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Post Info TOPIC: Thailand Diary


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RE: Thailand Diary


10/07/2024 Kit Chum - Yasothon Province.

Its the rainy season in Thailand presently, hence not much to report in terms of birding activity. The rice crop has been planted and (touch wood) is doing fine for now.

Monday provided a little excitement when Pen noticed the rear end of a Banded Krait disappearing into the bungalow where Barb and I stay during our visits. The sliding glass door had been left slightly ajar and at this time of year there are generally more snakes around and this individual had accordingly taken advantage. This species is readily identified with a black body and bold yellow hoops and though generally not aggressive is highly venomous.

The village has a resident snake catcher but there was no response when Pen rang him; - in the meantime the Krait had hidden under the sofa in our bedroom and Paul armed with a sweeping brush carefully pulled out the sofa but was at a loss at to how to proceed further. He called out to Rambo (one of the Thai Ridgeback guard dogs) who bounded in and immediately went to work.

The dogs mode of attack with any snake is to avoid going near the head and to swiftly take the creature well behind the head and to vigorously shake it to break the spine. This effective method seems to be entirely instinctive.

While our own instincts would always be to avoid any contact with a snake and certainly not to harm it as far as possible from time to time drastic measures are called for as a last resort. It should be noted also in passing that the head of a recently dead snake (even a severed head) can still for a short time inflict a bite as a reflex action.

Regards,

Mike P.



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30/05/2024 - 8.00 am Huai Aeng - (Roi Et side).

Paul met up by arrangement with Shaun Green to check for any late passage migrants on the site which yielded up the Pectoral Sandpiper for us on 28/04. A two hour session provided 34 species, most notable being:-

300 Lesser Whistling ducks (with at least the same numbers on the Maha Sarakham side of the complex).

13 Black-winged Stilts

6 Little Ringed Plovers

7 River Lapwings (a good count for central Isaan. Unfortunately these flew off before any photos could be taken)

5 Pheasant-tailed Jacanas

1 Common Greenshank (A week or so earlier Paul had received news that a radio tagged Nordmans Greenshank had been traced to Roi Et province and despite Paul Farrell and Shaun Green joining him in a search for the bird they had no luck - accordingly any Greenshank found of late is being closely scrutinised).

40 Small Pratincoles

50 Oriental Pratincoles (These birds and probably Small Pratincoles have young on the site and opportunistic Brahminy Kites are patrolling with eyes for easy prey - attached is a photo of an Oriental Pratincole bombing such an interloper).

45 Asian Openbills

Also recorded was the usual mix of common egrets and open country passerines.

Cheers,

Mike P.



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18/05/2024 - 7.30 am Khlong Pla Khun lake - Roi Et Province.

With an early start Paul again headed west into Roi Et - this province which has been so productive of late; - his prime target of course still being White-winged Tern. A two hour session yielded up 53 species conspicuous among which were: -

400 Lesser Whistling Ducks

40 Cotton Pygmy-Geese

1 White-breasted Waterhen

6 Black-winged Stilts

4 Bronze-winged Jacanas

12 Whiskered Terns

2 White-winged Terns (in with the Whiskered Terns in a flooded rice field as opposed to the main lake. - a big catch up species for Paul in Roi Et - giving him records for the species in just about all the central provinces of Isaan).

50 Asian Openbills

6 Little Cormorants

1 Cinnamon Bittern (Oddly between us we have not yet recorded a single Black Bittern so far this spring).

2 Yellow Bitterns

6 Malaysian Pied Fantails

1 Rufescent Prinia

2 Grey-breasted Prinia

2 Yellow-bellied Prinia

5 Plain Prinia

6 Zitting Cisticolas

4 Golden-headed Cisticola

1 Oriental Reed Warbler

2 Chestnut-capped Babblers

30 Baya Weavers 

8 Chestnut Munias

Obviously a productive session which puts Paul onto 198 species for Roi Et in a tie with resident top birder Shaun Green with 200 species now in both their sights.

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 



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14/05/2024 - 3 pm Lam Sai Marshlands - Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province.

En route to a family reunion dinner with Pen and Art in Bangkok we stopped for some last gasp list padding in this small province which we normally transit without stopping. Ayutthaya City is incidentally the ancient capital of Thailand and in future we ought to stop off to see some of the architecture here.

Scanning over this riverside scrubby habitat we noticed a couple of pond Herons foraging on the margins one of which was obviously a pale headed bird with a chestnut lower breast and belly - a summer plumaged Javan Pond-Heron.

The other bird had a similar pale head but also uniformly pale breast and belly. I suggested that Paul might get some shots as it seemed a good candidate for Indian Pond-Heron. - Indeed it was - another new species for our Thai lists and a nice way to end our six weeks of quite intense birding.

Best Wishes,

Mike P.

 



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13/05/2024 - 7.25 am. - Thap Lan Nat.Pk. - Dry forest west of Sab Sadao Nt. Pk. Nakhon Ratchasima.

Having headed further west we drove into this habitat with several special target species in mind - but uppermost here was White-browed Fantail which the ever industrious Paul Farrell discovered here some time ago.

We failed to locate this species but did enjoy adequate compensation with 29 species among which were a few gems: - 

3 Black Bazas

1 Rufous-winged Buzzard

1 Shikra

1 Spotted Owlet (a showy fellow - photographed)

2 Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpeckers (photo)

3 Large Cuckoo-Shrikes (photo)

2 Common Woodshrikes

3 Brown Prinia (photo - hardly a stunner but a world lifer for all of us).

5 Rufescent Prinias (photo)

6 Velvet-fronted Nuthatches

1 Vinous-breasted Starling (another world lifer for us - photo).

Cheers,

Mike P.



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12/05/2024 - 8.45 am - Rice research centre - Surin province.

With our time in Thailand coming to an end we planned our journey heading south-west towards Bangkok taking in some birding en route through this rather neglected province on a list padding endeavour. In 25 minutes we noted 30 common species many of which were new for us in Surin. We moved on arriving next at the Huai Saneng reservoir where in 90 minutes we logged 44 species, - the pick of the bunch being 50 Oriental Pratincoles with young and pleasingly 6 White-winged Terns.

The best however was yet to come at Huai Sawai in Buri Ram (the next province west) which we reached by 13.30 pm spending two and a half hours there watching and photographing a good selection of waders among 27 species in all.

500 Lesser Whistling Ducks

2 Indian Spot-billed Ducks

25 Black-winged Stilts

89 Pacific Golden Plovers (a remarkable count - our best ever).

20 Little Ringed Plovers

6 Red-wattled Lapwings

2 Tibetan Sand-Plovers (photos)

2 Greater Sand-Plovers (photos)

8 Greenshanks

7 Spotted Redshanks

2 Curlew Sandpipers (photo)

15 Red-necked Stints (photo)

20 Small Pratincoles

100 Oriental Pratincoles

5 Whiskered Terns

400 Openbill Storks

56 Painted Storks

In addition an assortment of the usual egrets and sundry passerines.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Friday 17th of May 2024 06:07:22 PM

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10/05/2024 11 am Kaeng Song Yai - Amnat Charoen Province.

This morning three of us had a run out east to the Mekong riverside hoping to find passage waders only to find water levels had risen (probably due to the onset of rains far to the north-west). The only waders we found however were 3 Little Ringed Plovers and 2 Small Pratincoles - scant reward for our effort. In a 90 minute session we logged 34 species the best of which were: -

10 Asian Green Bee-eaters

4 Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters

10 Wire-tailed Swallows

2 Mekong Wagtails (The big speciality here of course. We find that when the midday sun is beating down these birds are often to be found close to the water on rock shelves with overhanging rocks or boulders giving direct shade above. Today scanning we found two birds this way barely 150 metres apart).

