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RE: Thailand Diary


08/02/2023 to 10/02 2023 Sakhon Nakhon Province trip.
PP and PF teamed up again for a three day blitz on this seldom visited province in NE Isaan.
Incidentally I forgot earlier to highlight Khon Kaen province on the map as I said, so apologies for that. Khon Kaen is 3 provinces directly west from Yasothon on the map under the initial A of Isaan as written.

The guys had many of the regular species on their trip as stocking fillers and boosted their personal lists to 150 for PF and 141 for PP to top the table for this province with a few new records for the province itself. Notable species were a Rufous Woodpecker which had been an entirely new species for me in January and a Cinereous Tit (both photographed  and shown below courtesy of PP and PF).

Two former sub-species of Great Tit are currently recognised on the Ebird system in Thailand as Japanese Tit (Parus minor) and Cinereous Tit (Parus cinereus). Japanese Tit found only in the NW is simply a washed out form of Great Tit with hints of yellow only about the breast and yellow/green about the nape and upper mantle. Cinereous Tit seems even more washed out with the grey mantle/nape seemingly eliminating any yellow or green tones in this area of plumage.  To my eye both forms seem to show a thicker expanse of black about the throat and centre breast. The vocalisations are surely different otherwise these seem desperately weak splits from Great Tit and are likely still treated as sub-species by some taxonomic authorities.

Regards,

Mike P

 



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After all these posts it occurred to me that with frequent mention of so many provinces (particularly those in the Isaan region) that a map would be of some usefulness, and I do apologise that I have not done this much earlier.

The attached map just about shows the 76 provinces of Thailand, (with apologies as the southern end of the peninsula rather fades out). The 31 in colour show the ones which I have visited or passed through noting species and logging them on the Ebird system to whom I owe thanks for the map. The redder the colour the more species I have in that particular province. 
As can be seen the Isaan region comprises 19 provinces and approx. a third of Thailands land area (the blank three in the north simply indicate that I myself have never been there yet).

No organised bird tour groups go into Isaan because logistically in listing terms it is simply not worth it. Instead they focus on Bangkok and the head of the gulf, Krabi in the south (where I spent 8 days in 2001 on my only visit there) Petchaburi at the top of the peninsula (which contains Kaeng Krachan, the biggest of the national parks which spills over into Myanmar) and then of course tour groups head off north west into Chiang Mai which in species terms offers the best birding with well over 600 species on its list. Typically groups can therefore see around 480/500 species in a few frantic weeks.

I have highlighted Yasothon Province where PP lives and Khon Kaen Province where PF lives. The pair of them live apart about three hours driving and are presently up in Sakhon Nakhon on a two day spree hoping for a few new species in this little visited area. (Sakhon Nakhon is the easternmost province of my blank three on the map).

The map will appear sideways - due to the shape of Thailand or more likely down to my incompetence.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 



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02/02/2023 - Chulalongkorn University (general area) Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok).

From time to time normally furtive crake species can show a surprising and endearing innocence. Examples are the famous Sunderland Baillons Crake watched by observers at point blank range (which I didnt see) and the Kent Little Crake of March 1985 which foraged in a ditch and quite unconcerned regularly trotted over our feet.

Such a bird (in this case a first winter Slaty-legged Crake) turned up in the above University grounds at a small shrine near the veterinary facility, so mid afternoon saw Paul enjoying what for him was likely a new world species and which he describes as remarkably approachable. Photos attached: -

Cheers,

Mike P.



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Monday 6th of February 2023 09:19:30 AM

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01/02/2023 - Khok Kham Bird Centre vicinity, Samut Sakhon.

With a day or two still available before needing to return back north Paul returned early to the previous days locations to mop up a few more species not seen with me when we had basically just run out of time.

Here he found Greater Sand-Plovers, Great Knots, Red Knots, a Green Sandpiper, together with Common Tailorbirds and a few other common species to boost his province list - (photo attached of both Knots, both Sand-Plovers, and Curlew Sandpipers).

Just east of here is the Rak Thale Seafood restaurant from where he walked a short distance east into a thin finger of Bangkok Province, the only part in fact that has a section on the coast (which gave him a nice little boost to his Bangkok list with Gerygone and Mangrove Whistler included).

Regards,

Mike P.



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 Samut Sakhon -31/01/2023.

Paul has sent a few photographs of some of the 59 species we logged. One affords a comparative study of two Whiskered Terns keeping company with a Gull-billed Tern and a Brown-headed Gull which to my eye at least simply dwarfs the Whiskered Terns.

Other pics show Golden-bellied Gerygone (aka Flyeater), Mangrove Whistler, and Collared Kingfisher.

Cheers, Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Sunday 5th of February 2023 04:14:03 PM

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31/01/2023 - 07.20 am. Khok Kham bird centre vicinity - Samut Sakhon Province.

Paul and I were up and out from the Bangkok house at 06.15 aiming to beat the early morning commuters. We were heading south to the coastal salt pans and mangrove areas in a totally new province at the head of the gulf of Thailand so we were keen to record every species encountered.

At our first stop we logged 35 species amongst which the outstanding features were the mesmerising hordes of waders - mainly Red-necked Stints, Lesser Sandplovers, Spotted Redshanks, Curlew Sandpipers, Black-tailed Godwits, a couple of Grey Plovers and 10 Broad-billed Sandpipers. We kept an eye open of course for Spoon-billed Sandpiper but at the likeliest pool (they like to feed in an inch or two of water) we notice a couple of photographers already set up with the sun behind them and waiting, so we kept well away so as not to risk spoiling their day.

Further out we found Little Terns 1 Common Tern and 12 Brown-headed Gulls, 12 Painted Storks and a loose mix of both Indian and Little Cormorants.

By 08.55 we were at the nearby Phanthai Norasing No hunting area birding along a good road which leads to the Mangrove area boardwalks and information centre. From the road there was a slightly different wader mix with some 40 Common Redshanks, 15 Pacific Golden Plovers, 2 Greenshank and a single Common Sandpiper. We flushed a Slaty-breasted Rail which landed in a low tree permitting good views for several minutes. Also from the road we had 2 Collared Kingfishers perched up on overhead wires and the first Black-capped Kingfisher for our 8 weeks birding efforts. 
The boardwalk proved to be excellent with Golden-bellied Gerygones, a Mangrove Whistler, a Raddes Warbler and another philloscopus which we failed to see well enough. Among a few other expected common species we also had 2 Racket-tailed Treepies.

Our final stop was the Red Boardwalk Bridge which goes out across the bay well out from the mangroves but running parallel eastwards for about a mile. As it was now 10.55 and getting hot we drank some water and set off on a slow plod. En route we could see distant gulls and terns perched on the residual stumps of an old breakwater or pier running parallel to our boardwalk on the inshore side.

Here we logged some 60 Whimbrel, a handful of Brown-headed Gulls, 3 more Gull-billed Terns, 50 Whiskered Terns 4 Common Kingfishers, several more Collared Kingfishers, 2 Pacific Swallows and a Striated Heron.

We were slightly disappointed not to find any large terns (which surely turn up here regularly) but finishing up in a new province with 59 species felt pretty good.

Later that evening Paul and Pen dropped us at the airport for our return flights to Dubai and on to Newcastle where to our surprise there were no delay problems at all.

The trip gave me another 49 additions to my Thai list 10 of which were life birds.

Bird of the trip? -  impossible to say - but Pin-tailed Parrotfinch a good candidate?

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Saturday 4th of February 2023 06:51:43 AM

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30/01/2023 - Journey south to Bangkok (7.00 am start from Kut Chum).

After several refreshment stops en route prior to a longer lunch break, with Art and Paul sharing the driving, we finally by mid afternoon reached our main birding destination for the day - the Pathum Thani Rice Research Centre.

In yet another new province for all of us we logged 44 species (main details to follow).The site is quite extensive with a mix of newly planted rice paddies, other fields seemingly left fallow - some quite dry with others quite overgrown and marshy - in other words - a good mix.
Well into our birding we noticed in the distance some Thai birders/photographers erecting small hides in the corner of what turned out to be a very dry field with either long grass or what looked like tall uncut rice about six feet high. We drove over and not only were warmly welcomed but provided with a hide for two which Paul and Pen occupied while Barb Art and I chose to view the proceedings from the car.

Apparently one of the locals (possibly the owner of this particular field) has provided a metal drinking bowl sunk slightly into the earth and baits the small area with fish bait type worms. Once everyone was settled the first birds soon arrived - an Amur Stonechat, a couple of Plain Prinias, a Black Drongo, a Brown Shrike, and a nuisance in the form of a Chinese Pond Heron, which proceeded to hoover up as many worms as possible at each visit before exiting stage left like a pantomime villain into the very tall dense cover. The Drongo too was becoming rather a nuisance for the same reason. Things then picked up a little with a female Bluethroat making repeat visits then a class act in the shape of a Slaty-breasted Rail which gave Paul some good photo opportunities.

Two main targets however failed to appear - Eastern Water Rail (aka Brown-cheeked Rail) and Painted Snipe which still eludes me in Thailand. The rail is a split from our familiar bird and looks very close in plumage terms though its call is quite different.

Other notable species among the usual common herons, egrets, munias and sparrows were: - 

400 Black-winged Stilts

15 Red-wattled Lapwings

30 Spotted Redshanks

40 Wood Sandpipers

12 Marsh Sandpipers

5 Greenshanks

5 Whiskered Terns

80 Asian Openbills

1 Black-headed Ibis

1 Black-winged Kite

1 White-throated Kingfisher

2 Blue-tailed Bee-eater

6 Indochinese Rollers

1 Black-naped Oriole

18 Eastern Yellow Wagtails (a good count and all in the same field - mainly macronyx sub sp.)

 This has been an excellent site which certainly warrants a future stop and one could spend a good day here during the migration period. Photos attached.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 



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29/01/2023 - Wat Pha Phayom - Mukdahan Province.

Attached is a shot of one of the Siberian Blue Robins which Paul managed by hanging out of the car window trying to keep up with it darting about the road and up the sandy bank, - so not a bad effort all told.

