Sunday, March 10, 2019


Khao Sok had been great but was still stretching the budget a bit so we found much cheaper accommodation on the east coast. Getting to Surat Thani by local bus was straightforward enough but if you aren't going to Koh Samui or Ko Pha Ngan onward travel is challenging. The usual problem of multiple bus stations and touts offering private taxis for anything up to 1400 baht (over £30). We finally managed to find a local bus to Khanom town centre, then got the resort to pick us up from there. Total cost 400 baht, saving around £20, and that can go a long way in Thailand.

As an alternative to the more expensive and popular islands to the north this quiet stretch of coastline is well off the beaten track and for some reason is especially popular with people from Germany. The beaches are long and sandy and the water warm, but it's as well to be cautious swimming here. I got a very painful jellyfish sting on the arm here and, with Box Jellyfish, while rare, very much a possibility in these waters, it was uncomfortable and nerve racking for a short time.

That aside, our cheap, comfortable wooden bungalow here suited us very nicely, the birding was excellent and we stayed about a week (when the place became fully booked and we were forced to move on). The birding was excellent.

Among the common birds were plenty of Brahminy Kites, Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, Indochinese Roller, Lineated Barbets, Ashy Minivets etc. Soon had my first views of Common Flameback and they went on to show very well at times.

Good views of a Black Baza here were my first for years and this rather poor photo is the only record I have of a flyover Painted Stork, something of a scarcity here I think. Large-tailed Nightjar heard in the evenings.
Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala

One of the main attractions turned out to be the wetland areas running parallel with the coastal strip just a few tens of meters inland. A few areas of flooding and pools were visible, easiest from the bridge just east of the town centre but also from fields opposite Khanom Cabana Beach Resort along the beach road to the south. There may be other ways of viewing the area from tracks either running west from the coastal road or east from the road south from the town. There's also a minor road to the south linking those two main roads but viewing from here was less productive.

Only one other lifer revealed itself here with several sightings of Cinnamon Bittern. A much more secretive bird than Yellow Bittern (also seen here a few times). Other highlights here were Lesser Whistling Duck, Pink-necked Green-pigeon, Grey-headed Swamphen, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Wood Sandpiper, Oriental Pratincole, Purple Heron, Black-winged Kite and Black-browed Reed Warbler. Almost all proved too difficult to photograph with my equipment sadly.

Little Cormorant Microcarbo niger
A scooter proved very useful here, for quicker access to the wetlands, trips into town for supplies and a couple of excursions to nearby areas in the hills to the south. A couple of waterfalls in the hills were fun with cool water at both but few birds of note.

We also went up a fairly arduous steep road to Dat Fa Mountain viewpoint, which proved quite a strain for the little scooter. Dogs kept us from the very top unfortunately but we did see Crested Serpent Eagle, Square-tailed Drongo-cuckoo and Plume-toed Swiftlets.

Finally one morning I saw this sadly deceased (non-venomous) Indochinese Rat Snake by the roadside.
Indochinese Rat Snake Ptyas korros

Total of 65 species:
Lesser Whistling-Duck
Spotted Dove
Zebra Dove
Pink-necked Green-Pigeon
Greater Coucal
Asian Koel
Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo
Large-tailed Nightjar
Plume-toed Swiftlet
Germain's Swiftlet
House Swift
Asian Palm-Swift
Common Moorhen
Grey-headed Swamphen
White-breasted Waterhen
Black-winged Stilt
Red-wattled Lapwing
Pheasant-tailed Jacana
Wood Sandpiper
Oriental Pratincole
Asian Openbill
Painted Stork
Little Cormorant
Yellow Bittern
Cinnamon Bittern
Purple Heron
Great White Egret
Intermediate Egret
Little Egret
Cattle Egret
Chinese Pond Heron
Black-winged Kite
Black Baza
Crested Serpent-Eagle
Brahminy Kite
Common Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher
Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Indochinese Roller
Lineated Barbet
Common Flameback
Ashy Minivet
Black-naped Oriole
Common Iora
Malaysian Pied-Fantail
Black Drongo
Brown Shrike
Large-billed Crow
Common Tailorbird
Black-browed Reed Warbler
Barn Swallow
Pacific Swallow
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Streak-eared Bulbul
Common Myna
Great Myna
Asian Brown Flycatcher
Oriental Magpie-Robin
Orange-bellied Flowerpecker
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker
Brown-throated Sunbird
Olive-backed Sunbird
Baya Weaver
Eurasian Tree Sparrow

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