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Post Info TOPIC: Thailand Diary


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Thailand Diary


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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07/11/2022 - Chanthaburi Province.

After the retreat to their camp, P. Passant decided to enjoy a photography session whilst P. Farrell and Mark Hogarth carried on birding along a different forest trail. A selection of Pauls photos were attached on my last post, namely Taiga Flycatcher White-throated Rock-Thrush Green Peafowl Asian Fairy-Bluebird and Greater Flameback.

This turned out to be a smart move on Pauls part (even though he missed out on a new species in the shape of a Black-browed Fulvetta) as his two companions returned covered in leech bites up beyond their legs and groins and also up past their waistlines, both soaked in blood. Even though Thailand is now entering the dry season it is generally much wetter in Chanthaburi, hence the nuisance with leeches.

08/11/2022 - 6.40 am Khao Ang Rue Nai Wildlife Sanctuary, - Chachoengsao Province.

Having scurried north west out of Chanthaburi, the guys commenced a three hour session here and logged 65 species; - obviously a very productive area; most notable species being:-

1 Violet Cuckoo

1 Blue-throated Bee-eater

3 Dollarbirds

1 Greater Flameback

2 Common Flamebacks

2 Greater Yellownapes 

1 Laced Woodpecker

4 Black-naped Orioles

The main outcome from this was a boost to all their province totals. Chachoengsao Province seems to have a good variety of habitats and I think that the costal section is one of the prime areas for Asian Dowitcher and accordingly should be one of my own priority sites on any future trips, whereas Chanthaburi is perhaps best left to the elephants as I cannot run that fast these days.

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 



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07/11/2022 - 09.30 am. Khao SoI Dao Wildliife Sanctuary and Waterfall area -Chanthaburi.

A later resumption of birding at the same site yielded some 28 species in a five hour (!) session but brought mixed results. One of the objectives was to ascend a mountain trail in a search for their main target (Blue-rumped Pitta) in the upper forest. However it is well known here that Elephants descend at night using this trail to raid the villagers crops and the locals were reluctant to provide a guide for this route even in daytime so the lads decided to cautiously proceed by themselves. Some way along their route while birding and proceeding quietly Paul Farrell (a few yards ahead of Paul and Mark) suddenly halted and commenced walking slowly backwards whilst drawing attention to an Elephant some twenty yards ahead blocking the trail. A strategic retreat was made on the basis of a 2:1 vote (3:1 if one counts the Elephant).

Most noteworthy species were: -

1 Green Peafowl (reintroduced here where a self sustaining population has now been established but barely tickable?)

2 Oriental Pied Hornbills

6 Blue-eared Barbets

6 Greater Flamebacks

1 Vernal Hanging-Parrot

4 Black-winged Cuckooshrikes

2 Black-naped Orioles

4 Ashy Drongos

2 Ochraceous Bulbuls

5 Grey-eyed Bulbuls

1 Yellow-browed Warbler

1 Eastern-crowned Warbler

1 Two-barred Warbler

1 Asian Brown Flycatcher

2 Taiga Flycatchers

2 Hainan Blue Flycatchers

1 White-throated Rock-Thrush

2 Plain Flowerpeckers

1 Cimson Sunbird

1 Olive-backed Sunbird

1 Little Spiderhunter

8 Asian Fairy-Bluebird

1 Grey Wagtail.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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Sunday 06/11/2022 - 07.51 am. Sa Kaeo Province.

Both this province and the next further south (Chanthaburi Province) were totally new ground for Paul. These are situated east/south-east of Bangkok and sandwiched between the gulf of Thailand and Cambodia. The next province south beyond these is Trat where Thailand territory peters out as a pencil thin peninsula and a series of adjacent small islands. 
While Pauls ultimate destination was Chantaburi (with plans to meet up there with Paul Farrell and Mark Hogarth) a 20 minute initial roadside stop en route at Tambon Thap Rat yielded 24 common species to kickstart his list for Sa Kaeo. Pick of the bunch here were a Green-billed Malkoha, 2 Red-wattled Lapwings, a Green Bee-eater, a White-throated Kingfisher and a Lineated Barbet. Moving on he recorded 4 Rufous-winged Buzzards an Indochinese Roller and (what would be a new Thai bird for me) a Rufous Treepie.

Later at 13.06 having met up with his friends at the Khao Soi Dao Wildlife Sanctuary in Chanthaburi the team spent 3 3/4 hours birding in the vicinity of the HQ and the waterfall areas turning up 36 species the best of which were:-

2 Banded Bay Cuckoos

1 Large-tailed Nightjar

1 Orange-breasted Trogon

2 Oriental Pied Hornbills

5 Blue-eared Barbets

1 Green-eared Barbet

1 Moustached Barbet

2 Greater Flamebacks

1 Greater Yellownape

1 Dusky Broadbill

1 Black-winged Cuckooshrike

1 White-bellied Erpornis

1 Black-naped Oriole

3 Ochraceous Bulbuls

2 Grey-eyed Bulbuls

1 Little Spiderhunter

Later at 21.00 an evening owling session produced a response from an Oriental Bay Owl which however remained unseen. A repeat attempt at 3.00 am the following morning at the same location was more successful and pulled in a Collared Scops-Owl and an Asian barred Owlet.

Cheers,

Mike P.



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Wednesday 9th of November 2022 10:15:53 AM

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01/11/2022 - Khon Kaen University pools - Khon Kaen Province.

A telephone conversation yesterday with Paul Farrell (who of course lives in Khon Kaen) had Paul and Art heading west at 5 am on the three hour drive west on a twitch for a Thai lifer. Initially the bird was not to be found on its usual perch as two vehicles were parked directly beneath the precise spot. Fanning out further afield however, Paul located his quarry perched up on a pylon, an uncommon and local winter visitor in Thailand but positively rare in Isaan - none other than a Great Cormorant and currently very familiar to Paul after seeing many of course during his recent birding in Durham.

Photo attached.

Cheers,

Mike P.



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25/10/2022 - Head of the Gulf of Thailand - three provinces (Samut Prakan, Chachoengsao, Chon Buri).

Back in Thailand on Sunday (23rd) after a rest day Paul headed south east out of Bangkok with a few target species in mind (Avocet, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Red Knot - all of which still elude him in Thailand).

He had no luck with any of these but did add new species for each of his lists for these provinces. He was rather handicapped as his telescope was back in Kutchum. With hindsite he should have taken it down to Bangkok ahead of their flight out to the U.K.

A 06.10 am start at Khlong Tamru salt pans yielded 54 species (inc. 19 common wader species) in two and a half hours, the best of which being:-

3 Pacific Golden Plover

2 Kentish Plover

Many Greater and Lesser Sandplovers

3 Pin-tailed Snipe

2 Common Snipe

60 Black-tailed Godwits

10 Curlew Sandpipers

15 Long-toed Stints

Many Red-necked Stints

10 Marsh Sandpipers

8 Wood Sandpipers

15 Whiskered Terns

50 Painted Storks

15 Spot-billed Pelicans

4 Kingfishers species (Common, Black- capped, Collared, and White-throated)

1 Golden-bellied Gerygone.

By 10.30 am Paul was further north in Chachoangsao province at the rather famous Gleua Cafe and salt pans west of the Bang Pakong river but only boosted the wader list with a single Temmincks Stint.