For me its the first full male plumaged bird Ive seen since my first with John Rayner on Bhukit Timah hill in Singapore about 24 years ago - a lot of water under the bridge since then!

Cheers,

Mike P.

 



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29/01/2023 - 14.50 - Pha Nam Yoi Forest Park - Roi Et Province.

In spite of the persisting strong winds we finally decided to get out birding for a spell. This time Paul fancied this hilltop site with its huge temple complex up in the hills of nearby Roi Et Province which we have rather neglected of late. Our success with the thrushes on the Mukdahan/Yasothon border gave us hope for at least the possibility of a similar situation in a near identical hill forest here on the Roi Et/Mukdahan border. 
We stopped of initially on the Roi Et side and readily saw an overhead House Swift then found an Asian Brown Flycatcher, a Taiga Flycatcher and both Olive-backed and a Crimson Sunbird but a Siberian Blue Robin heard down a side trail, refused to show.
We drove further, crossed soon into Mukdahan down a wide dirt road and birding from the car started seeing birds foraging both on the road and in the roadside leaf litter, White-rumped Shamas and no less than 4 different Siberian Robins of both sexes. Other birds here were a showy and confiding Hainan Blue Flycatcher, both Asian Brown and Taiga Flycatchers, 4 White-rumped Shamas, 3 female/imm. White-throated Rock-Thrushes, an Asian Emerald Dove (which I missed) and an Asian Barred Owlet which crossed the road and kindly landed on a branch nicely in my line of sight.

Back into Roi Et at the rather overgrown Botanical Garden area we found an Ashy Drongo, another 2 Hainan Blue Flycatchers, a couple of Yellow-browed Warblers, with a support cast of the vocal and very common Black-crested Bulbuls and an overflying Large-billed Crow.

On our way down we pulled off road to check out a quiet dirt road with lots of leaf litter. - nothing doing, so we walked on forty yards to look around a bend whereupon we saw another straight section of some 80 yards with a Whites Thrush (no less) foraging in the leaf litter! It also saw us almost immediately and took flight and away.
It was high fives and Pauls exploratory hunch had again paid off with a first ever record for Roi Et Province to round off an afternoon which had well exceeded expectations.

Hopefully later- some record shot/s at least of Siberian Blue Robin.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 



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28/01/2023 Kut Chum.

Not a birding topic this morning but just something different for a change:-

Two monks came by arrangement this morning to celebrate Arts birthday and to give their blessings to him. This is a little unusual and is because one of them was a childhood school friend of Pens.

The mantra is not spoken in Thai but surprisingly is in Sanskrit - (rather a parallel scenario to Catholic ritual being in Latin). It is customary also for the monks to receive food and drink once the formal business is over.

Regards,

Mike P.

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Saturday 28th of January 2023 05:19:10 AM

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26/01/2023 -Kutchum - Yasothon Province.

Back at base Paul and I made an early start turning over the compost bins and watering then working in and layering in 14 sacks of cow muck to fire things up. Two days later as I write this the temperature in the row of compost bins has reached over 60 degrees.

Its too windy at present to be birding seriously so a break is almost welcome and also its Arts 28th birthday- he now has his own binoculars so will he start birding seriously? - His choice whatever.

In the afternoon, despite the winds Paul had a ride over to Phu Mu to check out the thrushes. He once again noted a Whites/Scaly Thrush on the approach road and found the regular Whites Thrush and the Orange-headed Thrush in the usual spot by the top car park but no sign of the Black-breasted Thrush. 
In total he logged 19 species in an hour and forty minutes including an Ashy Drongo and a Hair-crested Drongo (photos attached).

Cheers,

Mike P.



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25/01/2023 Kaeng Lawa - Khon Kaen (continued).

We rose at 05.40 am and were en route to Kaeng Lawa by 06.10.

Once on site we started scanning through the ducks which seemed much reduced in numbers and also the marsh appeared to be visibly drying out though with the sun rising behind us it was great just to be out in such a serene setting.

We covered much ground in our search and ended up logging around 75 species before noon. Highlight species and additions to the previous days records were a couple of Ruddy-breasted Crakes, 2 Pacific Golden Plovers, an outstanding count of 50 Grey-headed Lapwings, 6 Kentish Plovers, both Long-toed and Temmincks Stints, 250 Black-tailed Godwits, 40 Spotted Redshanks, 50 Wood Sandpipers, 2 Pied Harriers, 8 Bluethroats, 7 Eastern Yellow Wagtails, 8 Red-throated Pipits and a single Large Hawk-Cuckoo.

The highlight however was in PP refinding the (or just possibly another?) drake Baikal Teal some 7 kms away from where it had been regularly showing. The distance involved was quite something - close to 700 metres perhaps and PP only found it during a session of opportunistic long distance scoping through a flock of constantly moving and dabbling Garganey with a few Pintail. Paul Farrell then got his scope onto the bird and acted as commentator as the Baikal Teal dabbled and moved with PP firing off hundreds of telephoto shots in the hope of hitting a bullseye. The best of these is attached below.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 



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24/01/2023 - 15.30 Kaeng Lawa (general area) Khon Kaen Province.


We arrived in good time and stayed until 17.50 and while focused mainly on particular target species still recorded 27 species in all knowing that we still had as much as we needed of the following day available should we need it.

We hit lucky with acceptable views of the drake Falcated Teal which was a catch up species for PP Barb and me and of which Paul obtained some record shots. As the afternoon sun swung slowly and increasingly against us we searched continually for the Baikal Teal among an obviously diminished gathering of ducks - overwhelmingly composed of Garganey. Where were the previous weeks Common Teal and Pintail and was our main quarry away with them somewhere else? A Ruddy-breasted Crake some 200 metres away kept teasing me offering binocular views but whenever PP gave me the scope it once again vanished into cover as I was focussing up.

A flock of Garganey zoomed in and landed (though they all appeared to be Garganey we kept on optimistically scanning anew in turn). I had noticed a lump close to the grassy shore which didnt move and was possibly an inanimate object, so I ignored it without further ado or mention. Nearby Garganey continued swimming and dabbling but the lump remained a lump - if it was indeed a duck it had not moved one iota in half an hour.

Paul Farrell had moved some 50 metres away scoping from a different angle and mentioned that the lump was indeed a duck and seemed to be the right size. With the rest of us now assessing the lump in turn it briefly lifted its head before apparently going back to sleep but it had shown very dull green on the crown and nape and yellowon the face and was there also a hint of plumes over its flanks. The rear end looked good as well -White rear vent and black undertail coverts but the light was getting worse by the minute. Just to torture us further it briefly lifted its head every few minutes enabling the two Pauls to catch a glimpse of its vertical black tear drop which to my old eye was right on the edge of that place between sight and imagination. It had to be our bird. Paul Farrell who had first found this bird on 16th was happy with the I/d as was PP. For me the overall evidence was convincing but it was not by any means an exhilarating experience. Still we knew the bird was still present and the following day held much promise.

The full afternoons list was therefore:-

1 Baikal Teal (drake)

20 Garganey

1 Falcated Duck (drake - record shot attached)

20 Common Teal

1 Asian Koel (heard)

4 Moorhens

1 Coot

2 Ruddy-breasted Crakes

40 Black-winged Stilts

1 Grey-headed Lapwing

7 Little Ringed Plovers

4 Pheasant-tailed Jacanas

1 Common Snipe

10 Wood Sandpipers

7 Painted Storks

3 Grey Herons

1 Purple Heron

4 Great Egrets 

1 Intermediate Egret

8 Little Egrets

9 Cattle Egrets

1 Common Kingfisher

1 White-throated Kingfisher

1 Coppersmith Barbet  (heard).

2 Pallass Grasshopper Warblers

1 Oriental Magpie-Robin

5 Bluethroats

- In all a great days birding but hopes were high for the next day as well.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Thursday 26th of January 2023 06:12:09 AM

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24/01/2023 - 14.00  Mancha Khiri Forest Park - Khon Kaen.

This was the first of two brief stops en route to Kaeng Lawa. The habitat here is dry dyptocarp forest - the original habitat which in large measure went right across the lowlands of Isaan and sadly a dwindling ecosystem upon which cultivation relentlessly encroaches. We stopped here on the off chance of seeing Brown Prinia in its preferred forest type and although we heard a bird quite close by, it remained unseen. Early morning would have been ideal but one cannot be everywhere at once. We logged eight common species and moved on to Kut Khao a superb wetland and lake habitat where one could readily spend most of a full day 

.This proved to be a good move as PF found a waterside copse with a sizeable flock of starlings and mynas and picked out a minimum of 20 White-shouldered Starlings and 10 or so Chestnut-tailed Starlings as they flew a short distance.

I cannot recall ever before seeing White-shouldered Starlings and was impressed as to how very distinctive they were in flight. Other species here were Common and White-throated Kingfishers, Grey and Purple Herons, Little Cormorants, Grey-headed Swamphens and Pheasant-tailed Jacanas. There were doubtless many more we could have seen but time was passing and Kaeng Lawa still awaited us!

Cheers,

Mike P.



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24/01/2023 - 11.55 am. Khon Kaen University - Romklao Kallapaphruek Park - Khon Kaen City.

Having met up with PF, he led us down to the viewing blind some 150 metres down the forest track where we settled down with me seated (surprisingly comfortably) on a breeze block balanced on a log. A mid day stakeout was far from ideal so I was mindful that we might have to wait several hours for the main target species - a Rufous-tailed Robin - to show, so patience was needed. On the other hand it was both hot and dry so birds nevertheless may drop in to take a drink regardless of the time?

After 25 minutes the first species put in an appearance -a Taiga Flycatcher on a thin horizontal branch and a Common Tailorbird by the small circular concrete pool. As if birds were feeling more confident suddenly there were two Raddes Warblers showing well on the ground just in front of us then at about 12.30 PF seated next to me spotted the Robin which had materialised on a low horizontal just above the water. It then alighted onto the ground and paced around for a good minute before vanishing to be replaced by a Streak-eared Bulbul. This had been only my second ever meeting with this species and of course never seen so well as this.
Other birds (heard only) were Coppersmith Barbet, Greater Coucal and the ubiquitous Yellow-browed Warblers, while PP also logged a Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher. 

