It hurt a bit to bypass Ao Phang Nga National Park (and its dramatic karst pinnacles made famous in The Man With The Golden Gun) but once again our budget held us back, so we took a scenic, but typically chaotic, minivan journey the three hours to the much more accessible Khao Sok National Park. At 300 baht, entry here is cheaper than most of the big national parks but still quite a lot for us. However there were free nature trails and plenty of birds in the countryside close to the accommodation and plenty of excellent places to eat so it was a good choice to hang out here for a few days.
A friend visited here around this time and saw Leopard just outside the park. Taking one of the night tours into the park might be worthwhile here but I stuck to the nature trails and dawn visits to the NP on foot. It was on my first visit to trail #2 that I found my first lifer here; a pair of Chestnut-winged Babblers
nest building and displaying. The pair were calling a lot, carrying large leaves and visiting the nest.
|Chestnut-winged Babbler Cyanoderma erythropterum|
Also here were 2 Eastern Crowned Warblers, one singing, and in the general area Crimson Sunbird, Crested Honey Buzzard and Little Spiderhunter, an Orange-headed Thrush and my first Spectacled Bulbul.
|Crimson Sunbird Aethopyga siparaja|
|Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina|
|Crested Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus|
|Spectacled Bulbul Ixodia erythropthalmos|
Khao Sok National Park
My first walk into the National Park took the wide trail west before first light accompanied by the songs of White-handed Gibbons but I was only to manage fleeting glimpses of these later. At Station 1 an Orange-headed Thrush showed very well as it started to get light and at Station 3 an adult male Siberian Blue Robin. Taking a short side trail to the river shortly after this got me brief views of a noisy Chestnut-naped Forktail, the first of a series of frustrating, unsatisfactory views. The next being a flock of 5 all dark hornbills flushed from a large tree that can only have been Bushy-crested Hornbill. Then another hornbill flew over showing all dark wings, short tail and white or pale head which combined with significant wing noise makes it Wreathed Hornbill.
Things soon picked up though and at Station 8 had great views of a female Blue-banded Kingfisher; the 10th species of Kingfisher on this trip.
|Blue-banded Kingfisher Alcedo euryzona|
As well as the regular Black-headed, Black-crested and Red-eyed Bulbuls I picked out an Ochraceous Bulbul.
|Ochraceous Bulbul Alophoixus ochraceus|
A good five hours along this 5km stretch of the park and just 24 species recorded so to get 5 lifers was remarkable. I returned in the afternoon and walked the collapsing high concrete steps and walkways north of the entrance but found very little else of note except 2 Rufous-fronted Babblers and another Siberian Blue Robin and Ochraceous Bulbul.
Spent the rest of the few days we had here on the trails, plantations and river outside the park. Highlights included Chestnut-breasted Malkoha, Abbott's Babblers, Blue Whistling Thrush and Vernal Hanging Parrots.
|Vernal Hanging Parrot Loriculus vernalis|
It was great to get some rain while we were here and afterwards bird activity was hugely increased. It also brought down a large number of swifts, although identification remained difficult with both Cook's and Pacific possible among the abundant Germain's Swiftlets. Those white-rumped fork-tailed birds seen well enough appeared to be Pacific Swift. On the final evening a small all dark typical nightjar was hawking over the open ground and could only be Grey Nightjar.
Non-avian wildlife was pretty good here too. Apart from the Gibbons there were Long-tailed and Southern Pig-tailed Macaques. Some of the rest are pictured below.
|Common Palmking Amathusia phidippus|
|Emma Grey's Forest Lizard Calotes emma|
|Long-horned Orb Weaver Macracantha arcuata|
Including Lesser Whistling Duck and Crested Serpent-eagle seen on the bus heading east when we left I recorded 56 species here in four days.
Eastern Crowned Warbler
Asian Brown Flycatcher
Siberian Blue Robin
Eurasian Tree Sparrow