 ad. Blyth's in aerial duel].

PEREGRINE FALCON F. Peregrinus; 2 Ko Bida 24/3.

BARRED BUTTONQUAIL Turnix suscitator; 1 male + 3 juvs. near KNC 9/3.

WHITE-BREASTED WATERHEN A.phoenicurus; 3 Krabi 11/3,1 KNC 19/3.

BLACK-WINGED STILT H.himantopus; c.10 Samut Sakhon 3/3.

RED-WATTLED PLOVER V. indicus; 2 near Thap Lamu 21/3.

PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER P.fulva; 2 Samut Sakhon 3/3.

GREY PLOVER P.squatarola; 6+ Krabi 10/3, 30+ Krabi 11/3.

KENTISH PLOVER C. alexandrinus; c. 6 Samut Sakhon 3/3.

LESSER SAND-PLOVER C. mogolus; 50+ Samut Sakhon 3/3, common Krabi.

GREATER SAND-PLOVER C. leschenaultii; c. 6 Samut Sakhon 3/3, 30+ Krabi 10-11/3.

BAR-TAILED GODWIT L. lapponica; 100+ Krabi 10/3,100+ Krabi 11/3.

WHIMBREL N.phaeopus; Common all coastal areas.

CURLEW N.arquata; 6+ Krabi 10/3.

SPOTTED REDSHANK T. erythopus; 20 Samut Sakhon 3/3.

REDSHANK T. tetanus; 1 Krabi 10/3.

MARSH SANDPIPER T. stagnatilis; 25+ Samut Sakhon 3/3.

GREENSHANK T. nebularia; 15+ Samut Sakhon 3/3, 6+ Krabi 10/3, 2 Krabi 11/3.

NORDMANN'S GREENSHANK T.guttifer; 2 Krabi 10/3, 5 Krabi 11/3.

TEREK SANDPIPER X.cinereus; 6+ Krabi 10/3, 6+ Krabi 11/3.

COMMON SANDPIPER A.hypoleucos; Common in suitable habitat.

RED-NECKED STINT C. ruficollis; 200+ Samut Sakhon 3/3.

TEMMINCK'S STINT C. temminckii; 1 Samut Sakhon 3/3.

LONG-TOED STINT C. subminuta; 8+ Samut Sakhon 3/3.

CURLEW SANDPIPER C. ferruginea; 10+ Samut Sakhon 3/3.

SPOON-BILLED SANDPIPER E. pygmeus; 1 Samut Sakhon 3/3, with Red-necked Stints.

BROAD-BILLED SANDPIPER L. falinellus; 6+ Samut Sakhon 3/3.

BROWN-HEADED GULL L. brunnicephalus; 50+ Samut Sakhon 3/3.

CASPIAN TERN S. caspia; 10 Samut Sakhon 3/3.

BLACK- NAPED TERN S. sumatrana; 6+3 from boat near Rai Leh 14/3.

COMMON TERN S. hirundo; 50+ Samut Sakhon 3/3, 10 Krabi 10/3, 11/3.

LITTLE TERN S. albifrons; 10+ Samut Sakhon 3/3, 8+ Krabi 10/3.

SPOTTED DOVE S. chinensis; Common Bangkok, Krabi, etc.

RED TURTLE-DOVE S. tranquebarica; Common Bangkok.

EMERALD DOVE C. indica; 1 KNC 6/3.

ZEBRA DOVE G. striata; Common Bangkok, Krabi, etc.

THICK-BILLED PIGEON T. curvirostra; 3-6 daily KNC.

PIED IMPERIAL PIGEON D. bicolour; 5 Phi-Phi Leh 24/3, 2-5 daily Phi-Phi Don.

VERNAL HANGING-PARROT L. vernalis; 2 KNC 7/3, 1 KNC 21/3.

PLAINTIVE CUCKOO C. merulinus; 1 KNC 6/3.

DRONGO-CUCKOO S. lugubris; 1 KNC 20/3.

KOEL E. scolopacea; 1 heard Lumphini Park 29/3.

GREEN-BILLED MALKOHA P. tristis; 2-3 usually seen Krabi area, 3 KNC 23/3.

