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A Report from

Khao Yai, Thailand 2-4/1/05,

Peter Ericsson

A few months back in 2004, Roger McGlashan from outside Melbourne , A ustralia , contacted me asking if I'd be up to assisting with some birding in the Khao Yai and Kaengkrachan area of Thailand .

It was good that it all was arranged early on since the New Year season requires bookings well in advance.

When the Tsunami struck at the 26th of December our New Year celebrations and normal schedule was naturally disrupted. My wife and co-workers quickly mobilized forces and it didn't take long before I was all alone keeping an eye on things back home.

This made it possible for me to keep my arrangements with Roger and Linley, his spouse.

Roger is a retired traffic controller with a passion for birds, airplanes, cooking etc etc.

His curiosity and eagerness to learn about Thai culture made for good companionship throughout. Linley works as a music teacher and has had a life long interest in plants, bushwalks and nature in general.

Roger wanted to see as many birds as possible but without 'killing oneself' and so the schedule was not as vigorous as many a 'hard-core' birder would be expecting.

Day 1. We met in the morning and set out on our journey to Khao Yai. First stop was a field in the Lumlukka area, 20 minutes from my home. There were lifebirds for Roger left and right. This is what we saw: Sand Martin, Pacific Swallow, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow,Long-toed Stint, Little Ringed Plover, Wood Sandpiper, Javan Pond Heron, Little Egret, Common Myna, White-vented Myna, Large-billed Crow, Red Turtle Dove, Little Cormorant, Black Drongo, Spotted Redshank, Bronze-winged Jacana, Common Moorhen, Pied Fantail, Cattle Egret, Openbill, Plaintive Cuckoo, A sian Pied Starling, Common Stonechat, Scaly-breasted Munia, Brown Shrike, Plain Prinia, Eurasian Tree Sparrow and a single Painted Stork in overhead flight.

We arrived at Juladit resort a bit before noon , checked in and birded the grounds around the resort for awhile. The plot of land that is right before the resort is normally a sure spot for Red-breasted Parakeets that come to roost in the evenings. In the late morning they have mostly taken off to their feeding grounds but we did manage to find a few birds still hanging around. A fruiting fig tree had attracted a good number of Bulbuls and other fruit eating birds. Here is what we saw: Black-crested Bulbul, Stripe-throated Bulbul, Black-headed Bulbul, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Yellow-vented Flowerpecker, Coppermith Barbet, Eye-browed Thrush, Thick-billed Pigeon, Spangled Drongo, White-rumped Shama, A sian Palm Swift, Green-billed Malkoha, Grey Wagtail, Chestnut-tailed Starling and Blue-winged Leafbird.

We then proceeded to enter the park: Birds that we hadn't seen around the resort were;

Pale-legged Warbler, Blue Rock Thrush, Slaty-backed Forktail (at Wangjumpee), Grey-eyed Bulbul, Vernal Hanging Parakeets and Red-throated Flycatcher.

In the late afternoon we went to the Khao Kaew lookout. Here we waited for the Asiatic Black Bear that often show up after dark. Sure enough, this awesome beast lumbered out of the woods to munch on the cooked rice put out by the soldiers up there.

On the way up we stopped along the road and a pair of Red-headed Trogons came real close.

Day 2. We started out with a sumptuous buffet breakfast at the hotel. In a tree at the parking lot there were Black-collared Starlings, Black-naped Oriole, and several Red-breasted Parakeets along with lots of Mynas.

We birded along the way with several stops. Then set off for trail 6 which was very productive and went to Pahgloaymai campground for a late lunch. A quick look behind the now renowned resturant revealed a pair of Orange-headed Thrushes,

Scaly Thrush (boy is that a nice looking bird!) and a male BLUE PITT A ! We then decided to leave the park as it had been a big day already. Here are the birds we saw inside the park: Besra, Yellow-browed Warbler, Black-crested Bulbul, Puff-throated Bulbul, Scalet Minvet, Common Flameback, White-browed Scimitar Babbler, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Great Iora, Verditer FC, Orange-breasted Trogon, Black-winged Cuckoo Shrike, White-bellied Yuhinna, Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike, Great Hornbill, Little Spiderhunter, Blue-winged Leafbird, Chinese Pond Heron, A shy Wood Swallow, Grey-backed Shrike, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Olive-backed Sunbird, White-rumped Shama, Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, Red-headed Trogon, Grey-headed Flycatcher, Abbott's Babbler, A sian Stubtail, Grey-eyed Bulbul, Blue Whistling Thrush, Plain-tailed Warbler (Golden-spectacled), Siberian Blue Robin, A shy Drongo, Black-naped Monarch, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Blue Rock Thrush, Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, A sian House Martin, A sian Palm Swift, Indian Roller, Red-wattled Lapwing, Common Stonechat, Eurasian Kestrel, Orange-headed Thrush, Scaly Thrush, Swinhoe Minivet, Djunglefowl, Hill Myna, Spotted Dove, Emerald Dove, Blue Pitta and A sian Koel.

Day 3. It was decided to sleep a little longer and enjoy the resort for the morning. Not a bad idea with that nice breakfast waiting after an early morning walk around the resort!

Besides what we saw on the first day we added a bunch more: Lineated Barbet, Racket-tailed Drongo, Hill Myna, Indian Roller, Thick-billed Reed Warbler, Stripe-throated Bulbul, Streak-eared Bulbul, Plain-backed Sparrow, A sian Barred Owlet, GOLDEN HEADED MYNA , A sian Brown FC, Verditer FC and Koel.