It was a case of relief all round and we had been very fortunate that we had managed an unlikely mid day sighting with the main attraction seen sufficiently early for us to move on to Kaeng Lawa where as I have said previously we still had unfinished business.

Photos (courtesy of Paul Farrell) of Rufous-tailed Robin attached.

Regards,

Mike P.

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Thursday 26th of January 2023 01:04:15 AM

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24/01/2023 Tuesday 09.00 Hua Khua Wetland & Paddies - Maha Sarakham Province.

Barb Paul and I called in for a 45 minute stop here en route west for another overnight stay in Khon Kaen. We recorded 28 species of which 8 were new for me in Maha Sarakham. The best species by far being : -

1 Pied Harrier (male)

1 Black-browed Reed Warbler

1 Pallass Grasshopper Warbler

We hurried on as we were meeting up at mid day with Paul Farrell in the expansive grounds of Khon Kaen University where we had in mind a major target species visiting the concrete water bowl set in a secluded wooded section with an improvised screen hide more or less permanently set up for the birders within the staff and student contingent.

More to follow.

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 



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22/01/2023 14.30  Sunday - Chaeng Sanit Alley -Tambon Bang Sai Yai Mukdahan.

We called in at this promising wader site which Paul has visited previously. It seems to be part of a water treatment plant with a weir and running water with controllable sluices perhaps. On its day I suspect that this could really produce something outstanding. Present were Barn Swallows a few White Wagtails a first winter Eastern Yellow Wagtail (tchuchensis) a Paddyfield Pipit and a few waders :-

3 Little Ringed Plovers

1 Common Greenshank

4 Common Sandpipers

2 Green Sandpipers (only my 3rd and 4th for Thailand).

All these were quite confiding and seemed relatively relaxed and used to the presence of workmen who probably in turn ignore the birds.

Further on in our trip still in Mukdahan Paul called in at a regular site and found the expected Burmese Shrike almost in its same regular bushes where we speculated that it preys on a regular diet of assorted munias.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 



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Sunday- 22/01/2023  6.40 am Mekong promenade area south of hotel.

Paul and I followed the previous days pattern of a bre- breakfast session but this time with a different set of targets.

We quickly logged the early morning Koels calling and a Coppersmith Barbet both of which had escaped us previously. We called out a party of 3 of the fine handsome Chestnut-capped Babblers (though the light wasnt conducive yet for decent photos) and later a couple more in the roadside good grass habitat. Black-collared Starlings featured with a loose party of about 15 with Plain Prinias and a few Plain-backed Sparrows. The only wader from this session being a lone Greenshank in a muddy pool keeping loose company with an Amur Wagtail (leucopsis - the commonest wintering form across Thailand).

After a count of 31 species including a few trip additions we broke off early to meet with the others for an 08.15 breakfast where there was a rugby scrum of people ordering omelettes etc. - the hotel being fully booked for the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Barb Paul and I left early for a days birding en route back to Kut Chum while the others stayed longer and took in a more leisurely drive home.

We stopped next at a riverside site some 20 kms south of the hotel and within a few minutes got quite excited. Against the rising sun Paul had spotted some greyish blobs about a 1000 metres out on a Mekong sandbar they looked suggestive of gulls. I got my eye to the scope and zoomed up. One of the birds moved forward with an obvious waddle. 
Theyre ducks -I exclaimed. -And theyve got Wigeons heads! Paul looked. - They are Wigeon! - A new Thailand species for both of us and as far as the Ebirder recording system is concerned the first records for Eastern Isaan.

We counted 12 and for part of the time they were loosely associating with 2 of the larger Spot-billed Ducks. We moved to improve the viewing angle and Paul obtained some photos adequate for acceptance as these are rarities in Thailand.

The rest of our final klms in Nakhon Phanom was a matter of a few final short stops to add Raddes Warbler and stuff like Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker and other stocking fillers but with a final addition which Paul spotted high in a tree whilst driving -a fine Rufous-winged Buzzard which stayed long enough to allow a photograph.

Accepting that Nakhon Phanom is relatively remote and underwatched Paul had boosted his top spot province list to 124 and I had gone from zero to third spot in the rankings with a pleasing 87 species - not bad for a non - birding trip.

Regards,

Mike P.

 



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06.30 am - Mekong shoreline dunes and sandbars - Nakhon Phanom.

Paul and I were up and out before the sun came up over the limestone hills (still of course blanketed in mist) with music and chanting bouncing over the river from Laos. 
Rather ignoring the Germains Swiftlets and a few Asian Palm Swifts zipping around overhead we focused on the waders on the sand flats and shoreline: -

12 Kentish Plovers

8 Little Ringed Plovers

2 Temmincks Stints

2 Common Sandpipers

9 Common Greenshanks

30 Small Pratincoles

6 Grey Herons

1 Great Egret

2 Chinese Pond-Herons

Further back towards the promenade we logged quite a few passerines in the tall grasses with singles of Brown Shrike Oriental Skylark a Thick-billed Warbler and a Malaysian Pied Fantail. The main species to be found here though were Zitting Cisticolas (8) and Yellow-bellied Prinias (5). 60 or so Barn Swallows easily outnumbered just a handful of Red-rumped Swallows. The usual Bushchats Stonechats Munias and Sparrows filled out the pre breakfast list to 33 species and we turned up for breakfast with the others on time and pleased with our count.

The girls had decided that they were all going to each have their hair done so Art joined us and we birded the rest of the morning largely in the university grounds and around a lake with target species being flycatchers warblers and anything else which moved. Here we logged the usual culprits - Taiga Flycatchers Black-naped Monarch and Grey-headed Canary Flycatchers and found a roost of about 25 assorted Herons and both Common and White-throated Kingfishers.

Art with the benefit of his young eyes found us a Stripe-throated Bulbul and a Little Spiderhunter (which I managed to miss) then we noticed a fine Olive-backed Pipit commuting between the ground and a tree limb next to the car where it carried on wagging its tail, eventually offering up a photo opportunity to Paul.

After showers/shaves we later met up with the ladies for coffee and a selection of naughty and delicious cakes at an excellent and locally famous cafe on Arts recommendation. A note here is appropriate - Art is fully qualified in hotel management and is an excellent cook - his recommendations therefore have to be taken seriously.

We rounded off another non birding day in style at a really pleasant restaurant overlooking the river and (still hazy) hills beyond. 
Regards,

Mike P.

 

 

 



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Friday 20/01/2023 - Nakhon Phanom Province.  
We had all six arranged to spend the weekend based in a nice hotel in Nakhon Phanom city with views across the Mekong river into the limestone hills of Laos, famous for the sunset spectacle (though for our two nights of course it was rather hazy and dull with the hills appearing largely in silhouette rather than illuminated pink).

We took two car with the birders (Paul Barb and me) heading off early, and Pen Art and Pens mother leaving mid morning planning to meet up at 14.00 in time for check- in. For Barb and me this was entirely new territory and any species would be most welcome to kick start a new province list.

En route through Mukdahan at 08.40 we stopped briefly by the Mekong at the Frendship Bridge 2 to log House Swifts which nest under the bridge and then moved on further north to Tambon Pong Kham where we noted Small Pratincoles on some Mekong sandbars and Red-rumped Swallows closer to hand.

At 10.00 we reached the Huai Kabao reservoir which straddles the border between Mukdahan and Nakhon Phanom provinces and there ensued the usual debate about what was tickable relative to where we were standing and where the bird itself was swimming/standing relative to the supposed boundary. Either way we logged 27 species on the Mukdahan side the most noteworthy being:-

300 Lesser Whistling Ducks

80 Cotton Pygmy Geese

2 White-browed Crakes

2 Eastern Yellow Wagtails (macronyx form - I keep checking these obsessively still searching for my first taivana).

We drove round to the Nakhon Phanom side and started listing anew with 36 species including 6 species of egrets/herons and three nice raptors - Osprey, Pied Harrier, and Black-winged Kite plus the usual stocking fillers with a bonus in the shape of an obliging Bluethroat.

We then dutifully drove off for our rendezvous with the none combatants in Nakhon Phanom city and our very nice hotel where we showered and made ourselves presentable for the rest of the day. Our stay coincided with the Chinese New Year celebrations so we participated fully enjoying the stroll through the evening street market which materialised as if by magic with the illuminations and music as a satisfying finale to a none birding day which had given me a decent starter of 47 species for Nakhon Phanom.

Paul and I resolved to make an early pre-breakfast start for the following morning aiming to check out the Mekong shoreline and sandbars.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Monday 23rd of January 2023 12:36:52 PM

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19/01/2023 - Dong Hua Kong & Dong Bang Ee community forests - Phu Sing - Amnat Charoen Province.

Pauls exploratory trip into this forested basin was not particularly successful as he was still confronted by cliffs preventing him getting very far down so he cut his losses as best he could. The best find was a White-browed Piculet among 15 regular species.

At 13.40 (still in Amnat) he spent a half hour checking out the margins of the Huai Si Tho reservoir logging another 15 species - the best being a Zitting Cisticola and 3 Pin-tailed Snipe flushed from the edge of a rice field before heading back for home.

Cheers,

Mike P.



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19/01/2023 - Amnat Charoen Province.

Paul has gone off for the day over to Amnat Charoen on an exploratory trip. Earlier recently on our travels he took us to a cliff top overlook above a heavily forested basin several kilometres across which as far as his researches indicate has never been visited by birders.
He has wanted to undertake a winter foray into the forest for some time and frankly considered that these days it would be physically too arduous for me to descend into the area alongside him in view of my knee problem. I respect his opinion and he went off with my blessing. Hopefully he has a good chance of finding something good?
Whatever, tomorrow we are all going off in two cars to NE Isaan spending a couple of none birding days in Nakhon Phanom - well known for its scenery overlooking the northern stretches of the Mekong river. Doubtless the birders among us will fit in some early morning birding sessions list building in yet another new province?

