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Post Info TOPIC: Thailand Diary


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RE: Thailand Diary


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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Just for a change, does anyone fancy a go at this quiz bird?

Clue: It is on the British list.

Cheers,

Mike P.



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26/01/2024 - 12 noon Pha Nam Yoi- Roi Et Province.

Paul visited an area of the Pha Nam Yoi temple complex which we had found to be attractive to an assortment of bulbuls and fruit loving species earlier in the month. The attraction was a roadside fruiting tree with a good scatter of fruit on the tarmac as an initial clue. He logged over 30 species mainly of the usual suspects but was rewarded by the first Roi Et record of Vernal Hanging-Parrots of which he reckoned there were at least 5 from the calls though only one visible (record shot attached).

Cheers,

Mike P.



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Monday 29th of January 2024 07:46:51 AM

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23/01/2024 - Pauls focus on Roi Et continued with an hour spent at Huai Aeng - a lake site which straddles the Roi Et/ Yasothon border. An hour yielded a very respectable total on the Roi Et side of 47 species but with nothing unexpected and only five wader species, -a couple of photos attached.

By 12 noon Paul had moved on to Khlong Pla Kuhn (still in Roi Et) where he encountered the largest flock of Pintail he had ever seen, counting a minimum of 250 birds with a few Cotton Pygmy Geese scattered within.

 

Regards,

Mike P.



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Sunday 28th of January 2024 09:15:05 AM

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22/01/2024 - 7 am Ban Wai Lake - Roi Et Province.

A productive two hour session here yielded up 51 species of which 4 (Pin-tailed Snipe, Spotted Redshank, Pallass Grasshopper Warbler and Siberian Rubythroat) were new province ticks for Paul who for the present at least has become the highest lister in Roi Et.

Cheers,

Mike P.



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20/01/2024 -10 am - Kaeng Song Yai - Amnat Charoen Province.

Paul headed east this morning into Amnat stopping at 5/6 places along the Mekong looking mainly for waders.

Within a total of 37 species over 3 (hot) hours he found only the usual suspects - 3 Little Ringed Plovers, 2 Kentish Plovers, 4 Common Sandpipers and 5 Greenshanks. The best of the rest being two Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters ( photo attached)?

En route home, in Mukdahan he called in at Don Tan Princess Mothers Park where the best of 18 species in 45 minutes was a Great Iora (photographed).

Cheers,

Mike P.



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18/01/2024 - Khon Kaen University- Romklao Kallaphaphruek Park - Khon Kaen.

With business in Khon Kaen Paul called in at the universitys feeding station to see the visiting Rufous-tailed Robin (the same bird as last year- or yet another here as would seem more likely?) and a fine juvenile White-throated Rock-Thrush. Photos of both attached with a Raddes Warbler for good measure.

Meanwhile back in Durham Im off to a shivery start with dips both on the Baikal Teal At Bishop Middleham for my Durham list and Waxwings - missed by a half hour for my Low Barns list.

Cheers,

Mike P.



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14/01/2024 - Phathum Thani Rice Research Centre - Painted Snipe (male) -photo omitted from last post.

Cheers,

Mike P.



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14/01/2024 - Ta Ngoi farmlands 7.00 am - Nakhon Ratchasima.

A rather leisurely start in rather windy conditions with off track driving getting us stuck on the lakeside mudflats for a half hour, - burning up birding time! We fanned out gathering lengths off old bamboo and wood scraps to wedge under the wheels to enable Paul to gain traction and gather the necessary impetus to drive up over a steep scrub and grass incline to regain the track where we logged a few more species not seen here on the previous day:-

2 Malaysian Pied Fantails

1 Brown Shrike

2 Zitting Cisticolas 

3 Red-rumpled Swallows

6 Yellow-eyed Babblers (photographed. Seemingly a family party and a pleasing addition to our own lists for this province).

Moving on but still in Nakhon Ratchasima by 10.00 am we had arrived at the Animal Nutrition and Development Research centre exploring the extensive open landscape with largely unfenced fields and scattered trees which reminded us of the African savannah. Here we logged 24 species; the best being:-

1 Black-winged Kite

1 Rufous-winged Buzzard

2 Spotted Owlets (photographed)

5 Indochinese Rollers

1 Common Iora

11 Black Drongos

2 Hair-crested Drongos (these perched side by side appeared to be having an ongoing quarrel with each other-

photographed).

1 Thick-billed Warbler

4 Chestnut-capped Babblers

By 15.00 en route to Bangkok we reached the Wang Chula paddies in the grandly named province of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya (the main city of the same name used to be the old capital of Thailand).

Fifty minutes here included trying to dodge extensive traffic jams, but we did manage a few common additions to our small lists for this province which of course is well to the south west of the Isaan region.

The best of eleven species were:-

2 Plaintive Cuckoos (we found these increasingly common and already singing the further south we travelled).

2 Siamese Pied Starlings

1 Asian Golden Weaver (This one a male now moulting into summer plumage and so more easily distinguished from the Baya Weavers).

By 16.45 Paul had performed miraculously through the traffic via Google maps to reach the Pathum Thani Rice Reasearch Centre in (believe it or not) Phathum Thani Province which we first visited a year ago. Here we saw:-

200 Black-winged Stilts

4 Greater Painted Snipes (The main object of our visit - one male bird photographed)

1 Spotted Redshank (photographed)

1 Temmincks Stint (photographed)

We sped off into Bangkok for a meal and an overnight stay in a hotel ahead of our 11 hour flight to Amsterdam with a tedious three hour wait there for our flight into Newcastle. 
I see that a Baikal Teal has turned up in Durham at Bishop Middleham during our absence (something generally turns up when my back is turned!) though I wont be breaking my neck to see it just yet. I could quite do with a bit of a rest.

Regards,

Mike P.

Best Wishes

 

 

 



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13/01/2024 - Huai Chorakhe Mak Reservoir non-hunting area - Buri Ram Povince.

With our stay in Thailand coming to an end having bade farewell to the family Barb and I with Paul driving called in to bolster up our lists for this province in the south-westernmost area of Isaan far far from Beung Kan up in the north east.

A two hour session with a leisurely 8.30 start gave us 57 species in this rather highly rated hotspot. However this is Thailand and anything can turn up. We bowled up ready to boogie and found an event in full swing!

Would you believe - a Rodeo! - complete with Thai cowboys and US and Canadian flags (and some Union Jacks) with bunting and marquees and tents and of course horses in various states of excitement. (Barbara was really keen to try her hand at riding a bull but Paul and I to our relief managed to dissuade her from such an enterprise).

Needless to say we moved on along the lake shoreline and soon were actually finding some birds.

Our best finds were :-

2 Plaintive Cuckoos

20 Pacific Golden Plovers

2 Red-wattled Lapwings

6 Little Cormorants

Later that afternoon we had moved on to the Lam Takhong Dam in the Ta Ngoi farmlands in a different province - Nakhon Ratchasima where we noted 46 species- the pick here being:-

20 Black-winged Stilts

25 Pacific Golden Plovers

4 Red-wattled Lapwings

15 Little-ringed Plovers

3 Snipe sp.

2 Common Sandpipers

5 Wood Sandpipers

2 Temmincks Stints

50 Little Cormorants

4 Oriental Skylarks

8 Siamese Pied Starlings (formerly Asian Pied Starlings. - We have no records of this species in eastern parts of Isaan where it should be seen as a rarity).

8 Eastern Yellow Wagtails

1 Richards Pipit

8 Paddyfield Pipits

8 Red-throated Pipits.

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 



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12/01/2024 - Yasothon Pools site -Yasothon.

After a few days rest from our Bueng Kan adventure three of us paid a short visit to my old stamping ground just outside Yasothon city. In fifty minutes we logged 31 species despite unwelcome attention from yapping dogs. It was depressing to note more mist net poles in situ though none were presently set up with open nets.