CHESTNUT-BREASTED MALKOHA P. curvirostris; 1 KNC 20/3.

GREATER COUCAL C. sinensis; Common in suitable habitat.

LESSER COUCAL C. bengalensis; 1 near KNC 9/3.

ORIENTAL SCOPS-OWL O. sunia; 1 near KNC 20/3.

BUFFY FISH-OWL K. ketupa; 1 Dome Cave 22/3.

SPOTTED WOOD-OWL S. seloputo; 2 near KNC 8/3.

JAVAN FROGMOUTH B. javansis; 1 near KNC 20/3.

GREAT-EARED NIGHTJAR E. macrotis; 2 KNC 20/3.

LARGE-TAILED NIGHTJAR C. macrurus; Seen most evenings KNC, 6+ 20/3.

HIMALAYAN/BLACK-NEST/EDIBLE-NEST SWIFTLETS A. brevirostris/maximus/fucifgus; Many swiftlets seen especially Krabi/KNC area.Rump colour white>dark, some with paler chins, some slightly larger than others. Checking tail notches rarely resolved anything. Some birds looked like Germain's Swiftlet [Collocalia Germani]; I've seen these on Palawan, but I'm not sure if they're supposed to occur here. Basically I gave up on them!

SILVER-RUMPED NEEDLETAIL R. leucopygialis; Seen most days KNC, maximum 6.

BROWN-BACKED NEEDLETAIL H. giganteus; Seen most days KNC, max.10, 9/3.

ASIAN PALM-SWIFT C. balasiensis; Common everywhere.

HOUSE SWIFT A. nipalensis; Common Krabi, KNC, and Bangkok, where they nest in large numbers under ledges on sky-scrapers; Silom Road for example.

GREY-RUMPED TREESWIFT H. longipenis; Always seen on road to Honeyguide site, max.3 9/3.

WHISKERED TREESWIFT H. comata; 1, road to Honeyguide site, 8/3.

COMMON KINGFISHER A. atthis; Common Krabi and on coast.

BLUE-EARED KINGFISHER A.meninting; 2 on road to Honeyguide site 8/3,1 behind Marakot bungalows 17/3.

BANDED KINGFISHER L. pulchella; 1 fem. KNC 8/3.

BROWN-WINGED KINGFISHER P. amauropterus; 5 Krabi 11/3, 1 Phang Nga reserve HQ 22/3.

RUDDY KINGFISHER H. coromander; 2 Krabi 11/3.

SMYRNA KINGFISHER H. smyrnensis; Common.

BLACK-CAPPED KINGFISHER H. pileata; 1 Krabi 10/3, 4 Krabi 11/3.

COLLARED KINGFISHER T. chloris; Scarce Krabi area; common around coast; 3 Poda Island 14/3.

CHESTNUT-HEADED BEE-EATER M. leschenaulti; 5 Ao Nang 4/3.

INDIAN ROLLER C. benghalensis; 1 near KNC 9/3.

DOLLARBIRD E. orientalis; Common KNC, Krabi, Ko Phi-Phi.

ORIENTAL PIED HORNBILL A. albirostris; 4+ Poda Island 14/3.

WREATHED HORNBILL A. undulates; 5 near Honeyguide site 8/3, 3 on 17/3.

GOLD-WHISKERED BARBET M. chrysopogon; 1 KNC 7/3.

RED-THROATED BARBET M. mystacophanos; 1 KNC 20/3.

COPPERSMITH BARBET M. haemacephala; Common everywhere, including Bangkok.

BROWN BARBET C. fuliginosus; 1 KNC 19/3.

MALAYSIAN HONEYGUIDE I. Archipelagicus; 1 KNC 8/3.

GREY-CAPPED WOODPECKER D. canicapillus; 2 KNC 6/3, 1 KNC 19/3.

COMMON FLAMEBACK D. javanense; 1 Krabi 11/3.

STREAK-BREASTED WOODPECKER P. viridanus; 1 pair KNC 19/3.

BLACK-AND-RED BROADBILL C. macrorhynchos; 2 Krabi 11/3.

