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Peter Ericsson | profile | all galleries >> Tripreports! >> Southern Thailand (Pittas) March 2020 tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Southern Thailand (Pittas) March 2020

THAILAND 17TH-26TH/3, 2020

After having to leave Vietnam prematurely I found myself in a position of taking English birder Paul Gaffan for a targeted mission to Southern Thailand. Paul, an avid global birder, hadn’t been able to bird internationally for 2 years due to health issues and was very keen to get back in to the swing of it.

We discussed the plan and decided to major on the highly rated family of Pittas. Paul did not have access to his already seen birds as he was prepared for Vietnam but there was enough to keep us busy on a daily basis. Of course, we also spend time with all birds along our way and just being able to go birding in escalating difficult world conditions made it extra special.

17th of March. We started out with a drive to Paktaley in order to immerse ourselves with the splendor of shorebirds. Many of them now assuming breeding plumages. We ended up with 70 species in the area but did not see Spoon-billed Sandpiper. There were surprisingly few shorebirds around. Paul had seen Spoonie on previous trip so we were not under much pressure anyhow. https://ebird.org/checklist/S65890051

The afternoon we spent at Baanmaka Nature resort which almost has become a 2nd home for me this season. I am pleased to see how many folks are using the resort these days.

We did spend 3 nights at the resort in between visits to spots in the surrounding area.
On the premises there is a small hide which features an incredible adult Slaty-legged Crake along with a male adult Siberian Rubythroat. Talk about a treat! Here is a list of the birds we encountered at the resort. https://ebird.org/checklist/S65891196

18th. We visited 2 hides managed by the same person. In the first hide we got to see a female Blue Pitta but in the 2nd a pair of Eared Pittas had left early so we were left out on this goodie. Both these species of birds are very difficult to see on a normal walk in the forest as many can attest to. These were our main target birds for Kaengkrachan as neither Hooded nor Blue-winged Pitta have arrived to Central Thailand as of yet. Paul also enjoyed lengthy views of the iconic Large-billed Scimitar Babblers that have taken to the feeding station as if it were their own. Well, they have strong competition from Grey-headed Woodpeckers and Greater Yellownapes as well. https://ebird.org/checklist/S65926663

19th. Baan Maka Lodge is a lovely place to bump in to birders and naturalists from around the world. The food is very good and the fridges well stocked with cold drinks. Paul who had lost much of his appetite after loosing over 60 kilos found himself regaining his appetite.
Paul is not a picky eater so very easy to show the best of Thai cooking.




We started the day back at hide #2 early enough to beat the first morning light. It proved to be a good decision as we got to view a pair of Eared Pittas at very close range before they scurried off into the dark undergrowth.

With the Pitta ‘in the bag’ we proceeded to Baan Song Nok, another waterhole, where we were hoping for Kalij Pheasant and 2 Partridges. We were not to be disappointed as all 3 targets showed well. Bar-backed and Green-legged Partridges.

The afternoon was spent at Baan Maka. We got to view Slaty-legged Crake at length. Same with a Ruddy-breasted Crake and great lengthy views of Lanceolated Warblers in the reeds.
This was a real treat for Paul who was visibly pleased.

20th. So since we had no definite targets for a visit to Kaengkrachan we opted to do the long drive to Sri Pangnga National Park some 700km further South. The journey went well and we managed to find a decent motel at Kuraburi town. Not many eateries around but we did find something and the ever present 7-11 was well stocked with the bare necessities.
We did do a couple of random stops before arriving and picked up i.e. Red-throated Barbet.

21st. Knocked at the gate to the Park as early as possible but not allowed in until a bit later. We met a ranger who told us that the park itself is now staking out the Banded Pittas so as to limit the private feeding of birds. We were soon taken to a very confiding male Malayan Banded Pitta, the real purpose for visiting the park! What a glorious bird it is!

A few other things different from birdlife at Kaengkrachan but nothing much noteworthy.
https://ebird.org/checklist/S66030093

In the afternoon we opted to drive a bit further South and there we stopped at a bridge overlooking a river and sandbanks. 2 desired River Lapwings were quickly seen.

Not too far away is a good wader spot called Laem Pakarang. Paul had expressed a desire for Grey-tailed Tattler and since that one is often seen herw we decided to give it a go.
Got there at low tide and a healthy number of waders about including a single Tattler ! Yeah!