Our prime aim was to see if we could detect the presence of any of the rarer warbler species as we have never before tried for these anywhere in Yasothon province. Despite playing calls and songs for Blunt-winged Paddyfield and Manchurian Reed Warblers we heard no response but nevertheless these should surely occur here. Previously in Yasothon we have found both Lanceolated and Pallass Grasshopper Warblers and Thick-billed and Oriental Reed Warblers together with Black-browed Reed Warblers (and one of these latter was the best of a fairly predictable crop on this day).

Cheers,

Mike P.



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Wednesday 17th of January 2024 10:51:59 AM

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07/01/2024 - Bueng Kan Province.

In the northernmost part of Isaan is the long narrow province of Nong Khai stretching east/west along the south side of the Mekong river. However the eastern half has recently been split off into a new province known as Bueng Kan (not yet to be found on the map which I posted months ago) and this was our destination for the next two nights.

Paul and Pen Barb and I left Yasothon early on 07/01 on the 4/5 hour drive north into what was for us virgin territory to rendezvous with Paul Farrell late morning at the Bueng Khlong Long Non-hunting area HQ.

PF has birded here several times previously and started with his province list already on 63. The listers among us were hoping to all rack up over 100 species apiece with PF entertaining realistic thoughts of gaining top spot.

In all we visited and revisited 16 sites in 53 hours which it would be tedious to plough through chronologically so for a change I detail below every species logged by me apart from a few added species seen/ heard by PP and PF who of course know a far wider range of calls than me.

I finished up on 104 species listed taxonomically as follows:-

Lesser Whistling Ducks

Cotton Pygmy-Geese

2 Garganey

Indian Spot-billed Ducks

7 Northern Pintails

2 Tufted Ducks - (A rare winter visitor to Thailand found by PF alone towards the end of a long day of continuous birding when we lesser mortals took a midday break. Fortunately we rejoined him prior to losing the light to scope the birds at long range and to see the confirmation photo).

Little Grebes

Feral Pigeons

Red Collared Doves

Spotted Doves

Zebra Doves

Greater Coucal

Green-billed Malkoha

Asian Koel

Germains Swiftlets

Asian Palm Swifts

Eurasian Coots

Grey-headed Swamphens

Black-winged Stilts

Little Ringed Plovers

4 River Lapwings (again as usual on the Laos river bank).

Grey-headed Lapwings

Kentish Plover

Pheasant-tailed Jacanas

Bronze-winged Jacanas

Common Snipe

Common Sandpiper

Wood Sandpipers1

Spotted Redshanks

Common Greenshanks

2 Temmincks Stints

Small Pratincoles

Asian Openbills

Little Egrets

Chinese Pond-Herons

Eastern Cattle Egrets

Great Egrets

Medium Egrets

Grey Herons

Purple Herons

1 Black-winged Kite

2 Oriental Honey-Buzzards

Eastern Marsh Harriers

2 Shikras (1 was harrying a Honey-Buzzard then joined by another Shikra - both birds circled together before drifting away east).

Asian Barred Owlets (where found these often seem to announce their presence with their trilling hoots at around 5.55 am).

Common Kingfishers (winter visitors and generally consistently found by Pen).

2 White-throated Kingfishers

Asian Green Bee-eaters

2 Indochinese Rollers

Coppersmith Barbets

Lineated Barbets

Ashy Woodswallows

Malaysian Pied-Fantails

Black Drongos (hard to miss and abundant in open country habitats).

Black-naped Monarchs

Brown Shrikes

Large-billed Crows

Grey-headed Canary-Flycatchers (generally the commonest forest flycatcher).

Oriental Skylark

Common Tailorbird

Dark-necked Tailorbird

Yellow-bellied Prinia

Plain Prinia

Lanceolated Warbler

Barn Swallows

Wire-tailed Swallows

Striated Swallows

Black-headed Bulbuls

Black-crested Bulbuls

Streak-eared Bulbuls

Yellow-vented Bulbuls

Sooty-headed Bulbuls

Yellow-browed Warblers

Raddes Warblers

Dusky Warblers

Two-barred Warblers

Claudias Leaf Warbler

Swinhoes White-eye

2 Chestnut-capped Babblers

Pin-striped Tit-Babblers

Black-collared Starlings

30 Chestnut-tailed Starlings (These got our listing efforts off with a bang. We met up with PF who was already on site watching these up in a high fruiting fig tree. Sometimes rarer starlings are found keeping company in such situations and we invested about 40 minutes straining our necks but with no further reward).

Common Mynas

Great Mynas

Asian Brown Flycatcher

Oriental Magpie-Robin

White-rumped Shama

Hainan Blue Flycatcher

Bluethroat

Taiga Flycatcher

Blue Rock-Thrush

Amur Stonechat

Pied Bushchat

Ornate Sunbird

Crimson Sunbird

Scaly-breasted Munias

House Sparrows

Tree Sparrows

Eastern Yellow Wagtails

1 Citrine Wagtail

White Wagtails (all leucopsis)

3 Richards Pipits

Paddyfield Pipits

Red-throated Pipits

PP ended up on 111 species with PF reaching 136 to become lead jockey in Bueng Kan - all of us accordingly in the top five.

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 



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06/01/2024 Loeng Nok Tha - old airport Yasothon.

Three of us went out this morning shopping for plumbing accessories for repairs to a minor leak in the garden irrigation system. En route a minor diversion to this site kick started in a modest way our home province year list.

We spent 40 minutes largely taken up with admiring a scatter (the whole length of the runway) of about 50 Red-throated Pipits some of which Paul photographed using the vehicle as a hide.

Other species present were:-

2 Brahminy Kites ( imm.)

2 Pied Bushchats

1 Indochinese Bushlark (formerly named Rufous-winged Bushlark) - Also photo attached.

2 Paddyfield Pipits 

Tomorrow four of us leave early for a maiden trip to Isaans northernmost province (Bueng Kan) for a 3 nighter also meeting up again with the Farrell brothers.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Saturday 6th of January 2024 10:23:15 AM



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Saturday 6th of January 2024 10:23:55 AM

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01/01/2024 - 10.11 am - Khlong Sam Kha reservoir Amnat Charoen Province.

Three of us made a late morning start heading east on a twitch. The quarry being 4 Pintail (new for this province) photographed overflying this complex of lakes rice paddies and marshes.

We arrived after an hours drive scanning every open stretch of water - but without success. A twenty minute session produced 13 common species before we moved on to nearby Nong Han where we spent ninety minutes and found 24 species - the best of which were:-

2 Black-winged Stilts

4 Oriental Darters

1 Little Cormorant

2 Purple Herons

2 Rufous-winged Buzzards

5 Brahminy Kites

1 White-throated Kingfisher

1 Black-naped Oriole

1 Black-naped Monarch

5 Yellow-browed Warblers

1 Raddes Warbler

5 Dusky Warblers

4 Black-collared Starlings

1 Siberian Rubythroat - There were no previous known records in Amnat I suspect because nobody has simply thought to look for them and being in ideal habitat I suggested that we play the call and the song to see if anything popped out. Immediately we had calls in response and song snatches in response to song being played though the bird remained unseen. We noted the spot - a scrubby area flanked by the dirt track with a 30 foot circular pool shaded by bushes and short trees.

1 Brown-throated Sunbird

5 Ornate Sunbirds.

After a few days break we made an early return on 04/01/24 arriving on site for 06.30 am. Despite an addition of 6 species for my Amnat list and 3 more for Paul we felt that we had unfinished business at Nong Han and so came with several target species in mind.

A session of just over 4 hours rewarded us with 47 species - most noteworthy being:-

400 Lesser Whistling Ducks

9 Indian Spot-billed Ducks

10 Cotton Pygmy-Geese

1 Pallass Grasshopper Warbler (this responded well to both calls and playback also giving several sightings. Remarkably this represents a first record for Amnat simply because nobody has thought to seek it out before).