GREEN BROADBILL C. viridis; 1 KNC 8/3.

GURNEY'S PITTA P. gurneyi; 1 male KNC 6/3, at trail U22.

MANGROVE PITTA P. megarhyncha; Heard twice on Krabi River. Whistled 4 birds in at Phang-Nga, behind park HQ, views to 5 metres - must be one of the easiest places. Meritime Hotel, Krabi also good.

DUSKY CRAG-MARTIN H. concolor; 2+ Rai Leh 12/3.

BARN SWALLOW H. rustica; Common.

PACIFIC SWALLOW H. tahitica; Common.

RED-RUMPED SWALLOW H. daurica; Fairly common KNC/Krabi.

FOREST WAGTAIL D. indicus; 1 KNC 5/3.

YELLOW WAGTAIL M. flava; 1 Samut Sakhon 3/3, 2 Phang Nga 22/3, both of race angarensis.

GREY WAGTAIL M. cinerea; 2-6 always seen KNC, crystal pool area.

PADDYFIELD PIPIT A. rufulus/malayensis; 1 Phang Nga 22/3; probably under recorded.

RICHARD'S PIPIT A. richardi; 3 Dome Cave 22/3, 1 Phang Nga 22/3, sometimes at KNC foodstalls 'field', although these may have been above species. Appeared to be more common than A. rufulus/malayensis.

ASHY MINIVET P. divaricatus; 1 Krabi mangroves 11/3.

BAR-WINGED FLYCATCHER-SHRIKE H. picatus; 2 KNC 17/3.

BLACK-HEADED BULBUL P.atriceps; Common KNC, Meritime Hotel, Krabi outskirts.

BLACK-CRESTED BULBUL P. melanicterus; Fairly common KNC.

STRIPE-THROATED BULBUL P. finlaysoni; Very common KNC, Krabi area.

YELLOW-VENTED BULBUL P. goiavier; Common in open areas.

OLIVE-WINGED BULBUL P. plumosus; Common KNC/Krabi area.

STREAK-EARED BULBUL P. blandfordi; Common Krabi area, very common Lumphini Park.

CREAM-VENTED BULBUL P. simplex; 3 KNC 19/3, 1 KNC 20/3.

RED-EYED BULBUL P. brunneus; Very common KNC.

OCHRACEOUS BULBUL A. ochraceus; 2+ KNC 8/3.

YELLOW-BELLIED BULBUL A. phaeocephalus; 1 KNC 7/3, 2 KNC 18/3, often heard but rarely seen.

HAIRY-BACKED BULBUL T. criniger; 2+ KNC.

STREAKED BULBUL I. Malaccensis; 1 KNC 8/3, 1 KNC 9/3.

BLUE-WINGED LEAFBIRD C. cochinchinensis; 1 KNC 18/3.

COMMON IORA A. tiphia; 1 KNC 18/3, 1 Lumphini Park 29/3.

GREAT IORA A. lafresnayei; 1 KNC 7/3.

BLUE ROCK-THRUSH M. solitarius; 1 pair Rai Leh 13/3.

BLUE WHISTLING-THRUSH M. caeruleus; 2 males + 1 fem. Rai Leh 13/3.

RUFESCENT PRINIA P. rufescens; Fairly common behind Marakot bungalows, also Foodstalls 'field'.

YELLOW-BELLIED PRINIA P. flaviventris; 2 KNC 9/3.

COMMON TAILORBIRD O. sutorius; Common Krabi, KNC, etc.

RUFUOS-TAILED TAILORBIRD O. sericeus; 1 KNC 8/3.

ARCTIC WARBLER P. borealis; Singles seen most days KNC.

TWO-BARRED GREENISH WARBLER P. plumbeitarsus; Sometimes seen KNC, especially behind Marakot bungalows. Helpful to remember call is just like Greenish.

PALE-LEGGED LEAF WARBLER P. tenellipes; Always heard KNC; occasionally seen well.

ASIAN BROWN FLYCATCHER M. dauurica; Common KNC.

DARK-SIDED FLYCATCHER M. sibirica; 1 KNC 8/3.