Regards,

Mike P.



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Thursday 19th of January 2023 02:52:03 AM

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16/01/2023 - 06.45 am Kaeng Lawa - Khon Kaen Province.

Up at 05.15 am we vacated our lodgings with Paul and Pen to meet up with Paul Farrell at the well known Stakeout Bridge with buntings rails and crakes high on our wish lists. 

The scale of this site is not immediately apparent but as we drove out in convoy as a first time visitor here I literally didnt know where to look as there were birds on every side. I was eager to start building my list for another new province but I had specific targets and was somewhat in two minds. Paul Farrell was anxious to explain the situation regarding the Yellow-breasted Buntings. The roost here is estimated at 1500 birds and is being monitored by the university birders. The numbers of this threatened species on this totally unprotected site make it of international significance and I was pleased to see small feeding parties in the stubble fields having dispersed from their roosts, including a couple of fine male birds perched in a bare sapling. PP was following a flock of ducks coming in to land and picked out a couple of larger ones which we found to be our first Pintails of the day. 

Our final species count for the day was not quite 100, comprising 7 species of duck as follows:-

50 Lesser Whistling Ducks

100 Cotton Pygmy Geese

50 Garganey

3 Northern Shovelers

12 Northern Pintails

30 Eurasian Teal (estimate)

1 Baikal Teal (a drake - and first ever found in Isaan - seen by PP and found by PF but flushed by a gunshot or car back-firing before I got to Pauls scope!). This was a world lifer for the two Pauls and triggered a major twitch of Thai birders - 4/5 turned up. In view of the high number of teal it is quite likely that the Baikal got caught up in the same movement. Interestingly the following day produced another rarity - keeping company with the Baikal is a Falcated Duck (also a drake).

We enjoyed lunch positioning ourselves under the welcome shade of the Stakeout Bridge where I was casually checking out some Common Snipe preening and bathing some 70 yards away. Their wing stretching showed the white trailing edges to the wings. Suddenly from the bushy cover behind them a Slaty-breasted Rail stepped into view and I quickly got everyone to the scope before it crept back into cover. A new species for most of us though PF has likely seen quite a few in the past. Earlier I had seen a short fly past by two potentially new (for me) Ruddy-breasted Crakes below the bridge which disappeared into cover before I fully realised what they were, and although there were other sightings during this hectic day I still have yet to see one on the ground.

We logged 16 wader species (including a Common Redshank seen by me which is not supposed to winter here). Also 9 species of Heron (including 12 Black-crowned Night Herons).

Others included 8 Whiskered Terns, 50 Asian Openbills, 3 Kingfishers one of which was a stunning flyby Pied Kingfisher which I followed and saw it do its characteristic hover before plunging down behind some distant trees.

20 Glossy Ibis, several superb Long-tailed Shrikes of the eastern black-headed form, (Lanius schach tricolor/longicaudatus) a couple of Bluethroats and 8 Red Avadavats were other highlights amid a support cast of scores of regular species too numerous to mention capped off a memorable day. I spent most of the afternoon trying to relocate the Baikal Teal against the increasingly harsh light to the extent that my eyes were hurting and mindful that I was missing other species which would have boosted my list for this province - nevertheless one cannot do everything at once. We shall return as there is unfinished business here and also in the university grounds a Rufous-tailed Robin has appeared again.

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Wednesday 18th of January 2023 11:43:32 AM



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Thursday 19th of January 2023 02:34:35 AM

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15/01/2023 Kalasin and Khon Kaen Provinces - A two day birding spree.

Paul and Pen and Barb and I embarked early to leave from Kut Chum aiming to put some meat on our lists for these provinces and hoping also to perhaps discover new species not previously recorded across the relatively neglected Kalasin sites.

Our first stop was at 11.05 am at a promising lake - Bueng Thong - Kam Phon Thong where in 45 minutes we logged 36 species notably: -

250 Lesser Whistling Ducks

15 Cotton Pygmy-Geese

5 Little Grebes

2 Plaintive Cuckoos

1 White-browed Crake

1 Black-naped Oriole

1 Indochinese Bushlark.

At 12.30 we arrived at a hilltop site - Dong Mae Ped Community Forest via a rough trail in open arid habitat hoping for Rufous-winged Buzzard in what seemed like perfect habitat for the species but it was a no show for once although we did find a party of 6/7 Rufescent Prinias and a pair of Scarlet-backed Flowerpeckers and a few Olive-backed Sunbirds.

Later en route to our main target lake at Nong Thueng Park we stopped to check out a raptor soaring with some 80 Openbill Storks and were pleased to see that it was clearly a Black Kite but which stubbornly was spiralling ever further to deny Paul a photo opportunity. In my own experience this species is notably scarce in Thailand for whatever reason. (By way of contrast I do recall many years ago doing a rough count of 5,000 in the skies over Delhi).

Just before 16.00 we arrived at Nong Thueng Park and set up the scope with the sun behind us to start scanning through the throngs of about 1500 Lesser Whistling Ducks about 200 Cotton Pygmy Geese and some 80 Garganey but with many of these split into 3/4 large groups.
An Eastern Marsh Harrier appeared overhead and all the groups of ducks on the lake took off in a dizzying spectacle with the little Pygmy Geese looking amazing in the afternoon sun as they wheeled around alighting again like a reshuffled pack of cards. Ominously we could pick out no larger species among the flying ducks and hopes of our target species (Pintail) receded.

Paul was anxious to move along a few hundred metres to check out other groups but I asked if I could just do a final two minute check through his telescope. I scanned the far shoreline and suddenly I was looking at a drake Teal among the Garganey - a new species for Kalasin Province. Paul hurried to the scope saw the bird and then nearby a second Teal A record photo was obtained and it was job done!

Among our 32 species here were a couple of well seen Black-browed Reed Warblers a White-browed Crake a gang of Swinhoes White-eyes to boost our personal province lists - mine to 75 and Pauls to about 98 only 6 behind the top lister for Kalasin.

We drove on into Khon Kaen and dined at a fine lakeside restaurant as night fell. Pen had booked us in at a small complex of individual chalets (cost about £4.50 per night per person). With very clean comfortable beds and good bathroom/hot shower facilities we retired early as we needed to be up and away for the short drive to our next destination the superb wetlands at Kaeng Lawa where we had arranged to meet up with Paul Farrell for a big day on his home turf.

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 



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14/01/2023 Some Pied Harrier studies from the late afternoon harrier roost in Yasothon.

Cheers,

Mike P.



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14/01/2023 - Yasothon Pools -Yasothon.

After a couple of early mornings strolling round the local patch logging a few year ticks five of us had a drive over to my old stamping ground at what I originally christened as Yasothon Pools. The place had not changed at all, (rather to my surprise). We logged 36 regular species in an hour and a half but with a trip addition in the shape of a flyover Shikra and best of all a Pallass Grasshopper Warbler.
Later in the evening we visited the harrier roost mainly to show Art and his girlfriend Eem the spectacle and close up looks at male Pied Harriers in particular, - some photos available later.

Regards,

Mike P.

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Sunday 15th of January 2023 12:09:42 AM

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09/01/2023 - Phu Mu Forest Park/Rabian Tawan Terrace - Mukdahan Province.

Some 4/5 years ago after two visits I vowed on this thread never again to go birding here because for such a promising looking forested hill it was amazingly devoid of birds (other than Black-crested Bulbuls and Asian Brown and Taiga Flycatchers).

Paul however had a hunch that following the previous weeks continued NE winds surely something different might be around - possibly thrushes on the top car park/camping area? Accordingly Paul and Pen Barb and I set off on the short 35 minute drive from our Kut Chum base. 
At 08.00 am we pulled in initially to scan the lake and adjacent fields where I was pleasantly surprised to see some of the regular species present. (Four years ago the lake had been birdless except for a few Barn Swallows and a Greenshank candidate so distant that even scoping it was no help in identification).

At the top of the hill we parked up and split up scanning particularly for thrushes but it looked typically quiet. Sharp-eyed Pen found an Asian Brown Flycatcher (as usual). Minutes later Barb and I heard another shout from Pen. Apparently Paul was telling her to run as well so it suddenly dawned on me and Barb that they had something good so we scurried the 200 yards to join them only to find that the bird had departed.

Paul later told us that it had taken him two minutes to get onto the bird following Pens directions and was trying to photograph it with Pen trying at the same time to get him onto another bird out on the grass. We arrived and Paul showed us a close up fuzzy image of part bird and part twigs which certainly wasnt an Eye-browed Thrush (our hoped for species). 
Our uncertainty was suddenly resolved by the bird itself alighting on the ground and foraging not 25 yards in front of us- a stunning Orange-headed thrush sporting two vertical black bars on the side of its head and a short white median covert bar - a first record for Mukdahan Province no less! Paul was initially puzzled by the plumage difference from the December bird we had seen in Bangkok as this form was new for him although I had seen this form somewhere before. During this excitement Barb had started scanning further towards the forest edge and called another thrush which I glimpsed just in time as it disappeared behind a fallen log - a Whites Thrush and another species new for the province.

It was quickly becoming obvious that Pauls hunch had been spot on!

Suddenly we notice another thrush mainly hidden behind a tussock of grass but sporting a head close to that of a Blacbird but with a little bit of chestnut visible on the fore flank and a mottled white throat - the other bird which Pen was saying had been in full view earlier when Paul had been trying to photograph the Orange-headed thrush. Paul did manage a few record shots to support an i/d. 
Meanwhile the Whites Thrush was out foraging in the leaf litter and we noted it shivering as it used its feet to detect prey (a feeding strategy used by both Whites and Scaly Thrushes). Incidentally our field observations do not eliminate the possibility that our Whites Thrush could be a Scaly Thrush as the separation in the field is problematic and in hand examination is apparently dependant on number of tail feathers. Annoying for me (as an old dinosaur) is the fact that the traditional scientific name of Whites Thrush (Zoothera dauma) is now awarded to Scaly Thrush whereas our bird found from time to time in UK is now Zoothera aurea.

In the meantime the shy and retiring Orange-headed Thrush was perching up on the nearby wall and several prominent rocks and concrete blocks in the bold manner of a bushchat often close to the Whites Thrush so good photos were easily obtained.

From what we had seen of the mystery blackbird type and a couple of record shots there was enough evidence to support our tentative identification as a Black-breasted Thrush, needless to say another new species for Mukdahan and the site had now thoroughly redeemed itself in my mind. To add to the thrushy theme we also saw an imm/female and a fine male White-throated Rock-Thrush sufficient to rename the place as Thrush City.

We put out photos and our conclusions on the internet and received confirming opinions and resolved to return the following day for better photos of the Black-breasted Thrush with an enthusiastic Paul Farrell joining us from Khon Kaen.

10/01/2023 Phu Mu Forest Park - Yasothon side.

The border between Yasothon and Mukdahan goes through the upper car park from where we were viewing on the previous day so we resolved to put in our list for the day under the Yasothon heading. Although we had to wait a little longer (mainly perhaps as we had arrived earlier) all the previous days species reappeared and were well photographed.
Paul Farrell obtained the best photo of an adult female Black-breasted Thrush (seen below) and the indications were that the limited views of the previous days bird were of a different and likely male.

The big news though broke later that evening. Some of the leading experts in Thai birding circles conclude that our Orange-headed Thrush is of the buff-throated sub species maculata and the first of this form to be recorded in Thailand- so very well done to Pen!!

Photos below: - 

Regards,

Mike P.

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Thursday 12th of January 2023 12:26:35 PM

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06/01/2023 Friday - 07.25 am. Phu Suan Sai Nat.Pk -Tat Hueang Waterfall - Loei Province.

Having vacated our lodgings our immediate port of call was the spectacular Tat Hueang waterfall. Here in the dry season one can very easily walk into Laos on stepping stones and the bedrock above the falls as the border is unmanned and barely 10 feet away though a warning sign is there to discourage such adventurism.

Unusually in the context of such beautiful surroundings we had the whole place to ourselves (probably because the New Year celebrants from the weekend had all gone home). Having spent 20 minutes walking on the upper section above the falls we went off to one of the viewpoints where PP saw a Blue-Whistling Thrush perched on a tree in Laos. We watched it descend to the waters edge where it poked about among the rocks and noted that it was of the yellow-billed form. 
PP then scored again with one of our targets for the site - a fine male Plumbeous Redstart which entertained us intermittently as it darted after flies at the foot of the torrent. PF then spotted a Grey Wagtail perched on a bamboo stick above the falls. - A profitable stop therefore though we were denied the other target species - White-capped Water Restart which has recently also been recorded here.

Moving on south-east I noted a roadside perched Rufous-winged Buzzard for the province trip (I was quite pleased as I am not particularly adept at identifying birds on wires/posts from a fast moving vehicle).

Our next stop was at Nong Hi lake where a total of 23 species boosted our trip lists, -the best here being: - 

1 White-browed Crake

1 Oriental Darter

1 Black-winged Kite

2 Indochinese Rollers

4 Plian-backed Sparrows

With two heard only species - Pallass Grasshopper Warbler and Baikal Bush-Warbler.

At 13.32 our last stop still just in Loei was at the spectacular limestone cliffs of Wat Tham Erawan  where we added Barn Swallows Red-rumped Swallow and both Himalayan and Asian Palm Swifts.

We drove on east into Nong Bua Lamphu- totally new ground for us three Passants and the province where the notorious shootings occurred several months earlier. We arrived at Tambon Nong Sang and found rice fields with an ideal mix of water and mud to be suitable for waders and wagtails finding both Common and Pin-tailed Snipe, an Asian Openbill the 4 white egrets and Pond Heron with a nice list padding selection of the usual suspects. Best of all however was an Eastern Yellow Wagtail (tchuschensis form) topped by 2 Citrine Wagtails (for me Thailand firsts).

Total species here : 28 - but time was a factor as we had many hours of driving to arrive back in Khon Kaen and then almost 3 hours more back to Kut Chum.

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Wednesday 11th of January 2023 03:07:10 AM

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05/01/2023 - Culvert hide- photo selection (continued):-

Grey-throated Babbler (a catch-up species for me in Thailand which looks better from the front when it is not wet through from bathing).

Brown-cheeked Fulvetta (although the cheeks seem grey! - the other congener Grey-cheeked Fulvetta/ Yunnan Fulvetta thankfully has an eye-ring).

Martens Warbler - the one here with a complete eye ring.

Black-naped Monarch female /imm. (generally common species well known to many of you of course).

Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher. - (even more common and seemingly ubiquitous).

Puff- throated Bulbul. 

Cheers,

Mike P.

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Wednesday 11th of January 2023 01:03:06 AM

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05/01/2023 - Culvert Hide photo selection (continued).

Hill Blue Flycatcher.

White-bellied Erpornis (formerly called White-bellied Yuhina).

Pin-tailed Parrotfinch. (Record shot. An all too brief appearance of this female and a much appreciated world lifer for both PP and me).

Blue-bearded Bee-eater. 

Verditer Flycatcher.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Wednesday 11th of January 2023 01:10:12 AM

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05/01/2023 - Phu Suan Sai Nat. Pk. - Culvert Hide.

Our day started at around 8.00 am with a roadside session hoping for Short-tailed Parrotbills (which sometimes cross the road close to the hide from their favoured bamboo stands) but no sign this morning though we did find an obliging Rufous Woodpecker.

With the light improving we made our way down to the hide with PP and I in one side and PF in the other. We were pleased to note the absence of the White-throated Fantail which on the previous afternoon had been defensively seeing off and bullying other smaller birds daring to encroach on its favourite perches over the water.

We stayed in the hide all day but with small breaks to have lunch or to stretch our legs from time to time. A full list of species follows, though not in chronological order:-

Blue-bearded Bee-eater

Blue-throated Barbets (heard continually).

Bay Woodpeckers (heard).

4 White-bellied Erpornis

1 White-throated Fantail (turned up like a bad penny after lunch).

2 Ashy Drongos

2 Bronzed Drongos

1 Greater Racket-tailed Drongo

1 Black-naped Monarch

2 Grey-headed Canary-Flycatchers

1 Black-crested Bulbul

2 Puff-throated Bulbuls

2 Grey-eyed Bulbuls

2 Ashy Bulbuls

2 Yellow-browed Warblers

2 Grey-crowned Warblers

3 Martens Warblers

2 Yellow-bellied Warblers

2 Chestnut-flanked White-eyes

7 Indian White-eyes

5 Pin-striped Tit-Babblers

2 Golden Babblers

2 Grey-throated Babblers

2 Rufous-throated Fulvettas

5 Brown-cheeked Fulvettas

1 White-rumped Shama

1 Hill Blue Flycatcher

1 Verditer Flycatcher

1 White-tailed Robin  (male)

1 Taiga Flycatcher

4 White-rumped Munias

1 Pin-tailed Parrotfinch (female- and for me the bird of the day).

Grey-headed Warbler was PFs 700th Thai species and new for me of course along with Martens Warbler. These species are the result of a four way split alongside Alstroms and Bianchis Warblers and are a nightmare in the field for birders such as me. The Grey-headed shows a break to the rear of its eye ring best captured on photos. 
It took Paul Farrell six or seven trips to see the Parrotfinch so PP and I were very fortunate.

We left the hide for lunch down the road at a restaurant all to ourselves overlooking superb scenery (reminiscent of a scene from Braulio Carillo Nat.Pk in Venezuela for those readers who may have visited there) and we finally called it a day when the light became too dark for photography at around 17.10.

Several selections of photos follow:-

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 



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04/01/2023 - a 06.58 am.start saw us exploring the temple gardens at Tambon Neón Phoem (still of course in Phitsanulok).

As we drove up almost onto the car park we disturbed a wholly dark blue bird on the roadside which walked into the grass verge before flying off; - the size and plumage of a White-tailed Robin, though we didnt quite manage to clinch it with a clear sight of the outer tail. We headed for the pond area which was of the steep sided dug out variety so hope of muddy fringes were dashed. We did however record a perched Striated Heron and better still a Grey-faced Buzzard perched up on a tall pole. Scoping this (as my first ever in Thailand) I was pleased to clearly see the black vertical mesial stripe on its white throat, and strong creamy supercilium  The best of the rest were 2 Large Niltavas and a female Hill Blue Flycatcher.

We had a brief sally into a lower section of the Nat. Pk. on the Loei side (viewing from roadside) and enjoyed views of a Blyths Shrike-Babbler whilst hearing calls of Great Barbets.

After a few incidental stops we returned to vacate our lodgings as we had two nights booked further north including two full days booked at the famous Culvert Hide further north up in Loei, which we planned to reach by 13.00. - about which more later.

Two alternative routes were given on the maps. We chose the quicker one to save 30 minutes.

As we travelled deeper into the valley bottom passing ever smaller villages the road became steeper as the route was basically a pass over high hills which were not quite mountains as such and we were reassured by a large lorry coming the other way. I remarked that if there were no more villages that would be a reassurance that the lorry had come over the pass. Otherwise it may have been simply delivering to the remotest settlements.

The road became a steepening dirt road, now with sizeable ruts and a stream to cross. PF (driving) made a brave run at the obstacles and succeeded expertly only to see ahead a totally impassable section - impossible even with four wheel drive which the vehicle did not have. We were defeated only 10 Kms.from our destination.

PF then skilfully managed to revers back to a turning point with PP directing. We now had 150 Kms. to our destination and would certainly miss out on at least 3 hours in the hide.

We soon cheered up and lowered our expectations and PF drove patiently and well to get us to our destination by 15.32 so having parked up we followed PF (who has been here about 7/8 times previously).

The hide is situated in the Phu Suan Sai Nat.Pk. not far from the HQ and can be booked at this time of year for 200 bahts per person for the day and can seat 6 people. The culvert is under the road and some 50 feet long and best described as like a double barrelled shotgun with viewers in either/ both barrels - each one about 6 ft. wide  At each end is mesh netting with viewing slots cut at the business end for cameras and water flows beneath down a shallow centre channel. In spate in the wet season the whole thing would be full to ceiling with a raging torrent. The seating is surprisingly comfortable and upon firm planking.