 We are entertaining the view that Paddyfield Manchurian and Blunt-winged Warblers would repay time and effort in searching for them in this seemingly suitable habitat - perhaps a project for the future both here and in Yasothon?

1 Siberian Rubythroat - the same bird as recorded in the same location on 01/01. This time the bird flew in several times though offered no photo opportunities.

2 Scarlet-backed Flowerpeckers

1 Brown-throated Sunbird

1 Purple Sunbird

5 Ornate Sunbirds

1 Richards Pipit (photographed)

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 



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29/12/2023 - Nong Bua - final morning.

A late inclusion from our morning in the above province.

Attached is a nice little series of shots of Pallass Grasshopper Warbler.

Courtesy of Paul Farrell.

Cheers,

Mike P.



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Sunday 31st of December 2023 03:19:11 AM

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29/12/2023 - 07.33 am - Nong Bua Lam Phu Province.

With a long journey facing the Yasothon contingent we resolved to leave for home by 12 noon to get home before dusk. In the meantime we concentrated on list boosting with a good session of open country birding.

The following summary covers 4 similar locations as we skirted various lakeside habitats scanning marshes and rice fields in the hope of finding waders where conditions might be suitable (ie flat and muddy with an inch or so of water) Many of these fields are being prepared for a second crop and are in various different stages so covering ground in the vehicles along a maze of dirt farm tracks is the way to go.

Highlight birds among many common species (which themselves were often new for us in this underwatched area) were:-

2 Grey-headed Lapwings

7 Long-tailed Shrikes (quite outstanding as PF reckons that this is a good indicator species). Record shot attached.

2 Siberian Rubythroats (1 photographed).

2 Black Kites (Black-eared form - 1 photographed). At one stage a flyby individual carrying a fish was pursued by a smaller Brahminy Kite; - needless to say the larger bird retained its prize.

The final prize of the morning came at last - a Wood Sandpiper for PF to cement his place once more as leading lister for this province.

Photos courtesy of Paul Farrell.

Best Wishes to all in 2024

Mike P.

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Sunday 31st of December 2023 03:13:06 AM

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27/12/2023 - Khon Kaen Province.

With Art back in Switzerland and Pen busy at work Paul Barb and I made a leisurely start at 06.45 am for the long drive to meet up with the Farrell brothers Dennis and Paul at the latters  home in Khon Kaen city.

Taking two vehicles we headed north for the 2 hours drive to the Phu Pha Man Nat. Pk. which includes the spectacular  Phaya Nakharat cave set some hundreds of feet up and about a quarter of the way up near vertical (limestone?) cliffs - home to over a million bats which come streaming out to feed before dusk each night.
A major distraction here is that the site is over commercialised by the authorities who seem hellbent on blasting out amplified music from the car park area below in a misguided effort to entertain visitors spoiling the ambiance of this beautiful site. I speculated that surely Peregrine might be a regular predator here and that even a Bat Hawk might be expected with more sustained coverage.
However the main focus of our attention here was the prospect of seeing Bamboo Woodpecker a few kilometres away along one of the main uphill (drivable) trails where both PF and PP had previously seen the species and where only a few other birders had ventured before.A three hour initial session gave us 29 fairly common species with calls from both Bamboo Woodpecker and White-browed Scimitar Babblers though both remained unseen.

The following morning saw us in the park by 06.30 am. In a productive session of 3 hours 20 mins. we logged 20 species the highlights being:- 

1 Black Baza - soaring high overhead.

Barbets :- Coppersmith Lineated and Blue-eared

3 Bamboo Woodpeckers - these flew in responding to playback landind right overhead and having us literally spinning on our heels on a steep incline in the dense bamboo forest, landing briefly for several seconds before moving on around us - a merry dance indeed! - ( A much appreciated addition to my woodpecker list).

4 Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrikes (photo attached)

1 Great Iora

1 Ashy Drongo - like the following species these are readily seen perching up on bare trees, their narrow tails the most deeply forked of any of Thailands Drongo species.

4 Hair-crested Drongos - These were particularly active in the late afternoon perching up prominently on high leafless trees giving excellent opportunities to study their peculiar curly tails.

4 Buff-chested Babblers. - These were roving in deep cover seemingly in a small flock (family group?) and gave an excellent opportunity when we were able to peer through a gap in the trail side foliage to see them quite settled in some sun lit hanging vines. According to PF these are seldom seen this well and for me a new species entirely.

2 White-browed Scimitar-Babblers these were calling incessantly but steadfastly refused to show themselves.

By 13.00 after lunch on the hoof we had moved on north into Nong Bua Lam Phu province for some list padding open country birding where we logged 27 species in just over an hour. Eleven months ago the two Pauls and I had passed through this province heading home from our successful expedition into Loei and PP and I had chalked up modest starter lists of just twenty odd birds, amongst which I had seen my only Citrine Wagtail in Thailand.

Well satisfied with our efforts we headed off by mid afternoon into Loei - a drive of about forty minutes where we obtained good accommodation for some 450 bahts (£10) per room. The resorts around the national park and the much vaunted attraction of the bat cave meant room prices in that vicinity were four times more expensive. - (I should have wanted a discount for the din and racket caused by the so called entertainment).

After a few beers washed down with French cheeses and pate together with Barbs Christmas cake we turned in quite early wakening the following morning to a calling Asian Barred Owlet.

Cheers,

Mike P.



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Saturday 30th of December 2023 10:04:05 AM

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24/12/2023 - Various sites again in Amnat Charoen.

Paul Barb and I again went across into Amnat but this time with an earlier start and still with a few specific targets in mind. To summarise here (as I am typing this on Christmas Day) I added six more species to hit 100 for Amnat and Paul another two to boost his list to 163. (He leads the rankings for Amnat already by a big margin).

Star birds were a Siberian Blue Robin, 4 Greater Racket-tailed Drongos a Verditer Flycatcher 4 Brown-throated Sunbirds Oriental Skylarks and a catch-up bogey bird for Paul - a Swinhoes White-Eye.

All of us here wish Ian and all our friends in the Manchester Birding Community a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year!
Mike, Barb, Paul, Pen and Art



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23/12/2023 - Various sites in Amnat Charoen province.

Amnat is the next province east from Yasothon and thus involves a relatively short drive. Despite being home to a few special species such as Mekong Wagtail it is not my favourite destination and we belatedly decided to have a run out with a view to trying to add a few species to our respective lists - mine standing on a modest 89 species and Pauls on 160.

We arrived at 10.30 am (!) at our first stop (Dong Hua Kong and Dong Bang Ee Community Forest) to find conditions hardly conducive to finding any birds with strong cold winds gusting and trees accordingly in constant motion to the annoying sound of creaking bamboo. After an hour and a quarter we had logged 12 common species and just one new bird for my Amnat list - a Two-barred Warbler - so we moved on.

We arrived at our next stop (the Huai Pho Royal Irrigation Project) at 12.05 and logged 25 species in this more varied habitat of ornamental gardens and groves. All were common species and included a Hoopoe along with a few more additions for my own province list. Paul asked me if Hoopoe had come up on the Ebird system as one of my target birds and I replied that it had not- the conclusion being that we must have seen one before in Amnat.

Later whilst inputting our sightings to Pauls surprise Hoopoe came up flagged as a rarity. It became immediately obvious that Hoopoe had not been on my target list because it had never before been recorded in Amnat by anyone!

And so - the humble Hoopoe a species which we almost general ignore and record just in passing so to speak became the star of the day and a new addition for Paul to go with my five.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 



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22/12/2023 - Tambon Phu Ngoen - Roi Et Province.