BROWN-STREAKED FLYCATCHER M. williamsoni; 2 Marakot 18/3, 19/3.

BLUE-THROATED FLYCATCHER C. rubeculoides; 1 male 8/3, 1 male 9/3, 2 males 19/3, all ...KNC.

TICKELL'S BLUE FLYCATCHER C. tickelliae; 1 fem. KNC 19/3.

SIBERIAN BLUE ROBIN L. cyane; 1 male 9/3, 1 male 20/3, both KNC.

ORIENTAL MAGPIE-ROBIN C. saularis; Very common.

PIED FANTAIL R. javanica; 1 Lumphini Park 28/3.

BLACK-NAPED MONARCH H. azurea; 1 male KNC 8/3.

RUFOUS-WINGED FLYCATCHER P. pyrhopterum; 1 pair KNC 8/3, 1 male KNC 19/3.

ASIAN PARADISE-FLYCATCHER T. paradisi; Common KNC.

FERRUGINOUS BABBLER T. bicolour; 1 KNC 8/3.

ABBOTT'S BABBLER M. abbotti; 1 KNC 8/3.

PUFF-THROATED BABBLER P. ruficeps; 1 9/3, 1 18/3, 1 19/3; all KNC.

MOUSTACHED BABBLER M. magnirostre; 1 8/3, 1 18/3, 1 20/3, 1 21/3; all KNC.

SOOTY-CAPPED BABBLER M. affine; 2 KNC 18/3.

SCALEY-CROWNED BABBLER M. cinereum; 2 8/3, 2 18/3; KNC.

RUFOUS-CROWNED BABBLER M. magnum; 2 8/3, 1 18/3; KNC.

CHESTNUT-WINGED BABBLER S. erythroptera; 1 KNC 8/3.

STRIPED TIT-BABBLER M. gularis; 2 6/3, 2 20/3; KNC.

RUBY-CHEEKED SUNBIRD A. singalensis; 1 male 6/3,1 fem. 19/3; KNC.

PURPLE-THROATED SUNBIRD N. sperata; 1 male 6/3,1 male 8/3; KNC.

OLIVE-BACKED SUNBIRD N. jugularis; Common Krabi area, Lumphini Park etc.

CRIMSON SUNBIRD A. siparaja; Common on Poda Island.

BROWN-THROATED SUNBIRD A. malacensis; Common on Poda Island.

LITTLE SPIDERHUNTER A. longirostra; Common KNC.

YELLOW-EARED SPIDERHUNTER A. chrysogenys; 1 KNC 19/3.

GREY-BREASTED SPIDERHUNTER A. modesta; 1 6/3, 1 19/3; KNC.

YELLOW-BREASTED FLOWERPECKER P. maculates; 1 KNC 18/3.

CRIMSON-BREASTED FLOWERPECKER P. percussus; 1 fem. KNC 7/3.

THICK-BILLED FLOWERPECKER D. agile; Common KNC including pink-billed juvs.

YELLOW-VENTED FLOWERPECKER D. chrysorrheum; Common KNC.

ORANGE-BELLIED FLOWERPECKER D. trigonostigma; Common KNC.

SCARLET-BACKED FLOWERPECKER D. cruentatum; Common KNC, Krabi, Lumphini Park, etc.

BLACK-NAPED ORIOLE O. chinensis; 2 6/3, 1 17/3; KNC.

ASIAN FAIRY-BLUEBIRD I. Puella; 2 7/3, 2 19/3; KNC.

BROWN SHRIKE L. cristatus; Fairly common; 1 Phang Nga probable moulting 'lucionensis'.

BLACK DRONGO D. macrocercus; Common Krabi area.

ASHEY DRONGO D. leucophaeus ssp leucogenis;1 Dome Cave 22/3; probably under-recorded.

CROW-BILLED DRONGO D. annectans; 1-2 seen daily KNC.

GREATER RACKET-TAILED DRONGO D. paradiseus; Fairly common Krabi area, also on the islands.

BLACK MAGPIE P. leucopterus; 2 KNC 8/3.

LARGE-BILLED CROW C. macrorhynchos; Very common.