Later en route home we stopped for 15 minutes at Huai Kaeo Maeng Reservoir where on an extensive mat of floating vegetation we found two White-breasted Waterhens and a fine summer adult Watercock - both additions to my list for Amnat Charoen.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 


07/05/2024 - Bueng Doan Lake area - Roi Et.

This morning three of us met up with Shaun Green for a round of this and other Roí Et lakes hoping to find the first passage White-winged Terns. Shaun has regularly recorded them in Roi Et on/around this date but we found no sign of any just yet. 
Nevertheless in general birding terms in 45 minutes we had a good session logging 34 species the best of which were:  

11 Knob-billed Ducks (quite a good find - these passage birds were among several hundred Lesser Whistling Ducks with a scatter of Cotton Pygmy Geese, and more than made up for not finding any White-winged Terns).

1 Black-winged Kite

1 Freckle-breasted Woodpecker

4 Streaked Weavers (photo)

35 Asian Golden Weavers

7 Chestnut Munias

Next at 10.00 we made a short stop in a strip of riverine forest bordering the Chi river to check on one of Pauls sites for Blue-winged Pitta. An obliging bird called in response to our recording and briefly perched up high giving Shaun and me our first sightings of this superb species in Roi Et. A Rufous-winged Buzzard drifted over as a bonus here.

Moving on to our final stop - 20 minutes at Khlong Pla Khun (another extensive wetland area) we found another trio of Knob-billed Ducks among 14 species - the best of the rest being: -

6 Indian Spot-billed Ducks

2 Cinnamon Bitterns

1 Yellow Bittern

2 Purple Herons

7 Baya Weavers

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 



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07/05/2024 - Bueng Doan Lake area - Roi Et.

This morning three of us met up with Shaun Green for a round of this and other Roí Et lakes hoping to find the first passage White-winged Terns. Shaun has regularly recorded them in Roi Et on/around this date but we found no sign of any just yet. 
Nevertheless in general birding terms in 45 minutes we had a good session logging 34 species the best of which were:  

11 Knob-billed Ducks (quite a good find - these passage birds were among several hundred Lesser Whistling Ducks with a scatter of Cotton Pygmy Geese, and more than made up for not finding any White-winged Terns).

1 Black-winged Kite

1 Freckle-breasted Woodpecker

4 Streaked Weavers (photo)

35 Asian Golden Weavers

7 Chestnut Munias

Next at 10.00 we made a short stop in a strip of riverine forest bordering the Chi river to check on one of Pauls sites for Blue-winged Pitta. An obliging bird called in response to our recording and briefly perched up high giving Shaun and me our first sightings of this superb species in Roi Et. A Rufous-winged Buzzard drifted over as a bonus here.

Moving on to our final stop - 20 minutes at Khlong Pla Khun (another extensive wetland area) we found another trio of Knob-billed Ducks among 14 species - the best of the rest being: -

6 Indian Spot-billed Ducks

2 Cinnamon Bitterns

1 Yellow Bittern

2 Purple Herons

7 Baya Weavers

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 



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06/05/2024 - Ban Fai festival Kutchum village - Yasothon.

One of the major celebrations centred upon Yasothon is the annual rocket competition, - again part of the tradition to bring on the rains. The largest rockets are fired from Yasothon City itself but Kutchum today hosted competitors from local villages and even other Isaan provinces such as Si Sa Ket and Ubon Ratchathani. This is both a serious and dangerous affair and misfires in the past have caused fatalities.

We mingled in the afternoon crowds enjoying a few beers and peering at an endless gallery of fast food stalls (one of which was selling roasted small passerines on tiny sticks), also noting the bets being laid as to which rockets would fly the highest - the scenario was a kind of cross between Cape Canaveral and the Aintree Grand National.

While passing the judges tent we were invited in and briefly interviewed then given good seats and a grandstand view.

Finally the first rocket was launched from its tall gantry with a flaming roar and the immediate launch area was hidden in smoke - quite a sight - it was so good we watched three more launches.

Today (purely coincidentally of course) it actually rained!

Cheers,

Mike P.



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Tuesday 7th of May 2024 11:17:46 AM

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05/05/2024 - 2.00 pm Kutchum Village - Yasothon.

Having eaten and showered after our birding morning we drove down and parked in the village to watch the celebration of the Ban Fai festival. This involves competing dance groups from local villages with drummers traditional  music and floats hauled along the main thoroughfare.
It is all to induce the short rains to commence - currently of great importance to the farmers in view of the drought conditions and temperatures which even the locals are finding uncomfortable.

I took some video and still shots, and at one point glanced round to ensure that I was not blocking anyones view only to see an elephant standing behind me barely eight feet away. The keeper seemed to be selling food to people who then fed his animal.

After some fifty minutes we headed for home observing en route the elephant down a quiet side street enjoying eating someones garden hedge.



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05/05/2024 - 07.45 am. Khueang Kham - Nong Hoi paddies Yasothon Province.

Our original idea here was to search this extensive complex of newly planted rice fields scanning for any waders. In the past when these fields have an inch or so of water coinciding with movements of migrants we have enjoyed a degree of success. This morning however the only waders proved to be a scatter of Black-winged Stilts with both the usual Myna species, several Greater Coucals, Scaly- breasted Munias and Openbill Storks.

Paul suddenly exclaimed that in the far distance he thought he had noticed two large ducks most likely Knob-billed Ducks! The farm workers now often appear to be increasingly using drones for either sowing or fertilising fields and suddenly a sizeable flock of large ducks had likely been flushed by the drone.In the air these didnt fit either Whistling Ducks or Spot-billed - they were indeed Knob-billed and as Paul rattled off photos I kept track of the the flying birds and counted 19 birds.

Quite soon the birds settled and we carefully closed the distance but stayed in the car getting more photos and confirming the earlier count. These were my first of this species in Thailand and seem to be the biggest party ever recorded in the Isaan region.

In all of 18 species logged the best of the rest were 7 Indian Spot-billed Ducks sharing the same pool. Our first Whiskered Tern of the spring was noted and 4 Little Cormorants and 4 Pheasant-tailed Jacanas.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Sunday 5th of May 2024 10:28:39 AM

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Recap - Our open country day in Chaiyaphum on 28/04/2024.

- A better portrait shot of the Long-tailed Shrike.

This is not of course the form which we twitched in the Outer Hebrides but the resident form over much of Thailand - always a stunning beast!

Cheers,

Mike P.



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04/05/2024 - 10.05 am - Huai Pho Amnat Charoen Royal Irrigation Project - Amnat Charoen.

We were last here on 16/04 when we found the Greater Painted Snipe pair and decided this morning to return here to undertake a further search for any passage waders in view of sightings by others of Black-tailed Godwits seen moving through other western provinces.

In 90 minutes we noted 23 species - the best as follows: -

2 Indian Spot-billed Ducks

25 Black-winged Stilts

9 Little Ringed Plovers

3 Greater Painted-Snipe (male with two chicks - photos)

1 Common Sandpiper

1 Greenshank

3 Long-toed Stints (new for this province - photos)

40 Oriental Pratincoles

20 Asian Openbills

3 Little Egrets

3 Chinese Pond-Herons

1 Eurasian Hoopoe

10 Asian Green Bee-eaters

2 Common Ioras

1 Common Tailorbird

3 Black-collared Starlings

3 Oriental Magpie-Robins

2 Eastern Yellow Wagtails (tchuchensis form). 

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 

 



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Breakfast time here back home at base in Kut Chum.

A bit of humble pie on this mornings menu - our Long-toed Stint is generally considered to be a Red-necked Stint which would be only the third or fourth for Maha Sarakham. Our photo of this is attached to the last post.

With the blazing overhead sun here, discerning leg colour is not that easy. Any views from Manchester wader enthusiasts are welcome as always please.

Regards,

Mike P.



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01/05/2024 - 12.10 pm - Huai Aeng- Maha Sarakham side.

The final stop of our trip was here on the dry grassy lake bed close to the border with Roi Et to see what wader species we might add for this province.

Despite the heat we found viewing from the car made things bearable and in 90 minutes logged 32 species in all but with waders as the main priority: -

40 Black-winged Stilts

7 Pacific Golden Plovers (photos)

14 Little Ringed Plovers

2 Common Sandpipers

3 Greenshanks

1 Curlew Sandpiper (photos)

1 Long-toed Stint

3 Small Pratincoles

50 Oriental Pratincoles

Not a single Spotted Redshank was to be seen, so perhaps these (so obvious a few days earlier in Roi Et) had already moved on?

A support cast of 200 Asian Openbills and 2 Little Cormorants with the usual mix of egrets also featured.

The best of the passerines were 6 Eastern Yellow Wagtails in contrast to Roi Et where we had seen none on April 28th.

Maha Sarakham had provided some nice surprises- especially at Chi Long which we should hope to visit again next winter.

Regards,

Mike P.



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01/05/2024 07.00 am - Chi Long Forest Park - Maha Sarakham Province.

Our return visit got off to a good start here. Even as we were parking the car Paul noticed Forest Wagtails foraging in the leaf litter ahead - there were four birds together, quite a sight for what I have always considered a fairly solitary species.

We took a left turn and walked for almost a half hour along one of the main trails with very little reward and no sign of Blue-winged Pitta (despite playing a few calls) and so decided to turn back to explore the previous evenings hotspot at the start of the other trail.

We did hear the call of Asian Barred Owlet close to where we saw the bird of the previous evening and by 08.00 am it became apparent that things were livening up with many common species calling. Scanning and hoping for the Tiger Shrike again Paul suddenly found himself a Blue-winged Pitta perched on a convenient horizontal branch staring back at him some 30 metres away; - this we observed for some minutes - photos attached. 

With his radar eyes in top form Paul latched onto the previous nights sneaky Paradise Flycatcher flitting through the foliage above and we finally obtained perched views and photos which showed whitish undertail coverts and a sharp demarcation between the black of the head and grey of the neck and upper breast fading to whitish below - a female Amur Paradise-Flycatcher and a new species for all of us.

We then enjoyed close views of an Arctic Warbler foraging rather clumsily and both Asian Brown and Dark-sided Flycatchers performed nearby. The Pitta remained in the area and seemed quite at ease with our presence.

The show was not quite over as Barbara drew our attention to a showy flycatcher sporting a yellow rump which we were able to watch perching on low waterside shrubs and making short sallies to the ground - a female Yellow-rumped Flycatcher (which had briefly set my pulse racing with thoughts of Green-backed Flycatcher).

And so our two sessions here ended in this remarkable small area of this forest which we named as Magic Corner.

Regards,

Mike P.



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30/04/2024 - 08.00 am - Nong Sam Muen - Chaiyaphum Province.

Discouraged and tired by the slowness of the previous days long session in the forest we decided upon some open country birding and enjoyed 46 species in an hour and a quarter with many list padding common species but outstanding was Pauls find of a Long-tailed Shrike hawking from a bamboo pole set in a small marsh. This individual was of the handsome resident form longicaudatus which according to Paul Farrell seems to be increasingly scarce, - so photographed accordingly.

We did pretty well with acrocephalus warblers with one each of Oriental Reed, Black-browed Reed and Thick-billed, as well as the usual common waders and egrets. A Yellow- bellied Prinia was particularly showy and got its photo taken free of charge by way of reward.

Thus ended our foray into Chaiyaphum in which I had added 50 species to my province list to end up on a slightly annoying 99 species in total.

We carried on east into Maha Sarakham with a plan to check the Chi Long Forest Park which Paul had birded in the past. This small forest is a haunt of the birding fraternity of the Maha Sarakham University group and is bounded by water on both sides with good cover and plenty of leaf litter providing what would be excellent foraging for winter thrushes. Paul has found Blue-winged Pitta here in the past and in view of the date we were optimistic of our chances with this bird.

We arrived at 4.40 pm spending an exciting 50 minutes logging 15 species and resolved to return again on the following morning.  The best of our evening session were:-

1 Asian Barred Owlet - (photo)

1 Paradise Flycatcher sp. ( - found just before dusk and fleeting flight views prevented specific identification).

1 Tiger Shrike (a fine male - photo)

2 Forest Wagtails (photo)

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Thursday 2nd of May 2024 02:35:09 PM

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29/04/2024 - 08.45am - roadside stop Chaiyaphum Province.

Soon after we had checked out of our lodgings we made a first roadside stop for ten minutes in Chaiyaphum noting a dozen common species to kickstart our listing, the best being a couple each of Scarlet-backed Flowerpeckers and Brown-throated Sunbirds.

At 09.27 am we made a 20 minute stop at the Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary (Pang Muang gate vicinity) enjoying an impressive view over an extensive wooded valley. 7 common species noted here included a Crested Serpent-Eagle and a Pin-striped Tit-Babbler which gave a good photo opportunity.

Pressing on, at 10.30 am we arrived at the Chulabhorn Dam area where we found conditions to be very dry and hot with little reward for a tough 5 hour session which yielded a sparse 27 species, amongst which were: -

2 Siamese Firebacks

5 Red Junglefowl

8 Germains swiftlets

7 Cooks Swifts

6 Red-wattled Lapwings

2 Crested Serpent-Eagles (photos)

4 Oriental Pied Hornbills

4 Dollarbirds

2 Blue-eared Barbets

2 Green-eared Barbets

3 Lineated Barbets

1 Common Flameback

1 White-bellied Erpornis

2 Common Hill Mynas (photos)

We heard no sign of Blue Pitta where we heard it two years ago but did hear the haunting calls of my own main target the Coral-billed Ground-Cuckoo which failed to appear despite our patrols up and down the roads as dusk approached.

A final consolation was that at 7.45 pm we enjoyed the calls of Great-eared Nightjars in the dam area after which we hastened away to minimise the risk of another elephant encounter in the dark.

Regards,

Mike P.



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Thursday 2nd of May 2024 06:12:12 AM



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Thursday 2nd of May 2024 01:44:01 PM

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28/04/2024 - Maha Sarakham and Khon Kaen Povinces.

Still driving west after our big find in Roi Et we logged 30 Glossy Ibis flying over the road in Maha Sarakham and arrived at 5 pm in the deciduous forest grounds of Khon Kaen University. This site has yielded many juicy discoveries in the past due to the good birder coverage here but the feeding station was very quiet apart from a single Dark-sided Flycatcher and we left for our overnight accommodation a little deflated despite the drama of late morning in Roi Et.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Thursday 2nd of May 2024 05:25:30 AM

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28/04/2024 - Huai Aeng -  Roi Et Province side.

With Pen having to stay with her mum three of us set out west for three nights away intent on birding the lush forest habitats of Chaiyaphum Province in westernmost Isaan where our existing lists were modest to say the least.
En route we had to cross Roi Et, Maha Sarakham, and Khon Kaen Provinces and so we called in at our planned first stop Huai Aeng. 
With water levels so low this lake area had dried out to the extent that we were able to drive out onto what had become a firm grassland with grazing buffalo and cattle. Pauls plan had been to scan the remaining pool edges for any passage waders and by 11.45 we were avidly checking out everything.

A one hour session turned up 14 species but came to an abrupt end:-

6 Little Ringed Plovers

8 Spotted Redshanks

10 Greenshanks

20 Oriental Pratincoles

15 Asian Openbills

1 Little Egret

4 Chinese Pond-Herons

4 Eastern Cattle Egrets

5 Grey Herons

2 Asian Green Bee-eaters

2 Oriental Skylarks

2 Great Mynas

6 Paddyfield Pipits

All this time we were scanning from the vehicle as the outside temperature was over 40 degrees. Barb suddenly spotted a smaller wader over 100 metres away between two Greenshanks and two Spotted Redshanks - a possible Wood Sandpiper?