Moving on his last port of call back up in Samut Prakan produced 8 Garganey, 15 Grey-headed Lapwings, 20 Oriental Pratincoles, 3 Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, 1 Amur Stonechat before heading back home into Bangkok.

It was great having Paul Pen and Art over with us in Durham mid month. We had some good birding days amid restaurant and pub nights. Highlight birds for Paul had been Lesser Yellowlegs, a flock of over 300 Greater Golden Plover a couple of Avocets (= rare in Thailand - one was in the Bangkok area whilst he was here!) a Spoonbill, Western Marsh Harrier, Merlín and Peregrine, a couple of Firecrests and a familiar local patch winter bird in Thailand a Yellow-browed Warbler in the hand. This bird exhibited a faint but definate central crown stripe - something new in my experience - any comments/observations welcome here please.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 



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03/10/2022 - Loeng Nok Tha airport Yasothon.

Paul again visited the old airport site but found only one new species for his site list - a passing fly through Pacific Swift, though he did obtain some better shots of Eastern Yellow Wagtails, (one of which is attached). With frequent records now in the U.K. and with field characters better known- why not one at Rumworth or Elton in the winter period?

Since the tragic event in Nong Búa Lam Phu last week Thai people are in shock - especially so in Isaan. Nong Búa Lam Phu is a few hours drive north west of Yasothon and is the only province of the twenty which make up the Isaan region where Paul has never done any birding. Both he and Pen shall be in the U.K. this week for their first visit since Brexit and the covid restrictions came into force.

Regards to all,

Mike P.

 



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24/09/2022 - 15.04 Loeng Nok Tha airport - Yasothon.

A 45 minute stroll around the old airport here yielded 17 species. This site is particularly good for larks and pipits and Paul managed a few good photos. Of particular interest is the first winter Eastern Yellow Wagtail in identical plumage to the individual which we saw in Northumberland in January 2020. Best of the species present were as follows:-

6 Little Ringed Plovers

6 Green Bee-eaters

4 Brown Shrikes

4 Indochinese Bushlarks

8 Oriental Skylarks

3 Pied Bushchats

4 Eastern Yellow Wagtails

4 Paddyfield Pipits.

This morning Paul is heading off west to try to relocate Paul Farrells Dark-sided Flycatcher, though this may well have moved on.

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 

 



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22 and 23/09/2022. Tambon Nong Mi - Yasothon

With Pen away in the far south on business the two Pauls met up for a birding blitz round some of the eastern provinces in Isaan. One of their main target species was a reported Grey-headed Parakeet well east of its usual haunts in NW Thailand. Not only did they fail to find the bird but were also forced to stand down due to heavy rain.

While Paul Farrell was returning west but still in Yasothon the rain ceased and he pulled in to check out the above site and a 50 minute session produced 9 species but did include a new addition to the Yasothon province list:-

15 Indian Spot-billed Ducks

2 Whiskered Terns

8 Small Minivets (photo attached)

1 Dark-sided Flycatcher (aka Siberian Flycatcher - new for this province - photo attached)

 1 Asian Brown Flycatcher

2 Black-naped Monarchs

1 Eastern-crowned Warbler

1 Thick-billed Flowerpecker

2 Scarlet-backed Flowerpeckers

PP rushed off to join PF only to arrive too late. This leaves Dark-sided Flycatcher as one of only 8 species in Yasothon which PP has not seen (210/218 species).

Cheers,

Mike P.



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Saturday 24th of September 2022 06:40:42 PM



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Saturday 24th of September 2022 06:42:55 PM

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14/09/2022 - 16.30 Dong Yai wildlife sanctuary - Laloeng Roi Ru. Buri Ram Province.

The guys moved on to this site where in less than an hour they chalked up 55 species - the pick of which were:-

100 Green Imperial Pigeons (many birds coming in to roost. A regular photographer here reckons there are up to 200 individuals in this population).

3 Woolly-necked Storks (reintroduced here so whether these are tickable yet is debatable seeing that they have not yet bred!)

1 Black-capped Kingfisher

12 Blue-throated Bee-eaters (probably passage birds here).

4 Vinous-breasted Starlings.

- Enough for now I need a break.

Cheers

Mike P.

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Saturday 17th of September 2022 12:15:51 PM

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14/09/2022 - 6.27 am. Sab Sadao Ranger Station and Huai Thap Khrua reservoir.

The guys put in a three and a half hour session recording 27 species most noteworthy being:-

6 Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters

5 Black-headed Woodpeckers

1 Greater Yellownape

2 White-bellied Woodpeckers

3 Vernal Hanging-Parrots

4 Rufous Treepies

4 Brown Prinias

Photos of the Chestnut-headed Bee-eater and Brown Prinia attached.

Regards,

Mike P.

 



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13/09/2022 - 7.16 am. Thap Lan Nat. Pk. Dry forest west of Sab Sadao Nakhon Ratchasima Province.

Paul again met up with Paul Farrell on site with several specific target species in mind over a two day blitz.

At this first stop they logged 31 species in just under four hours- the pick of which were:-

4 Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpeckers

2 Freckle-breasted Woodpeckers

3 Common Flamebacks

 3 Black-headed Woodpeckers

6 Blossom-headed Parakeets

8 Red-breasted Parakeets

2 Large Cuckooshrikes

6 Indochinese Cuckooshrikes

3 Black-hooded Orioles

6 Common Woodshrikes

10 White-browed Fantails (the main target species in perhaps the best location in Thailand in which to see it - primarily discovered by Paul Farrell).

4 Brown Prinias 

This location consists of dry dyptocarp forest adjoining thicker evergreen forest and is reasonably safe during the daytime heat (indeed Barb and I visited with Paul and Pen some years ago). However there is a real danger of encounters with numbers of elephants in the small hours or at night and a definate friction exists between the villagers (whose crops have in the recent past been ravaged) and the animals.

Later after a break from the mid day heat in the vicinity of ranger station no.8 they logged 34 species in just under two hours- the best being:-

8 Black-headed Woodpeckers

2 White-bellied Woodpeckers

2 Blossom-headed Parakeets

30 Red-broasted Parakeets

8 Small Minivets

2 Common Woodshrikes.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 



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10/09/2022 - Chatting with Paul yesterday he advised that the Whimbrel was also a first record for eastern Isaan (which itself covers approx. 1/6 of the countrys land area). There are still waders to be found as Paul and I feel that many species surely directly overfly Isaan from the Gulf of Tonkin en route to the Gulf of Thailand and only put down in Isaan if water levels are suitable.

Regards,

Mike P.



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09/09/2022 - Nong Hoi Paddies, Yasothon.

A midday hour spent here yielded a new species for both Yasothon and eastern Isaan - a long overdue juv. Curlew Sandpiper keeping loose company with a Common Sandpiper two Little Ringed Plovers and fifteen Wood Sandpipers.

This morning the Curlew Sandpiper had been joined by a Whimbrel though five of the Wood Sandpipers had moved on.

Later at noon Paul called in at the Phu Song Charoen Tham Buddhist sanctuary recording 18 species in a 45 minute session the best being 2 Dollarbirds and a juv. Blue Rock-Thrush.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 



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06/09/2022 - 15.30. Phu Mu Forest Park-Rabiang Tawan Terrace - Mukdahan Province.

