Laem Phak Bia and Kaeng Krachan: 4-9 Jan 2014






4 - 9 January 2014.
Dry, warm to hot and hazy.
Bangpoo, Phak Thale, Laem Phak Bia, Nong Pla Lai, Wat Khao Look Chang, and Kaeng Krachan National Park.

With John Lobel and Ken Petersen, both of whom had previously visited Thailand. A short, five day, trip concentrating on some key waders and forest species.

Whiskered Tern
Whiskered Tern

4 Jan. As only a short trip, flew to Bangkok and took a taxi to one of the nearby airport hotels. As usual, the idiotic taxi driver drives 300 metres out of the airport before admitting to not knowing the hotel location and having to ask three times en route. Having checked-in, grabbed another taxi to Bangpoo, which took best part of an hour due to heavy traffic. Once again, despite recent records of interesting gulls in the area, only Brown-headed Gull and about twenty Black-headed Gull seen. Returned to the hotel in time to meet up with John and collect our rental car from the airport.

5 Jan. A 05:45 departure meant a very short night for Ken, who'd arrived around midnight. After the essential early morning coffee on the way, we headed straight to Pak Thale, arriving just before 08:00. Judging by the difficulty recent visits to the area have experienced in finding Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Asian Dowitcher, we were preparing ourselves for a lot of tedious searching. However, within 30 minutes we'd located at least two Spoon-billed Sandpiper, and although not close enough for any half-decent photos we were delighted to have found this key species so quickly. The usual collection of waders in the area included a few Broad-billed Sandpiper. Next headed up to the Laem Phak Bia saltpans, where most recent Nordmann's Greenshank and Asian Dowitcher sightings had been. A scan from various stops along the road resulted in large numbers of Great Knot and Black-tailed Godwit, but neither of our targets. Taking a side track into the saltpans, we had the good fortune to run into Mr. Daeng, the local boatman, out birding and also looking for dowitchers. After some scanning at ever more distant pans, with his help we found three Asian Dowitcher in addition to Nordmann's Greenshank and Pied Avocet. A really excellent start to the trip having seen the three key waders before lunch.

Due to the heat of the day, we decided to change scenery and try looking for raptors and other open country birds around Nong Pla Lai. Arriving at the usual watchpoint we set up scopes only to find the first half hour quite dead. However, around 14:30 raptors started to drift around, with Greater Spotted Eagle, Western Osprey, Brahminy Kite, Eastern Marsh Harrier and Black-eared Kite in small numbers - certainly smaller numbers than previous years. But the most astonishing sighting was at least four Himalayan Vulture drifting over southward. Thailand seems to have been invaded by this species in the last month with numerous records as far south as Phuket. A further two vultures drifted over half an hour later, but may have been part of the first group.

Himalayan Vulture
Himalayan Vulture

The remainder of the afternoon was spent in a general drive and walk around any interesting fields or scrub, finding Freckle-breasted Woodpecker, Red-throated Pipit, Watercock and Asian Golden Weaver. Overnight near Phetchaburi.

6 Jan. Started at the rubbish dump at Laem Phak Bia from first light. As would be expected, some good activity early in the day, with some of the more interesting species including Indochinese Bush Lark, Racquet-tailed Treepie, Thick-billed Warbler, Indian Nightjar, Bluethroat and Ruddy-breasted Crake. Much time was then spent scanning through the waterbirds near the abandoned building, with a hybrid Milky x Painted Stork of particular note, as well as 20 Painted Stork and at least 22 Red-necked Phalarope. Late morning we tried various local fields, reeds and scrub eventually finding a wet area containing Greater Painted-snipe, Red Avadavat and several Yellow Bittern. As usual the area contained numerous mistnets killing an indiscriminate collection of prinias, weavers, kingfishers and bitterns. Two accessible nets were removed and destroyed.

At 13:00 we again met up with Mr. Daeng and took a trip to the sandspit. Having dipped on the last trip, we were successful with White-faced plover; others included Heuglin's Gull, Chinese Egret and Lesser Crested Tern. Late afternoon back at the dump, finally catching up on White-shouldered Starling.

Greater Crested Tern
Greater Crested Tern

Lesser Whistling Duck
Lesser Whistling Duck

Great White Imperial
Great White Imperial

7 Jan. Having had two great days around Laem Phak Bia, we headed to Wat Khao Look Chang that, although not as productive as usual, still held Red-breasted Parakeet, Black-headed Woodpecker and Spotted Owlet.