Once in situ I saw that a little pool is just in front with a White-throated Fantail (a new Thailand species for me) and a Grey-eyed Bulbul bathing in the pool. In total despite the loss of time we logged a dozen species the best of which were a pair of White-tailed Robins and the star bird of the whole day and new for PP and me - a stunning little Rufous-throated Fulvetta.

The following day promised much and afterwards over a few beers we saw the lighter side of our earlier calamity and named the road through the valley forevermore as The Road To Nowhere!

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 

 



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03/01/2023 - Phu Hin Rong Kla Nat. Pk. Loei Province.

We rose early and downing coffees drove off towards the hill from the village into Loei.

En route we stopped for a short session of roadside birding and were rewarded by a calling Bay Woodpecker which responded promptly to playback by flying from cover providing PP with an early addition to his Thai list and a fine trip bird for PF and me.

Up on the higher ground we were disappointed to see the mist rolling in, so retreated to slightly lower ground where PF pulled in fancying a dodgy looking rutted but dry side track which he had never previously explored. We took the plunge and hung on as the vehicle rocked and rolled on the descent like a boat then the track levelled out and we parked in an area where the tall grass and bracken had been left uncut. 
White-browed Scimitar Babblers were calling from higher up but by now we only had one priority - Jerdons Bushchat in suitable though unexplored habitat!

PF played the call and as if by magic up popped into view a male Jerdons Bushchat right where Paul and I by chance happened to be looking. All too brief a view but PPS exclamation - Thats it! summed up the moment - so high fives and big smiles all round. Both Pauls had seen the species before some hundreds of kilometres further north but they were elated that this represented for me a really tough world tick. 
We continued along the track for a further 500 metres to find a turning point and passed some minutes scanning and noting a few common species as the visibility improved before heading back hopeful that PF might manage to negotiate the rough hill. We stopped and played the Jerdons calls near the same bushes and of course  up it popped and gave excellent views for about 20 seconds.

Paul had a fast run at the hill and despite having no four-wheel drive successfully bounced us back to the safety of the road.

Back down the road in Phitsanulok a half hour stop gave up 14 species - the best being :-

2 Bay Woodpeckers

7 Scarlet Minivets

4 species of common bulbuls

1 Indian White-eye

2 Yunnan Fulvettas

6 Blue-winged Minlas

1 Grey Wagtail (on the road briefly)

1 Oriental Honey-Buzzard

1 Lesser Shortwing (seen by both Pauls but which continued to elude me for the whole trip).

After a lengthy break for lunch we headed back into Loei and then spent over 3 hours on an excellent forest trail. Although I managed to find a responsive Lesser Shortwing moving in deep cover it refused to offer up an acceptable view despite a good half hour teasing us so we moved on and hearing a party of noisy White-necked Laughingthrushes hopes rose of another good bird in prospect. Alas the birds moved slowly away never to be seen or heard again. PP soon spotted 2 Silver-breasted Broadbills (always star birds) and followed up with a Black Bulbul of the white headed form- record shots of both species obtained. Other notable species included 3 Large Niltavas a Davisons Leaf Warbler, several Yellow-browed Warblers a Golden Babbler and a Yunnan Fulvetta with the usual barbets here vocalising for all the afternoon.

We beat a hasty retreat as we didnt want to be benighted in the forest.

After an improvised meal back in our lodgings a night birding session on the edge of the large campsite field resulted in repeat views of Large-tailed Nightjar (which we had heard on the previous night) though a Collared Scops-Owl refused to come out to play, in addition we heard a Red-wattled Lapwing as well.

Regards,

Mike P.

 



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02/01/2023 - A five day lads trip mainly in what for me were two new provinces - Pitsanolok and Loei.

Paul and I made a very early start and were on the road heading west at 03.00 am. to meet up at Paul Farrells home in Khon Kaen where we transferred into his pick up truck just before 6.00 am. Topping up for fuel coffees and cheese and ham toasties I got my first new province list off to a modest start with 8 common species - the usual sparrows mynas and doves which are everywhere around such places.

At 08.30 we stopped on the fringe of Nam Nao Nat.Pk. in Petchabun and walked a trail I first visited in 2017.The target here was Great Slaty Woodpecker which however failed to show but we did see Claudias Leaf Warbler - a philloscopus which forages nuthatch style on trunks and branches, along with the white-headed form of Eurasian Jay a couple of Red-billed Blue Magpies and a calling Grey-headed Woodpecker (now Black-naped Woodpecker), amongst other regular species.

By 11.35 we finally reached Loei up at around 1400 m. ASL and commenced birding in earnest with a fine selection of species the more significant being:-

4 Golden-throated Barbets

4 Nepal House Martins

2 Mountain Bulbuls

2 Black-backed Sibias

2 Slaty-backed Flycatchers (female photographed).

2 Streaked Spiderhunters

Other species heard were Great Barbets, a Bay Woodpecker and two which I initially missed- singles of Golden Babbler and a potential Thai lifer - a Grey-throated Babbler.

By 15.15 we had secured our accommodation for 2 nights in the Phu Hin Rong Kla Nat. Pk. which straddles both Loei and Phitsanolok. Our lodgings being in the latter province but with our main target bird (Jerdons Bushchat) a few minutes up the hill in open grassland and bracken in Loei. The accommodation had 3 bedrooms cooking facilities two toilets/shower facilities and a rear view over a rough lawn area with a backdrop of scrubby forest (Brown Shrike here) but at the front stands of pines with Taiga Flycatcher and Magpie Robin hanging around. PF went out onto the rear veranda shortly after our arrival and his exclamation brought us scurrying to see what was afoot.

There bold as brass on the rear lawn was a fine Whites Thrush which entertained us for about 15 minutes ( photos obtained).

Later we drove uphill noting a Grey-chinned Minivet a fine Burmese Shrike and a Grey-backed Shrike only to find that the ideal roadside habitat for Jerdons Bushchat had all been cut down, much to our dismay. Nevertheless we soldiered on with new additions being Hill Prinia and a great find with 3 Little Buntings. PP had found the first record for the Isaan region of these in Yasothon last year followed by PF making another find later and then todays find in Loei. I thus joined a small club to became the only birders ever to see Little Bunting in Isaan. Photo obtained.

Other species up here were Blue-winged Minlas, Flavescent Bulbuls and Olive-backed Pipits.

An out of habitat imm/female Eastern Marsh Harrier up at 1600 metres had us trying to call it as some kind of buteo caused consternation until reason prevailed. A calling Siberian Rubythroat remained unseen while on walking back to the truck PP saw a party of 6 Common Rosefinches.

Later back at base a few beers flowed while we formulated our plans for the following day.

Cheers and Best Wishes for 2023!

Mike P.

 

 



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28/12/2022 - 08.20 am, Tambon Khueang Nai - Ubon Ratchathani.

As we were due to meet Pen flying into Ubon from Bangkok at around 13.20, we set off early from Kut Chum to get in a few hours birding at a couple of sites within about 30 minutes of the airport.The first site produced some 37 species in 1 hour and 40 minutes, the pick of the bunch being two Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, and two Chestnut-capped Babblers.

We then moved on the the Rice research centre at Tambon Pa Ao where an hour and a quarter produced 23 species which included a few surprises and site ticks:-

The first oddity was an overhead circling Crested Serpent Eagle in habitat a little different from its normal forest haunts. This was followed by a fine male Hainan Blue Flycatcher, three Ruby-cheeked Sunbirds, and a White-throated Rock-Thrush - for me a long awaited new species and seen well first found by Paul, refound by sharp-eyed Art.

I finished the session with 8 additions to my Ubon list and Paul gained 3 - about which more later.

Pen arrived safely and Art drove us all back to Kut Chum where we all showered and changed in quick time to shoot off to our third party in five days at the new home of John Cook and his wife Nan. Their hospitality food and drink was overwhelming and made a stark contrast to the start of our day, with gourmet food fine wine and single malt whiskies which would do justiice to any celebration. We toasted Paul on becoming the first and only member of the Ubon Ratchathani 200 club; - Mr. Paul Heaton would have thoroughly approved.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 



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26/12/2022 - Nong Thueng Park, Kalasin Province.

A 6.00 am start saw us on site at 8.53 scanning through the water birds of this excellent reed fringed lake site. Barb and I have only previous driven through this province with only a modest token sample of birds noted at food and petrol stops so we had high hopes for an enjoyable day. We were hoping particularly for Pintail and possibly Wigeon among the huge numbers of Lesser Whistling Ducks and a rather nervy few hundred Garganey. 
Paul Farrell made the far shorter drive to team up with us from neighbouring Khon Kaen and soon picked up a new species for the province list in the shape of 2 Indian Spot-billed Ducks with which he was understandably pleased.

Full list for this first stop was :-

1000+ Lesser Whistling Ducks

70 Cotton Pygmy Geese

223 Garganey

50 Little Grebes

30 Feral Pigeons

4 Zebra Doves

1 Germains Swiftlet

30 Moorhens

50 Coots

4 Grey-headed Swamphens

8 Pheasant-tailed Jacanas

1 Asian Openbill Stork

12 Little Cormorants

1 Grey Heron

4 Purple Herons

3 Eastern Marsh Harriers (photos attached of a sub adult male)

1 Common Kingfisher

7 Asian Green Bee-eaters

1 Ashy Woodswallow

1 Malaysian Pied Fantail

4 Black Drongos

1 Large-billed Crow

1 Plain Prinia

1 Black-browed Reed Warbler

1 Yellow-vented Bulbul

 A scatter of Common and Great Mynas

1 Amur Stonechat

2 Paddyfield Pipits.

After a lunch break when PF had to leave us the three of us moved to Don Yung where we added more species:-

1 Red Collared-Dove

2 Asian Palm Swifts

5 Chinese Pond Herons

10 Night Herons (the main reason for visiting this site where up to 80 birds are often counted in the evenings).

3 Glossy Ibises (the find of the day as these came soaring overhead).

1 Black-shouldered Kite

1 Brahminy Kite

1 Pied Harrier (juv.)

1 Coppersmith Barbet

1 Freckle-breasted Woodpecker (heard only).

2 Ashy Drongos

1 Brown Shrike

1 Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher

2 Yellow-browed Warblers

2 Hainan Blue Flycatchers

2 Swinhoes White-eyes.

At our final stop driving around the wet rice fields with new growth apart from a few Little Egrets we found the only waders of the day - four Grey-headed Lapwings. I missed both a Hoopoe and a Green-billed Malkoha as we drove by but on the whole a really good mix of birds with my first real birding here giving me 58 species.

