photo sharing and upload picture albums photo forums search pictures popular photos photography help login
Peter Ericsson | profile | all galleries >> Tripreports! >> Thailand tripreports! >> Hala Bala, 21-28th of June 2022 tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Hala Bala, 21-28th of June 2022

Hala Bala, 21-28th of June, 2022.

For some time now I have wanted to revisit the Deep South but due to restrictive travel regulations had to postpone it until now.

I asked Paul Farrell if he wanted to come along and he along with Paul Passant, both avid birders residing in NorthEastern Thailand, agreed to join the trip.

We all met up at Had Yai airport to pick up a rented vehicle. Narathiwat is closer but no car rental available.

The drive towards Narathiwat is pleasant and allows for some short stops in Songkhla and Pattani provinces. Thanks to eBird we now keep our eyes on common birds as well as we see our provincial lists grow.

Our first major stop was at Yaring mangrove study centre. No entry on eBird for 10 years we thought it would be a good idea to try for Mangrove Blue Flycatcher as it has been seen there in times past.

We were not to be disappointed. It only took a few minutes before a pair showed in response to playback. Also Ashy Tailorbird, Mangrove Whistler and Hume’s White-eyes. A real good start!

Next stop was Sirindhorn Peatswamp Study Center, a known site for Malaysian Blue Flycatcher.
This place had impressive buildings, car park and boardwalk. Obviously a place put to use for field studies by students. Beware that you are not allowed in until 08:30 am.

I have never been to a fresh water swamp of this magnitude in Thailand. The eBird checklist was very impressive. But access was restricted to roadside birding and along the boardwalk. We did not get on to the ‘promised’ birds in the checklist but we happily had a glimpse of the flycatcher. Same with the White-chested Babbler. Our program had already allowed for a full morning at the site later on so we were not overly concerned.

Closer and closer to our destination we had to drive through more and more checkpoints. Some manned some not. Not even sure why they were there to begin with.

The resort near the entrance to Hala Bala was fully booked but our place, Sabai Sabai resort, turned out to be a better choice with cleaner and fresher rooms. There was a shop nearby to buy cold beers. In the nearby village not so, as it is a muslim community. Kind of weird to step inside of a 7-11 with no beers on offer.

Not many interesting eating places in this area but we did find a muslim restaurant that offered an assortment of curries. Most people would buy take aways but we’d sit down and enjoy.
Lunches in the field were very simple, canned sardines and tuna. Ha ha ha!

First morning we visited a known spot for Little Green Pigeon but alas to no avail. Instead we moved on inside the park, passing the entry gate. For me it was refreshing to hear and see a birdlife different from Central and Northern Thailand. For the next 5 days we visited several spots along the road that takes you over a mountain ridge and down to lowlands where a stream with adjoined forest allows for spectacular birding.

We did go back for the Pigeon and this time got so see a single bird!

Best way to know where to go is to simply drive along and listen/watch for activity. We also parked the car and did some walks, so a variety of approaches. Checking the Hot Spots on eBird is another very good way of checking recent sightings.

Some of the spots: There are 3 bridges. All have a stream running under them and these areas are good for Rufous-chested Flycatcher. I also had Grey-chested Jungle FC near the 2nd bridge.

Then there is a spot called ‘broken mountain’ where they are doing lots of road repair. This area is good for viewing Great and Rhinocerous Hornbills, Checker-throated WP, Dusky Broadbill and a number of other passerines. We also saw a Rufous Piculet and heard Great Slaty Woodpeckers. This area was best visited after 4 pm or before 8am as roadconstructions were ongoing. Even better, the weekend with hardly any traffic at all.

The most common birds at Hala Bala at this time seemed to be Spectacled Bulbul (heard everywhere), Purple-naped Spiderhunter/Sunbird and Ferruginous Babbler. And Javan Myna has now completely taken over the deep South. Found everywhere along the roads.

