Trip report: Thailand (March 2013) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Scott Watson. This was a set departure tour.

Thailand is one of those countries that is so diverse, you always have the feeling of something new waiting for you around every corner, whether it be a bird, a mammal, or a delicious Thai dish. This tour was highly successful with a bird list of 487 along with 22 species of mammals.

Starting off in the salt pans of Pak Thale we found everyone’s favourite small shorebird, the infamous yet critically endangered, Spoon-billed Sandpiper. We then made it to Kaeng Krachan National Park where we watched Bar-throated and Scaly-breasted Partridge compete at the same waterhole against a less than sizable Lesser Mouse-Deer, all from a new bird hide close to the lodge. This site also got us a few gems such as Long-tailed Broadbill, White-fronted Scops-Owl, Dusky Broadbill, Rachet-tailed Treepie, Kalij Pheasant, and even the tricky Grey Peacock-Pheasant.

On to the famous Khao Yai National Park, land of the modern day Pterodactyl or Great Hornbill of which we saw many. Amazing targets here included Blue Pitta and Siamese Fireback, and seeing both turned out to be easy this trip, forgetting both, impossible. We journeyed north from here to the mountains of the north-west but first stopping of at Thailand’s largest lake, Bueng Boraphet, to bag a few tricky ducks and other marsh birds on an enjoyable boat ride. The mountains were productive this tour, given some great weather and a group of sharp eyed birders we saw amazing species such as; Rufous-throated Partridge, Jerdon’s Baza, Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl, Silver-backed Needletail, Black-headed Woodpecker, Collared Falconet, 6 species of Minivet, Giant Nuthatch, 13 species of Phylloscopus warbler, Spot-breasted Parrotbill, Crested Finchbill, and the blushing Red-faced Liocichla at Doi Lang, near the Burmese border.

This tour also included the extension to the south of Thailand where we again cleaned up the targets. We started at the coastal tourist town of Krabi which also happens to have a huge mangrove estuary, meaning we picked up a whole host of mangrove specials including Mangrove Pitta. In the hot forests of Khao Nor Chuchi we found the very famous, and main target for the extension, Gurney’s Pitta, but also Malayan Banded-Pitta among dozens of other broadbills, bulbuls, and babblers. Our final stop was at Krung Ching for possibly some of the greatest finds of the tour including the extremely difficult Malaysian Rail-Babbler.
Now I am just mentioning the birds, I could go on and on about the very warm and welcoming people, the incredible food, the great infrastructure, and the cold beer. Need I say more? Thailand really is the perfect introduction into the diverse wildlife of tropical Asia.

Click this link to view the full report in PDF format (3.4 MB file)