WHITE-VENTED MYNA A. grandis; Common Lumphini Park only.

COMMON MYNA A. tristis; Very common.

BLACK-COLLARED STARLING G. nigricollis; 1 Lumphini Park 28/3.

ASIAN PIED STARLING G. contra; 4 Samut Sakhon 3/3.

PLAIN-BACKED SPARROW P. flaveolus; 1 pair Samut Sakhon 3/3.

TREE SPARROW P. motanus; Very common.

WHITE-RUMPED MUNIA L. striata; 200+ near KNC 9/3.

WHITE-BELLIED MUNIA L. leucogastra; c.15 KNC 21/3.

SCALEY-BREASTED MUNIA L. punctulata; 10+ near Krabi 16/3.

WHITE-HEADED MUNIA L. maja; 3 ad. + 2 juvs. near KNC.


OTHER FAUNA

LONG-TAILED MACAQUE Macaca fascicularis; KNC, coastal areas, mangroves, etc.

SMOOTH OTTER Lutra perspicillata; Family group of seven on River Krabi, 10/3. Excellent views from boat, to c.30 metres.Very flat-tailed. 2 adults large, bulky; c.4 feet long. Quite tame. Family group of five Meritme Hotel pier, 15/3. Obviously quite common.

GIANT SQUIRREL Ratufa sp.; Black with distinctive white underparts, including inside of all four legs. Seen daily KNC. About 3 feet long.

BEAUTIFUL TREE SQUIRREL Callosciurus sp.; Quite common KNC; one resembled Plaintain Squirrel, C. notanus, with black and white flank stripes.

'HIMALAYAN' STRIPED SQUIRREL Tamiops mclellandii; 1 Dome Cave, 23/3. Excellent views of this exquisite squirrel clinging to top of bush having been 'flushed' by Lemon, the dog.

SUNDA SQUIRREL Sundasciurus sp.; 1 Lumphini Park, 28/3, resembled Low's Squirrel, S. Lowii.

BROWN RAT Rattus Norvegicus; 1 Krabi, 15/3, seen in restaurant! Large, brown, and in the toilet!

SCARCE WOLF SNAKE Lycodon effraenis; 1 Marakot Resort, again in the toilet. Non-venomous. The only snake seen well enough to identify.

SPINY-TAILED HOUSE GECKO H emidactylus garnotii; Common.

GARDEN FENCE LIZARD Calotes versicolor; Probably this species often seen Marakot Resort and KNC area. Many different colour forms seen, also males displaying.

MOUSTACHED LIZARD Calotes mystaceus; 2 28/3. Excellent views of this superb lizard, only seen in Lumphini Park.

GLIDING LIZARD Draco sp.; Frequently seen KNC area.

BENGAL MONITOR Varanus bengalensis; Occasionally KNC.

WATER MONITOR Varanus salvator; River Krabi, Phang Nga.

LONG-TAILED SUN SKINK Mabuya longicaudata; KNC.

RED-EARED TERRAPIN Trachemys scripta elegans; Common Lumphini Park.

REFERENCE MATERIAL

A GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF THAILAND Boonsong Lekagul/Philip D. Round. Pub. Saha Karn Bhaet Co Ltd, 1991.This book is essential, but has become hard to get hold of. In Bangkok, I had no luck at any branches of ASIA BOOKS. I eventually got a copy from BOOKAZINE, Patpong, CP Tower, 313 Silom Road, Tel. 231-0016/631-0752.[ Hours 9:30 am - 10:30 pm ], on our last day in Thailand! Trying to make do solely with 'Robson' can seriously hamper your birding here, although the plates are excellent. Price in Thailand 800 baht; in UK 45+. You have to USE this book to realise just how good it still is. Asia Books told me that it is now out of print; with perseverance it's still possible to get a copy.

FIELD GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF SOUTH-EAST ASIA Craig Robson. Pub.New Holland, 2000.

WHERE TO WATCH BIRDS IN ASIA Nigel Wheatley. Pub. Helm, 1996.

A PHOTOGRAPHIC GUIDE TO BIRDS OF THAILAND Webster/Fook. Pub. Asia Books, 1997; Price 395 baht from Asia Books branches.