By far the most birds were seen at the Toh Moh Community Forest near the old gold mine. The trail takes you all the way to the Malaysian border. Strolling along the trail will reveal loads of Babblers, Woodpeckers,Bulbuls, Sunbirds, Flowerpeckers, Trogons etc. Best birds was a pair of Black Magpies that stayed for a long time. Also Black-winged Flycatcher-Shrikes, a bird I seldom see. Also getting on to Horsfield's Babbler was a highlight for me having only had it on Java previously. The recordings from other areas found on Xeno-Canto do not match up with this one found here in Thailand.

It is also good to photograph the butterflies in the park as many of them are similar to Central Thailand but still different enough to have their own species status. Some that I liked: Malayan Owl, Yellow Glassy Tiger,Malay Plum Judy, Broad-sided Faun, Striped Ringlet and Straight-banded Catseye.

One of the big highlights was to suddenly hear Siamangs singing. The song of the White-handed Gibbons is very familiar to me but I have never heard the Siamang before except for at an animal rescue center. The sound is so so strong, stronger then the White-handed ones. Then we got to see two individuals cross the road swinging from tree top to tree top. Totally awesome!

On the way back to Had Yai we revisited Sirindhorn Peatswamp. This time with cracking views of the Malaysian Blue Flycatcher nest building. Also a pair of Fluffy-backed Tit Babblers showed well and the elusive Red-crowned Barbet remained out of sight but vocal.

We photographed a dragonfly and later were told it was new to the country.

Along the road were many nectar eating birds: Ruby-cheeked, Crimson, Brown-throated and Van Hassel’s Sunbirds. Orange-bellied Flowerpeckers were the dominant flowerpecker.

We had been given the co-ordinates for White-headed Munias 45 minutes from the airport. So nice to get to see these small finches. It was a first for all of us.

The evening we quenched our thirst with excellent craft beer and sausages at a bar in Had Yai.

For myself I ended up with 8 new Thai birds where of 2 were lifers. Also 17 new butterflies.

About 170 birds for the trip, mostly forest birds.

Some recordings are found here: https://media.ebird.org/catalog?mediaType=audio®ionCode=TH-96&userId=USER953503&view=list






View from the 'broken mountain'!
View from the 'broken mountain'!
Paul Farrell and Paul Passant, happily arriving at Had Yai!
Paul Farrell and Paul Passant, happily arriving at Had Yai!
Black-winged Flycatcher-Shrike
Black-winged Flycatcher-Shrike
Rufous Woodpecker
Rufous Woodpecker
Checker-throated Woodpecker
Checker-throated Woodpecker
Van Hassel's Sunbird
Van Hassel's Sunbird
Ruby-cheeked Sunbird
Ruby-cheeked Sunbird
Whiskered Treeswift
Whiskered Treeswift
Mangrove Blue Flycatcher
Mangrove Blue Flycatcher
Malaysian Blue Flycatcher
Malaysian Blue Flycatcher
Scarlet-rumped Trogon
Scarlet-rumped Trogon
Crimson Sunbird
Crimson Sunbird
Rhinocerous Hornbill, male
Rhinocerous Hornbill, male
Yellow Glassy Tiger (Parantica aspasia)
Yellow Glassy Tiger (Parantica aspasia)
Broad Striped Faun (Faunis kirata)
Broad Striped Faun (Faunis kirata)
Striped Ringlet (Ragadia makuta)
Striped Ringlet (Ragadia makuta)
Malay Cruiser (Vindula dejone)
Malay Cruiser (Vindula dejone)
Malayan Owl (Neorina lowii)
Malayan Owl (Neorina lowii)
Malayan Plum Judy (Abisara saturata)
Malayan Plum Judy (Abisara saturata)
Orange Skimmer Orthetrum testaceum
Orange Skimmer Orthetrum testaceum
Pixie (Brachygonia oculata)
Pixie (Brachygonia oculata)
Crimson Dropwing
Crimson Dropwing
Ictinogomphus acutus
Ictinogomphus acutus
Cheers and bye!
Cheers and bye!