Paul spent an hour here exploring the rice paddies near the forest. 
Several years ago we previously expressed disappointment after two previous morning outings to the forest here based on the paucity of its bird life other than its concentration of Black-crested Bulbuls.

Paul recorded 22 species here on the paddies but not a single wader species. The best of the haul being 8 Brown-backed Needletails bombing around for a half hour and a new addition to his province list in the shape of 4 Pacific Swifts. Other species of note being a Barred Buttonquail, a Cinnamon Bittern and 2 Brown Shrikes (likely to winter hereabouts).

Cheers,

Mike P.



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August - Koh Samui Island - shots from various morning walks.

1 Stripe-throated Bulbul. - A common but quite striking species.

2. Malaysian Plover. A diminutive little plover readily identified by the white and black of the collar extending right round the hind neck. Paul recorded these daily on early morning strolls along the beaches.

3. Black-naped Tern. Pauls best count of this handsome species was a group of 17 viewed from the pier. (This and the Malaysian Plover would be new for me in Thailand).

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 



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August - Various additional photos firstly from Krabi and later Surat Thani (Koh Samui Island).

1. Both Sand-Plover species for a useful comparison as to size and structure.

2. Pacific Swallow.

3. Collared Kingfisher. (Seemingly the commonest kingfisher around coastal mudflats and piers).

4 Coppersmith Barbet. This ubiquitous little character is widespread throughout and readily located by its incessant calls.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 



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02/09/2022 - 08.00am. Lat Krabang Thap Yao paddies- Bangkok.

After dropping off Anne and Warren at the airport for their Madrid flight Paul made a bee-line for this excellent nearby site for a 2 hour session before heading home. His visit yielded 45 species but disappointed somewhat as he had hoped for some easy passage waders to boost his Bangkok list but these failed to materialise.

He did manage 4 new species for this province and saw 4 Painted Snipe (which thus far continue to evade me in Thailand). 

Among his few additions were 6 Red Avadavats (photo attached) and 2 Streaked Weavers.

Cheers,

Mike P.



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Sunday 4th of September 2022 04:56:42 PM

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A few of Pauls recent photos are attached below from his morning sessions of 28/08 and 31/08 at the Khlong Tamru salt pans site in Chon Buri:-

1. Milky Stork flanked by 2 Painted Storks.

2. Asian Dowitchers.

3. Broad-billed Sandpiper (showing well its classic split supercilium).

4. Zitting Cisticola (Thai birds give their zitting calls as couplets as they fly around in quite random circular patterns unlike the distinctive single calls given in yo-yo style flight by their European cousins - hence the quite apt but clumsy alternative name Double-zitting Cisticola).

Regards,

Mike P.



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31/08/2022 - 6.45 am. Khlong Tamru salt Pans (Again!) Chon Buri Province.

A chat with Bangkok based Peter Ericsson resulted in both meeting up on site here for another two and a half hour waderfest even better than 3 days previously with a total of  52 species recorded of which 20 were waders. Full morning list as follows:-

Feral Pigeons

Zebra Doves

2 Pink-necked Green Pigeons

1 Asian Koel

Germains Swiftlets

Black-winged Stilts

2 Pacific Golden Plovers

2 Red-wattled Lapwings

Lesser Sand-Plovers

2 Little Ringed Plovers

Whimbrels

Eurasian Curlews

Black-tailed Godwits

1 Great Knot

3 Broad-billed Sandpipers

20 Curlew Sandpipers

40 Long-toed Stints

Red-necked Stints

6 Asian Dowitchers

24 Terek Sandpipers

2 Common Sandpipers

Marsh Sandpipers

4 Wood Sandpipers

Common Redshanks

1 Oriental Pratincole

3 Gull-billed Terns

1 White-winged Tern

4 Whiskered Terns

1 Common Tern

100 Painted Storks

Little Cormorants

6 Spot-billed Pelicans

Great Egrets

Little Egrets

6 Javan Pond-Herons

1 Black-crowned Night-Heron

2 Collared Kingfishers

1 Green Bee-eater

1 Golden-bellied Gerygone

5 Malaysian Pied Fantail

2 Large-billed Crows

1 Common Tailorbird

1 Plain Prinia

2 Zitting Cisticola

2 Barn Swallows

3 Common Mynas

4 Great Mynas

1 Olive-backed Sunbird

5 Scaly-breasted Munias

1 Chestnut Munia

4 Plain-backed Sparrows

10 Tree Sparrows

-All in all a great session with a further 5 Thai lifers for Paul, (4 also being world lifers). I think the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper photographed here two weeks earlier by Peter would also have been new for Paul but that one is for the future?

(It would be nice if he had a break for a while as my typing finger is beginning to throb).

Cheers, Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Wednesday 31st of August 2022 09:56:04 PM

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28/08/2022 - 10.05 am. Gleua Cafe and salt pans west of Bang Pakong river - Chachoengsao Province.

Paul has passed through this province several times previously en route back to Bangkok from Chon Buri without doing any birding here but this time passed an hour on this particular site to search for White-faced Plover based on information from Suebsawat.

He recorded 25 species (including 13 wader species) the best of which were:-

1 White-faced Plover

2 Ruffs

4 Curlew Sandpipers

1 Little Tern.

I have no personal experience of White-faced Plover (Charadrius dealbatus) also known as Swinhoes Plover which is treated by Robsons Birds of South-East Asia and by Del Hoyos Birds of the World and Croom Helms Shorebirds as a race of Kentish Plover.

However these sources of literature reflect the taxonomic view of some twenty years ago and the latest Thai fieldguide and the position on ebirder promotes the bird to full species status on the basis of cumulative data from experienced birders in the field based on the birds more open-faced appearance based on cleaner whiter lores (mainly lacking any black), also less black on the head behind the eye and also reduced black on the forecrown - a marginally longer/thicker bill, and pale (or pinkish) legs differing from the normally black legs of Kentish. As regards the breeding status or habits of the bird the literature says little or nothing The fieldguide has both this form and Kentish as winter visitors to Thailand (the White-faced noted as being rare).

I suppose the birds credentials are enhanced once you have seen one? Hopefully some photos to follow.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Wednesday 31st of August 2022 03:52:46 PM

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28/08/2022 - 06.05 am - Khlong Tamru salt pans - Chon Buri Province

With the family safely back in Bangkok enjoying a lie in Paul drove off south east on a wader quest to this top site where he enjoyed an excellent three hour session with a fifty species haul; - full list as follows:-

1 Spotted Dove

3 Zebra Doves

Germains Swiftlets (many)

100 Black-winged Stilts

2 Red-wattled Lapwings

200 Lesser Sand-plovers

3 Greater Sand-plovers

Lesser/Greater Sand-Plovers (many more distant)

8 Little Ringed Plovers

30 Whimbrels

1 Far Eastern Curlew

50 Eurasian Curlews

50 Black-tailed Godwits

5 Ruffs

25 Curlew Sandpipers

1 Temmincks Stint

15 Long-toed Stints

100 Red-necked Stints (estimate)

4 Common Sandpipers

3 Common Greenshanks

15 Marsh Sandpipers

15 Common Redshanks

3 Asian Openbills

1 Milky Stork

80 Painted Storks

3 Little Cormorants

5 Indian Cormorants 

6 Spot-billed Pelicans

1 Purple Heron

15 Great Egrets

25 Little Egrets

8 Javan Pond-Herons

2 Striated Herons

8 Black-crowned Night-Herons

1 Black-winged Kite

1 Collared Kingfisher

6 Green Bee-Eaters

7 Malaysian Pied Fantails

1 Yellow-bellied Prinia

4 Plain Prinias

4 Zitting Cisticolas

4 Barn Swallows

4 Yellow-vented Bulbuls

2 Common Mynas

4 Great Mynas

3 Oriental Magpie-Robins

2 Olive-backed Sunbirds

2 Asian Golden Weavers

4 Chestnut Munias

8 Eurasian Tree Sparrows

1 Eastern Yellow Wagtail

Paul was extremely fortunate to encounter the leading birder in Chon Buri - Suebsawat Sawat Chuto (who for example seems to be for Chon Buri what Andy Makin is for Horwich Moors). Suebsawat was very helpful and told Paul where and how best to find and identify the Far Eastern Curlew, advising also that the 50 or so Broad-billed Sandpipers would not be on site until late afternoon and gave him directions for the Milky Stork.
This latter species is prone to hybridise with the slightly larger Painted Stork and Paul has experience before of several untickable examples so was delighted to catch up later with this individual bird. 
All in all this was Pauls best waderfest for many months and well worth the effort with a nice boost for both his province list and 4 additions to his Thai list.

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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16/08/2022 - 26/08/2022 - Surat Thani Province (inc. Koh Samui Islands).

Back in the present, Paul Warren and the girls drove east and caught the ferry to their accommodation on Koh Samui where Paul and Pen had visited in the Spring.

Pauls short morning and afternoon walks along the local beaches and in Natian village feature almost daily encounters with Malaysian Plovers, Pacific Reef Herons and from the vantage point of the Thong Krut pier a group of 17 Black-naped Terns with a province tick in the form of an unremarkable Cattle Egret. Meanwhile the non-birding members ( who had performed quite well and willingly as spotters during the long spells of driving) were enjoying go-carting and jet - skiing as normal people often do. Anne turned out to be something of a speed merchant both on land and sea to the extent that Warren (riding pillion behind his daughter) on the jet ski soon became sickly as Anne frequently had them flying. A species which got away was a large tern perched some 80 metres away in difficult light when Paul was without his telescope. He deduced that it was either Crested or Caspian Tern of which he has no recent experience though both are regularly recorded on the gulf headlands and beaches.

A Black-shouldered Kite back on the mainland on 26th proved to be Pauls final addition to his list for Surat Thani.

27/08/2022 Chumphon Province.

This province is a long thin strip aligned north/south and sandwiched between Myanmar to the west and the gulf of Thailand to the east. The species total for Chumphon on Ebirder stands at 401. For Paul this represented new ground with a 55 minute early morning walk on the beach yielding a token 23 common species with which to open his account before the team continued on their drive back north to Bangkok. In all the trip to date had yielded a further 6 species for his Thai list.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 



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Thailand - April 2001

I should have attached this to the last post.

 David, Yothin and me in celebratory mood having seen our bird.

Rest in peace my friends.



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August 13th - 16th - Krabi Province

Paul, Pen, Warren, Anne spent 4 days of their none birding family holiday here during which time Paul added a further 43 fairly common species to his life list for this province, edging past me by 2 species.

Winding back the clock to 2001, the voice on the phone had asked me Mike, do you need Gurneys? In answer to which I replied that I did. So it transpired that Dave Fisher and I flew out to Bangkok on 21st of April and from there on to Krabi;- an 8 day trip aimed primarily at seeing what was even then considered the critically endangered Gurneys Pitta. Our contact was the late Yothin Meekaeo the self appointed guardian of the shrinking lowland forest home of this bird. We saw our target bird (a stunning male) on our second day at the feeding station set up by Yothin, and from then on enjoyed Yothins company and expertise in finding and seeing 4 more Pitta species with my own added highlight being a self found Rufous-collared Kingfisher deep in its forest habitat.

This bird is one of the stunning Actenoides genus comprising only 5 species (arguably the most beautiful of kingfishers) and was photographed by Ron Johns who happened to be in line behind me (though I never did receive a copy). Ron and his team (on a separate itinerary through SE Asia) had bumped into us and had managed to photograph no less than 10 Pitta species on their travels.

At the end of our week we had seen several more rare/scarce species, and ignoring list padders I was pleased to have seen 134 species to kick start my Thai list. Paul undertook much the same trip a few years later but without the services of Yothin he logged a mere 93 species in an admittedly shorter visit. So now he is 2 ahead on 136 as a result of his none birding trip!

Such is life! Sadly Yothin and David are both dead, and Gurneys Pitta is extinct in Thailand, while I plod on still inspired by the lure and the peace and solitude of the forests and its avian treasures.

Best wishes to all,

Mike P.

 



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28/07/2022 - 06.00 - Khlong Tamru Saltpans Chon Buri Province.

Paul and Pen were down in Bangkok to meet his brother and niece due on an afternoon flight arriving from Madrid so took the opportunity for an early morning start at this site on the eastern side of the head of the gulf of Thailand, which  Paul had never birded previously.

They logged a respectable 46 species in the two hours there, the best of which were:-

1 Pacific Golden Plover

40 Black-tailed Godwits

plus good nos. of:-

Lesser and Greater Sand-Plovers

Curlew Sandpipers

Long-toed Stints

Red-necked Stints

Wood Sandpipers

Marsh Sandpipers

Common Redshanks

4 Little Terns

12 Painted Storks

numerous Openbill Storks

1 Milky/Painted Stork (possible hybrid)

12 Spot-billed Pelicans

While pleasing that waders were obviously reappearing he rued the fact that he was wearing flip flops- not ideal for negotiating paths plastered in thick mud, with his mobility somewhat curtailed as a result.

At 08.55 still in Chon Buri they arrived at the Bang Pakong river mouth (Khlong Tamru Mangrove Education Centre) where a fifty minute session produced 33 species including a single Black-headed Ibis.

Having done little birding previously in Chon Buri Paul added 30 species to his list for this province.

En route back to Bangkok Paul and Pen called in at the Bang Pu recreation centre in Samut Prakan Province (which Barb and I visited with Paul on April 1st following our release from overnight quarantine).  In forty minutes here they logged 29 fairly predictable species though Paul did add 16 species to his province list (largely due to his visit covering a different time of the year).

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Saturday 6th of August 2022 06:43:24 PM

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20/07/2022 - Mukdahan Province.

With no signs yet of any return migration, Pauls recent focus has been on recording in Mukdahan, adding new species to that provinces list as well as boosting his own list now to 149 out of 188. Notable species have included both Black-headed and Grey-headed Woodpeckers, with more new sites found for Blue-winged Pittas, (by far and away the commonest pitta species in the Isaan region).

Birding will be somewhat curtailed over the next five weeks as Paul and Pen will be playing host to his brother and niece visiting from Madrid.

Attached is a photo of the attractive Chestnut-capped Babbler, (also recorded in Mukdahan).

Cheers,

Mike P.



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06/07/2022 - A small selection of photos from the recent trip to Hala Bala and environs (with kind permission of Paul Farrell):-

Van Hasselts Sunbird

Malaysian Blue Flycatcher carrying food

Black and Yellow Broadbill

Long-billed Spiderhunter

Chestnut-naped Forktail

Cheers,

Mike P.

 



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27/06/2022 - 7.14 am Sabai Sabai resort - Tambon Lochut Narathiwat Province.

-A useful start to the day with a roadside perched Black-thighed Falconet atop a telegraph pole. The team were now en route to the airport in Songkhla Province with some final birding in this province at the Ko Taeo paddies.

After arriving on site at 17.04 they logged 19 species nearly all of which were repeats of species seen in Narathiwat but with one exception - a flock of 10 of the rare White-headed Munias - a new Thai species for both PF and PP which PF photographed as well.

All of the photographs were taken by PF so I do not know at this stage if I shall be able to include the best of these here as a memento of their trip. In summary PF appears to have added about 20 species to his Thai list, Peter Ericsson about 7 more (to arrive at a notable 898 species) and PP (on his first visit to this region) has added 58 species and although I have not yet spoken to him I am sure he will be well pleased if not understandably a little birded out?

Cheers,

Mike P.

 



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27/06/2022 - 7.14 am Sabai Sabai resort - Tambon Lochut Narathiwat Province.

-A useful start to the day with a roadside perched Black-thighed Falconet atop a telegraph pole. The team were now en route to the airport in Songkhla Province with some final birding in this province at the Ko Tao paddies.

After arriving on site at 17.04 they logged 19 species nearly all of which were repeats of species seen in Narathiwat but with one exception - a flock of 10 of the rare White-headed Munias - a new Thai species for both PF and PP which PF photographed as well.

All of the photographs were taken by PF so I do not know at this stage if I shall be able to include the best of these here as a memento of their trip. In summary PF appears to have added about 20 species to his Thai list, Peter Ericsson about 7 more (to arrive at a notable 898 species) and PP (on his first visit to this region) has added 58 species and although I have not yet spoken to him I am sure he will be well pleased if not understandably a little birded out?

Cheers,

Mike P.

 



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26/06/2022 - 06.55 am Toh Moh Community Forest, Hala Bala Wildlife Sanctuary, Narathiwat Province.

A long session of over 6 hours produced 45 species (and must have involved much perspiration) on this last full day down here- best of these were:-

1 Scarlet-rumped Trogon (heard only)

1 Orange-breasted Trogon

2 Blue-banded Kingfishers

1 Red-throated Barbet (heard only).

2 Bamboo Woodpeckers (plus photos - one of the birds of the trip?)

3 Blue-crowned Hanging Parrots

3 Black and Yellow Broadbills

2 Black-winged Flycatcher-Shrikes

2 Black Magpies

3 Rufous-tailed Tailorbirds

12 assorted Bulbuls of 8 species: -

Spectacled

Black-crested

Olive-winged

Cream-vented

Red-eyed

Hairy-backed

Ochraceous

Buff-vented.

5 Chestnut- winged Babblers

1 Rufous-fronted Babbler.

4 Grey-headed Babblers.

1 Short-tailed Babbler (photographed and described as like Abbotts with shorter tail and a moustache).

3 Ferruginous Babblers

2 Abbotts Babblers

1 Long-billed Spiderhunter (presumed - photos obtained and need to be studied)

1 Little Spiderhunter

1 Bushy-crested Hornbill (seen only by PF).

At 15.45 the team had moved on again to the Chom Sat viewpoint where they spent a final hour and a half seeing more or less the same species mix as on the previous day.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 



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25/06/2022 -19.00 Waeng 7-11 - Still Narathiwat Province.

A final note - en route to their accommodation for the evening the team took in a roost of an estimated 300 Javan Mynas.

Final 2 days updates to follow.

Regards,

Mike P.



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25/06/2022 - 6.42 am Toh Moh Community Forest - Hala Bala Wildlife Sanctuary.

A morning session here of just under 4 hours rewarded the guys with some 43 species, the most notable being the following: - 

1 Square-tailed Drongo- Cuckoo

2 Whiskered Treeswifts

1 Chestnut-headed Bee-Eater

1 Rufous Piculet

2 Banded Woodpeckers

3 Black and Yellow Broadbills

1 Lesser Cuckooshrike

4 Dark-throated Orioles

1 Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike

1 Green Iora

1 Blyths Paradise Flycatcher

3 Rufous-tailed Tailorbirds

4 Pacific Swallows

2 Spectacled Bulbuls

2 Hairy-backed Bulbuls

1 Ochraceous Bulbul

1 Buff-vented Bulbul

3 Yellow-bellied Warblers

2 Black-throated Babblers

1 Black-capped Babbler

1 Ferruginous Babbler

1 Horsfields Babbler

1 Brown-streaked Flycatcher

1 Chestnut-naped Forktail

In addition a nice assortment of flowerpeckers - Yellow-breasted Crimson- breasted Yellow-vented and Orange- bellied.

Yesterdays Streak-eared Bulbul was mistyped as Steak-eared so apologies for that; - I must have been looking forward to my meal; (though I must say that were such a species to exist it surely would go down well with a pinch of horseradish sauce?)

At 15.45 the team spent some 90 minutes at the Chom Sat viewpoint (still in Hala Bala) where additions for the day included: -

1 Chestnut-breasted Malkoha

4 Plume-toed Swiftlets

1 Crested Serpent-Eagle

2 Rhinoceros Hornbills

1 Blue-eared Barbet

1 Yellow-crowned Barbet (heard only)

4 Chestnut-winged Babblers

1 Rufous-fronted Babbler

2 Grey-throated Babblers

1 Velvet-fronted Nuthatch

-All of which amounted to another good day of fifty plus species - not bad going in the context of tropical forest birding (where only the unhinged bird all day without a midday break).

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 



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24/06/2022 - Charoem Phrakiat wildlife sanctuary- Sirindhorn Peatswamp Study Centre and vicinity Narathiwat Province.

With no apologies for the sheer length of the name of this location, the guys made a 6.50 start here on Friday with 29 species to kick start their day: -

2 Lesser Whistling-Ducks

1 Asian Emerald Dove

1 Asian Koel

7 Germains Swiftlets

1 Red-wattled Lapwing

2 Black Bitterns

1 Blue-eared Kingfisher

1 Stork-billed Kingfisher

1 White-throated Kingfisher

1 Blue-eared Barbet

1 Red-crowned Barbet

3 Buff-necked Woodpeckers

1 Golden-bellied Gerygone

1 Common Iora 

1 Greater Raquet-tailed Drongo

2 Common Tailorbirds

1 Yellow-vented Bulbul

1 Olive-winged Bulbul

2 Steak-eared Bulbuls

12 Asian Glossy Starlings

3 Oriental Magpie-Robins

1 Malaysian Blue Flycatcher

2 Yellow-breasted Flowerpeckers

1 Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker

2 Ruby-cheeked Sunbirds

1 Plain Sunbird

5 Brown-throated Sunbirds

3 Van Hasselts Sunbirds

2 Crimson Sunbirds.

- Obviously pretty good for sunbird species; - I sit here envious though of their Buff-necked Woodpeckers (which would be a big deal for me).

