Monday, January 28, 2019

Pak Meng Beach

It's a sad fact that travelling on an extremely tight budget forces you to forgo certain places. So it was as we arrived for the first time in southern peninsular Thailand after a very pleasant sleeper train south from Hua Hin. To our west lay a tempting array of beautiful tropical islands but we found that the ferry fares were at holiday-maker prices and would be impossible on the money we had allowed ourselves. So when we got to Trang we took a local bus to the west coast and stayed at Pak Meng Beach on the mainland.




This was my first time on the Andaman Coast and my first real taste of Sundaic fauna. Many potential lifers lay among the resident and wintering birds as we moved further south. More would have been possible by pushing into the mangroves and reserves to the north and south but this list was just from a couple of days spent in the accommodation garden, the beach area backed by extensive casuarina trees and the road running north just inland.

The swiftlets were particularly interesting here as they fed very low along the beach and detailed comparison between the species was possible.

Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus

Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis

Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus

Greater Sandplover Charadrius leschenaultii

Grey-capped Woodpecker Yungipicus canicapillus

Olive-backed Sunbird Cinnyris jugularis

Orange-bellied Flowerpecker Dicaeum trigonostigma

Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica

Feral Pigeon
Red Collared Dove
Spotted Dove
Zebra Dove
Greater Coucal
Green-billed Malkoha
Asian Koel
Great Eared-Nightjar
Seen overhead when nearly dark, calling. Call sounded very like Malaysian Nightjar but calls quite similar and assumed to be this species on range.
* Black-nest Swiftlet
Definitely present alongside Germain's. Good views as they hawked low over the beach. Dark rump and structural differences clear.
Germain's Swiftlet
* Grey-rumped Treeswift
Greater Sand Plover
Lesser/Greater Sand Plover
Whimbrel 4
Common Sandpiper 4
Pacific Reef-Heron 2
Crested Honey-buzzard 2
Brahminy Kite
Brown Boobook
Eurasian Hoopoe 1
White-throated Kingfisher 1
Indochinese Roller 3
* Dollarbird 1
Coppersmith Barbet
Lineated Barbet
* Grey-capped Woodpecker 1
Ashy Minivet
Common Iora
Ashy Drongo - many in casuarina trees along beach
Large-billed Crow
Common Tailorbird - only in the garden of the accommodation
Dark-necked Tailorbird
Barn Swallow
Pacific Swallow
* Rufous-bellied Swallow 2
Streak-eared Bulbul
* Asian Glossy Starling 1
Common Myna
Asian Brown Flycatcher 1
* Orange-bellied Flowerpecker 1 - in garden
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker
Olive-backed Sunbird
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
* Forest Wagtail - In woodland along inland road running parallel to beach towards the pier.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Spectacled Langurs

Next stop on our SE Asian tour was Pran Buri. This is a bustling town near Hua Hin on the western seaboard of Thailand and not usually on any traveller's list of places to stop. However we were once again spending a week with the Gift Of Happiness charity as they distributed donations to schools in the hills west of the town. The schools here are run by the Thai Border Police for the Karen hilltribes as part of a long-running, successful initiative to reduce border crime in the area. In the past the area was rife with smuggling, people trafficking and related crime but with the cooperation of the Karen tribes this has been all but eliminated.

Each day we would make fairly arduous drives into the interior to reach the schools where the clothes, toys and other donations were sorted out and then a fabulous comedy show put on for the children. Read the full report here.

Time to watch for wildlife was limited but there were a few interesting things to see. Wild Elephants were around in a couple of places and although we didn't see the animals we did come across signs a few times. A troupe of Spectacled Langurs at one school showed very well and even moved into trees where they could see the show, curious about the noise coming from the outdoor hall.

Birdlife was fairly unremarkable but I did see my first Hair-crested Drongo for some time and Common Hill Mynas were plentiful at one school. Raptors were well represented with Crested Honey-buzzard, Crested Serpent-Eagle, Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Eastern Marsh Harrier, Shikra and Oriental Hobby all showing. Thick-billed Flowerpecker was the only lifer.

At the end of the week we spent a day by the sea in Hua Hin where Whiskered & Common Terns, Little Egrets and Pacific Reef Egrets fed in the open sewer flowing into the sea.




Spectacled Langur Trachypithecus obscurus

Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus picatus

Hair-crested Drongo Dicrurus hottentottus

Orange Gull Cepora judith

The Clipper Parthenos sylvia

Feral Pigeon
Red Collared Dove
Spotted Dove
Zebra Dove
Greater Coucal
Asian Koel
Himalayan Swiftlet
Red-wattled Lapwing
Whiskered Tern
Common Tern
Asian Openbill
Little Egret
Pacific Reef-Heron
Cattle Egret
Crested Honey-buzzard
Crested Serpent-Eagle
Mountain Hawk-Eagle
Eastern Marsh Harrier
Shikra
White-throated Kingfisher
Green Bee-eater
Indian Roller
Coppersmith Barbet
Oriental Hobby
Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike
Ashy Woodswallow
Brown Shrike
Black-naped Oriole
Black Drongo
Hair-crested Drongo
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
Barn Swallow
Stripe-throated Bulbul
Streak-eared Bulbul
Yellow-browed Warbler
Asian Brown Flycatcher
Taiga Flycatcher
Common Hill Myna
Asian Pied Starling
Common Myna
Great Myna
Thick-billed Flowerpecker
Plain-throated Sunbird
Olive-backed Sunbird
Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Sunday, January 20, 2019

A Week in Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya is an ancient capital of Thailand and UNESCO World Heritage site with many old temples some in various stages of ruin and/or restoration. As a town it leaves much to be desired. The roads are very busy and the place is not well looked after in comparison to other Thai towns. There's a general air that people can't be bothered.