We quickly began assessing this bird, - from what we could see on rear end views it was too fat and dumpy for Wood Sand and lacked a clear cut supercilium, Long-toed Stint was quickly eliminated as this bird was too big. Paul began taking photos and our birded finally turned around showing a solid infilled breast pattern.

That looks like a Pec Sand I exclaimed. We checked the mantle and scapulars to make sure we werent making a silly mistake. Glimpses of leg colour (made difficult by the sun being directly overhead) showed the typical mustard tone. It was indeed a Pectoral Sandpiper!

We pulled out the fieldguide. Pec. Sand is depicted but marked as a Vagrant, - one record in 2009 at Pak Thale!

We put out the news and Andy Pierce quickly responded with a Whow! Im on my way!.

We stayed put hoping that our bird would do the same, - though it and its companions flew 100 metres onto a small islet where the Pec. Sand enjoyed some shade sheltering under the bellies of the two Greenshanks, and sometimes cooling thigh deep in the water. It was disturbed several times by an aggressive Black-winged Stilt which thankfully cleared off after a couple of tense minutes.

A grateful Andrew Pierce eventually found us and took his own photos from inside his vehicle. 
Since the fieldguide was published there have been a further 5/6 records of Pectoral Sandpier generally seen by only the finders so this is a true rarity for Thailand and of course the first to be found in the Isaan region.

Photos attached.

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 



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25/04/2024 - 09.00 am - Huai Chum Chang, - Kalasin Province.

With only 202 species ever recorded in Kalasin it is one of those provinces where one can generally find a few new species with a little effort. Pauls idea in spending a couple of hours here (as water levels were quite low) checking for waders proved to be sound and among 25 species logged here we chalked up the following wader species:-

10 Little Ringed Plovers

8 Common Sandpipers

3 Spotted Redshanks (2 in summer plumage, 1 transitional - photos).

6 Greenshanks (photo - keeping company with 2 Spotted Redshanks).

Other good counts comprised: -

100 Openbill Storks

12 Grey Herons (we considered that these were resting en route north).

Heading back home to Yasothon while still in Kalasin at roadside stops we added Red-wattled Lapwings, a couple of Brown-throated Sunbirds, and a singing Purple Sunbird.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 



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24/04/2024 6.25 pm Phu Sa Dok Bua Nat.Pk.

Buoyed by our success with owls in Khao Yai, Paul and I decided upon an owling session on the edge of this national park close to where three provinces (Mukdahan, Amnat Charoen, and Yasothon) all meet. 
Earlier Andrew Pierce had mentioned to Paul that when camping here he had been hearing owls through the night.

We arrived by this lakeside trail at around 6.30 pm and after noting 3 Black-winged Stilts soon had both Asian Barred Owlet and a Brown Boobook calling, though no response from Collared Scops Owl as it was most likely too early.

At 7.40 we drove a short distance into Amnat Charoen and immediately were hearing two Collared Scops Owls, an Asian Barred Owlet and two Brown Boobooks, one of which flew in and briefly perched in full view.

We drove a short distance of a few hundred yards into Yasothons best remaining forest patch where Paul discovered the Fujian Niltava a few years ago. Here we heard the common Asian Barred Owlet and 2 more Brown Boobooks, one of these flew in again but didnt offer a good photo opportunity.

The big surprise however was the sudden maniacal laughter of a Blyths Frogmouth! This is hundreds of kilometres north of its known range and again is an example of the hidden riches to be found lurking in Eastern Isaan.

We need to research things thoroughly but initial findings suggest that the call we heard is that of a territorial female - so we may well have this species breeding here.

Regards,

Mike P.

 



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21/04/2024. Our final birding in Nakhon Ratchasima comprised a few stops on the road back to Yasothon for specific additions to our respective province lists, the best incidental addition was a Pied Kingfisher which Paul noted hovering over a ditch as he was driving on a busy road. I had added 43 species for my province list with Blue Pitta as the star bird.

We resolved to have a break from birding for a few days but with us resolutions dont last long and by 23rd we were out mid morning by Yasothons Chi river checking to see if Blue-winged Pittas had returned to their breeding territories. We were pleased to be greeted by two calling birds about 1 km. apart, this being the fourth year of Pauls records for them here.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 



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21/04/2024 - 08. 15 am. - Animal Nutrition Research and Development Centre - Nakhon Ratchasima.

Having made the decision to exit the Nat. Pk. the night previously (enough of camping!) we booked into our regular hotel, (the Rimtarn in Pak Chong) and enjoyed pizzas and a few beers, and made plans for a reasonably early start trying again for the francolin. 
This paid off big time, thanks to Barbs keen spotting. We were hearing fewer calls but fortuitously parked right next to a pair shuffling in long grass barely twenty feet from Barbs window. She saw both birds and Paul and I saw the female well just before they crept into cover before flushing as Paul exited the vehicle to herd them our way.
For me a catch up world lifer no less. Other species noted were the usual pair of cute Spotted Owlets in their preferred tree where we had them in January, and a soft province tick for me- an Oriental Magpie Robin.

By 9.15 en route east we arrived at the Lam Takhong dam on the Ta Ngoi farmlands (still in Nakhon Ratchasima)

which provided some good wader additions to my province list:-
20 Black-winged Stilts

2 Pacific Golden Plovers

4 Little Ringed Plovers

1 Common Sandpipers

8 Long-toed Stints

6 Small Pratincoles

40 Oriental Pratincoles

28 Glossy Ibis

8 Easter Yellow Wagtails (all macronix)

1 Citrine Wagtail (female).

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Thursday 25th of April 2024 12:23:58 PM



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Friday 26th of April 2024 01:16:06 AM

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20/04/2024 - 1.20 pm Pha Kluai Mai (still in Khao Yai Nat.Pk.

An hour spent here in the midday heat (40-42 degrees) but managing to enjoy any available shade added a few more trip species. Among 20 birds logged the best were: -

1 Green-billed Malkoha (a catch up for me)

5 Crested Treeswifts (high flying - Paul only)

1 Collared Owlet (the star bird of the session - these often call during the day and I have heard them in three provinces previously but having seen this for the first time it becomes a welcome addition to my Thai list - also photo attached).

1 White-bellied Erpornis

1 Two-barred Warbler

1 Brown-throated Sunbird

1 Black-throated Sunbird (record photo attached).

Regards,

Mike P.



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20/04/2024 - 05.45 am - Khao Khieo Rd. (Khao Yai Nat. Pk.) Nakhon Nayok side.

- Our final entry for Nakhon Nayok as we changed plans deciding not to stay a 3rd night camping as only one possible owl remained unseen (Mountain Scops Owl).

Birding the road early was our long shot strategy for a possible sighting of Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo which from time to time does get seen crossing the road just after dawn, predictably however we turned up only the regular species, best of which were two Mountain Imperial Pigeons, a female Red-headed Trogon (photo), several more Great Hornbills, and a male Heart-spotted Woodpecker (photo).

The previous evening after a short pre-dusk session when we photographed the Rufous Woodpecker, our route back to camp was delayed by a large lone elephant walking towards us on the road.
We steadily backed up as the elephant looked stressed trying to head off road directly into the forest on either side but without success. It was now pitch black and we should by now have been back in camp safely behind the locked entrance gate.

We reversed past a side track and fortunately the elephant headed off down there just as the first of about 8 night safari trucks with campers aboard turned up; - little wonder the elephants get stressed and must hate and fear encounters/interactions on the roads.

Cheers,

Mike P.



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19/04/2024 3.00 pm. Pha Kluai Mai (Nakhon Ratchasima side).

