Trip report: Thailand (Feb-March 2018) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Laurie Ross. This was a set-departure tour that included the Thai Peninsula extension

As a guide; Thailand is one of the most exciting places to guide, from the amazing landscapes to the extremely friendly people then there is the food, oh the food. Our main tours bird list totaled an insane 472 species along with 17 mammals, we picked up an extra 67 species on the six-day extension bringing our grand total to a mind boggling 538 species.

The tour started out extremely well, the first morning we had a Malayan Night-heron fly across in front of the car. Then just down the road we picked up great birds like Spot-billed Pelican and Black-faced Ibis. Continuing to Laem Phak Bia and the Pak Thale Salt Pans we ticked up a huge list of waders including the endangered Nordmann’s Greenshank, Pied Avocet and the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

Next spot was the wild Kaeng Krachan National Park; here we spent three very productive days in and around the National Park. We also spent time in some amazing bird hides that the locals have set up, stand out birds were Ratchet-tailed Treepie, Kalij Pheasant, Red and Blue-bearded Bee-eaters, Raffles & Chestnut-breasted Malkoha and five species of Broadbill. We also had some great mammals including Yellow-throated Martin and Dusky Langur.
Next spot on the itinerary was the famous Khao Yai National Park, here we found extremely hard birds like Coral-billed Ground-cuckoo, Blue Pitta, Great-eared Nightjar and Wreathed Hornbill, we even found a pair of Orange-breasted Trogon feeding young chicks right beside the road. We also had a great encounter with a bull Asiatic Elephant. Leaving Khao Yai we headed North to Bueng Boraphet Lake, highlights here were close up views of Small Pratincole, eye-level photographs of Yellow Bittern and a vagrant Greater Flamingo.

Now in Northern Thailand we visited Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand’s highest mountain. In the lower elevations we found a pair of mating Collared Falconets, White-bellied and Black-headed Woodpeckers and some very noisy Eurasian Jays. At the top of the mountain we found high elevation specialties like Gould’s Sunbird, Green-tailed Sunbird, Silver-eared Laughing-thrushes, Rufous-throated Partridges, a very cooperative Ashy Woodpigeon. I also have to mention the very tiny Pygmy Cupwing which we had incredible views.

Next on the itinerary Doi Chiang Dao and the beautiful temple steps, highlights were Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Pin-tailed Pigeon and a very tiny Speckled Piculet.

Doi Ang Khang we found Scarlet-faced Liocichla, White-browed Laughing-thrush, male Daurian Redstart, eye-level views of Spot-winged Grosbeak and also amazing views of Rusty-naped Pitta.

The last major stop for the main tour was Doi Lang which is a morning everyone enjoys, highlights here were Spot-breasted Parrotbill, Hume’s Pheasant, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-babbler stuffing his face and of course the juvenile Hodgson’s Frogmouth sitting on his nest. The afternoon was spent at Tha Ton Paddies where we found rare birds like Rain Quail, Chestnut-eared Buntings and Bluethroat.

The last morning of the main tour started on the banks of the Mekong River, here we found some incredible birds like Black-headed & Black-faced Buntings, Red Avadavats Barred Button-quail, next was Chiang Saen Lake, here we found Indian Spot-billed Duck and Eurasian Wryneck.

The first day of the Southern extension started with a mid-morning flight down to Krabi, we spent the afternoon exploring the Mangroves around Krabi with a local boat driver / bird guide. Here highlights were Chinese Egret, Brown-winged Kingfisher, Black-and-red Broadbill, Ruddy Kingfisher and Ashy Tailorbird. The following morning we had a close up encounter with Mangrove Pitta who ended up being bird of the extension.
Next leg we explored Khao Nor Chuchi for two days, here we found our final two Broadbills, Black-and-yellow and Green Broadbill. We also had great views of the stunning Whiskered Treeswift and had good numbers of new Bulbuls and Spiderhunters. This is also were we ticked up our 500th bird, Forest Wagtail.

The final leg of the tour took us up to Krung Ching National Park, in this pristine lowland rainforest we found some great new birds, highlights were Blyth’s Hawk-eagle, Rufous Piculet, Buffy Fish-Owl, Scarlet-rumped Trogon, Gold-whiskered Barbet, Scaly-breasted Bulbul and a beautiful male Korean Flycatcher.

I have to say this tour was incredibly enjoyable, not only did we see well over 500 birds, saw beautiful sights and ate incredible food, we also met some of the friendliest people you could ever as for.

I sure do love guiding here in Thailand!