After the first night in the town fairly near the railway station we moved on to a quieter place on the Chao Phraya river in the SW corner of the 'island'. The Athithara Homestay suited us very nicely and was next to an excellent quiet park with many old ruins, very few people and some relatively undisturbed wilder habitat. As a result the wildlife was pretty good and we stayed all week.

Kingfishers were particularly well represented. Up to 4 Pied Kingfishers plied the river in front of the guesthouse and Common, White-throated, Black-capped and Stork-billed Kingfishers all showed well in the park. Owls were also pretty good with Asian Barred and Spotted Owlets both showing well. Small Minivets were quite common with 2 even turning up at the railway station when we left.

Yellow Bittern was quite numerous and a wintering Thick-billed Warbler was another highlight. Lineated Barbets were particularly plentiful, Plaintive cuckoos could be quite showy and Red-wattled Lapwings were everywhere. Singing Dark-necked Tailorbird seen on first day appears to be quite unusual here perhaps.

Other wildlife included several Water Monitors, a few common Treeshrews and at one of the outer temples (Wat Chai Watthanaram) a colony of Free-tailed Bats.
White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis
Stork-billed Kingfisher Pelargopsis capensis
Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata

Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis

Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis


Spotted Owlet Athene brama


Small Minivet Pericrocotus cinnamomeus



Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus

Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus

Oriental Magpie-robin Copsychus saularis

Little Cormorant Microcarbo niger

Lineated Barbet Megalaima lineata

Indian Roller Coracias benghalensis



Free-tail Bats Molossidae

Giant Crab Spider Sparassidae

Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus

Blue Glassy Tiger Ideopsis vulgaris

Kapok Bug Probergrothius nigricornis



Rock Dove
Red Collared Dove
Spotted Dove
Zebra Dove
Greater Coucal
Green-billed Malkoha
Asian Koel
Plaintive Cuckoo
Germain's Swiftlet
Asian Palm-Swift
White-breasted Waterhen
Red-wattled Lapwing
Whiskered Tern
Asian Openbill
Little Cormorant
Yellow Bittern
Great White Egret
Little Egret
Cattle Egret
Chinese Pond Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Shikra
Brahminy Kite
Asian Barred Owlet
Spotted Owlet
Eurasian Hoopoe
Common Kingfisher
Stork-billed Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher
Black-capped Kingfisher
Pied Kingfisher
Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Indian Roller
Coppersmith Barbet
Lineated Barbet
Ashy Woodswallow
Common Iora
Small Minivet
Black-naped Oriole
Black Drongo
Ashy Drongo
Malaysian Pied-Fantail
Black-naped Monarch
Large-billed Crow
Barn Swallow
Red-whiskered Bulbul
Streak-eared Bulbul
Yellow-browed Warbler
Thick-billed Warbler
Common Tailorbird
Dark-necked Tailorbird
Plain Prinia
Asian Brown Flycatcher
Oriental Magpie-Robin
Taiga Flycatcher
Common Myna
Great Myna
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker
Paddyfield Pipit
House Sparrow
Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Friday, January 11, 2019

King Rama IX Park, Suan Luang, Bangkok

For reasons too convoluted to go into here we ended up returning to Bangkok staying fairly close to King Rama IX park in the Suan Luang district in the east of the city. Spent a very pleasant day wandering around the grounds of this extensive and quite varied municipal park.

Compared to Lumphini Park, which I know very well, it is much quieter, more formal in places and with possibly a greater variety of wildlife. Certainly there are some birds here that I've not seen in Lumphini. For a map of the park and plenty of information check out Nick Upton's superb website: https://www.thaibirding.com/locations/central/sluang.htm

Most productive areas were the trees and ponds at the very southern end, the boardwalk across the swamp south of the main lake (marked as Night Heron colony on Nick's map) and the more densely vegetated areas of the northern edge. A list of the birds seen follows the photos but also notable were many Common Treeshrews - a species we've only encountered a couple of times before in Thailand. Water Monitors, Variable Squirrels, Flat-tailed Geckos and Malayan Snail-eating Turtles were also easy to see. A Tokay Gecko also showed well.

Pink-necked Pigeons and Plain Prinias were particularly numerous.

Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa latirostris

Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopaceus

Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis

Brown-throated Sunbird Anthreptes malacensis

Common Palmfly Elymnias hypermnestra

Flat-tailed House Gecko Hemidactylus platyurus

Pond Heron (probably Javan)

Olive-backed Sunbird nest with young Cinnyris jugularis 

Pink-necked Green Pigeon Treron vernans

Plain Prinia Prinia inornata

Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus

Tokay Gecko Gekko gecko

Variable Squirrel Callosciurus finlaysonii


Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis
Feral Pigeon
Red Collared Dove
Spotted Dove
Zebra Dove
Pink-necked Pigeon
Asian Koel
Plaintive Cuckoo
Germain's Swiftlet
House Swift
Asian Palm-Swift
White-breasted Waterhen
Asian Openbill
Yellow Bittern
Intermediate Egret
Little Egret
pond heron sp.
Common Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher
Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Indian Roller
Coppersmith Barbet
Common Iora
Brown Shrike
Black-naped Oriole
Black Drongo
Malaysian Pied-Fantail
Large-billed Crow
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Streak-eared Bulbul
Yellow-browed Warbler
Common Tailorbird
Plain Prinia
Asian Brown Flycatcher
Oriental Magpie-Robin
Asian Pied Starling
Common Myna
Great Myna
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker
Brown-throated Sunbird
Olive-backed Sunbird
Eastern Yellow Wagtail
Paddyfield Pipit
House Sparrow
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
Scaly-breasted Munia