At 14.42 the guys were back in Hala Bala for the final two hour session of the day where of a total of 30 species the highlights were :-

1 Black-bellied Malkoha

1 Silver-rumped Needletail 

1 Banded Bay Cuckoo

3 Whiskered Treeswifts

2 Great Hornbills

1 Yellow-crowned Barbet (heard only)

4 Chequer-throated Woodpeckers

2 Great Slaty Woodpeckers (heard and recorded)

1 Dusky Broadbill (photographed)

1 Cinereous Bulbul

1 Humes White-Eye

1 Rufous-fronted Babbler (heard only).

1 Grey-throated Babbler

1 Grey-breasted Spiderhunter

Additionally Paul Farrell saw 2 Blue-crowned Hanging-Parrots.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Sunday 26th of June 2022 12:26:10 PM

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22/06/2022 -Narathiwat Province S.Thailand

Paul teamed up for a full weeks birding with Paul Farrell and Peter Ericsson in for him a totally new region - the southernmost extremity of Thailand where Narathiwat Province abuts against the border with Malaysia, and accordingly where many Malaysian species spill over north into Thailand. Their main focus is in and around the Hala Bala Wildlife Sanctuary.

Highlight species (in no particular order) seen so far included:-

Plume-toed Swiftlets, Whiskered Treeswifts, Blyths Paradise Flycatchers, both Red-eyed and Buff-vented Bulbuls, a Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo, 2 Scarlet-rumped Trogons, a Rufous-fronted Babbler, 6 Silver-rumped Needletails, a Maroon Woodpecker, 2 Black Magpies, a Yellow-bellied Warbler, 2 Ferruginous Babblers (heard only), 2 Brown-streaked Flycatchers (at the nest), a Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker, and (from my viewpoint) the most desirable - a pair of Chestnut-naped Forktails.

23/06/2022 - 05.57am - Ban Bala resort vicinity. 

An early start at a known stakeout rewarded them with good views and photos of the rare Little Green Pigeon where they also heard a Banded Bay Cuckoo and saw a Red-throated Barbet.

Moving on at 7.34am to Tambon Phukao Thong they recorded another 8 species the best being a Rufous Woodpecker ( a species which I have only ever heard but not seen anywhere) and they also logged a Rufous-chested Flycatcher which they heard and recorded but failed to see it.

Back at Hala Bala by 10.22 among 11 species they saw one each of Buff-rumped Woodpecker, Black and Yellow Broadbill, Orange-bellied Flowerpecker and 2 White-bellied Munias.

After a lunch break the afternoon goodies (among 22 species) included a few more star birds - 2 Rufous-bellied Eagles and 2 Rhinoceros Hornbills, 2 Humes White-eyes, and singles of Purple-naped and Yellow-eared Spiderhunters.

Paul Farrell additionally saw a Temmincks Sunbird.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Thursday 23rd of June 2022 02:22:18 PM

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06/06/2022 - 08/06/2022  Phu Chong Na Yoi Nat. Pk. Ubon Ratchathani

The two Pauls (Farrell and Passant) were joined recently on another exploratory trip into the southern reaches of these border forests by Bangkok based Peter Ericsson whom Paul and I met briefly on May 22nd when we were twitching the Australasian Bushlarks in the Bangkok area known as Suwintawong 47 Alley. Despite having a Thai list of just a whisker under 900, Peter has spent very little time birding in Isaan, but his fluency in Thai and very sound knowledge of Thai bird calls is a big plus factor on any trip.

A few of their highlight species were as follows:-

June 6th
1 Greater Flameback

1 Common Flameback

1 Banded Kingfisher

2 Scaly-crowned Babblers

June 7th

1 Crested Serpent Eagle

1 Blue-bearded Bee-eater

2 Blue-eared Barbets

1 Lineated Barbet

2 Green-eared Barbets

2 Great Slaty Woodpeckers

2 Banded Broadbills

1 Blue-winged Pitta

June 8th (Khao Phra Wihan Nat. Pk.)

1 Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker

2 Greater Yellownapes

Several of the above, while not generally rare in Thailand were new records for Ubon and Ericsson added about 50 species to his list for this province which Paul Passant heads with 195 and Paul Farrell filling his rear view mirror on 192. Both of them are set on trying to record 200 species in each of Isaans 20 provinces - good luck with that!

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 



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Suwintawong 47 Alley - woods and marshes, - Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok).

A few photos attached which I have only just seen from our last week birding in the Bangkok area:-

Australasian Bushlark - a well twitched Bangkok rarity (juv. - one of two we saw with an adult).

Oriental Pratincole- we saw 100s here - breeding adults and fledged young.

Red-wattled Plovers - many pairs on territories.

Tree full of Indian Cormorants with several Little Cormorants.

Hoping to get back for next winter?

Regards,

Mike P.



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30/05/2022 Ban Nom Klao - Boong Khla Community Forest Yasothon.

Back home Paul has been checking on his favourite forest area within the province mainly checking on the breeding Blue-winged Pittas which seem to be doing fine. The bird photographed is carrying food.

Among some 32 species there appeared to be about 6/7 quite vocal Abbotts Babblers - good numbers for these parts but oddly no sign of Van Hasselts Sunbirds presently.

Regards,

Mike P.



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26/05/2022 Thursday Lam Takhong Dam - Nakhon Ratchasima Province.

After Barb and I had departed for the U.K. Paul and Pen birded their way back north on 26th and 27th mainly through Isaans westernmost province indulging in a bit of list boosting. Sharp eyed Pen found a new Thai species for both of them - a party of three Rufous Treepies.

Attached is a photo of an Asian Pied Starling a species which we had all seen well on the outskirts of Bangkok in the rice paddy habitats but appears to be absent from central and eastern provinces of Isaan.

We are finding it pretty cold in Wolsingham where temperatures are some 25 degrees lower than in Kut chum.

Cheers,

Mike P.



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23/05/2022 - Monday - Bangkok.

We had an early morning discussion as to how to spend the day. With Pen off down south to Koh Samui to conclude some business negotiations did we three want to go flogging around the rice paddies again with only a few target species to search for?

The answer was NO. We decided to go into downtown Bangkok and lunch (ie gorge) in OSheas on fish chips and peas washed down with Asahi Japanese draught beer after which we went back to base and enjoyed a few hours asleep through the hottest part of the afternoon.

- Birded out at last and back to Durham via Dubai - kicking off early on Wednesday morning. Will probably do Low Barns at weekend after sorting through the expected heap of (junk) mail.

Cheers,

Manky birders and Pen.

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Tuesday 24th of May 2022 01:54:45 PM



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Tuesday 24th of May 2022 01:58:10 PM



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Tuesday 24th of May 2022 02:00:24 PM



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Tuesday 24th of May 2022 02:02:24 PM



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Tuesday 24th of May 2022 02:04:31 PM

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Sunday 22/05/2022 - Suwintawong 47 Alley -overgrown woods and marshes - (still Bangkok area).

