SOUTHERN THAILAND, MARCH 2013


I planned this travel for a long time.I wanted to visit Ao Phang Nga, Si Phang Nga, Khao Sok and Similan Islands National Parks.Banded Pitta and Nicobar Pigeon were the main targets to spot.

Firstly I get into a bus to Phang Nga.After 10 hours, i arrived in the town and i slept in one of the few guesthouses that are available. I woke up as always,at 6 am and i went to find the mangrove patch that is opposite Pra Srinakarin Park,near the junction to Krabi. Indeed it was quite easy to find it and there is a walkway to walk in this rectangle of mangrove patch,behind the boat restaurant and surrounded by buildings.

As soon as i started to walk silently i was surprised by the sight of a Mangrove Pitta moving quitely between the roots of a mangrove. Afterwards i found Ashy Tailorbird many times along the way.Brown-winged Kingfisher flew and perched on a branch around 7 am.I could only see the back side of this superb bird.It remained there for a while and flew away.I was not lucky enough to spot Black and Red Broadbill,and this place is famous as one of the most likely places in Thailand to see this stunning bird.Maybe this was a few years ago.Anyway i was quite pleased with my sightings and i decided to check to park that is opposite this mangrove trail.The only remarkable bird that i get was a Blue Whistling Thrush near the rocky hills.

I didn’t visit the national park headquarters as i heard that birding around there was quite poor and i didn’t have my own transportation to get there.

After spending the morning there,i headed to Sri Phang Nga.It took me around 2 hours going  by an old thai bus.The bus driver dropped me in the main junction and after get into a bike finally i arrived in the national park.The campsite was excellent,nice landscape,not many people and i could manage to rent a tent there.

An afternoon birding along the main trail until the weir didn’t produce any remarkable bird so i went back to the tent to take a rest.

Night came, and i went around to find the Javan Frogmouth but i didn’t hear any call.

Next day was somehow different.I woke up around 6:30 am and i checked around the campsite.Great Hornbill was frequently calling and this gave me some kind of hope to get something exciting.In the first few meters along the road,around 7 am, i could spot a magnificent bird, a Green Broadbill,perching just a few meters from the road.I could take a picture but as it was quite early and there was not enough light, so this is all i could get.

Green Broadbill 2

I continue walking along the trail and after walking for a while along a stream i could see a Chestnut headed Forktail moving nervously among the rocks.I went back to the main trail and after walking for a short period of time i spotted a Chestnut-breasted Malkoha feeding and moving among the leaves of a fruiting tree.Once arrived at the weir,i decided to continue along the trail that brings you to the second waterfall.Along the stream i stopped many times and i wait to try to get a glimpse of my main goal, Banded Pitta. I hide myself on the back of some rocks waiting for my precious rewarding.Around 10 am,i spot clearly a Chestnut Headed Forktail moving around the stream.It last enough to talk a quite decent picture.

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Time was passing by, and my hope to see this gorgeous pitta started to vanish.But my luck changed around 10:30 am,when i saw a yellowish head on the other side of the stream.Afterwards this little creature showed up in all its splendor. It was a Banded Pitta !! She appeared and moved slowly and went back to the forest.10 minutes later came back to the stream and at that time moved forward across the stream showing all its beauty.I cannot describe my feeling of seeing this superb bird for around 15 minutes wandering around this area.It seemed a living thing from another planet, a mixture of orange,yellow,dark blue and brown back in a perfect combination.I still remember this special moment as it was now.I could take this superb pictures that i hope you ll enjoy it.

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Banded Pitta Front

Banded Pitta

Around 10:45 the Pitta has already gone,so i decided to came back to the weir.When I almost arrived there a Great Hornbill stood in a tree eating fruits in front of me,just a few meters, and i could take this nice pictures.

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I was so amused and happy that i decided to spent the rest of the morning around the campsite, relaxed and enjoying the landscape.