A PHOTOGRAPHIC GUIDE TO SNAKES AND OTHER REPTILES OF THAILAND AND SE ASIA, Meryl J. Cox et al. Pub. Asia Books, 1998; price as above.

A PHOTOGRAPHIC GUIDE TO MAMMALS OF THAILAND AND SE ASIA, Charles M. Francis. Pub. Asia Books, 2001; price as above.

LONELY PLANET - THAILAND'S ISLANDS AND BEACHES Pub. Feb.2000.UK price 9.99. Includes Bangkok and all of peninsula, etc.

GLOBETROTTER TRAVEL MAP - PHUKET AND SOUTHERN THAILAND. UK 4.99, in Bangkok under half that price. Various local maps free from Krabi information centre, on quay; useful for finding KNC, etc.

TRIP REPORTS;

THAILAND - JUNE 1996. Pete Holt. I found this report an excellent source of reference for this area, although unfortunately some info is already well out of date. Also includes Khao Yai. I would still thoroughly recommend it. Only available through OBC, price 3.50.

PENINSULA MALAYSIA, SABAH AND SOUTHERN THAILAND - 1/3-14/4/00 John Hornbuckle. Also various bits from WORLDTWITCH THAILAND, including reports on KNC by Dion Hobcroft and Mike Hunter. All recent and therefore very useful.

ACCOMMODATION

BANGKOK; WOODLANDS INN, 1158 Charoen Krung Road, Soi 32 Bangrak, Bangkok 10500. Tel. 235-3894. Website www.woodlandsinn.org 600 baht/night double with A/C and breakfast. Good value for central Bangkok. Clean. TV. Wouldn't recommend Indian restaurant as it's slow, and completely non-smoking.

KNC; MARAKOT RESORT, 15 Moo 2 Klongtom - Bangtio Rd., Klongtomnua, Klongtom, Krabi, 81120, Tel. [01] 415 - 1982. Signposted on main road, just past 'Hot Springs'. 400 baht/night bungalow for 2, 350 for 1 person; includes breakfast. Cold shower + toilet, electricity [ most of the time ]. Limited camping 40 baht/night [ own tent ]. Excellent place, superb food - and cheap. Run by two Thai girls, one of whom is quite a keen birder who certainly knows her Pitta calls. They are also very flexible about mealtimes. The bungalows are delightful - they make good bird hides - and are also very clean.

KRABI; CITY HOTEL, 15/2-3 Sukon Road, Krabi 81000. Tel. 66 075 621280-1. 550baht/night double with A/C and cable TV, not inc. breakfast. Very good, nice rooms, quiet, etc. Cable TV came in handy during 2 days of continuous rain. Also nice doubles + fan for 400 baht/night. Windows double-glazed so no noise from excellent night-market opposite. Staff allowed us to store backpacks there when away from Krabi.

AO NANG; JINDA GUEST HOUSE, ROUTE 4203, AO NANG. 200 baht/night double with fan, no breakfast. Not recommended. Paper-thin walls, very noisy, Club 18-30!

PHANG-NGA; PHANG-NGA INN BED AND BREAKFAST, PHANG-NGA. 500 baht/night double with A/C, no breakfast[!]. Rip-off! Small room, charged an extra 170 baht for pathetic breakfast.. to be avoided.

DOME CAVE, ROUTE 4, JUST NORTH OF KRABI. SIGN-POSTED 'BIRDWATCHING>' 300 baht/night bungalow with fan and cold shower, toilet, mosquito nets. Food/drink extra. East side of Route 4, just north of junction with Route 4200. A chance to stay with a rural Thai family and get Buffy Fish-Owl [ and probably Grey Nightjar if it hadn't rained so much]. OK, so these aren't mega rarities, but the views of the owl are stonking; it settled on it's usual branch at about 10.30 PM, during a brief respite in the heavy rain. Barn Owl is also regular there. The guy is well into his birding and is trying to run a sort of nature reserve as well as growing fruit and vegetables, etc. They are very friendly, and his English is much better than our Thai! We had enormous quantities of food and drink and celebrated the owl accordingly! Thoroughly recommended.