We visited this site yesterday on advice from Ben Weil who had been birding there the previous day within 20 Kms. of our rice paddy site. This new site for both Paul and me is an abandoned housing development scheme which seemed to have run out of funding after the drainage and roads had been laid- a bit like Chernobyl but with no actual buildings (or radiation!).

We put in three hours from 06.15 am. adding some significant species to our respective province lists including several main targets UTB.

3 Lesser Coucals

1 Green-billed Malkoha

2 Oriental Darters

2 Stork-billed Kingfishers

2 Ashy Woodswallows

2 Australasian Bushlarks - (Our prime target species and a Bangkok rarity, found recently by Nick Upton)

1 Golden-headed Cisticola (a common Isaan bird but a Bangkok rarity - lured out onto overhead wires by leading Bangkok birder Peter Ericsson who turned up whilst we were scanning for it).

We knocked off early as rain was threatening and we had each added ten more species to our still modest Bangkok lists.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 



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21/05/2022 - 07.20 a m Lat Krabang - Thap Yao Paddies and Aquaculture centre - Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok) Province. 
Paul and I made an early start on this top site (a first visit for me). The site is arguably the hotspot in late winter for waders and such gems as Black-faced Spoonbill etc. but rather quieter at this time of year, nevertheless our three hour session yielded up 53 species many of which were province ticks for me. Pick of the bunch were :-

3 Watercocks

Black- winged Stilts (breeding birds with young)

20 Red-wattled Lapwings (breeding)

50 Oriental Pratincoles (breeding)

12 Bronze-winged Jacanas

1 Little Cormorant

44 Indian Cormorants (imm. non breeders here)

1 Painted Stork

100 Asian Openbills

4 Black Bitterns

1 Yellow Bittern

1 Purple Heron

1 Great Egret

1 Intermediate Egret

1 Cattle Egret

100 Little Egrets

8 Javan Pond Herons

4 Night Herons

2 Freckle-breasted Woodpeckers

2 Indochinese Rollers

20 Sand Martins (considered rarities here in May, these were hawking low over a roadside pool with Barn Swallows and Germains Swiftlets and perching up on roadside telegraph wires).

9 Asian Pied Starlings (nice to catch up with these common birds here as they are rarities in Yasothon where neither Paul nor I have recorded them).

3 Chestnut-tailed Starlings.

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 

 



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19/05/2022 - Surin Province - various sites.

We left Kut Chum at 08.15 am bound for Bangkok but had decided to take in some birding in Surin en route.

We reached our first stop at 10.10 at Phon Khrok crossing from Roi Et at a bridge overlooking an arm of the Mun River. Typical birds on the overgrown rather stagnant water here were a Bronze-winged Jacana to start with, Little Cormorants, a Black-winged Kite, Green - Bee-Eaters and Indochinese Roller among an initial 17 species to launch our lists for Surin.

Moving on to Tambon Thung Kula arriving at 10.30 we logged 9 species (all common but most being list additions).

At 12.45 we reached the main site at the Huai Saneng Reservoir which offered up 45 species in an hour and a half.

The more significant records were:-

60 Lesser Whistling Ducks

20 Cotton Pygmy Geese

1 Watercock

12 Grey-headed Swamphens

15 Bronze-winged Jacanas

3 Red-wattled Lapwings

3 Little Cormorants

1 Yellow Bittern

3 Cinnamon Bitterns

1 Purple Heron

4 Brahminy Kites

4 White-throated Kingfishers

11 Green Bee-Eaters

8 Indochinese Rollers

3 Indochinese Bushlarks

Plus a host of common passerines including all the expected Doves Sparrows and Munias. With all the wintering species now absent our score at this excellent site was more than respectable for May.

We left early afternoon to journey on to Buri Ram Province (still in Isaan) for an overnight stay with dinner at an excellent Danish run pizza restaurant which we had visited before.

At 15.31 We entered the Sanambin No hunting reserve which has been sadly dug out in extensive areas of former reedbeds to provide deep water pools as reserves in case of a repeat of severe drought suffered over the last few years in this area.Still there is much to see and the huge Egret/Heron roost trees nearby have been left undisturbed. We recorded 41 species in a one hour session the best of which were:-

1 Indian Spot-billed Duck

25 Lesser Whistling Ducks

10 Oriental Pratincoles (probably nesting here).

1 Whiskered Tern

7 Painted Storks

2 Oriental Darters

8 heron species

A quick half hour visit the following morning (20/05/2022) gave us a Freckle-breasted Woodpecker 3 Sarus Cranes and a Rufous-winged Buzzard. 
We moved on to our last planned site (new for all four of us and  still in Buri Ram) at the Dong Yoi Wildlife Sanctuary (close by the Bo Mee Ngam ranger station) but stopped briefly en route to take in a Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker and a fine male Watercock. It was then that I heard a faint - Bow wow Bow wow emanating from across the nearby lake from the waterside forest some 200 yards away - surely not!? I shouted Paul  - Pitta! and pointed. He duly cupped his ears and gave a thumbs up in response. We drove further and waited - sure enough there were in fact two birds calling clearly to each other - yet another province in which we (and Paul in particular) have recorded the presence of this stunning species.

We arrived at Dong Yoi and spent an excellent two hours in a good mix of heathland and forest habitat overlooked by a well forested hill. This will be a top site for further exploration in winter with a full complement of wintering warblers and flycatchers - our 28 species here could readily top 60 then. Our highlight species were: - 

1 Black Baza (a late bird for this date though seen well in flight and perched.

1 Rufous-winged Buzzard

2 Green-billed Malkohas

1 Cinnamon Bittern

2 Hoopoes

3 Chestnut-headed Bee-Eater

6 Green Bee-Eaters

2 White-throated Kingfishers

2 Indochinese Rollers

2 Vernal Hanging Parrots

4 Coppersmith Barbets

4 Green-eared Barbets

3 Lineated Barbets

2 Indochinese Bushlarks

3 Grey-breasted Prinias

3 Golden-headed Cisticolas 

As soon as we got into the car for the onward journey to Bangkok the skies opened and we had driving rain for about an hour. The route into Bangkok took another four and a half hours;- altogether from leaving the Isaan region we had been travelling and birding for some eleven hours.

And so after spending seven weeks with Paul we finally left the Isaan region (which comprises about one third of Thailands land area and in birding terms is the least visited/ most neglected). Both Paul Farrell and our Paul are making groundbreaking discoveries as regards range extensions for quite a number of significant species about which more news will emerge in due course. Barb and I have enjoyed playing a small part in this and also in learning a fair bit more about the birds of Isaan.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Saturday 21st of May 2022 08:40:30 AM

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Date:

18/05/2022 Kaeng Song Yai - Amnat Charoen

With our time birding in Isaan drawing to a close Paul suggested a further trip east into Amnat to have a further chance at seeing Great Thick-Knee on the Mekong river islands while taking in other sites nearby. We arrived onsite at 9.43 am but found no sign of the main target though among some twenty common species we found a little vegetable patch hosting at least 15/20 female and immature Red Avadavats - a new Thailand species for me and most welcome.

Moving on to the Huai Kaeo Maeng Reservoir area we logged 11 species there the best being 2 Cinnamon Bitterns.

At our final port of call (Chanuman) which Paul was eager to check out we found 2 different calling Blue-winged Pittas close to last years territories - a fitting end to our visit as by 12.45 it was now oppressively hot.