Asian Barred Owlet
Asian Barred Owlet

Drove to Kaeng Krachan, dropped luggage and into the national park by 11:00. Despite the heat the birding between the stream crossings was very good and over the course of the afternoon we recorded Green-legged Partridge, Orange-breasted Trogon, Tickell's Brown Hornbill, Great Hornbill, at least four Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Large Woodshrike, Swinhoe's Minivet, Sultan Tit, Claudia's Warbler, Sulphur-breasted Warbler, Spot-necked Babbler, Hainan Blue Flycatcher and Chinese Blue Flycatcher. On our way out we encountered a very large male Asian Elephant in the road that fortunately didn't take exception to us or the vehicle.

Four-bar Swordtail
Four-bar Swordtail

8 Jan. Back to the park and a, more or less, straight drive to Km 27, stopping for Kalij Pheasant and a Leopard Cat on the road. Our luck continued with Ratchet-tailed Treepie found almost immediately. A few hours were spent in the Km 27-29 area seeing Black-and-buff Woodpecker, Common Green Magpie, Sultan Tit, Great Iora, Orange-headed Thrush, Eyebrowed Thrush and Rufous-browed Flycatcher. Some time then spent at the top viewpoint from where we saw Brown-backed Needletail, Blyth's Shrike-babbler, Mountain Hawk-Eagle and Great Barbet. However, the constant construction noise from the nearby viewpoint, forced us the abandon the area in search of peace and quiet.

It would appear the viewpoint is being "improved" with the construction of a viewing platform. Kind of typical of park management - rather than do something useful like construct or maintain trails, do something showy, totally unnecessary and a complete waste of money and park resource. Late afternoon descent, with Chestnut Bunting and Banded Broadbill along the return.

Black-hooded Oriole
Black-hooded Oriole

Spotted Dove
Spotted Dove

9 Jan. All morning and half the afternoon at Ban Song Nok hide. The steady flow of species included Green-legged Partridge, Large Scimitar Babbler, Siberian Blue Robin and Kalij Pheasant. Small mammals consisted of Indochinese Ground Squirrel, Grey-bellied Squirrel and Northern Treeshrew. Reluctantly we dragged ourselves away for the near four hour return drive to Bangkok, where overnighted near the airport.

10 Jan. Late morning return to Chiang Mai.

Black-headed Bulbul
Black-headed Bulbul

Indochinese Ground Squirrel
Indochinese Ground Squirrel

Species List

  Bangpoo Count   Kaeng Krachan Count
  Chinese Pond Heron 10   Bar-backed Partridge 4
  Great Egret 10   Green-legged Partridge 7
  Little Egret 20   Red Junglefowl 15
  Little Cormorant 20   Kalij Pheasant 6
  Western Osprey 1   Chinese Pond Heron 5
  Brown-headed Gull 3000   Oriental Honey Buzzard 1
  Black-headed Gull 20   Mountain Hawk-Eagle 1
  Whiskered Tern 50   Shikra 3
  Black-capped Kingfisher 2   Red-wattled Lapwing 15
        Spotted Dove 2
  Nong Pla Lai / Phetchaburi fields Count   Common Emerald Dove 5
  Asian Openbill 200   Thick-billed Green Pigeon 1
  Yellow Bittern 3   Vernal Hanging Parrot 12
  Black-crowned Night Heron 4   Greater Coucal 2
  Chinese Pond Heron 100   Asian Koel 2
  Grey Heron 2   Banded Bay Cuckoo 3
  Purple Heron 3   Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo 2
  Great Egret 20   Collared Scops Owl 1
  Little Egret 20   Large-tailed Nightjar 4
  Little Cormorant 20   Himalayan Swiftlet 3
  Western Osprey 2   Germain's Swiftlet 4
  Black-winged Kite 1   Brown-backed Needletail 3
  Himalayan Vulture 4   Asian Palm Swift 12
  Greater Spotted Eagle 2   Orange-breasted Trogon 2
  Eastern Marsh Harrier 3   Indian Roller 2
  Black-eared Kite 6   Banded Kingfisher 1
  Brahminy Kite 10   Black-capped Kingfisher 1
  White-breasted Waterhen 4   Blue-bearded Bee-eater 1
  Ruddy-breasted Crake 1   Chestnut-headed Bee-eater 20
  Watercock 2   Tickell's Brown Hornbill 4
  Common Moorhen 4   Oriental Pied Hornbill 25
  Black-winged Stilt 10   Great Hornbill 15
  Red-wattled Lapwing 4   Wreathed Hornbill 1
  Greater Painted-snipe 2   Great Barbet 1
  Bronze-winged Jacana 4   Lineated Barbet 2
  Common Snipe 2   Green-eared Barbet 3
  Rock Dove 10   Blue-throated Barbet 10
  Red Turtle Dove 200   Blue-eared Barbet 5
  Spotted Dove 30   Coppersmith Barbet 6
  Zebra Dove 10   Heart-spotted Woodpecker 4
  Greater Coucal 1   Streak-breasted Woodpecker 2
  Asian Koel 10   Common Flameback 2
  Plaintive Cuckoo 2   Greater Flameback 8
  Germain's Swiftlet 200   Great Slaty Woodpecker 3
  Asian Palm Swift 30   Bay Woodpecker 4
  Indian Roller 2   Black-and-buff Woodpecker 2
  White-throated Kingfisher 6   Banded Broadbill 3
  Blue-tailed Bee-eater 4   Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike 5
  Coppersmith Barbet 1   Large Woodshrike 4
  Freckle-breasted Woodpecker 5   Common Iora 2
  Ashy Woodswallow 2   Great Iora 1
  Brown Shrike 10   Black-winged Cuckooshrike 2
  Black Drongo 40   Swinhoe's Minivet 3
  Malaysian Pied Fantail 10   Scarlet Minivet 6
  Eastern Jungle Crow 6   White-bellied Erpornis 1
  Streak-eared Bulbul 4   Blyth's Shrike-babbler 6
  Sand Martin 200   Black-naped Oriole 8
  Barn Swallow 400   Black-hooded Oriole 3
  Red-rumped Swallow 10   Ashy Drongo 20
  Dusky Warbler 4   Bronzed Drongo 6
  Yellow-browed Warbler 1   Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo 2
  Oriental Reed Warbler 6   Hair-crested Drongo 30
  Black-browed Reed Warbler 3   Black-naped Monarch 10
  Zitting Cisticola 10   Blyth's Paradise Flycatcher 2
  Yellow-bellied Prinia 6   Common Green Magpie 2
  Plain Prinia 5   Grey Treepie 4
  Common Tailorbird 2   Ratchet-tailed Treepie 2
  Great Myna 200   Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher 10
  Common Myna 40   Sultan Tit 8
  Pied Myna 10   Black-headed Bulbul 20
  Oriental Magpie-Robin 5   Black-crested Bulbul 24
  Stejneger's Stonechat 10   Sooty-headed Bulbul 4
  Olive-backed Sunbird 1   Stripe-throated Bulbul 2
  Plain-backed Sparrow 4   Flavescent Bulbul 10
  Eurasian Tree Sparrow 20   Streak-eared Bulbul 6
  Asian Golden Weaver 10   Ochraceous Bulbul 20
  Streaked Weaver 20   Baker's Bulbul 30
  Baya Weaver 200   Mountain Bulbul 10
  Red Avadavat 20   Ashy Bulbul 10
  Scaly-breasted Munia 50   Barn Swallow 12
  Chestnut Munia 10   Asian House Martin 10
  Paddyfield Pipit 4   Red-rumped Swallow 5
  Red-throated Pipit 10   Yellow-bellied Warbler 4
        Radde's Warbler 1
  Laem Phak Bia / Phak Thale Count   Yellow-browed Warbler 8
  Lesser Whistling Duck 250   Greenish Warbler 1
  Eurasian Wigeon 4   Two-barred Warbler 3
  Northern Shoveler 2   Pale-legged Leaf Warbler 18
  Little Grebe 5   Claudia's Leaf Warbler 2
  Painted Stork 20   Sulphur-breasted Warbler 4