Regards,

Mike P.

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Tuesday 27th of December 2022 12:04:37 PM

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22/12/2022- Ban Samrong rapids Mekong River, Ubon Ratchathani.

The day started quietly enough; with nobody else out of bed I enjoyed a 40 minute stroll on part of the local patch and from the little footbridge enjoyed a session following the foraging of a calling Raddes Warbler working its way around the edge of a large pool with much in the way of cover provided by overhanging bushes. I have watched Raddes do this here before and as usual upon reaching the bridge it flies across to the north end of the pool where it is grassier. I followed it and creeping very quietly guided by its calls got it to pop up in the knee high grass in response to gentle squeaks. There was little else going on save for a Common Tailorbird and a small party of Streak-eared Bulbuls a Brown Shrike and a few Scaly-breasted Munias.

Back home Paul was up and about and showed me a photo on his phone - Look whats turned up on the Mekong!

Bloody Hell - thats a Long-billed Plover!

Its three hours away - are you up for it?

Yes! So we all got geared up. Barbara Pen Paul and I with Art driving (due to Pauls back strain). We arranged to meet with Paul Farrell at the site as he had at least a four hour drive from Khon Kaen. The bird had been found the previous afternoon and watched from 1 oclock until 4 by a Thai birder who obtained excellent photos. on arrival we did some long distance scoping but the heat haze was a major problem. After PF arrived we all walked south parallel with the river but keeping a good distance from the shoreline. Another problem was that the locals were tending their fishing tackle and a few kids were playing by the water as kids do and though we doggedly spent over four hours scanning Little Ringed and Kentish Plovers Common Sandpipers a single Greenshank and a scatter of at least 40 Small Praticoles and a few White Wagtails there was no sign of our bird.

As Art had to be back he and Pen drove off home and the remaining 4 of us resolved to stay over for an early morning  search. Paul Farrells fluency in Thai served us well and after enquiring at the local cafe as to where we might stay and eat the helpful staff came up with a little hotel recommendation only minutes from the river which was quite adequate.

The following morning we were up at 05.15 and walking the site at 6.00. Great views of a Mekong Wagtail was a bonus in habitat not quite in keeping with its usual requirements and we had repeat views of all the previous days waders but no target bird despite another 2 hours of searching. The site here is very close to Laos only 200 yards east over the river and we could hear both Green-eared and Coppersmith Barbets calling from there with Wire-tailed and Red-rumped Swallows crossing backwards and forwards. 
We admitted defeat and set off to explore another site further north at Chon Dao - the Don Ngio Rapids which looked full of potential but which Paul Farrell says is totally neglected by birders.

Here Barb found 5 River Lapwings and we scanned through more Small Pratincoles and then Paul Farrell found a Great Thick-Knee, then another. This was a major find for the site as birds are sometimes rarely found both well north of here and well south so this would constitute an important link in terms of distribution of this endangered species in Thailand.

In summary our efforts had been rewarded with a great find by PF and the drive back to Kut Chum was all the more palatable for that.

Regards,

Mike P.



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Saturday 24th of December 2022 02:35:28 AM

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20/12/2022 05.45 am. Tuesday. Amnat Charoen Province.

The previous afternoon I omitted to mention that Paul Farrell joined us for the harrier roost session and then stayed overnight with us at Kut Chum. 
Four of us made an early start for a pretty full day in Amnat with the idea of checking what might have turned up on the Mekong river habitats in the period of prolonged NE winds.

After a drive of some 110 minutes we arrived at our first destination, parked up and ventured out on to the sandstone flats where the habitat consists of rock pools and larger ponds with a scatter of sand banks and rocky islets of varying sizes out towards mid river. There are many little mini-habitats with some bushes and grassy dunes which are always above flood levels and in a couple of hours we logged 46 species in total stopping at around 09.45 by which time it was getting quite hot.

2 Red-collared Doves

4 Zebra Doves

2 Greater Coucals

2 Germains Swiftlets

2 River Lapwings

6 Little Ringed Plovers

1 Common Snipe

1 Pin-tailed Snipe

4 Common Sandpipers

1 Greenshank

2 Little Egrets

4 Chinese Pond-Herons

1 Common Kingfisher

1 White-throated Kingfisher

Nos. Asian Green Bee-eaters (The name change seems to indicate that this has now been split from its W/Palearctic congener?)

2 Common Ioras

2 Malaysian Pied Fantails

1 Ashy Drongo

1 Brown Shrike

2 Large-billed Crows

1 Common Tailorbird

2 Yellow-bellied Prinias

4 Plain Prinias

2 Thick-billed Warblers

Nos. Barn Swallows

6 Wire-tailed Swallows

3 Red-rumped Swallows

2 Yellow-vented Bulbuls

2 Streak-eared Bulbuls

1 Yellow-browed Warbler

4 Dusky Warblers

2 Chestnut-capped Babblers

3 Common Mynas

4 Great Mynas

1 Oriental Magpie-Robin

1 Taiga Flycatcher

1 Amur Stonechat

1 Pied Bushchat

1 Brown-throated Sunbird

3 Olive-backed Sunbird

No. Scaly-breasted Munias

2 White-rumped Munias

1 Red Avadavat

Nos. House Sparrows

2 Tree Sparrows

6 White Wagtails (all leucopsis).

A brief stop further down river yielded a few repeat species plus a Plaintive Cuckoo for the day list. Then a 40 minute stop further south at Kaeng Song Yai gave us-

2 Kentish Plovers

4 Little Ringed Plovers

1 Dunlin

1 Greenshank

3 Small Pratincoles

1 Great Egret

1 Little Egret

8 Chinese Pond-Herons

1 Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher

1 Common Tailorbird

1 Mekong Wagtail

1 Paddyfield Pipit.

The Dunlin was a good 300 metres out feeding in typical fashion on a sandy shoreline in shallow water. Once it was flushed by a Myna but went only a short distance onto a rocky islet where it preened for a while and seemed to have found a mini-habitat to its liking. One was found last week in Laos and we of course also found one less than a fortnight ago in Buri Ram (at Sanambin no hunting reserve). The present bird was a first for the province as was our Buri Ram bird and we understand there are only a handful of records for the whole of Isaan so we took time for Paul Farrell to get a poor photo for our record submission. -A major find and icing on the cake on our days outing. According to the field guide the race occurring in Thailand appears to be Calidris alpina sakhalina  - one of the long billed forms.

For a complete contrast PP took us to a spectacular scenic cliff overlook on the way back to base but still in Amnat at Phu Sing where in spite of the afternoon lull we added all three common Barbets calling (Coppersmith Lineated and Green-eared) Black-napEd Monarch, Dark-necked Tailorbird, Black-crested and Stripe-throated Bulbuls a calling Pale- legged Leaf Warbler which PF assessed and by means of spectrograph reading at 5.8 was able to eliminate Sakhalin Leaf Warbler. (I fear this technology has relegated me into the relative Stone Age!) Finally we had a fine posing Blue Rock-Thrush 2 Hainan Blue Flycatchers and a Ruby-cheeked Sunbird to round off a fine 8 hours of birding in spectacular surroundings. PF reckons that we (Barb and I) are the oldest Europeans ever to have ventured out onto the Mekong river islands so we take that happily as a testament to our lunacy.

Best Wishes to all in the Manchester birding community for a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Birdy 2023!
Regards,

Mike, Barb and family.

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Wednesday 21st of December 2022 09:59:03 AM



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Wednesday 21st of December 2022 10:00:30 AM



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Wednesday 21st of December 2022 10:05:24 AM

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19/12/2022 - Khok Sung - along Song Khon Canal - local home patch Yasothon.

An 8.00 am start saw me patrolling the local patch with no great expectation and indeed in an hour and a half I logged only 13 species but did add a new species to my personal local patch list in the shape of a pair of White Wagtails (leucopsis form) long overdue and which Paul has previously had in the garden.  On the previous day in the garden he had flushed from his feet a Barred Buttonquail a species which I have only ever seen in flight.

The main event took place in the late afternoon when we visited Pauls newly discovered harrier roost barely 20 minutes drive from home. Here we logged at least 14 birds coming in and on 20th around 25/30 birds comprising both Eastern Marsh Harriers and Pied Harriers. 3 adult male Pieds and two adult male Eastern Marsh were readily identified and bigger numbers of juvenile Pieds were evident but there was much head scratching concerning supposed female Pieds and immature Eastern Marsh birds. Rarities here would be Western Marsh and Hen Harriers of which we saw no hint.

Photos of adult males of the two species are attached.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Tuesday 20th of December 2022 02:23:37 PM

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16/12/2022 - Boong Khla Community Forest - Yasothon.

Four of us were on the road this morning at 07.00 headed for Pauls favourite forest area in the home province. The strong NE winds blowing over Vietnam and Laos had dropped and the hope was that late drift migrants might be skulking in the forest undergrowth. 12 months ago Paul had been logging small numbers here of Siberian Blue Robins which would be new for me in Yasothon.

However as is often the case with birding the place was devoid of birds both on the ground or in mid canopy. We could hear all three regular barbets (Lineated Green-eared and Coppersmith) and there were glimpses of the regular bulbuls and Drongos but no flycatchers or babblers. A dash of the spectacular appeared above the first clearing we reached with a low flying Crested Serpent Eagle circling just above us whilst we were attempting better views of Van Hasselts Sunbirds high above in difficult light (the male bird just seemingly a blackish silhouette).