Today started off as a rest day with a plan to go over into Roi Et to buy some new shorts. I really wasnt bothered until Paul mentioned that we could take in some open country birds en route via a site not previously visited so I suddenly became more amenable.

As it transpired despite the ongoing strong winds we logged 33 fairly common species in an hour and a quarter which included 6 more easy province additions for me:- 

7 Indian Spot-billed Ducks

1 Grey Heron

4 Indochinese Bushlarks

20 Red-rumped Swallows

2 White Wagtails (leucopsis)

2 Paddyfield Pipits

In addition we logged the first Red-throated Pipits of our current visit and several Eastern Yellow Wagtails including a rather fine example of the Green-headed form (taivana).

We never made it to the shops.

Regards

Mike P.

 

 



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21/12/2023 - 6.39 am Tham Pha Nam Thip non-hunting area - Pha Nam Yoi Forest Pk. Roi Et Province.

The shortest day of the year saw grandson Art (he of the sharp eyes) joining us for a morning in this next province west from home base. This forested hill is topped by a huge and spectacular fairly modern temple which we first visited in 2017. We had of course a hit list of bird targets in mind but our hopes were rather dampened when we arrived by a persistent cold and gusting wind. We did our best however and in 4 hours managed a brave but modest 20 species:-

1 Red Junglefowl

1 Green-eared Barbet (photographed)

3 Lineated Barbets

1 Coppersmith Barbet

3 Ashy Drongos (photographed)

1 Hair-crested Drongo

4 Large-billed Crows

6 Grey-headed Canary-Flycatchers

1 Puff-throated Bulbul

10 Black-crested Bulbuls

3 Stripe-throated Bulbuls

4 Yellow-browed Warblers

8 Pin-striped Tit-Babblers

1 Puff-throated Babbler (photographed)

1 White-rumped Shama

1 Hainan Blue Flycatcher

1 Taiga Flycatcher

1 Blue Rock-Thrush

1 Brown-throated Sunbird

4 Ornate Sunbirds

In addition (despite the trees in constant motion) Paul glimpsed 2 White-bellied Erpornis, a Black-naped Monarch a Streaked-eared Bulbul and 3 Scarlet-backed Flowerpeckers.

Afterwards Paul queried as to why Puff-throated Bulbul had not been on our target list but then realised the reason -  it had never before been recorded in Roi Et Province! We had gained an extra species putting him on 187 - only a single species short of sharing top spot in a province dominated historically by a dedicated resident birder seemingly out every day on his own local patch close to his home. I was pleased to add 9 species to consolidate my own spot in fourth place needing only 5 more to jump another place.

- A rest day tomorrow but with hopes of another short outing before Christmas though high winds are predicted for most of the coming week.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 

 



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18/12/2023 06.25 am. Phu Pha Wua Forest Pk. (Tat Soong Waterfall) -  Kalasin.

This province is sufficiently within reach to visit that an early morning start gives ample opportunity for a good mornings birding hopefully with some list boosting and be back home by mid afternoon. 
I have mentioned many times that our birding efforts centre largely on the 20 provinces of the Isaan region but just to bring some idea of scale to our activities - Isaan is the size of England and Wales combined.
Paul of course had far fewer target species here than me (I am only on 75 species here to his 143) and Barb being the sanest one of us keeps no lists whatsoever - she just loves finding and enjoying birds and scenery.

At this forest park in eastern Kalasin (a new site of course for me) a half hour turned up 15 species the best of which were:-

1 Lineated Barbet

1 Green-eared Barbet

1 Shikra (Paul only)

2 Ashy Minivets

Bulbuls: Black-crested Streak-eared and Stripe-throated.

1 Asian Brown Flycatcher

2 Taiga Flycatchers

1 Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker

1 Ruby-cheeked Sunbird

3 Ornate Sunbirds.

We found it windy and very dry with no water flowing at the falls so quickly drove on to a different section along a rough and bumpy uphill dirt road into dry dipterocarp habitat. Here we had more luck with 9 species yielding up three good target species for Paul with a rather ragged Osprey a fine Burmese Shrike (thanks to Barb) and a Purple Sunbird. Two Black-collared Starlings were an added boost as well for me. 
The downhill return drive was akin to being in a tumble drier and had Barb and me hanging onto the hand grips (Paul at least having the steering wheel). However - without four-wheel drive many such sites are impossible to contemplate any birding at all.

Back on normal roads en route to our next site (reached by 10.am) we logged a Jay (White-faced form) which flew across the road. Tambon Nong Hang was our final stop where in an hour we chalked up 17 species, the better ones being:-

1 Rufus-winged Buzzard

1 Black-winged Kite

1 Indochinese Roller

1 (another) Burmese Shrike

7 Red-rumped Swallows

1 Two-barred Warbler

2 Hainan Blue Flycatchers

 we had found the conditions here rather trying due to the winds and a scan over one of the local large lakes had only a couple of Grey Herons on show- scant reward indeed so we broke off for coffees and headed afterwards for home.

Paul had reinforced his position as top lister for the present with 3 more species to reach 146 (with 150 now as a realistic target) and I had gained 15 to reach 89 so we had done quite well in trying conditions.

As a bonus once driving along back in Yasothon we had a flyby Pied Harrier as a temporary companion which gave Paul a nice record shot opportunity.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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15/12/2023 - 5.55 am - Phu Langka - Tat Kham waterfall area.

We arrived at a different entrance to the main park HQ with one target bird in mind - Blue Whistling-Thrush at an established site. As the dawn light slowly improved with us still seated in the car a shrill whistle from close by on the car park itself announced the presence of our bird dimly discernible strutting about on its morning stroll = job done so we left promptly for our next stop in the HQ area of the main Nat. Pk. arriving at 6.25 am.

Here I caught up with a Yellow-vented Flowerpecker a Hainan Blue Flycatcher and in a mixed flock of warblers and sunbirds had my best ever views of a Claudias Leaf-Warbler running and foraging on trunks and branches Nuthatch fashion. I again missed a fleeting glimpse of a Greater Racket-tailed Drongo.

At 11.30 we spent 20 minutes scanning the Nong Kad and Nong Loeng reservoirs logging 6 common species including an easy target for me - 35 Grey-headed Swamphens.

Heading south en route home we called in at the sandbar site and again saw the Black-eared Kite which conveniently took flight and came right by us to be photographed.

At 14.30 we called in at a nice little park in Nakhon Phanom city which provided our only Asian Brown Flycatcher of the trip and nice photo opportunities of 2 Olive-backed Pipits. 
To summarise- Paul had added 21 province ticks to reach top spot again on 149 with me able to jump by 30 species to 118 to occupy 4th place in the province rankings.

Cheers,

Mike P.



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14/12/2023 - 6.20 am - Phu Langka Nat. Pk. - HQ vicinity - Nakhon Phanom.

With a full days birding in prospect we arrived early ahead of the official opening time of 08.30 (= absurd from a birders perspective). One of the problems in popular national parks in Thailand is that from early morning dozens of volunteer/park staff are busy sweeping leaves as a tidy-up for visitors, whereas we prefer to see a good covering of leaves in which robins and thrushes might forage. 
We hastened off along one of the narrow tarmac trails through really attractive rock and forest scenery slowly gaining in height while checking the nearby stream for one of our targets - Grey Wagtail.
In total we spent 4 hours in the park logging 26 species in typically slow though productive forest birding. As the morning wore on we began to meet with increasing numbers of ordinary visitors, some in large groups. These mainly visit to view the series of waterfalls though presently being the dry season there is no water to speak of. These people are invariably very friendly and greeted us cheerfully but the constant loud hellos hardly conducive to good birding, so we slowly headed back.

2 Red Junglefowl

2 Spotted Doves

1 Green-billed Malkoha

5 Oriental Honey-Buzzards (seen from various clearings soaring over the forest and a target species for all of us in Nakhon Phanom).