22nd. An hours driver through scenic landscape had us arrive at Pangnga Mangrove Forest early enough to find a Brown-winged Kingfisher in one of the channels. The boardwalk is now open to the public after so many years of just laying in ruins. It is very solid but doesn’t open till 8:30. We spend a big part of the morning hoping for Mangrove Pitta but only heard a couple. Rufous-bellied Swallows were common on the wires in that area.

We also visited another boardwalk some 10 km South of town where we looked for Copper-throated Sunbird but to no avail.

We found an open area restaurant in town and a good hotel for the night.

23rd. Back to the mangroves and this time our eyes got to lay hold on Mangrove Pitta! Pitta #4 for the trip! But before the Pitta we had cracking views of a Ruddy Kingfisher, a bird I hadn’t seen in many years.
Along the boardwalk we connected well with Black-red Broadbills, White-chested Babbler, Olive-winged Bulbul, Streak-breasted Woodpecker and Ashy Tailorbird.

This time the Copper-throated Sunbirds did not let us down either. So our drive to Nakorn Sri Thammaraht set off with a couple of content birders.

Once we arrived we settled in a Swedish friend of mine house. Jorgen is not a birder but having grown up in the exact same area of my hometown, Jonkoping, we have a lot in common. Thank you Jorgen for putting us up so nicely and the delicious dinner!

24th. Early drive to Krung Ching waterfall where we did walk the trail but mostly hung around a fruiting tree by the HQ. Lots of Bulbuls and Barbets kept coming and going.
Dark-throated Oriole, Gold-whiskered Barbet, Scaly-breasted Bulbul, Gray-bellied Bulbul and Rufous-winged Philentoma were some of the better birds.
https://ebird.org/checklist/S66155034

We did find a nice hotel but was told that as of the following morning all National Parks were to close to the public.

25th. Early rise and a long drive to Bangkok where an Oriental Plover had been seen at my local patch. Got there late afternoon but no Plover found. Ha!

26th. Back to my patch and this time we got to see the Plover for the longest of time! A cracking bird to say the least. A lifer for Paul and a 1st for Bangkok city!
We birded the area extensively both in the morning and in the afternoon.
https://ebird.org/checklist/S66226961

I dropped off Paul who had manage to get a flight home for the 28th.

It was a very good trip with many quality birds seen and seeing it was only the two of us we could pace ourselves at free will.
Oriental Pratincole
Oriental Pratincole
Oriental Plover
Oriental Plover
Slaty-legged Crake
Slaty-legged Crake
Ruddy-breasted Crake
Ruddy-breasted Crake
Grey-headed Woodpecker
Grey-headed Woodpecker
Greater Yellownape
Greater Yellownape
Racket-tailed Treepie
Racket-tailed Treepie
Bar-backed Partridge
Bar-backed Partridge
Green-leged Partridge, (scaly-breasted)
Green-leged Partridge, (scaly-breasted)
Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush
Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush
Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush
Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush
Blue Pitta, fem
Blue Pitta, fem
Eared Pitta, male
Eared Pitta, male
Malayan Banded Pitta
Malayan Banded Pitta
Malayan Banded Pitta
Malayan Banded Pitta
Brown-winged Kingfisher
Brown-winged Kingfisher
Ruddy Kingfisher
Ruddy Kingfisher
White-rumped Shama, female
White-rumped Shama, female
Siberian Blue Robin
Siberian Blue Robin
Siberian Rubythroat
Siberian Rubythroat
Abbott's Babbler
Abbott's Babbler
Brown-cheeked Fulvetta
Brown-cheeked Fulvetta
Large Scimitar Babbler
Large Scimitar Babbler
Large Wood-Shrike
Large Wood-Shrike
White-chested Babbler
White-chested Babbler
Olive-winged Bulbul
Olive-winged Bulbul
Stripe-throated Bulbul
Stripe-throated Bulbul
Oriental Reed Warbler
Oriental Reed Warbler
Paul Gaffan
Paul Gaffan
Veggies
Veggies
Deep fried salty chicken
Deep fried salty chicken
Pumpkin curry with pork
Pumpkin curry with pork