The Serpent Eagle was at least a new province species for me as was a subsequent Little Spiderhunter, and on leaving  a hovering Black-winged Kite was a site addition leaving this location on 99 species to date.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 



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15/12/2022 -Yasothon Province various sites.

A few relaxed days doing some of the local sites and adding one or two species to several of them. 
-A few shots of life here:-

1. We dont get out birding all the time here. The contractor at work baling the rice straw after the harvest. (It wasnt a good season as there was far too much rain this year). Following the baling machine were some 60 Great Mynas and about 8 Black Drongos swooping on hapless insects and possibly small mice but specific prey items could not be discerned due to the distance. These were the only two bird species involved.

2. Part of a flock of 21 Grey-headed Lapwings on the Nong Hoi paddies today - a record number in terms of Yasothon and no. 141 for my province list. Paul however is lead jockey in Yasothon on 212.

Regards,

Mike P.



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Thursday 15th of December 2022 11:21:11 AM



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Thursday 15th of December 2022 11:27:02 PM

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11/12/2022 Sunday - Nong Kae Dam and boardwalk -Maha Sarakham Province.

Today five of us made a leisurely 10.30 am start heading west as grandson Art wanted to show his visiting non- birding girlfriend Eem this scenic area with its long 500 metre rickety looking boardwalk spanning the lake. As Barb and I had never previously birded at all in this province we were pleased to be able to add to our province listing efforts.

The boardwalk was surprisingly stable though care was needed to avoid the many gaps in the planking and too much scanning for birds could well have resulted in a broken ankle or worse. The best of thirty odd species to show to Eem were obvious attractions such as Hoopoe and Asian Green Bee-eaters (implying now a split from Little Green Bee-eaters?) both Jacana species, Grey-headed Swamphens and numerous Lesser Whistling Ducks and a few of the handsome little Cotton Pygmy-Geese. A passing Eastern Marsh Harrier flushed many of the waterfowl but was a province tick for Paul. 5 Yellow Bitterns was an excellent count for the site and I could only speculate as to which of the crakes and rails might also be around but unseen.

At 12.10 we arrived at Huai Aeng lake which borders the Roi Et boundary (where we have birded before) but were disappointed that the water levels were too high for any chance of waders other than two Black-winged Stilts.

A few other species made it onto our lists (Grey Herons, Little Grebe, Taiga Flycatcher, Brown Shrike, Pied Fantail) before we headed off east for Yasothon with Eems favourite birds being perhaps predictably the bee-eaters.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 



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09/12/2022 Friday.

A travelling day across 9 provinces up to Yasothon, with a 50 minute break at Sanam Bin no hunting reserve on the off chance that the European Spoonbill might still be present.

The Spoonbill had been seen on Dec. 5th. As only the second ever record for Thailand it had been twitched by a few Thai birders who had been quick off the mark but had not been seen on any subsequent days.

As a result of droughts over the last few years the marshy pools here have been dug out over a wide area to act as an additional water storage facility with the result that many roadbeds and fringes have been spoiled for now so from a birding point of view the place is not what it was. Nevertheless the extensive roosts for the Openbill Storks and Night Herons were kept largely intact and the friendly and knowledgable reserve staff advised us where to search for some of the 20 Glossy Ibis to be seen and as we set off one staff member beckoned us towards a small shaded muddy glade where a single Glossy Ibis was at the waters edge keeping loose company with a couple of immature Night Herons. 
Later we were interviewed by a local camera crew with Pen as our principal spokesperson - a role she fulfilled with a very confident and professional manner. As we drove out a squadron of 10 Glossy Ibis passed over the road ahead.

However the main event still lay ahead barely 2 Kms. along the exit road. We pulled in to check a wagtail perched on top of one of the heaps of excavated sand and clay some 50 yards away. Straight away this bird looked very interesting and I noted a narrow black eyestripe and a grey mantle- surely a candidate for Siberian Wagtail (M. alba ocularis). As Paul was already out of the car with his camera Barb pointed out a party of Kentish Plovers and as I glassed through them I saw a winter plumaged calidrid sp. with the plovers - either  Curlew Sandpiper or even possibly a Dunlin. 
Scoping up the wader it was indeed a Dunlin - a relative rarity in this province as were the 14 Kentish Plovers and what for me was bird of the day my first ever ocularis White Wagtail (aka Siberian or Swinhoes Wagtail) photo of this latter is attached.

Regards,

Mike P. et alía

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Saturday 10th of December 2022 04:57:28 AM



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Saturday 10th of December 2022 11:01:24 AM

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08/12/2022 - Khlong Tamru salt pans Chon Buri Province.

Barb Paul and I were up at 04.30 am headed for Chon Buri province in search of waders aiming at arriving for high tide. We arrived at dawn and logged a total of 45 species between us in the subsequent few hours ignoring many distractions among the available passerines in what for Barb and me was totally new ground.

Highlights were 3 Northern Shovelers a single Pied Avocet (a new Thai species for Paul having made two previous unsuccessful attempts). For me and for Barb (at last) 4 Asian Dowitchers - a much appreciated addition to my world wader list. These were the pick amongst 20 wader species. Almost certainly also still present on this huge area but unseen by us were 2 Far Eastern Curlews hidden in the distant pack of Eurasian Curlews.

Moving on en route back to base in Bangkok we called in at another well known wader site in the next province north - Chachoangsao - again new ground for Barb and me. Here the key area is at the rear of the Gleau Cafe and salt pans west of the Bang Pakong River. Our main target here was Broad-billed Sandpiper and though we initially were struggling looking at promising but distant silhouettes against the sunlight and with enough wind blowing to hamper our scoping efforts Paul eventually found 2 birds on the favourable side of the bunds with the sun behind us. 
Relief at last! - Another wader for the visitors Thai lists.

A really nice bonus flew over us in the form of a winter plumaged Gull-billed Tern and a good reason to fully enjoy a break with the the exceptionally good coffees at the Gleau Cafe.

Photos attached of the Avocet and a Wood Sandpiper - always an elegant species and a pleasure to see.

Regards,

Mike & Barb

 

 



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07/12/2022 mid morning Lat Krabang  - Thap Yao paddies and aquaculture ponds Bangkok.

A more leisurely start here this morning yielded over 40 species but sadly only one wader (a Red-wattled Lapwing) due to the fields being quite flooded, so no real finds other than 5 Spot-billed Pelicans as the highlight for me.

Later at 4 pm in the afternoon we went off to the local Suan Luang Park in search of a reported Eye-browed Thrush but found instead hordes of people in celebratory mood with music blaring etc. There were of course the usual Coppersmith Barbets and Pink-necked pigeons to be seen but initially nothing special Among only 14 species logged.
Then as we followed a path through a secluded little glade Paul found a drongo flitting beneath the canopy which we all got onto as it perched up very conveniently and began a critical assessment as it already looked interesting. It quickly became obvious that we were looking at a Crow-billed Drongo, sporting a text book heavy slightly de-curved bill with white speckling on its breast indicative of immaturity. My first in Thailand since 2001 and for Paul a self found true lifer. Photo attached.

Regards,

Mike and Barbara P.

 



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06/12/2022 - Pom Thong Khieo noodle shop garden - Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) Province.

Following our slightly delayed flight into the airport we were met by Paul and Pen and after a quick change of clothing we were whisked across Bangkok for a 30 minute session in the hide at the above locally famous site for an introductory avian treat. Birds noted were:-

Asian Koel (h)

Coppersmith Barbet (h)

1 Hooded Pitta (Chestnut headed form)

1 Orange-headed Thrush

1Oriental Magpie-Robin

1 Chinese Blue Flycatcher (female)
House Sparrows.

The cafe owner has set up a feeding station in the wooden but tiny glade at the rear of his property and seasonal passage migrants seen here have made quite an impact on the listing efforts of local province birders.

Paul and Pen were here earlier in the day and obtained some quality photos of the two star birds, but didnt manage a shot of the flycatcher.

A cracking start for Barb and me and well worth going 30 hours without sleep.

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 



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30/11/2022 to 02/12/2022 - Phu Suan Sai Nat. Pk. - Loei Province.

Paul Farrell has recently been enjoying some excellent birding in Loei Province, which is the north western province in the Isaan region.

Attached are a couple of Pauls fine portrait shots of a Rufous-throated Fulvetta and a species which would be entirely new for me - the bamboo loving Pin-tailed Parrotfinch.

Regards,

Mike P.



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04/12/2022. 08.05 am - Phon Ngam & Dong Por Community Forests - Loob Nong Nor Reservoir, Yasothon.

An hour and a half session produced 33 species at this rather local site (only about 20 mins. from home). Best records were several new species for the site : - Osprey, Crested Serpent Eagle, and a Red-throated Pipit.

A photo of this latter is attached taken from below showing the strength of the breast streaking.

Regards,

Mike P.



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20/11/2022 College of Agriculture &Technology, Yasothon.

Paul spent an hour mid afternoon birding in the vicinity of this college site logging 26 species which included 5 wader species: - 

4 Little Ringed Plovers

2 Common Snipe

1 Pin-tailed Snipe

1 Common Sandpiper

1 Green Sandpiper (photo attached). 

This latter in my experience is decidedly scarcer in Thailand than the literature suggests and my only scoped up sighting there is of a bird far out on an island of the Mekong river which was more likely to have been on the Laos side of the mid river boundary.

- A far cry from Teal hide at Pennington where I once counted 7 Green Sandpipers together and recall scanning each one (checking for Solitary Sandpiper - well one always lives in hope!)

Also attached is a roadside photo of Pauls from 17/11/2022 - a Pied Harrier in its distinctive juvenile plumage which although not pin sharp otherwise ticks all the boxes.

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Monday 21st of November 2022 03:23:13 PM

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19/11/2022 - Tambon Bang Sai Yai - Mukdahan Province.

En route into Mukdahan Province on an errand Paul worked in a little birding and was rewarded with an Eastern Yellow Wagtail (to boost his own list for this province) and followed with a textbook overwintering Burmese Shrike in a roadside copse, - photo attached.

Cheers,

Mike P.



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