5 Coppersmith Barbets

3 Lineated Barbets

1 Black-naped Monarch

1 Blyths Paradise-Flycatcher. (Photographed and a nice record and easily Barbs bird of the day).

8 Large-billed Crows

8 Grey-headed Canary-Flycatchers

1 Common Tailorbird

5 Dusky Crag-Martins (These soaring around the high sandstone cliffs above us).

2 Puff-throated Bulbuls

7 Black-crested Bulbuls

3 Stripe-throated Bulbuls

5 Yellow-browed Warblers

1 Pale-legged Leaf Warbler

15 Pin-striped Tit-Babblers (these were abundant in presumed family groups of 4/5 birds and often the first to come in response to our speaker playing Little Spiderhunter).

1 Puff-throated Babbler

1 Taiga Flycatcher

2 Scarlet-backed Flowerpeckers

3 Ruby-cheeked Sunbirds

1 Brown-throated Sunbird

6 Ornate Sunbirds

3 Crimson Sunbirds (photographed and quite common here).

1 Grey Wagtail.

In addition Paul saw 2 Ashy Drongos a Yellow-vented Flowerpecker a Swinhoes White-eye and 2 Indochinese Blue Flycatchers which Barb and I missed.

After an extended break for lunch and siestas at 15.45 we headed out for some open country birding which included some extensive marshy lakes picking up a few common targets such as Moorhen (5) and 3 Grey-breasted Prinias among 26 species in a 40 minute session.

We then headed off back to check out the Mekong sandbars again still hoping for the Tibetan Sandplover.

In our final half hour we noted 50 Small Pratincoles in loose company with what we had come to call the usual waders but with the pleasing addition of a scatter of 35 Spotted Redshanks along the river shoreline. A useful day had given me a further 17 species and Paul a further 11 to regain his top ranking for the province.

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Sunday 17th of December 2023 03:19:43 AM

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13/12/2023 - 11.20 am. Tambon Kham Thao - Nakhon Phanom Province.

After a few days of rest Barb Paul and I left Kutchum at around 07.30 on the longish drive to our first stops in this eastern province which parallels the west (Thai) side of the Mekong river - here aligned north/south for hundreds of kilometres.
We had last birded here January 20/23 earlier this year when the whole family had been with us and our birding accordingly limited to pre-breakfast outings onto the grassy dunes and bushy fringed sandstone pools as well as the sandbars of the river itself readily scoped up as far out as the Laos side. (It was here that we had discovered the first record for Wigeon (12) on the Mekong).

Our main purpose in returning here was to build on my initial list for this province of 87 and for Paul to build up his own list of 128 in the hope of regaining top listing spot in different habitats which for me certainly would be new in Nakhon Phanom.

On arrival at our first viewing spot despite a strong wind we scoped up on a large sandbar a few obvious species:-

3 Greenshank

15 Kentish Plovers

220 Openbill Storks

50 Barn Swallows and a White (Amur) Wagtail.

The best bird however turned out to be a single grounded large raptor down on the sandbar (seemingly of aquiline proportions) feeding on something. The bird was giving mainly rear end views and sported buffy white feathered legs and with nothing close by for size comparisons we were speculating ever wildly as to its identity.

However when it eventually took off a forked tail quickly brought us down to earth - it was just a Black Kite - albeit a Black-eared juvenile which appears to be a first record for the province.

Moving on to the Huai Hai reservoir (at 11am) we spent 30 minutes adding a few target species of which we found a Purple Heron several Bronze-winged Jacanas and a Grey-headed Lapwing.

By 14.00 we had arrived at an open country site Chaloem Phrakiet Park and mainly birding from the shade of the vehicle logged 17 species - the prime targets being:-

20 Garganey

2 Black-winged Stilts

24 Grey-headed Lapwings

3 Wood Sandpipers

1 Eastern Yellow Wagtail 

After a break for lunch we arrived at 15.45 at another river overlook where our main targets on another sandbar were Red-necked Stints and in particular a Tibetan Sand-Plover (both reported here in recent days by a university group which included Thailands current leading lister).

In the event we found neither of our main targets despite our timing on site being precise. In an hour of scrutinising every bird present through both telescope and camera we logged 14 species:-

5 Little Ringed Plovers

2 Kentish Plovers

2 Common Sandpipers

3 Greenshanks

3 Temmincks Stints

In addition the usual common species - pond herons - shrikes - mynas etc.

So ended our first day - a lot of driving and decent progress with me adding 7 province ticks to reach 94 and Paul 5 to reach 133 with the prospect of some forest birding to come. We did find a good hotel with rooms at £12.70 per night and so booked in for two nights.

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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-A couple of shots from the harrier roost the other night; - a close approach by a female Pied Harrier and then the same bird eying up a trio of Grey-headed Swamphens which probably may have been too much of a mouthful before bedtime?

Cheers,

Mike P.



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11/12/2023 - Kut Chum - the rice harvest.

Today we are at home here on a none-birding break. This generally consists of family members out watering the trees around the garden complex and doing any necessary pruning whilst it is still reasonably cool. I normally manage to get pretty well soaking wet wrestling with the extensive hoses in whatever sector I am working. Later the temperature will reach around 35 degrees when we normally have a midday sleep for a couple of hours followed by a shower. 
As regards the rice harvest - this normally takes place in November each year but this year due to the heavier rains the rice crop here was pretty well flattened in the fields. At the end of November this time the local contractor arrived suddenly and quite unexpectedly with his combined harvester and set to work. (Normally with standing rice the threshing machine comes and we all bag up the dispensed seed from the machine following which it is spread out on large sheets to dry for 2/3 days prior to re bagging for storage). The contractor is paid simply by taking half the crop.

While three of us were away birding in Si Sa Ket recently Pen and her mother and sister and the home help O spread out manually all the seed to dry then after two days worked to 11 pm bagging it all (again manually) and lifting it up into the rice store (photo attached). This will cover the family needs for the whole year. I must say that I felt slightly guilty that we had been off on a birding jaunt while the women had been so busy and subsequently with no complaint whatsoever from them.

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Monday 11th of December 2023 02:54:28 AM

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Not sure what has happened quite to split off under a separate heading day three of our Sakon Nakhon outing, but doubtless due to some incompetence on my part.

However back at base after a break from birding we arrived at 16.20 last night (Dec 9th) at our local harrier roost at Phue Hi to see how things were after no visits since late last January. The site consists of a huge mat of floating vegetation about a 1000 metres in length surrounded by clear water forming a nice margin of safety for birds roosting upon it.

We noted a couple of flyover Brahminy Kites and numerous groups of distant sundry white egrets off to a roost somewhere else and a dozen or so harriers split evenly between Eastern Marsh Harriers and Pied Harriers, all of the  Marsh Harriers being female/juveniles with 1 adult male. The Pieds included at least 2 spanking males a juvenile and a couple of what looked like female adults. 
Photo opportunities were largely curtailed as our usual viewpoint was not available. Paul drove down the usual narrow cart track fringed by branches protruding from both sides for some 250 metres only for our route to be blocked by 3 buffaloes- a youngster with mother and a large male with an impressive span of wicked looking horns. We crept forward and all 3 beasts tried to exit to the right out of our way but the big male was tethered by a rope from the down slope by the lake and could barely get out of our way even if it tried. Our problem was that had we persisted and driven over the tether we could have easily become tangled up with a large panicking animal.

We suggested to Barb that she should sneak out and undo the rope while Paul drove on slowly and I kept watch but to our surprise she flatly refused to do this. Paul patiently reversed all the way back to our less advantageous second choice viewpoint and so salvaged the situation.

All in a days fun - after all this is birding.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 



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re Previous post.

Our photo of a perched harrier would appear to be of an adult female Pied Harrier (not Eastern Marsh) due to the strength and extent of underpart streaking and whitish face. The local harrier roost gives us an opportunity again this year to further our studies in what is still a learning process.

