Trip report: Thailand (Feb-Mar 2015) 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 440 species, along with 20 mammals, and considering we didn’t even go to the south of the country (our optional southern extension) this was very good total indeed.

Our tour started off in the saltpans of Pak Thale just south of the capital Bangkok. Here we caught up with our main targets Spoon-billed Sandpiper (after some effort) and Nordmann’s Greenshank, among the thousands of other wintering shorebirds. Next Kaeng Krachan National Park revealed its hidden wonders, especially at a hide where a pair of Kalij Pheasants, Bar-backed and Scaly-throated Partridges, Large Scimitar-Babbler, and the normally ultra-shy Lesser Mouse-Deer drank in plain sight. We also had a sighting of a rare Dhole near the road, while a few “southern” style birds like Blue Pitta, Black-and-yellow Broadbills, and a Red-bearded Bee-eater gave us plenty of color for the day.

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 Red-breasted Parakeet and Siamese Fireback, and seeing both turned out to be easy this trip, forgetting both; impossible. A couple of night drives here also gave us a first for our Thailand tours, both a Red Giant Flying Squirrel (in flight!) and a Slow Loris adding to our high quality mammal list. Travelling north we made a stop at the very birdy Bueng Boraphet for a boat ride and a few Ferruginous Ducks and Cinnamon Bitterns among many other waterbirds. Even further north we made it to the hulking mountains of the northwest where the mixture of great weather and keen-eyed birders made for some very productive days of birding. At the highest point in Thailand, Doi Inthanon, we came face-to-face with Rufous-throated Partridges, Green-tailed Sunbirds, and even Green Cochoa, while at Doi Chiang Dao we found our target Giant Nuthatch. Visiting Doi Ang Khang gave us Hume’s Pheasant and striking scenery, while birding along the rugged Burmese border at Doi Lang had us 10 feet away from a roosting Hodgson’s Frogmouth with nearby Spot-breasted Parrotbills and a Red-flanked Bluetail.

Now, I am just mentioning the wildlife, 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.

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