An idyllic spot. Here Barb and I enjoyed some relaxation overlooking a pool surrounded by overhanging forest while Paul scouted around the car park edge within a 200 metre circuit though he neither found nor heard anything new.

Immediately in front of me and Barb a female Heart-spotted Woodpecker flew in close landing on a bare tree, remaining for around a minute before heading off on some errand.

Later that night at 8.30 pm back in our tents (in Nakhon Nayok) Paul alerted us to a calling Brown Boobook. I got dressed hastily and joined him to see if we could call it in, and it obligingly appeared in a tree only metres from our tents. In the small hours we got up again and called in a Collared Scops Owl which perched immediately above the tents (photo). All in all a good night.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 



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19/04/2024 - 05.20 am. Lam Ta Khong campground - Nakhon Nayok Province. Khao Yai Nat. Pk.

One of the complications (or bonuses) in the park is that it straggles two provinces - the small river near HQ being the border so it is easy to count birds heard/seen on both province lists or also to get them in the wrong province as well!
We were hearing Great-eared Nightjars at both dawn and dusk over our tents and saw several accordingly flying across both provinces for a double whammy - a good start for the day.

At 07.am back in Nakhon Ratchasima (still of course in the park) we set off down the well known trail at Km. 33,

After a frustratingly quiet start, things picked up:-

1 Mountain Imperial Pigeon (photo)

1 Banded Bay Cuckoo (heard only)

1 Blue Pitta (heard initially at 08.20 in response to our playing, thereafter very vocal finally giving a much appreciated glimpse). For me as a Pitta enthusiast among my most wanted species, and previously only ever a heard bird.

1 Asian Fairy Bluebird.
We did return on the following day at 8 am hoping for better views of the Pitta but the morning was ruined by howling gibbons directly overhead so we called it a day.

At 11.00 am we were back at HQ (in Nakhon Nayok) where we put in a summarised listing for the remainder of the day in this province to avoid all the to and froing, additional species being:-

5 Red-wattled Lapwings

1 Asian Openbill

1 Little Cormorant

1 Great Hornbill

1 Wreathed Hornbill

1 Green-eared Barbet (photo)

1 Rufous Woodpecker (photo at dusk in failing light)

4 Paddyfield Pipits

Regards,

Mike P.

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Tuesday 23rd of April 2024 10:58:52 AM



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Tuesday 23rd of April 2024 11:08:56 AM

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18/04/2024 - 6.45 am Bueng Kratón, - Nakhon Ratchasima Province.

With a very early start three of us headed off west bound for three nights camping in Khao Yai Nat. Pk. The object was to boost our province lists in this westernmost of Isaans provinces, with any Thailand ticks as bonuses.

En route we stopped very briefly at this reservoir site somewhat hampered by heavy lorries (carting soil to increase the water storage capacity) but did manage 16 common species with a few easy province ticks for me with both Jacanas and Grey-headed Swamphens.

At just before 10.00 am we arrived at the approach road to the park entrance hoping that the Spot-bellied Eagle-Owls might still be around but as expected all we noted were the usual Red-breasted Parakeets and a Chestnut-headed Bee-eater; - at least we tried.

Once inside having paid the entrance fees (400 baht each plus 30 for the vehicle), at 10.30 we stopped next at the monkey ridden popular viewpoint to start our birding proper again focused primarily on swifts and raptors, logging a sparse 11 species : -

1 Mountain Hawk-Eagle (photos).

7 Black Kites (circling and rising on a thermal)

1 Dollarbird

3 Lineated Barbets

1 Moustached Barbet

3 Ashy Woodswallows

2 Large-billed Crows

1 Dark-necked Tailorbird

10 Red-rumped Swallows

3 Grey-eyed Bulbuls

5 Black-crested Bulbuls

1 Chestnut-tailed Starling (Paul only).

After a roadside lunch we were treated to the odd spectacle of Great Hornbills at the nest with one repeatedly battering and shaking an unfortunate prey item in the shape of an Asian Barred Owlet (by now dead).

Other additional species in a roadside birding session were: -

2 Red Junglefowl

20 Thick-billed Green-Pigeons

1 Oriental Pied Hornbill

2 Blue-bearded Bee-eaters

3 Long-tailed Broadbills

1 Greater Racket-tailed Drongo

3 Puff-throated Bulbuls

2 Stripe-throated Bulbuls

3 Puff-throated Babblers

1 Abbotts Babbler 

12 White-crested Laughingthrushes (in 3 separate groups).

3 White-rumped Shamas.

1 Common Flameback (Paul only)

2 Common Hill Mynas (Paul only).

1 Common Myna.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 



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16/04/2024 - 07.45 am. Dong Hua Kong & Dong Bang Ee Community Forest- Amnat Charoen Province.

Encouraged by our observations high up at the temple complex in Yasothon we made an early start on another hilltop location to see if swifts and raptors were passing here a few miles east in Amnat Charoen. The overlook here is quite wonderful looking down over an expansive forest basin backed by wooded hills and we wondered if birders have ever even set foot down there - Paul knows of no such access. However as is often the case we only logged 16 species in an hour and forty minutes though did manage a few additions to our individual province tallies:-

5 Feral Pigeons 

2 Spotted Doves

1 Greater Coucal

3 Brown-backed Needletails

2 Shikras

4 Dollarbirds (passage migrants. - We felt that this species is passing on a broad front. They are particularly obliging in that they like to perch high up on naked treetops and are easily noted even when over a mile distant).

2 Coppersmith Barbets

3 Lineated Barbets

4 Large-billed Crows

1 Common Tailorbird

3 Black-crested Bulbuls

3 White-rumped Shamas

2 Thick-billed Flowerpeckers (1 photo)

1 Scarlet-backed Flowerpeckers

2 Purple Sunbirds

2 Ornate Sunbirds

By 11.00 am with the temperature rising to a searing level we arrived at Huai Pho Royal Irrigation Project where major earthworks to improve water conservation have drastically changed the lake edges into steep sloping banks totally unsuitable for waders. However the ongoing dry season has exposed dry muddy grassland below into which we managed to descend carefully with four wheel drive and were soon rewarded for Pauls skill and resolve with some nice rewards which provided the days highlight with 16 species in a forty minute session before heading off back to our Yasothon base:-

20 Black-winged Stilts

1 Pacific Golden Plover (new for the province - photo)

6 Little-ringed Plovers

2 Greater Painted-Snipes (a pair - new for the province - photos)

2 Common Sandpipers

2 Wood Sandpipers

2 Greenshanks

30 Oriental Pratincoles

12 Asian Openbills

2 Little Egrets

2 Grey Herons

4 Asian Green Bee-eaters

1 Oriental Skylark

1 Bluethroat (photo)

5 Paddyfield Pipits

1 Red-throated Pipit (photo)

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Wednesday 17th of April 2024 02:19:15 PM

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It occurs to me that I have made no mention until now of the current Songkran festivities here. This is an annual event that I mentioned on this thread some years ago. It is meant to invoke the onset of the short rains and is also linked with the traditional new year.
Many travel from the cities to celebrate with their families with street parties and music and drench each other with water from hose pipes buckets and water pistols. When birding we travel with the windows down listening for birds but when passing through villages during Songkran it is prudent to close the car windows as passing cars and pickup trucks can expect buckets of water from any angle, - even in the hours of darkness.

However back to birding:-

We repeated yesterdays trip up to the sanctuary lookout point arriving a little earlier at 08.40 am and between the three of us logged 19 species in an hour and three quarters, - again mainly focusing on overhead migrant swifts and raptors.

The impressive Brown-backed Needletails were flashing by at high speed and Paul was photographing these in flight where practical and we independently were scanning trying to cover all angles possible. I had to wear sunglasses otherwise my eyes could simply not cope with the glare from the rising sun even at 09.00 am as the temperature here is currently climbing to mid afternoon peaks at around 39/40 degrees. Counts were estimates for the Needletails as the birds might simply have been circling the summit so we logged a very conservative ten for these with six Pacific Swifts and two House Swifts.