Regards,

Mike P.



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06/12/2023 - Wednesday 06.15 - Phu Phan Nat Pk. Huai KHi Hin reservoir vicinity - Sakon Nakhon Province.

A 4 am start from Kutchum saw us on site recording an initial 26 common species to kick off our listing efforts in what of course for Barb and me was totally new territory. These included a White-collared Kingfisher which proved to be the only one of our trip.
We then moved on to the park headquarters vicinity by 08.15 am logging 16 species (with some overlap with our first stop). The best bird here was a Rufous-winged Buzzard which pleased Paul particularly as it was one of his personal targets for the province. Also good sightings were of Ashy Minivet two Hair-crested Drongos two Jays of the white-faced form and an Asian Brown Flycatcher (which oddly proved to be our only record of the trip). We seemed to be recording numbers of Grey-headed Canary Flycatchers and Yellow-browed Warblers at every stop and with hindsight by ignoring phylloscopus species probably overlooked Two-barred Greenish Warblers as a result. It also transpired that our only sunbirds of the trip were Ornate Sunbirds despite scanning endlessly for something better.

By 11 am still in the Nat. Park we had reached the Huai Wiang Phrai reservoir area. The trail here was through fairly open (dry dipterocarp) Forest much favoured by our prime target here the handsome Black-headed Woodpecker which we have all seen well previously in identical habitat at Sab Sadao. On this occasion although a party of birds responded to playback they failed to show themselves.

A single Red Junglefowl 4 Lineated Barbets a party of Pin-striped Tit-Babblers and 3 Scarlet-backed Flowerpeckers were the pick of the 13 species found here.

With the midday heat now oppressive we adjourned to arrange two nights accommodation in town and had some lunch.

At 4 pm we arrived at Nong Han Lake- Don Langka birding until dusk and really padding out our listing with common water/wetland species:-

100 Lesser-Whistling Ducks

4 Indian Spot-billed Ducks

5 Little Grebes

Feral Pigeons-Spotted Doves-Zebra Doves-Red Turtle Doves

1 Greater Coucal

15 Coots

14 Grey-headed Swamphens

17 Pheasant-tailed Jacanas

38 Asian Openbills

10 Little Cormorants

1 Purple Heron

2 Grey Heron 

1 Great White Egret

2 Little Egrets

2 Cattle Egrets

4 Chinese Pond-Herons

3 Eastern Marsh Harriers (one photo attached)

3 Common Kingfishers (common winter visitors here).

6 Asian Green Bee-eaters

1 Coppersmith Barbet

1 Pied Fantail

19 Black Drongos

2 Brown Shrikes

3 Large-billed Crows

1 Black-browed Reed Warbler

1 Oriental Reed Warbler (an older split from Great Reed Warbler).

10 Barn Swallows

2 Yellow-vented Bulbuls

1 Raddes Warbler

2 Black-collared Starlings

5 Common Mynas

20 Great Mynas

4 Amur Stonechats

2 Pied Bushchats

7 House Sparrows 

5 Tree Sparrows

5 Eastern Yellow Wagtails. - (We found very good numbers of these on the following day which included a good mix of 3 forms including the first for us at least of sub sp. taivana - so called Green-headed Wagtail sporting obviously yellow supercilia supposedly a diagnostic character for taivana).

3 Amur Wagtails

3 Paddyfield Pipits.

We logged some 71 species on our first day in which the initial forest sections had involved the usual slow slog with the playing of the alarm calls of Little Spiderhunter being effective in mainly bringing out largely the same culprits.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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05/12/2023 Kut Chum Yasothon.

After a two day break from birding three of us are set for an early start tomorrow to head north into Sakon Nakhon province where the two Pauls already head the rankings on account of their previous intensive fieldwork. For Barb and me this will all be virgin territory and every bird seen a new province species.

We are set for an early night accordingly. A first for me this afternoon was nibbling on roasted grasshoppers which I found to be quite crunchy and a nice complement to chomping on blueberries. Barb tried a grasshopper then switched exclusively to blueberries.

Its 5.30 pm as I type this sipping a cool beer and the temperature now is ideal. Does life get any sweeter?

Best Wishes to all the GM birding community.

Mike P.



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02/12/2023 - 05.40 am. Huai Sala wildlife sanctuary, Si Sa Ket.

We made an early start from our lodgings noting that there had been heavy overnight rain and after driving through the approach roads fringed by the sterile extensive plantations of Kasava and rubber trees finally entered decent forest where we again heard a Collared Owlet. Birding was very slow even after the dawn, with the only new species being a fine male Red Junglefowl panicking and scurrying ahead on our approach. A catch-up species for me were two White-bellied Erpornis which together with a Green-billed Malkoha which we had glimpsed earlier further boosted my province list.

Our normal morning routine is to ensure we have sufficient water for the day and to obtain hard boiled eggs (which make an adequate mid morning breakfast on the hoof) and a coffee each as soon as practicable. All these are readily purchased from a Seven/Eleven store, generally found in every little town and open at all hours.

We drove through the forest stopping periodically to play Spiderhunter but with no additional species coming in, it was becoming apparent that we might leave earlier than planned for some open country birds en route home.

At one of our stops a wardens vehicle passed us so we lost our chance of being first up and along the trail, diminishing our chances of finding a Ground Cuckoo.

Finally at the summit we met up with the kindly couple manning the watch post and donated a pack of hard boiled eggs and shared coffees and some of their freshly netted small fishes from the little stream.

Overall the morning had fallen a little flat and we had set off for home heading back north noting a Black-winged Kite and for my benefit a short ten minute stop added no. 68 - a Pied Fantail to my Si Sa Ket list to reach 118 with Paul on 150 to top (for the present at least) the province listings.

Regards,

Mike P.



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Monday 4th of December 2023 12:10:14 AM

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01/12/2023 - 10.30 am -Huai Sala wildlife sanctuary - Si Sa Ket.

As is often the case birding S E Asian forests a full day doesnt necessarily equate with a big list and we were focused on exploration and finding our own particular target birds. We were late starting but we were able to successfully agree with the staff that on the following morning we should enter at 5.30 to 6 am and to proceed unaccompanied as we wished so we were well pleased at this arrangement.

We recorded 29 species with 2 Siamese Firebacks a Crested Serpent-Eagle 3 Oriental Pied Hornbills 8 Blue-eared Barbets (these appeared to be the commonest of the barbets present) 3 Puff-throated Bulbuls 3 Grey-eyed Bulbuls ( all heard only- the ones with the Liverpool accents) White-crested Laughingthrushes (at least 4 different parties) flycatchers included 2 Hainan Blues with sunbirds being 2 Crimson, 2 Van Hasselts and 5 Ornates.

We normally make periodic stops and exit the vehicle employing a speaker hanging from foliage playing the alarm call of Little Spiderhunter which draws in smaller passerines- generally warblers and sunbirds with the ubiquitous Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher - so much of our work is quite repetitive.

Whilst we were playing Spiderhunter I thought that I heard the distant 4 notes of Collared Owlet. We stopped the speaker and again over a period of almost a minute we again heard the owlet - this time both of us. Paul accordingly played Collared Owlet via the speaker and the small birds went bananas - they also knew the Owlet 4 note song/call. The Owlet itself came in quite close but in thick foliage remained unseen (after all it is only 6- 61/2 inches in size).
Our predicament with this bird was that although we had been able to confirm the species as present here neither of us have ever set eyes on the species and to record it even as heard only on Ebird it would inflate our life lists and we never include a heard only species unless we have previously seen it. We included it as Owl sp. therefore with an explanation as to the circumstances.
Later we learned that although the bird is known from over the border here in Cambodia it has not previously been noted on the Thai side and is most likely the first record for Eastern Isaan. We should now make some effort to record the bird and importantly attempt to actually pull it in and see/photograph it.