KO PHI-PHI; TWIN PALMS RESORT. 600 baht/night double with fan + cold shower, toilet. Breakfast extra. Extortionate, but all accom. on Phi-Phi Don is a rip-off. Clean, quiet.

CHONG KHAO RESORT 600 baht/night large brick-built bungalow, fan, hot shower, toilet, breakfast extra. Very nice - good value for Phi-Phi, clean, quiet. Beware ripe coconuts falling on roof at 2.30 AM!

TRANSPORT.

MET SINE TOURS; 78/46 M. 5 Taplamu Lampkean, Taimuang, Phang-Nga. Tel/fax + 66 76 443 276, mobile +66 1 8938042. Boats to Similan and Surin Islands from Thap Lamu. 3000 baht/person round trip with 1 night accom. [basic], no food; 1800 baht/person return day trip, 8.00>18.00, to Ko Similan Islands. About 3 hours crossing. Docks at Ko Miang [island no.4] where the Nicobars are. Expensive way to ' twitch' one species; we declined on this occasion. We met two birders at KNC who had just returned from this trip, and they got the pigeons [with overnight stay] with no problems. Apparently cheaper from Phuket.

NATIONAL CAR RENTAL, KRABI AIRPORT. Sam and his staff were very helpful; Tel. 01-4163726[8.00>18.00], mobile 075-691939 They will deliver/collect from Krabi town anytime. Rate 1100 baht/day - fixed. Good nearly new cars. Obviously a car is not needed for KNC; if time is short, or you decide you want to 'splash out', GET 4-WHEEL DRIVE; a conventional saloon would have been useless, especially with the weather we had. We hired a Caribian Sporty 1.3 jeep, which was ideal.

NB; (1) Beware of very cheap local companies; We hired a Caribian in Krabi town for 800 baht/day that leaked like a sieve when it started to rain and the wipers didn't work! We returned it and got our money back.

(2) Avis at Bangkok will allow you to hire a car at Bangkok and leave it at Krabi - for 3000 baht extra! [more than the single airfare Krabi>Bangkok]. We had intended to do this to do some sites en-route, ie Khao Sam Roi Yot ; we changed our minds!

TRAILFINDERS. 1 THREADNEEDLE STREET, LONDON, EC2R 8JX. Tel 020 7628 7628. www.trailfinder.com/ Trailfinders got us the best deal for flights via the middle east [cheap duty-free] that we could find on [and off] the internet. We flew Gulf Air via Bahrain for 424/person inc. all taxes [except Thai return passenger duty - about 8/person]. Kuwait Airlines was slightly cheaper but 'dry'. Gulf Air service was excellent, as was Trailfinders.

THAI AIRWAYS (INTERNAL FLIGHTS).Flights to Krabi were 2150baht/person single, inc tax. [same return]. Flights do get heavily booked - if desparate try 'standby' booking office at Bangkok Domestic Airport [Thai Airways - at far end of terminal].

TAXIS/TUK-TUK/SONGTHAEW/DRIVING. In Bangkok we found taxis [metered] cheaper than Tuk-Tuks[fixed-fare]. Down south the songtheaws were excellent value for getting about locally. Driving was no problem, even in Bangkok, except for place name signs. Virtually all signs there are in Thai script only, so getting about can be interesting! On the expressways there are English translations ['Roman script']. Avoiding morning and evening rush-hours makes obvious sense if possible.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thanks to Vince Kinsler for very recent news on the 'Spooner' just before we left UK, and very precise directions; also to those whose trip reports were so useful - see Reference Material.

Thanks to Paul Bamford for his company at KNC and Krabi [- especially the 5 hour log call!] and to Nigel and Donna Crook for finding the best nightclub in Krabi!

Finally thanks to all the Thai people we met for making our stay so enjoyable.

NICK RANSDALE and CORAZON DYE
7 ELM RISE
WITHAM
ESSEX
CM8 2LE
UK
nick.ransdale@tiscali.co.uk

The Birds of Thailand
Craig Robson: Buy from Amazon.com orAmazon.co.uk

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