While Paul had a look at his shots during a lull he was surprised to find several images showing a strong candidate for White-throated Needletail - a first record for eastern Isaan if acceptable.

Attached are 3 record shots of the White-throated Needletail showing combination of white throat and white loral mark above bill, and 1 shot of Brown-backed Needletail showing white loral mark and all dark throat.

As regards raptors we recorded:- 

4 Oriental Honey-Buzzards

18 Black Bazas

1 Shikra

4 Chinese Sparrowhawks (photo of two interacting attached).

Cheers,

Mike P.



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12/04/2024 - 09.05 am - Phu Sung Charoen Tham Bhuddist Sanctuary - Yasothon.

This was a speculative visit on Pauls part and a first site visit for me and for Barb. This wooded hilltop sanctuary has an excellent lookout point so we had some expectation and hope of migrants heading north.

We spent an hour and a half logging 19 species but the main focus was on swifts and raptors and succeeded with:-

8 Brown-backed Needletails

6 Pacific Swifts

1 Oriental Honey-Buzzard

15 Black Bazas - (photo)

1 Shikra

3 Chinese Sparrowhawks (for all of us our first in Thailand - photo).

5 Dollarbirds

- A successful visit with the promise of further dividends to come?

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Saturday 13th of April 2024 09:53:26 AM



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Saturday 13th of April 2024 02:11:54 PM

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10/04/2024 - 07.30 am - Tham Pha Nam Thip non hunting area - botanic garden section - Roi Et Province.

The three of us (Barb, Paul and I myself) met up by arrangement with the leading resident birder in Roi Et - Shaun Green. This was a long overdue first meeting which hopefully will lead to ongoing collaboration between Paul and Shaun who had much to discuss together. 
With overcast skies and a gentle breeze the birding was rather slow and 23 species were logged the best of which were a flighty Forest Wagtail (which narrowly eluded Barb and me) a calling unseen Crested Serpent-Eagle 3 Black-naped Orioles and both Thick-billed and Scarlet-backed Flowerpeckers.

Best Wishes,

Mike P.



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Thursday 11th of April 2024 05:38:52 AM

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07/04/2024 - 08.00 am - Phue Hi (lakeside Forest fragment). Yasothon.

With temperatures set to soar into the low 40s and Barb and I still getting used to the heat we explored some of the Yasothon sites basically hoping for passage flycatchers.

At this our first stop the highlight birds were a pair of the delightful diminutive White-browed Piculets which we heard drumming in a thin section of bamboo. These immediately flew in to playback perched within 30 ft. and swayed  and danced to and fro searching for the drumming rival. Accordingly after great views we cut the recording as they were obviously a territorial pair and as well as Pauls first record for this site these were my own first of the species for Yasothon.

These justified our visit as it was otherwise very quiet here with only several Large-billed Crows, 2 Common Tailorbirds and a showy White-rumped Shama for our trouble.

08/04/2024 - 09.20 am - Phu Sa Dok Bua Nat. Pk. Phu Sung Charoen Tham Buddhist Sanctuary - Yasothon.

A leisurely arrival at this forested hilltop site was a first for Barb and me and from the start we started logging species stopping at several good spots as we gained height. The road passed through several very steep sections bounded by huge rocks which evoked memories for me of rock fowl habitat in Cameroon (where 20 years ago I managed another spectacular dip by missing the main target bird).

Here our main target was Mugimaki Flycatcher of which we found two - my first females and a Thai tick, (having only ever having seen before a single male bird in Vietnam). Other birds recorded were:-

1 Red Junglefowl

2 Asian Koels

8 Brown-backed Needletails

2 Oriental Honey-Buzzards

1 Asian Barred Owlet

3 Dollarbird

2 Coppersmith Barbets

1 Lineated Barbet

2 Large-billed Crows

2 Common Tailorbirds

6 Barn Swallows

4 Black-crested Bulbuls

1 Raddes Warbler

2 White-rumpled Shamas

3 Ornate Sunbirds

We do find that these hilltop temple sites are generally good for birds as there are flowering shrubs no habitat destruction (as the surrounding forest is considered part of the sanctuary) and visitors are respectfully quiet.

I particularly enjoyed learning the plumage characters watching the Mugimaki females and noted the white edging to the tertials and inner secondaries specially obvious as the birds take flight. From video and photos this feature seems constant for all plumages and ages and sexes of the species.

By 11.00 am we arrived at Pauls favourite good forest patch in the whole of Yasothon province. Here, although late we added a few more species including a couple more Yasothon ticks for me - Van Hasselts Sunbird and a common species to finally nail - a Stripe-throated Bulbul.

Among 16 species here the best were: -

1 Great Iora (Paul only)

2 Greater Racket-tailed Drongos (heard only)

1 Black-naped Monarch

2 Common Tailorbirds

2 Dark-necked Tailorbirds

6 Puff-throated Bulbuls

2 Indochinese Blue Flycatchers

4 Ornate Sunbirds

2 Crimson Sunbirds.

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 



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06/04/2024 - Phu Mu Forest Park - (Mukdahan side).

A leisurely 9.20 am start saw us looking for migrants at this now celebrated hilltop site. Presently the park staff have closed off the main access road as water tanks are being installed at the summit HQ. From June 1st they plan to start charging for access after having improved the visitor facilities. Thais will be charged 10 bahts for admission foreigners (even resident ones) 100 bahts.

Paul drove around the barrier as he is known to and welcomed by the staff who showed us the montage of some of Pauls best bird photos which he has donated for display in the centre.

The drive up the hill was immediately productive as several cuckoos glided across the road ahead, though seated in the back I missed these. Checking through the summit trees however we noted a rufous morph and several perched grey male Himalayan Cuckoos - our prime targets for the morning under the belt (at last - something new for my Thai list!).

Apart from recording altogether 6 cuckoos (incidentally a record equalling one day count for the species in Thailand) Phu Mu was very quiet with the best of the rest a juv. Black-naped Oriole.

Regards,

Mike P.



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05/04/2024 - 8 am - Nakhon Ratchasima - Animal Nutrition Research and Development Centre.

After a decent breakfast at the Rimtarn Hotel in the busy little town of Pak Chong we drove the short ten minutes into this site which comprises extensive open grasslands with scattered trees and open scrub and started birding immediately in this excellent area where we birded at the end of our last trip in January. In some respects it reminds me of the Veldt of South Africa and we quickly were calling a good mix of species while listening out for the main target - Chinese Francolin which Paul managed to see and photograph well three weeks ago - photos on this thread from March (13th?)

After an hour of hearing at least 6/8 birds calling all around the car we were no nearer managing to catch even a glimpse of a head sticking up out of the foot high grass, and so called it a day. As this species is a world tick for me I couldnt even log it on Ebird as heard otherwise it would be included in my seen totals which I dont allow.

We logged 37 species in total, a few of which I ignored as I was focused solely on the main target. Pick of the bunch were: -

1 Pied Harrier (adult male)

1 Spotted Owlet

6 Red-wattled Lapwings (including one with a chick)

2 White-throated Kingfishers

3 Asian Green Bee-Eaters (common - but surprisingly my first in this province)

4 Indochinese Rollers (perfect habitat for these here)

1 Coppersmith Barbet

2 Lineated Barbets

2 Black-naped Orioles (Paul only)

6 Indochinese Bushlarks

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 



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04/04/2024 - 2.00 pm - Paul and Pen met us on arrival at Bangkok Airport after our flight with Emirates (from Newcastle via Dubai).

We quickly hit the road north on the three hour drive to Nakhon Ratchasima and the nailed on Spot-bellied Eagle Owl at its nest site in the fire station compound just a few hundred metres outside Khao Yai Nat. Pk. arriving there in good time at 4.30 pm. These birds have been well watched by bird tour groups school parties and the fire station personnel and probably Uncle Tom Cobbley and all.

