We flew Emirates to Bangkok via Dubai again and stayed with my cousin in the city near Phrom Phong. Dawn the next morning revealed Asian Koel, Ashy Drongo, Coppersmith Barbets, Great Myna, Zebra and Spotted Doves, Yellow-vented and Streak-eared Bulbuls, Long-billed Crow, plenty of Oriental Magpie Robins and a Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker. Variable Squirrels were entertaining. Not a bad selection for a city high rise.
Karen is a big fan of bats so with a few days to spare before we met up with Gift of Happiness back in Bangkok we decided to head out to the temple famed for its colony of Lyle's Flying Foxes not too far from the capital.
15 February 2017 Wat Pho Bang Khla, Chachoengsao
First impressions were that the colony here is in much smaller trees than the ones I'd seen previously. As a consequence you are much closer to the roosting bats. In particular there is a small tower containing a bell and drum and climbing that brings you eye level with a few.
|Lyle's Flying Fox (male!) Pteropus lylei|
|Lyle's Flying Fox Pteropus lylei|
|Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopaceus|
Having had our fill of the pteropodids we decided to head for the island of Ko Sichang by taking the songthaew back to Chachoengsao and a minivan from there to Sriracha. By the time we got there it was getting dark and by the time the last ferry had made the 45 minute crossing it was. We hadn't booked anywhere to stay and ended up walking right across the island before finding a suitable place (disturbing a very large pig in the dark on the way - don't know who was more alarmed!). It seems most places were closed at this time of year!
16 February 2017 Ko Sichang
|Zebra Dove Geopelia striata|
|Chalky Percher Diplacodes trivialis|
The return ferry trip departed from a different pier! Turns out this is not an unusual feature of Thai islands and always worth checking if you're travelling independently. Right after leaving encountered a Little Egret flying low over the water with neck extended and picking from the surface of the water. Not behaviour I've witnessed before. Good numbers of Gull-billed Terns were further out and Whiskered Terns closer to Sriracha harbour.
The bus back to Bangkok was less than a couple of hours and about £2 each.
17 February 2017 Lumphini Park
After a meeting at the charity HQ we took the opportunity to pay a visit to my favourite patch where the regulars were as entertaining as ever.
The morning of the 18th started with us helping out at the Gift of Happiness headquarters sorting donations to take on the following day's long journey north. But in the afternoon we had time to head to an area I'd long wanted to explore. We took a taxi to the port at Khlong Toei, accidentally visiting the adjacent Wat in the process and, once across on the small ferry, were admiring the wonderful Mudskippers and a pair of Collared Kingfishers on wires alongside the Chao Phraya river. Bike hire was easy and soon we were in the heavily forested wetlands and having one of the best meals ever in a little shack.
We decided not to go too far and spent a lot of the time in the shade at the Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park and Botanical Gardens. Pink-necked Green Pigeons were among the first birds we saw. A Black-capped Kingfisher showed very briefly and a Green-billed Malkoha well by an observation tower where I managed a shot of a female or immature pigeon. Indochinese Roller and Brahminy Kite also nearby.
19 February 2017 Mae Sot
|Sooty-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus aurigaster|
The next four days we spent travelling to remote schools in the area giving many donations and putting on shows for the children. Most had a substantial number of Burmese and hill tribe children.
There was little opportunity for birding but the scenery was stunning. A possible Barred Buttonquail was flushed into tapioca at one point. Hoopoe, Common Kestrel and Purple Sunbird were all notable.
25 February 2017 Chiang Mai
|Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis|
A full day travelling on two buses via Tak the previous day. Hired a car and drove to accommodation on the western edge of Doi Suthep National Park. The Bulun Buri Resort has excellent views across rice paddies to the hills either side of the valley. Views such as Crested Treeswifts mobbing Shikras, a flock of 4 Black Bazas together over, showy Greater Coucals, 2 Scarlet Minivets, White-breasted Waterhens and Pied Bushchats in the paddies.
|Rosy Minivet Pericrocotus roseus|
|Black-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus atriceps|
A bit of luck finding this cracking spot although it is more or less signposted. A fairly rough drive up to 850m and a walk down a short valley finds the unattended cave entrance. We didn't find any roosting bats but then we couldn't penetrate very deep into the caves as we did not have a good torch.
|White-rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus|
26 February 2017 Doi Inthanon National Park
The jewel in the crown of this trip was to be a couple of days at this mountainous national park, home to Thailand's highest point at the summit of the eponymous peak. We drove in paying the entrance fee of about £15 and stayed one night. All the accommodation we looked at was pretty poor, overpriced and best not mentioned. It was a cold night (9 degrees maybe?). There are occasionally frosts near the summit, which can be a tourist attraction in itself for locals.
|Blue Whistling Thrush Myophonus caeruleus|
|Plumbeous Water Redstart Rhyacornis fuliginosa|
|Peacock Jewel Rhinocypha fenestrella|
|Bar-throated Minla Minla strigula|
27 February 2017 Doi Inthanon
After a chilly night and a meagre breakfast at our crappy overpriced chalet near the Park HQ we headed for the monument area just below the summit. Davison's Leaf Warblers were particularly abundant with many singing and a pair mating. Green-tailed Sunbird, Dark-backed Sibia and Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker also here.
|Green-tailed Sunbird Aethopyga nipalensis|
28 February 2017 Doi Suthep
|Taiga Flycatcher Ficedula albicilla|
Final day in the north and we headed to this royal hill resort. The gardens of the Buping Palace were pretty birdy with 2 Black Bazas over, 2 Velvet-fronted Nuthatches and Cinereous Tit as well as leaf warblers, common bulbuls, Taiga Flycatcher and Ashy Drongo.
|Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius|
|Asian Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx maculatus|
|Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis|