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Southeast Thailand: 19-27 Apr 2016


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19 - 27 April 2016
Very hot. Dry with scattered cloud cover.
Ko Man Nai, Rayong Botanical Garden, Khao Soi Dao Wildlife Sanctuary and Pang Sida National Park.

With Ian Dugdale plus, in part, Matti Sakari. Our fifth trip to southeastern Thailand with the primary aim, yet again, to find the barely recorded specialities of the area. Of these five species, to date we'd only managed one - Siamese Partridge - so hopes were not high of adding to the list based on previous experience! We also included a few days, a kind of annual pilgrimage, to Ko Man Nai coinciding with the Spring migration.

18 Apr. An afternoon departure from Chiang Mai, driving six hours to Nakhon Sawan. Temperatures ranged between 42°C - 44°C all afternoon.

19 Apr. A further 400 kilometre drive to U-Tapao airport where met up with Ian having flown in from Phuket. A short, couple of hours, drive through heavy traffic to Laem Mae Phim, the small beach resort area closest to Ko Man Nai. Being coastal, temperatures had dropped to a respectable and relatively pleasant 34°C.

Black-naped Tern
Black-naped Tern

Ferruginous Flycatcher
Ferruginous Flycatcher

20 Apr. Joined by Matti at the pier, and took our pre-arranged boat the four kilometres to Ko Man Nai. A few Bridled Tern and Black-naped Tern observed during the crossing. We then spent the whole day birding and wandering this small island, and by splitting up covered it pretty thoroughly. Numbers of both migrant species and individuals were noticeably down on previous years, no doubt exacerbated by a total absence of water this year, as Thailand undergoes a prolonged drought. Species recorded included Oriental Dollarbird, Hooded Pitta, Fairy Pitta, Blue-winged Pitta, Mangrove Whistler, Tiger Shrike, Crow-billed Drongo, Blyth's Paradise Flycatcher, Amur Paradise Flycatcher, Japanese Paradise Flycatcher, Arctic Warbler, Eastern Crowned Warbler, Lanceolated Warbler, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher, Yellow-rumped Flycatcher and Mugimaki Flycatcher. A late afternoon return to the mainland, there being no possibility to overnight on the island which is protected as a turtle breeding sanctuary.

21 Apr. A repeat of yesterday, with a few additional species added to the list - Ruddy Kingfisher, Black-winged Cuckooshrike, Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Ferruginous Flycatcher, Pacific Swift and Grey-tailed Tattler.

22 Apr. Having been informed locally of the nearby Rayong Botanical Garden, we made a brief stop to suss out its potential for birding. Not so much of a botanical garden, but more a wetland with tracks between ponds, some floating lotus and scrub. Quite sizeable, and we reckoned in the dry season, would definitely be worth checking out given time to spare.

Finished the drive to Khao Soi Dao and during the afternoon explored the new Nature Trail. The forest was extremely dry with barely a few pools along the river. On the plus side, not a leech in sight. We located a bird-bath that was watched for a couple of hours hoping for Black-browed Fulvetta, but only Black-crested Bulbul, Ochraceous Bulbul, Stripe-throated Bulbul, Black-naped Monarch and Little Spiderhunter visited. A male Japanese Paradise Flycatcher was a surprise. Late afternoon we erected tents at the campsite hoping the temperature would drop to something comfortable overnight. After dark, walked the road past the HQ and offices. Several Brown Hawk-Owl, Asian Barred Owlet and Collared Scops Owl were vocal as well as hawking Great Eared Nightjar, plus several Common Palm Civet were visiting a fruiting tree. A pleasant night; the first of three nights with the campsite to ourselves.

23 Apr. An early start and headed back along the new Nature Trail, but this time forking off and following a river with GPS. Easy going as the gradient was shallow and the river contained little water. Much elephant activity in evidence, but little of it fresh thankfully. We'd hoped by walking off trail we'd run into something interesting, that we did in the form of two female White-bellied Green Pigeon, a rarely recorded species in Thailand. Otherwise, a migrant Mugimaki Flycatcher and a pair of Dusky Broadbill.

White-bellied Green Pigeon
White-bellied Green Pigeon

Dusky Broadbill
Dusky Broadbill

During the afternoon, for the sake of efficiency, we decided to split up with one of us covering the bird-bath and the other birding the road to the waterfall. Unfortunately both failed to produce the hoped for fulvetta. After dark we again walked the road and in the same tree as yesterday had both Indian Giant Flying Squirrel and Red-cheeked Flying Squirrel.

Davison's Bridled Snake
Davison's Bridled Snake

Black-browed Fulvetta
Black-browed Fulvetta

Siamese Junglequeen
Siamese Junglequeen

24 Apr. The morning spent walking the 2.5 kilometre road to the start of the waterfall trail. By 09:00, having again found nothing of note, we walked the Waterfall Trail but little seen. Afternoon we split up, covering scrub areas just beyond the HQ and around the far end of the new Nature Trail as well as pools along the river. New species added to the list included Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Crimson Sunbird and Blue-eared Kingfisher. A night session found Davison's Bridled Snake.

25 Apr. Back along the road to the Waterfall Trail, where we'd planned to start early at the river and follow it. However, today, not being a weekend, the checkpoint gate was locked. Although officially open at 06:00 it took the rangers until almost 09:00 to arrive and open it, so a delayed start on the trail. After a short siesta mid day we tried climbing higher on the mountain. New species for the list today included Common Emerald Dove, Black-headed Bulbul, White-browed Piculet and, finally, Black-browed Fulvetta. After three nights camping moved to the air-conditioned comfort of a local resort.

26 Apr. All day spent looking at other possible accesses to forest, trying road and tracks running higher on the edge of the mountain. Hot work, so a few beers too many to rehydrate after our heavy days at Khao Soi Dao.

27 Apr. A relatively lazy day with an 08:00 start to drive the 140 kilometres to Pang Sida, where we'd hoped that the dry weather would be attracting the usual clouds of butterflies. However, on arrival at the park gate we were informed that due to the total lack of water no accommodation was available, so we'd have to cancel any night-walk plans. We entered the park anyway but the extreme drought meant almost no flying butterflies. We tried the Nature Trail, but in true Thai national park fashion we found it impossible to follow, the signs all decayed and after a kilometre or so had to return the way we'd come as the trail had disappeared. At this point we decided to cut our losses and head for home.

Species List

  Khao Soi Dao Count   Ko Man Nai Count
  Chinese Francolin 1   Striated Heron 2
  Green-legged Partridge 12   Pacific Reef Heron 2
  Red Junglefowl 6   Brahminy Kite 1
  Siamese Fireback 2   Greater Sand Plover 2
  Chinese Pond Heron 4   Grey-tailed Tattler 2
  Black Baza 4   Common Sandpiper 1
  Crested Serpent Eagle 2   Little Tern 2
  Crested Goshawk 1   Bridled Tern 30
  Shikra 1   Black-naped Tern 120
  Red Turtle Dove 2   Common Tern 1
  Spotted Dove 4   Zebra Dove 6
  Common Emerald Dove 2   Greater Coucal 2
  Zebra Dove 6   Pacific Swift 10
  Thick-billed Green Pigeon 40   Oriental Dollarbird 2
  White-bellied Green Pigeon 2   Ruddy Kingfisher 1
  Greater Coucal 5   Common Kingfisher 1
  Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo 1   Hooded Pitta 2
  Green-billed Malkoha 6   Fairy Pitta 1
  Asian Koel 2   Blue-winged Pitta 4
  Violet Cuckoo 4   Black-winged Cuckooshrike 1
  Banded Bay Cuckoo 2   Mangrove Whistler 8
  Plaintive Cuckoo 2   Tiger Shrike 15
  Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo 2   Black-naped Oriole 1
  Collared Scops Owl 3   Crow-billed Drongo 15
  Collared Owlet 1   Malaysian Pied Fantail 4
  Asian Barred Owlet 7   Blyth's Paradise Flycatcher 2
  Brown Hawk-Owl 3   Amur Paradise Flycatcher 4
  Great Eared Nightjar 4   Japanese Paradise Flycatcher 8
  Himalayan Swiftlet 15   Eastern Jungle Crow 6
  Brown-backed Needletail 4   Streak-eared Bulbul 10
  Asian Palm Swift 10   Barn Swallow 4
  House Swift 4   Arctic Warbler 6
  Orange-breasted Trogon 5   Eastern Crowned Warbler 5
  Red-headed Trogon 1   Lanceolated Warbler 3
  Oriental Dollarbird 4   Common Myna 8
  Banded Kingfisher 4   Eyebrowed Thrush 12
  Blue-eared Kingfisher 2   Oriental Magpie-Robin 8
  Oriental Pied Hornbill 15   Dark-sided Flycatcher 4
  Green-eared Barbet 4   Asian Brown Flycatcher 25
  Moustached Barbet 25   Ferruginous Flycatcher 1
  Blue-eared Barbet 20   Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher 1
  White-browed Piculet 1   Siberian Blue Robin 6
  Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker 2   Yellow-rumped Flycatcher 8
  Laced Woodpecker 4   Mugimaki Flycatcher 2
  Greater Flameback 3   Brown-throated Sunbird 2
  Great Slaty Woodpecker 2   Olive-backed Sunbird 6
  Vernal Hanging Parrot 4   Eastern Yellow Wagtail 2
  Banded Broadbill 5      
  Dusky Broadbill 4   Pang Sida Count
  Blue-winged Pitta 8   Banded Kingfisher 2
  Large Woodshrike 1   Vernal Hanging Parrot 2
  Common Iora 1   White-bellied Erpornis 2
  Great Iora 10   Greater Racket-tailed Drongo 4
  Black-winged Cuckooshrike 2   Ochraceous Bulbul 10
  Tiger Shrike 1   Pale-legged Leaf Warbler 2
  White-bellied Erpornis 15   White-crested Laughingthrush 3
  Black-naped Oriole 2      
  Ashy Drongo 1      
  Greater Racket-tailed Drongo 10      
  Black-naped Monarch 4      
  Japanese Paradise Flycatcher 1      
  Eastern Jungle Crow 4      
  Black-headed Bulbul 3      
  Black-crested Bulbul 30      
  Sooty-headed Bulbul 6      
  Stripe-throated Bulbul 4      
  Ochraceous Bulbul 40      
  Grey-eyed Bulbul 25      
  Barn Swallow 200      
  Red-rumped Swallow 15      
  Radde's Warbler 4      
  Arctic Warbler 4      
  Two-barred Warbler 4      
  Pale-legged Leaf Warbler 3      
  Claudia's Leaf Warbler 3      
  Dark-necked Tailorbird 12      
  White-browed Scimitar Babbler 4      
  Pin-striped Tit-Babbler 12      
  Black-browed Fulvetta 2      
  Oriental White-eye 2      
  Asian Fairy-bluebird 4      
  Common Hill Myna 10      
  Common Myna 30      
  Dark-sided Thrush 1      
  Oriental Magpie-Robin 4      
  White-rumped Shama 10      
  Asian Brown Flycatcher 8      
  Siberian Blue Robin 3      
  Blue Whistling Thrush 3      
  Yellow-rumped Flycatcher 1      
  Mugimaki Flycatcher 1      
  Taiga Flycatcher 2      
  Blue-winged Leafbird 8      
  Thick-billed Flowerpecker 5      
  Yellow-vented Flowerpecker 1      
  Buff-bellied Flowerpecker 4      
  Ruby-cheeked Sunbird 6      
  Black-throated Sunbird 6      
  Crimson Sunbird 1      
  Little Spiderhunter 3      
  Forest Wagtail 6