  Asian Openbill 50   Martens's Warbler 2
  Black-crowned Night Heron 1   Alström's Warbler 1
  Chinese Pond Heron 30   Common Tailorbird 2
  Javan Pond Heron 10   Dark-necked Tailorbird 8
  Eastern Cattle Egret 10   Large Scimitar Babbler 3
  Grey Heron 7   White-browed Scimitar Babbler 5
  Great Egret 40   Spot-necked Babbler 5
  Intermediate Egret 10   Rufous-fronted Babbler 12
  Little Egret 20   Pin-striped Tit-Babbler 30
  Pacific Reef Heron 2   Brown-cheeked Fulvetta 20
  Chinese Egret 1   Collared Babbler 5
  Little Cormorant 200   Puff-throated Babbler 4
  Indian Cormorant 5   White-crested Laughingthrush 10
  Western Osprey 1   Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush 10
  Brahminy Kite 5   Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush 12
  Ruddy-breasted Crake 2   Oriental White-eye 2
  Black-winged Stilt 300   Asian Fairy-bluebird 90
  Pied Avocet 30   Velvet-fronted Nuthatch 1
  Red-wattled Lapwing 10   Common Hill Myna 4
  Pacific Golden Plover 20   Great Myna 4
  Grey Plover 30   Common Myna 2
  Little Ringed Plover 2   Orange-headed Thrush 1
  Kentish Plover 20   Eyebrowed Thrush 1
  White-faced Plover 1   Siberian Blue Robin 4
  Malaysian Plover 1   Oriental Magpie-Robin 2
  Lesser Sand Plover 500   White-rumped Shama 4
  Greater Sand Plover 4   Blue Whistling Thrush 1
  Pin-tailed Snipe 6   Asian Brown Flycatcher 6
  Common Snipe 1   Taiga Flycatcher 20
  Asian Dowitcher 3   Verditer Flycatcher 10
  Black-tailed Godwit 500   Hainan Blue Flycatcher 2
  Whimbrel 2   Hill Blue Flycatcher 4
  Eurasian Curlew 600   Tickell's Blue Flycatcher 4
  Spotted Redshank 300   Chinese Blue Flycatcher 1
  Common Redshank 1   Rufous-browed Flycatcher 3
  Marsh Sandpiper 400   Blue-winged Leafbird 10
  Common Greenshank 30   Golden-fronted Leafbird 2
  Nordmann's Greenshank 10   Ruby-cheeked Sunbird 2
  Wood Sandpiper 6   Black-throated Sunbird 4
  Common Sandpiper 2   Streaked Spiderhunter 4
  Great Knot 3000   Chestnut Bunting 1
  Sanderling 1      
  Red-necked Stint 500   Wat Khao Look Chang Count
  Long-toed Stint 3   Red Junglefowl 2
  Curlew Sandpiper 300   Chinese Pond Heron 2
  Spoon-billed Sandpiper 2   Red-wattled Lapwing 4
  Broad-billed Sandpiper 60   Rock Dove 15
  Ruff 2   Red-breasted Parakeet 20
  Red-necked Phalarope 22   Asian Koel 4
  Brown-headed Gull 600   Asian Barred Owlet 2
  Heuglin's Gull 2   Spotted Owlet 2
  Gull-billed Tern 40   Germain's Swiftlet 10
  Caspian Tern 20   Lineated Barbet 2
  Greater Crested Tern 30   Black-headed Woodpecker 3
  Lesser Crested Tern 4   Ashy Woodswallow 2
  Little Tern 50   Brown Shrike 2
  Common Tern 200   Black-naped Oriole 4
  Whiskered Tern 400   Hair-crested Drongo 10
  White-winged Tern 2   Greater Racket-tailed Drongo 5
  Rock Dove 30   Malaysian Pied Fantail 5
  Red Turtle Dove 100   Black-naped Monarch 4
  Spotted Dove 30   Rufous Treepie 6
  Zebra Dove 30   Eastern Jungle Crow 2
  Greater Coucal 2   Streak-eared Bulbul 10
  Asian Koel 10   Barn Swallow 10
  Plaintive Cuckoo 2   Radde's Warbler 1
  Indian Nightjar 1   Yellow-browed Warbler 4
  Germain's Swiftlet 500   Two-barred Warbler 2
  Asian Palm Swift 10   Pale-legged Leaf Warbler 10
  White-throated Kingfisher 4   Common Tailorbird 2
  Black-capped Kingfisher 4   Oriental Magpie-Robin 3
  Collared Kingfisher 4   White-rumped Shama 2
  Green Bee-eater 20   Asian Brown Flycatcher 2
  Blue-tailed Bee-eater 4   Taiga Flycatcher 10
  Eurasian Hoopoe 2   Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker 2
  Golden-bellied Gerygone 20   Olive-backed Sunbird 2
  Common Iora 1      
  Brown Shrike 6      
  Black Drongo 25      
  Malaysian Pied Fantail 10      
  Racket-tailed Treepie 2      
  Eastern Jungle Crow 6      
  Indochinese Bush Lark 4      
  Oriental Skylark 3      
  Streak-eared Bulbul 10      
  Barn Swallow 50      
  Dusky Warbler 5      
  Yellow-browed Warbler 2      
  Oriental Reed Warbler 4      
  Black-browed Reed Warbler 4      
  Thick-billed Warbler 2      
  Zitting Cisticola 2      
  Plain Prinia 5      
  Common Tailorbird 2      
  Great Myna 500      
  Common Myna 30      
  Pied Myna 20      
  White-shouldered Starling 3      
  Bluethroat 1      
  Oriental Magpie-Robin 3      
  Plain-backed Sparrow 20      
  Eurasian Tree Sparrow 35      
  Eastern Yellow Wagtail 2      
  Paddyfield Pipit 6