In the afternoon,i headed to Khao Sok National Park, expecting the get more nice views of birds that it actually happened.I got into a bus to Takua Pa,and after that another bus to Surat Thani,where i told the bus driver to stop at the junction of the national park.From there, a lot of thais offered me to sleep in their lodge but i decided to continue and i get into a sangthaew.When i arrived just a few meters from the park gate,there were plenty options were to sleep and tourist were walking around.In my opinion, too much crowded.After checking some lodges,i decided to sleep inside the national park.Tents were not available surprisingly so i managed to sleep in one of their bungalows.Price was reasonable, 600 baths per night.

Around 4:30 pm, i went for my first birding on the main trail but i get poor results.Many tourists were found everywhere and being quite noisy.I only could see some bulbuls.

At night i went around the headquarters but no sign of frogmouths,  nightjars, owls or any other nocturnal species.Even mammals were not spotted around the headquarters.

Next day i woke up early and started to walk around the main trail.Even early in the morning the trail seemed surprisingly quiet and the birds that i heard were hard to spot.Around the headquarters, i saw an Orange-bellied flowerpecker and Olive backed Sunbirds.I got tired and felt really upset so i spend the rest of the day sleeping in the bungalow.

At night i went for a night safari with a guide, expecting to find some interesting mammals.I walked for almost 4 hours along the main trail until the old campsite but i only could see some Asian Palm Civet poop,a Mouse Deer running in the forest and some interesting insects but no sign of  most of the mammals,where in other national parks are more likely seen.

Next morning i went along the main trail again and i could see a Raffle’s Malkoha,feeding on a tree,a Little Spiderhunter and some bulbuls. Afterwards i went through one of the marked trails and i stopped at Sok River when a Black-capped Kingfisher flew along the river.

At noon i left Khao Sok and i continue my trip to Khao Lak.It took me around 2 hours to get there.Khao Lak was one of the towns most affected by the tsunami in 2004 ( you should watch the movie ” The impossible” ).There is a national park at 3 km from town but i didn t heared good reviews about it so i didn’t explore it.I booked a tour to Similan Islands to do some good snorkeling and to try to find one of the most beautiful pigeons in the world : Nicobar pigeon.This is an endangered species of birds that can be found in these islands.

So at 7: 30 am i woke up,the van picked me up and we went to the pier.In one hour and 15 minutes we arrived in the first island,Kho 9 and afterwards we stopped in Kho 8 to take lunch.Around the campsite area and the restaurant i spotted many Pied Imperial Pigeons flying around, a White-bellied Sea Eagle and a Green Imperial Pigeon, but no signs of Nicobar Pigeon.After snorkeling in Kho 7 we went to kho 4 or Kho Miang,where i heard that Nicobar Pigeons were frequently seen.I was quite skeptic  to find it because it was almost 2 o’clock and it was very hot so i thought that these birds were hidden inside the jungle at that time.When i arrived there i asked the rangers where can i find these gorgeous pigeons,the ranger was not sure what i was talking about but after some misunderstandings he told me that the birds were inside the jungle.I decided to explore the trail that leads to the other campsite and i heard the song of these pigeons but i could see them clearly.When i was coming back to the main campsite i saw the shape of a pigeon landing on the sand.My dream came true.It was a Nicobar Pigeon feeding in a piece of carrot left ! After walking around the campsite,another Nicobar Pigeon,a splendorous male,appeared and chased the other pigeon and the last one escaped and flew away.I follow it for 10 minutes trying to get the best picture showing the iridescent green and blue colour of its feathers.Finally i took some nice shots that i post here for your delight.

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I hope you enjoy my posts and pictures !

My next trip is to Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary ! See you soon !!

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2 thoughts on “SOUTHERN THAILAND, MARCH 2013

  1. Well done, David. Any place you move to-as you were-you should make the same as this. This is very interesting but i know in that area are many more interesting things to see. Pay attention not just about the birds but also customs of the locals. Best wishes for your next work/trip. Take care well. Mikey

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