We enjoyed a midday break at the top post where we enjoyed coffee and refreshment with a couple on wardening duty who have two days up here and two days back in their village alternating. We quickly became friends and were taken on a shortish walk to a local streamlet being something of a beauty spot. Our host shouldered an automatic weapon (presumably to warn off poachers/dangerous animals) and we strolled over another sandstone tableland in very similar habitat to the site mentioned previously where Paul had found the Indian Thick-Knees. There were none here either though we did flush 3 Red-wattled Plovers. The midday heat was searing and we were actually pleased to get back to camp where we gulped down copious amounts of water.

We made our farewells and left for the descent through the forest at about 14.45 with stops en route. Barb quickly turned up the first of 3 Verdter Flycatchers (another Si Sa Ket target) and further down Paul spotted 4 Thick-billed Green Pigeons whilst driving. We were particularly on the lookout for Coral-billed Ground-Cuckoo but this often needs multiple trips for a sighting. 
Close to the exit we enjoyed great views of a calling female/immature Siberian Blue Robin (photographed). I have never previously seen a bird actually calling but to see it thus was quite something. The bird was continually rapidly shivering its tail and we were able to watch it doing this whilst otherwise stationary on a horizontal perch for several minutes. To my ear its distinctive call is a throaty Tok generally given from thick cover which is how we first detected this individual.

After a great couple of days birding my province list had increased by over 60 species and Paul had become top lister for Si Sa Ket nudging 150 species with another morning still in prospect.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 



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01/12/2023 - Nong Si reservoir Si Sa Ket.

A 06.30 start saw us here for a half hour adding to our previous afternoon tally a White-throated Kingfisher a Black- collared Starling and a Paddyfield Pipit but also a superb Eastern Yellow Wagtail (macronyx sub sp.) which flew off before it could be photographed.

We then headed off towards the Huai Sala wildlife sanctuary by way of a small reservoir noting 31 species the main attractions here being:-

2 Racket-tailed Treepies

3 Indochinese Bushlarks

1 Thick-billed Warbler

1 Hainan Blue Flycatcher

2 Taiga Flycatchers

1 Blue-Rockthrush

4 Blue-winged Leafbirds ( photographed)

5 Plain-backed Sparrows. (This attractive species is not at all well named in our view - see photo of a male bird).

At 10.30 we arranged entry to the Huai Sala wildlife sanctuary proper at the Mangja entry point and were escorted in (as is the norm here) but pleasingly and unusually were left to our own devices at the centre and so drove on into the border area where we spent the next six hours birding. More detail to follow later.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Sunday 3rd of December 2023 11:36:25 AM

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- A few shots from the cliff top overlook on 30/11;-

-Two old codgers - a record shot of Dusky Crag-Martin-Black-naped Oriole-Butterfly sp.- Blue-eared Barbet- Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher-Rufous Treepie- Striated Swallows.

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Sunday 3rd of December 2023 06:43:18 AM



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Sunday 3rd of December 2023 09:52:02 AM

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30/11/2023 - 06.30 am - Khao Phra Wihan Nat Pk. Si Sa Ket.

Back in birding mode three of us (Mike Barb Paul) set off early from Kutchum for the three hour drive to the border areas with Cambodia for a three day blitz in this area. With only minimal experience here in Si Sa Ket and with just 50 species under my belt (as compared with Pauls 120) we were hoping for some good finds.

At the park entrance despite Pauls residency status he had to pay the same fee as Barb and me (200 bahts each and 30 for the vehicle) - still cheap though for what lay ahead.

Our 3 hour session yielded up 41 species, including many additions to our respective province lists. The pick of these being:-

1 Crested Serpent-Eagle

Barbets - 3 Coppersmiths 3 Lineated and 1 Blue-eared.

1 Black-naped Oriole

2 Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrikes

8 Dusky Crag-Martins -(these were my own highlight birds and my first in Thailand). We were standing on the spectacular cliff top overlook where in April Paul and Pen were being bombed by terrestrial Peregrines. The extensive forest canopy immediately below us is all in Cambodia and should I ever start a list for there (unlikely) these could be my first entries. Other birds noted here were Striated Swallows an Ashy Drongo and Paul noted another Crested Serpent-Eagle.

5 Assorted common bulbul species

4 Phylloscopus species (Paul logged a putative Claudias Leaf-Warbler which continually was spreading its tail feathers- a feature which I need to research further as I have no experience of this behaviour).

6 White-crested Laughingthrushes - always great to see these spectacular extroverts.

1 Plain Flowerpecker

2 Scarlet-backed Flowerpeckers

1 Van Hasselts Sunbird (male).

We exited the park to explore some dry country further west arriving at 11.30 and logged 32 species in 70 minutes.

Pick of the bunch here were 2 high flyover Crested Treeswifts seen only by Paul and four Rufous-winged Buzzards several kilometres apart. These we find as common raptors further north and are supposedly scarcer here but in our experience we have found them readily here as well - perhaps a change in status is underway?

 With our tickets still valid we re entered the park at 14.00 and added Blue Rock-Thrush at the cliff overlook and a very vocal Green-eared Barbet but of the Dusky Crag-Martins there was no sign. We relaxed with coffees at the cafe nearby whilst keeping a wary eye on the unwelcome monkeys emboldened here by idiot tourists who feed them.

We left the park heading for the Nong Si reservoir for some list padding water birds arriving at 16.10. We found the water levels too high for much in the way of waders nevertheless we logged an overall total of 17 species in a 45 minute session - the notable records from our point of view being:-

300 Lesser Whistling Ducks

15 Black-winged Stilts

 4 Common Sandpipers

10 Small Pratincoles

5 Common egret/heron species- but no Purple Heron (our main target).

We left to seek out lodgings for the night (nice clean accommodation for 50 bahts /£11 per room) and mulled over our lists over beer and our meals with plans formulated for an early start to a full day in the morning.

-Some photos to follow later.

Regards,

Mike P.

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Sunday 3rd of December 2023 06:30:39 AM

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28/11/2023 - Kut Chum village.

A huge turnout today of hundreds for Daves funeral. The monks and local dignitaries all officiating, so obviously no birding today out of respect for our friend. Prior to the cremation we were all invited to anoint the body with coconut oil (deemed a cleansing) and to say our personal farewells; - he will be deeply missed here in the local community.

Photos attached of David Clark (1955 - 2023) and the ornately decorated crematorium.

Regards,

Mike, Barb, and Paul.



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27/11/2023 - 07.00 am - Phu Pha Thoep Nat. Pk. (headquarters vicinity) Mukdahan Province.

Up and out by 05.40 am for the one and a half hour drive north-east facing the dawn sky - what better way to start a day?

Our aim was to see the Indian Thick-Knees and Red-wattled Lapwings discovered by Paul last month. However upon arrival the site (a high rocky tableland with scattered tussock grass) was found to be much drier than three weeks ago and despite 90 minutes searching there was no sign of either species which may well have moved on. Undaunted we enjoyed the spectacular sandstone architecture with huge boulders perched mushroom style upon dangerously slender rock pedestals.

Of just 9 common species recorded the pick was a Blue Rock-Thrush and a province tick for Barb and me in the shape of a Lineated Barbet.

By 09.00 we had arrived at Huai Sing in the same Nat. Park where the pick of 10 common species was a Yellow-vented Flowerpecker which was especially pleasing for Paul as a province tick. 
By 12.30 we had arrived in Dong Bang-i Forest Park and despite the oppressive heat logged a final 12 species before calling it a day. Pick of these were:-

8 Asian Green Bee-eaters

3 Ashy Drongos

5 White-faced Jays

3 Yellow-browed Warblers

1 Two-barred Warbler

1 Asian Brown Flycatcher (juv. - photographed)

3 Taiga Flycatchers

4 Ornate Sunbirds (formerly called Olive-backed Sunbird - though still appear no more ornate than previously).

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 

 



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23/11/2023 - 06.15 am - Laloeng Roi Ru - Buri Ram province.