We drove towards Bangkok around noon but decided to do a little driving around on smaller roads off the main road. This way we picked up Green Bee-eater, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Sooty-headed Bulbul, Magpie Robin and Burmese Shrike.

A ll in all, it was pretty birdy and we ended up with a little over 100 species for the 3 days.

Kaengkrachan 13-15/1/05

Day 1. A fter Khao Yai, Roger and Lynn went to the North for some time. I picked them up at their hotel in town on the early morning of the 14th and we set off for the saltpans around Lampakbia area of Petburi province.

The area proved very productive as usual except for a rather unusual dip on the Spoon-billed Sandpiper (which I picked up a couple of days later on my way home).

I have covered the area in an earlier report and will here simply state what we saw.

Common Myna, White-vented Myna, A sian Pied Starling, Large-billed Crow, Barn Swllow, Collared Kingfisher, Black-capped Kingfisher, White-throated Kingfisher, Common Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Dunlin, Common Greenshank, Nordmann's Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Eurasiaqn Curlew, Spotted Redshank,Common Redshank, Mongolian Sand Plover, Greater Sand Plover, Temminck's Stint, Ken tish Plover, Red-necked Stint, Ruff, Grey Plover, Great Knot, Black-winged Stilt, Little Egret, Gret Egret, Intermediate Egret, Pintail Snipe, Greater Coucal, Brahimy Kite, Whiskered Tern, Caspian Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Little Tern, Brown-headed Gull, Heuglinn's Gull, Pallas's Gull, Grey Heron, Little Cormorant, Red-wattled Lapwing, Black Drongo and Magpie Robin.

We had a delightful lunch at the Chaosamrun beach and headed for Kaengkrachan where we checked in at Gaengpet restaurant/resort. The rooms are basic but food fantastic and sitting alongside the dam overlooking the sunset makes for a very nice setting after a long day's birding.

The paper work required was done at the headquarters and off we went for an afternoon in the park.

The park was in general pretty birdy but especially the higher grounds. We had 9 Brown Hornbills flying across a valley right under us. 4 Wreathed Hornbills were flying right over our heads at the same place. A fruiting tree at lower level held 9 Great Hornbills and Pied Hornbills were seen regularly.

Road conditions were fine and weather on the lovely side.

Since I also have covered this park extensively in earlier reports I will here name what we saw in order of event: A sian Palm Swift, Emerald Dove, Siberian Rubythroat ( early on after the first checkpoint) Great Hornbill, Black-crested Bulbul, Djunglefowl, A sian Fairy Bluebird, Pied Hornbill, Streak-eared Bulbul, Vernal Hanging Parakeet, Black-naped Oriole, Ocharceous Bulbul, Stripe-throated Bulbulb, Dark-necked Tailorbird, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, A shy Drongo, Greater Yellownape, Green-billed Malkoha, Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, Black-naped Monarch, Orange-breasted Trogon, Chinese Flycatcher, Radde's Warbler, Chinese Pond Heron, Bronzed Drongo, Green-eared Barbet, Red-throated Flycatcher, White-rumped Shama,

Day 2. A dditions from day 1. Greater Racket-tailed Drongo,Green Magpie, Verditer, Yellow-browed Warbler, Blue-throated Barbet, A shy Bulbul, Everrett's White-eye,

Great Barbet, Scarlet Minivet, Mountain Bulbul, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, White-browed Scimitar Babbler, Black-throated Sunbird, Crested Serpent Eagle, Blue-eared Barbet, Emerald Cuckoo, Brown Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, Black-winged Cuckoo Shrike, Orange-bellied Leafbird, White-hooded Babbler, Himalayan Swiftlet, Streaked Spiderhunter, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, White-throated Kingfisher, Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush, Grey Wagtail, Large-tailed Nightjar, Barn Swallow, Blue-throated Bee-eater, A sian Barred Owlet, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Little Egret, Black-collared Starling, Vinous-breasted Starling and Cattle Egret .

Day 3. We didn't enter the park this day but did some birding in the farmlands nearby.

Zitting Cisticola, Grey-breasted Prinia, Osprey, Common Kingfisher, Yellow-vented Bulbul, Indochinese Bushlark, Little Grebe and Racket Treepies were new birds for the trip list. The 3 days had given 125 species with a total count between KY and KK of 192 species.

I then proceeded to drive Roger and Lynn to Chao Um beach town where they were to spend a few days before going back home to Melbourne .

On my way back to Bangkok I had to go back to look for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper again and this time it showed well. A lso found a group of Indian Shags at Watkhaotakrow and a Ruddy-breasted Crake.

Interestingly, the total count of birds were only about 10% lower then a visit to the same sites a month earlier when I visited with a birder who made sure to make use of every daylight hour.

In my opinion, Khao Yai and Kaengkrachan epitomize tropical birding in Thailand with a cross-section of the typical representative bird families of the area. I dare say it would be hard to be disappointed in these two parks.

Peter Ericsson

Pictures by Peter

You ask me how I know it's true
That there is a living God -
A God who rules the universe,
The sky...the sea...the sod:
A God who holds all creatures
In the hollow of His hand:
A God who put Infinity
In one tiny grain of sand:
A God who made the seasons -
Winter, Summer, Fall and Spring
A nd put His flawless rhythm
Into each created thing:
A god who hangs the sun out
Slowly with the break of day,
And gently takes the stars in
And puts the night away:
A God whose mighty handiwork
Defies the skill of man,
For no architect can alter
God's Perfect Master Plan -
What better answers are there
To prove His Holy Being
Than the wonders all around us
That are ours just for the seeing.


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