The nest hole was quite high up and the birds pop out towards dusk so we waited with the scope trained on the hole and started noting common species while frequently checking the nest hole for signs of movement. Both Red-breasted Parakeets and Great Mynas flitted around close to the nest hole and I wondered if they mobbed the owls whenever they emerged. It transpired that the owls had been seen just two days earlier outside with a fledged youngster some 60 metres from the hole in tall trees with plenty of leaf cover so we started checking these as well. After two hours it became increasingly obvious that the birds had forsaken the nest hole permanently and were now at large generally outside the immediate area. The upshot was that we were just too late by a couple of days - but at least the birds had successfully bred. - Our trip therefore started with a big dip - not my first nor my last by any means. I was more disappointed for Paul and Pen who had made such a big effort to get this magnificent species for my Thai list and for Barb who has never seen one of these before anywhere.

We retired to our hotel for an early night and to catch up on sleep ahead of our other priority species for Friday morning - Chinese Francolins which Paul had photographed three weeks previously.

Cheers,

Mike P.



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02/04/2024 - 09.20 am - Tham Pha Nam Thip - Roi Et Province.

A leisurely start saw Paul in nearby Roi Et scouting for migrants ahead of our visit. He concentrated on the botanical garden area which has consistently yielded up good species in the past and was pleased to find a male Mugimaki Flycatcher and a rufous morph Himalayan Cuckoo - (both photographed) mirroring his latest finds of these in Yasothon, so it may well be that these and likely other species are moving north on a fairly broad front.

Most of his 90 minutes on site was spent trying to photograph the cuckoo. Other species recorded as follows: -

4 Germains Swiftlets

6 Asian Palm Swifts

1 Asian Barred Owlet

2 Indochinese Rollers

1 Coppersmith Barbet

4 Lineated Barbets

2 Large-billed Crows

2 Black-headed Bulbuls

20 Black-crested Bulbuls

4 Streak-eared Bulbuls

2 Pin-striped Tit-Babblers

3 Puff-throated Babblers (heard only).

6 Abbots Babblers (heard only).

8 White-rumped Shamas

2 Taiga Flycatchers.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 



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31/03/2024. 08. 00 am - Phu Mu Forest Park - Yasothon side.

Paul checked out this site ahead of our visit spending 90 minutes and logged 18 species (including photographing several good species as well).

Full list as follows: -

2 Red Junglefowl

1 Greater Coucal

2Asian Koels

1 Himalayan Cuckoo (photographed)

2 Oriental Honey Buzzards (1 photographed)

2 Coppersmith Barbets

1 Lineated Barbet

2 White-browed Piculets (1 photographed)

4 Large-billed Crows

2 Common Tailorbirds

2 Dark-necked Tailorbirds

6 Black-crested Bulbuls

2 Streak-eared Bulbuls

3 Pin-striped Tit-Babblers

1 Mugimaki Flycatcher

1 Blue Rock-Thrush

1 Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker

4 Ornate Sunbirds

Hopefully we may catch up with one of the Mugimaki Flycatchers as they do seem to be passing through Thailand at present.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 



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20/03/2024 Kalasin Province, Isaan, Thailand.

Kalasin is situated in the centre of the Isaan region and although it does have some good habitats it seems to be relatively neglected from a birding standpoint. Its one of those places that birders tend to pass through on the way to somewhere better - either heading east towards the specialities of the Mekong or when heading west to the wetlands of Khon Kaen, or the excitements of real forest birding in Loei or Chaiyaphum.

On 20th Paul arranged to meet up with the Farrell brothers (Paul and Dennis) for a full day blitz mindful of the possibility of rare waders passing through. A superb but short staying Oriental Plover had been seen and photographed just south of Bangkok days earlier by Andy Pierce so the guys were pretty pumped up.

Meeting at Kui at 07.25 they quickly logged an impressive 55 common species but little in terms of waders and moved on to Tambon Chao Tha where they found several freshly ploughed wet paddies ideal for waders, though nothing rare:

20 Black-winged Stilts

5 Little Ringed Plovers

8 Marsh Sandpipers

10 Wood Sandpipers

15 Long-toed Stints

5 Oriental Pratincoles

What they did manage on this outing was to lift the Kalasin province list to 199 species by finding 3 additions and their own leading lists for Kalasin to 146 for PF and to 153 for PP. Their long term goal continues to be to get all 20 Isaan provinces onto 200 species recorded in each.

Barb and I are keen but junior participants in this and we return to Thailand on April 3rd to hopefully also catch up with a few more Thai ticks in the process.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 



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10/03/2024 - Kham Riang - Maha Sarakham Province.

This morning - a twitch west into Maha Sarakham.
Paul contacted PF over in Khon Kaen and they agreed to meet up on site at 07.30. The target bird - a Eurasian Spoonbill which Paul reckons to be only the sixth for Thailand. PP arrived on site early at 07.00 and already noted a few cars parked up (several having driven up from Bangkok) with 8 observers watching and photographing the target bird which was quite settled at the time. A minibuss arrived and more birders appeared when two of the photographers in the original group set off walking towards the Spoonbill (despite a warning from Paul) and flushed it before the new arrivals had seen it. Needless to say Paul Farrell was less than pleased when he arrived at 07.30. Id like to think that some sanction befell the rogue photographers but apparently according to Paul nothing happened to them.

News then broke of the presence of a Knob-billed Duck several kilometres down the road which PP and several Thai birders went off to see leaving PF waiting and hoping for the return of the Spoonbill.

Whatever happened to fieldcraft and birding ethics?

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 



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05/03/2024 to 07/03/2024 - Phu Chong Na Yoi Nat.Pk. Ubon Ratchathani.

With Paul Farrell back in Thailand enjoying a birding break from work commitments he arranged to meet up with PP in Ubon for a couple of days. This province is very much off the regular bird tour itineraries and is the preserve of the two Pauls- the only birders by some margin to have each recorded over 200 species in Ubon. This is the area of the Emerald Triangle which gained a degree of noteriety as a smuggling route due to the convergence of the borders of Laos Cambodia and of course Thailand and in which the Thai army is still engaged in ongoing land mine clearance work - this being a legacy from the era of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.

Presently it is rather early to expect the Bar-bellied Pittas to be calling and the species recorded were very much (as expected) the more common ones but with a few species such as Pied Harrier added to pad out their personal lists.

Perhaps their best find was Laced Woodpecker - a supposed scarcity here but which they found to be quite common ( photos attached).

Cheers,

Mike P.

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Sunday 10th of March 2024 10:22:02 AM

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22/02/2024 to 24/02/2024 -  various locations in Buri Ram province - (south west sector of the Isaan region).

Buri Ram represented an itch that Paul had to scratch. He stood on 198 on his own list for the province, only 3 behind the top lister here and so a two day blitz was the only answer.

he called in en route at Tambon Non Din Daeng, accessed via a dirt road through forest to a beautiful secluded lake which he considers to have much potential. He spent only 75 minutes here before moving on to better known priority sites though nevertheless recorded 37 species the pick of which were 3 Crested Treeswifts 3 Rufous-winged Buzzards and a Stork-billed Kingfisher.

By 12.10 he had arrived at the grandly named Dong Yai Wildlife Sanctuary Khao Krapod (Bo Mee Ngam Ranger Station vicinity) where 53 species fell his way in a 2 hour spell the pick of these being: -

4 Rufous-winged Buzzards

1 Shikra

2 Asian-barred Owlets

4 Asian Green and 6 Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters

2 Vernal Hanging Parrots

2 Burmese Shrikes (photo of a first winter attached).

1 Eastern Crowned Warbler.

By 14.15 he had moved on to Laloeng Roi Ru (still in the same sanctuary) where in 3 hours he logged again 53 species obviously with considerable overlap with the first site. The best finds here were: -

4 Thick-billed Green Pigeons

2 Green Imperial Pigeons

2 Banded Bay Cuckoos

3 Asian Woolly-necked Storks (introduced).

2 Large Scimitar-Babblers

With the onset of dusk he exited the refuge and booked in at the same hotel we all stayed in last November. With 5 additions to his own province list he found himself for the first time as leading lister for Buri Ram - at least for the present.

On the following morning he opened his account near the wildlife HQ at 8 am with 30 species in an hour, the most noteworthy being 4 Brown-rumpled Minivets 1 Pale-legged Leaf Warbler and a Thick-billed Flowerpecker.

Arriving at 10.am at Som Poi (a site not known to me) he logged 48 species in a 100 minute session, recording nothing sensational though one or two of these may have been new for him in Buri Ram.

He arrived at his final site (Huai Chorakhe Reservoir Non Hunting Area) at 15.05 spending the final 2 hours of decent light and recorded 66 species including a nice assortment of waders and egrets to pad out the list the best being 25 Glossy Ibis, 3 Black Kites and 12 Eastern Yellow Wagtails to lift his province list to 209 - a gain of 11 overall.
For the present of the 20 provinces which comprise the Isaan region he is leading lister in 10 of these - bearing in mind that the area of Isaan is equal to that of England and Wales combined this results in a situation which surely cannot last for long?

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 



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17/02/2024 - Kaeng Kabao - Mukdahan Province.

A 9.00 am start saw Paul doing a morning blitz in Mukdahan with 43 species in 90 minutes at the first of 2 sites with 11 species at this second site by the Mekong river shoreline. This latter however was the more productive in that a pair of Indian Spot-billed Ducks and a Pacific Golden Plover with a lone Kentish Plover pushed the province total finally over 220 with his own list for Mukdahan onto 201. 

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 



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13/02/2024 - Khao Yai Nat. Park - Animals.

Everywhere on the approach roads in the vicinity there are warning signs concerning Elephants. Despite having lived in Thailand for eight years Paul saw his first of these in Thailand on this latest trip. I have always been wary when out in the bush when we have noticed fresh dung on the trails especially in my old age when running away is hardly an option for me nowadays.

Other animals noted by Paul Pen and Art were the very confiding deer close to park HQ and something entirely new for them - a couple of porcupines and a Gibbon species hanging from branches just above the Buffy Fish Owl.

If anyone can positively I/d the gibbon and porcupine species here, then please send to me a PM.

Cheers,

Mike P.



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13/02/2024 - Khao Yai Nat. Pk. Campsite by park HQ. Nakhon Ratchasima.

The morning got off to an excellent start with the star bird being a Buffy Fish-Owl, perched on the Nakhon side of the adjacent stream which forms the province boundary with Nakhon Nayok and Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat for short).

Significantly the stream is accordingly the western boundary of the Isaan region.

Other birds heard calling here were:-

1 Asian Barred Owlet

2 Collared Owlets

2 Pin-striped Tit-Babblers

1 Puff-throated Babbler

3 Abbotts Babblers

An hour later the threesome were birding still close by but on the Nakhon Nayok side recording 20 species the best being:-

2 Siamese Firebacks (males - photographed)

2 Oriental Honey-Buzzards

4 Oriental Pied Hornbills

4 Rosy Minivets

1 Asian Fairy Bluebird

Later close by they enjoyed a photo session with a small party of Long-tailed Broadbills. These are readily seen hereabouts and their gaudy plumages always bring to my mind at least those childrens books for colouring in by numbers.

 Regards,

Mike P.

 

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Thursday 15th of February 2024 01:06:09 PM

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12/02/2024 - A leisurely mid day start saw Paul Pen and Art off out west for an overnight stay camping in Khao Yai Nat.Park. The park is generally very popular with visitors at weekends seeking some relaxation from the pace of things in Bangkok, so Monday was a wise choice in which to visit and enjoy some birding in relative peace.

En route they pulled in and obtained record shots of a Mountain Hawk-Eagle passing overhead by the road.

Once in the park at 13.50 (not the best time of the day) they set off down the KM 33 trail where in 40 mins. they logged 10 species the best of which were one each of Black-winged Cuckoo-Shrike and Sultan Tit 11 White-crested Laughingthrushes and a female Hill Blue Flycatcher (photos attached).

Later when established on the camping ground they logged 16 species which included a Siamese Fireback 2 Oriental Pied Hornbills 2 Moustached Barbets and a Blue Rock-Thrush.

At 19.00 both Asian Barred Owlet and a distant Brown Boobook were calling, with this latter bird responding well to Pauls playback by flying in to give a good view and a photo opportunity.

Cheers,

Mike P.



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09/02/2024 8.30 am - Phu Mu Forest Park, - (Yasothon side).

The main problem of late at this site has been unwitting disturbance by campers (who take advantage of the seemingly endless run of public holidays) and also due to the enhancement work to improve the facilities by the well meaning authorities. They have a display of Pauls photographs for the public to appreciate, but too many visitors rather spoils/limits the birding.

Paul accordingly chose Friday to get on site early and for the first time this calendar year hit a bulls-eye with a site first in the form of a first winter Eyebrowed Thrush, with a support cast of a Blue Rock-Thrush.

He also managed the Eyebrowed for his Mukdahan list (the border here of course runs through the car park).

Needless to say he had the place to himself, - apart from the birds.

The site now has a list including 6 thrush species and is established as one of Isaans premier thrush hotspots.

Finally in one of the little pavilions he photographed a Tokay - one of the more spectacular Gekko species; - this one with rather fancy eyes.

Cheers,

Mike P.



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05/02/2024 - Nakhon Ratchasima Province.

Paul made a leisurely start (mid morning) heading for this westernmost province in Isaan which includes part of Khao Yai Nat. Pk. En route he recorded an overflying Black Kite and better still at Mu Si which he reached at 3 pm - a Grey-faced Buzzard (photographed).

Finally at 4.30 pm he arrived at the stake-out site awaiting the object of his desire, which he soon noticed peering out at him from its tree hole before coming out to perch in full view for four minutes prior to launching off on its hunting rounds - a Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl, - (photo attached). By then an admiring crowd of about 15 birders were on the scene enjoying the biggest owl species in SE Asia, - one seemingly blessed with the claws of a grizzly bear.

Other notable species were Bamboo Woodpecker (heard drumming) and about 15 noisy Red-breasted Parakeets had gathered (2 photographed).

The following morning with the big prize now under his belt he enjoyed a good session around the Lam Takhong dam area and the Ta Ngoi farmlands chalking up 55 species including 12 assorted wader species, 5 egret/ heron species, 15 Glossy Ibises, 10 Indochinese Bushlarks, 15 Oriental Skylarks, 5 White-shouldered Starlings, 15 Eastern Yellow Wagtails.

Regards,

Mike P.

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Wednesday 7th of February 2024 04:49:37 PM

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29/01/2024 - 8.00 am - Khon Kaen University - Romklao Kallapaphruek Park - Khon Kaen.

With an errand to undertake in Khon Kaen Paul once again visited the little screen hide in the university grounds to add a special visitor to his province list - a Slaty-legged Crake visiting the drinking pool which also included a Pale-legged Leaf Warbler/Sakhalin Leaf Warbler. (In winter we generally log this latter as Slaty-legged unless sonogram proof indicates otherwise as Sakhalin allegedly winters further south).

An hour and a half at the screen hide yielded 24 species including also the continuing Rufous-tailed Robin. Paul added a handful of province ticks in the area to edge his Khon Kaen list to 201 though still some way adrift of the top list here of 321 by one of the full time resident birders based here.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Sunday 4th of February 2024 08:10:33 AM

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