An earlier start this morning to kick off a 4 hour session yielded 55 species including some more additions to our efforts in this exciting area, some of the highlights being: -

2 Green Imperial Pigeons (flyover birds)

Barbets - Blue-eared, Green-eared, Lineated - all heard only.

25 Red-breasted Parakeets

Minivets - Small, Ashy, and Scarlet.

1 Black-winged Cuckooshrike

Drongos - Black, Ashy, Hair-crested, and Greater Racket-tailed.

1 Lanceolated Warbler. (I found long ago that these are readily walked up by strolling through shortish grass in suitable habitat and if present a bird gets up ahead and flies 20 feet or so before plopping down. The trick is to see where it lands and then it often just sits still crouching allowing decent/good views if the grass is not too long).

2 Abbotts Babblers

4 White-crested Laughingthrushes.

6 flycatcher species - ( usual culprits, etc).

- A great start to our trip with Paul up to 197 species for the province and into second spot in the rankings, and with me onto 150 and into ninth spot.

A section of photos from our day and a half follow:- 

Regards,

Mike P. Barbara P. Paul P.

 

 

 

 



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21/11/2023 - Barb and I were met at around 11.40 am at Bangkok airport by Paul and Pen after the long tedious ( almost 11 hours) flight out from Amsterdam (via KLM for a change - next time we shall revert back to Emirates).

We shot off via 2 new provinces (Prachin Buri and Sa Kaeo) to log a few roadside province ticks en route to our prebooked lodgings in Buri Ram province with a day and a half good birding in prospect.

With a leisurely start at 7.30 am on our first full day Nov.22nd (marking for me exactly 29 years of retirement from work) we entered the Dong Yai Wildlife sanctuary at Laloeng Roi Ru- 62 species in the morning session with a good selection of quality species to boost our respective lists for Buri Ram.

Highlight species being:-

1 Green Imperial Pigeon. (photographed) This being a prime site for this species in Thailand- an earlier start would certainly have yielded good numbers. The other major species here is Ashy-headed Green Pigeon which Paul has photographed before - though a no show this time.

1 Racket-tailed Treepie.

4 Asian Woolly-necked Storks - here reintroduced and though nice to see at large, not seriously tickable.

2 Striated Herons

2 Oriental Pied Hornbills (not seen by me as I was seated on the wrong side of the vehicle).

25 Red-breasted Parakeets

Included also were a host of common flycatchers and an Arctic Warbler and a Ruby-cheeked Sunbird were first records for the park.

We returned to our lodgings for a midday break only for Pen to receive tragic news which cast a long shadow over the rest of the day. Australian Dave, one of Pauls ex pat pals, and our host at the last Christmas Day party here, an experienced biker and a justice of the peace living also in Kut Chum had just been killed in a crash only minutes ago while out with his small group of biker friends.

Our afternoon session was a more sober one accordingly with another good count which included a Crested Goshawk and a major world tick for me in the shape of a Yellow-eyed Babbler (at last!!)

Photos to be included in due course.

Regards,

Mike P.



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15/11/2023  - 7.30 am - Pha Nam Yoi Forest Park - Roi Et Province.

An early start saw Paul (inspired by a spell of easterly winds) birding the extensive grounds of this large temple complex checking for migrants.

A two hour session yielded up 30 species, highlights of which were:-

1 White-browed Piculet

3 White-bellied Erpornis

7 Yellow-browed Warblers

1 Alstroms Warbler

2 Two-barred Warblers

1 Claudias Leaf Warbler

5 Abbotts Babblers

4 White-rumped Shamas

3 Hainan Blue Flycatchers

1 Indochinese Blue Flycatcher

3 Siberian Blue Robins

3 Taiga Flycatchers

1 Blue Rock-Thrush

1 Little Spiderhunter.

Alstroms and Claudias Warblers and the Piculet were province ticks resulting in 186 for him in Roi Et - just 3 adrift of Shaun Greens 189. Shaun of course lives in Roi Et and is the long term leading field worker and lister for the province.

By 9.30 am Paul had crossed into Mukdahan at Tambon Ban Pao  where in an hour and 20 mins. he logged just 15 species but significantly added both Alstroms and Claudias Warblers to his province list.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 



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08/11/2023 - Various sites in Surin Province.

With a 6.30 am start and a full day Paul undertook a solo blitz around four sites in this smallish province which lies due south of Yasothon managing to boost his Surin list by 37 species. The best addition being a Rufous Treepie - a species which I have yet to catch up with in Thailand.

- A few photos attached from his outing : White-crested Laughingthrush, Lineated Barbet, and Chestnut-headed Bee-eater.

Cheers,

Mike P.



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03/11/2023 - 08.30 am. Phu Pha Thoep Nat. Pk. Mukdahan Province.

Paul made the short trip into Mukdahan to see if the Indian Thick-knees were still present from the previous week. At least so far they are and Paul managed record shots of presumably the same pair keeping loose company with a Red-wattled Lapwing.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 



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23/10/2023 - 11.30 am Phu Pha Thoep Nat. Pk. Mukdahan Province.

A solo outing for some general birding here was curtailed somewhat when Paul walked into two Thick-knees, accidentally flushing them from just 5 metres ahead. He then spent almost 2 hours slowly searching and stalking them until at last he obtained a few flight shots which confirmed for him a new species for his Thai list. - Indian Thick-knee, a scarce winter visitor mainly to central Thailand well to the west of here.

The species was traditionally regarded as a form of Stone Curlew (sub sp. indicus) but on Ebird is now recognised as Indian Thick-knee).

Photos below.

Cheers,

Mike P.



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20/10/2023 - Phu Chong Na Yoi National Park - Ubon Ratchathani Province, 

At last I am free to report this major find by Paul Farrell (the driving force behind this project) and my son Paul and his wife Pen. I had promised to keep this under wraps until now when an article in the June issue of Birding Asia written by Philip Round is currently being published, (though our complementary copy is still awaited).

The subject species concerned is Bar-bellied Pitta - a bird regularly and most easily seen in Vietnam where I enjoyed my only encounters in February of 2008. Despite the species being depicted in both my Thai fieldguides (Lekagul and Round 1991, and Treesucon and Limparungpatthanakij 2018) the only Thai records having any claim to credibility were : - the first record (of unknown provenance) between 1968 and 1974 then the finding of a dead male in 1983 (Ubon Ratchathani) then more recently in December 2015 a monochrome image was captured on a camera trap during a study of biodiversity by researchers of the Yot Dom Wildlife Sanctuary.

A follow up expedition with military escort encountered illegal Cambodian timber poachers during which automatic weapons were fired and an arrest of one poacher was made with the rest fleeing. No sound or sighting of the Pitta resulted.

Further exploration followed with no further records for Bar-bellied Pitta though both Eared and Blue Pittas along with Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo were found to be present in suitable habitats.

With searching focused increasingly on Phu Yong Na Yoi Nat. Pk. Paul Farrell heard both territorial and alarm calls in June of 2021. He and Paul Passant made subsequent repeat trips with Paul Farrell (alone) obtaining a brief sighting on the forest trail on 11/05/22 but did not manage a photograph. No further aural or visual sightings were obtained until 19/04/23 at approx. 07.30 am when Paul Passant and his wife Duanpen (Pen) in response to light playback saw a male bird right out on the trail before them and Paul (rather dumbstruck!) obtained a record shot as the bird was exiting the scene.

They trecked back the 5 Kms or so to the site that afternoon hoping for better photos but the military were travelling along the trail on motorbikes as they are engaged on a long term project of mine clearance just further south by the Cambodian border.

Regards,

Mike P.

 



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