Regards,

Mike P.



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16/05/2022 - Klong Siao (Horseshoe Bends)  Si Sa Ket Province.

A torrential downpour had us twiddling our thumbs this morning when Paul suggested that we dive into the car and head south into Si Sa Ket - for us a totally new province in the south of Isaan where we could at least do some fun birding out of the car windows. We set off accordingly arriving at 11.00 with steady rain an ongoing feature.

Our two hour session yielded 38 species in total (33 for me) with nothing unusual but a few highlights: -

1 Cinnamon Bittern

2 Black Bitterns

4 Oriental Pratincoles ( a flyby squadron - missed by me sitting in rear seat).

The following morning dawned unexpectedly fine and after an early morning session cutting grass (during which I accidentally hit and ruptured a plastic watering stand tight against the perimeter wall with the heavy mower- this resulted in a huge gusher akin to an oil strike ten feet into the air drenching me immediately).
Paul emerged and quickly closed off the feed from the water tower and I finished off my grass cutting feeling rather rueful. (I mention all this as we do not nip off birding every day - there are chores to be fitted in).

 

Paul suggested a return to Si Sa Ket as we had unfinished business there and our time in Isaan will soon be finished.

17/05/2022  10.30 a m - Rasisalai Dam vicinity - Tambon Nong Khae Si Sa Ket.

An hour and a half resulted in 29 species with the focus mainly on species missed on 16th; best were : - 

1 Oriental Darter

1 Whiskered Tern

1 Cinnamon Bittern

1 Black Bittern

2 White-throated Kingfishers

2 Raquet-tailed Treepies

4 Asian Golden Weavers.

We moved on to the rice paddies at Tambon Wan Kham logging 20 species there- the best of which were:-

2 Watercocks

1 Rufous-winged Buzzard

1 White-throated Kingfisher

1 Plain Flowerpecker - (this underwhelming species turned out to be new for me in Thailand).

During our session Paul casually mentioned that the sluggish river in front of us was a tributary of the Mun River and the opposite bank was in fact in Surin Province where none of us had ever birded. The White-throated Kingfisher in front of us accordingly shot off over the river into Surin. Thus ensued the old discussion as to when birds are (or arent) tickable. We were in Si Sa Ket with birds visible in another province (Greater Coucal and two Treepies were visible across there, and Paul and Barb noted a Cinnamon Bittern flying from there into Si Sa Ket whilst I was scrutinising assorted shy bulbuls in a thick bush offering no good views).

As we were basically recording species in these underwatched sites (arguably for the first time in some locations) we decided that any birds seen in Surin were to be logged for there.

As a result of our two days my list for Si Sa Ket ended up on a satisfactory 50 species - not bad for a starter.

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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15/05/2022 - Ubon Ratchathani - various riverside habitats.

This morning saw Paul and I heading SE into Ubon with the avowed intent of finding Blue-winged Pittas in what would be a further Isaan province for the species. Despite our efforts we heard no calling birds even in some patches of quite suitable forest. 
We soldiered on as you do, talking about how at least the trip constituted a useful reconnaissance outing. However upon crossing the R.Chi bridge (both sides of the bridge here are wholly in Ubon) things picked up with a pair of Little Ringed Plovers on the sandy banks of the river, a Great White Egret, some 55 Open-bill Storks overhead and 5/6 circling Brahminy Kites - these the pick of the bunch of 29 common species.

Paul called out a Bee-Eater which promptly flew off and perched up again almost immediately affording me sufficient time to note the unique combination of chestnut head and nape with an obvious blue throat - Blue-throated Bee-Eater! An Isaan passage rarity and a first ever record for Ubon Ratchathani. Paul secured a photo (which see below).

Last August Paul and Pen had found the first of this species for Yasothon - a family group of adults and juveniles photos of which featured on this thread.

Regards,

Mike P.



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Sunday 15th of May 2022 08:47:43 AM

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12/05/2022 - 07.07 am - Ban Nom Khao - Boong Khla Community Forest Yasothon

Paul Barb and I made an early start for the 1 hour drive to this fine expanse of lowland primary forest (the best forest site in Yasothon which he discovered only last year and which continues to yield up new discoveries).

It is here that he first found breeding Blue-winged Pittas and accordingly was encouraged to seek out and find other territories both in Yasothon and adjacent provinces. Also in the forest he discovered Abbotts Babblers and Van Hasselts Sunbirds (increasing the known range of this latter by 200 Kms. further northwards).

Yesterday we saw two Pittas and heard probably another four. Interestingly his other sites for the species have been in well wooded strips along the Chi River in Roi Et and Yasothon whereas here there is no river close by. From the apparent density of birds at Ban Nom Khao this would appear to meet the species prime requirements whereas the riverside strips are probably secondary sites? Whatever - the species seems to be thriving in central Isaan where suitable habitat exists. 
We also recorded four Abbotts Babblers (including my first sight record of one since 2001) and other new species for my own Yasothon list in the form of a Dark-necked Tailorbird and both Lineated and Green-eared Barbets.

Upon leaving for home we crossed a small rivulet into Amnat Charoen - effectively into a different ravaged world with Cassava plantations amid old root bases and fallen tree stumps - remnants of a vanished portion of the forest.

Regards,

Mike P.



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10/05/2022 - 8.58 am - Laem Phayom Roí Et Province.

Three of us drove into Roí Et yet again hoping to catch up with a passage of White-winged Black Terns reported here two days earlier by Roí Et resident birder Shaun Green. We found them long gone but made a morning of it nevertheless recording 44 species which served to haul my Roí Et list over the 100 mark.

For me the highlight was obtaining my best views of Speckle-breasted Woodpecker - in this case a female bird sporting its all black crown and heavily barred mantle which showed to good effect as Paul obtained a photo the instant the bird had spread its wings upon departing (photo attached).

Cheers,

Mike P.



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09/05/2022 - mid morning  Roí Et Province.

Barb and I took the opportunity to go out with Paul who had a brief appointment in Yasothon City after which we went over the Chi River into Roí Et and quickly confirmed that one of his Blue-winged Pitta territories from last year was again occupied. The bird was calling even as we drew up in the car. 

Further along the same farm road we had the first minivet species of our trip - Paul had recognised these by their rapid fluttery wing beats as they vanished into a tall tree overhanging the road. With patience scanning the foliage we saw them well enough to identify them as Small Minivets - a new species for all of us in Roí Et and in more or less identical habitat to where I had found them on Pauls local patch in Kut Chum some years ago.

Later before leaving Roi Et and parked briefly to scan riverside shrubbery in relatively open habitat (looking especially for Grey-breasted Prinia for what would be for me my 100th Roí Et species) we heard another Blue-winged Pitta in less than ideal territory - quite a surprise!

The main event over the last few days in the district has been the annual rocket festival -a peculiarity of Yasothon Province which attracts visitors from far and wide. A competition is held to see whose home made rocket stays aloft the longest and many reach prodigious heights leaving vapour trails far into the sky. These are not fireworks but serious missiles which must be potentially hazardous to the watching crowds.

Regards,

Mike P.



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Tuesday 10th of May 2022 01:36:06 AM

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