Huay Kha Kaeng Wildlife Sanctuary is another superb site to spot wildlife.Located at 35 km from Lan Sak town,in Uthai Thani province.It was declared World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1991 and with the adjoining Thungyai Naresuan Wildlife Sanctuary make up the largest protected area in South-east Asia .It covers an area of 3,609,375 rai. This sanctuary host 120 species of mammals and around 400 species of birds. If you want to stay overnight you have to apply for a permit in advance ( only given to naturalists and researchers ). To get there you need your own transportation, as there are no public buses or any kind of transportation to take you to the sanctuary.
I decided to go there in a trip organized by BCST ( Bird Conservation Society of Thailand ). BCST applied for a permit in December and they got it in April.I woke up early, at 4:00 am, and I met my other fellow birdwatchers at 5:00 am in a gas station in Bangkok.We spent 6 hours before arriving in the sanctuary.We passed Nakon Sawan,Lan Sak and finally we arrived in Huay Kha Khaeng at 11 o’clock.After showing the permit at the gate,the driver drove for 15 kilometers until the headquarters.
Huay Kha Khaeng map
Along the road I could see some salt licks and water sites, excellent for spotting wildlife.Once there I was pretty excited to do some birding around the headquarters.We left our stuff in the rooms and we started to check the birds around.You are not allowed to go too much farther as there is a lot of wildlife around.The rangers told us that there are 9 tigers around the headquarters.There is a tiger trail for the most adventurous.Around the headquarters we could see Hog deers and Eld’s deers that are breeding for reintroduction.
The first stunning bird that we saw is a Purple Sunbird.Red-billed Blue Magpie is a quite common bird around the headquarters, especially near the restaurant.Black-throated Oriole,Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush and Golden-fronted Leafbird are other superb birds that are surprisingly common there.
Himalayan Swiftlet,Asian Palm Swift,Fork-tailed Swift and Crested Treeswift were easily seen around this area.Near our rooms there is a forest where we spotted an Asian Barred Owlet and a Lesser Yellownape. Common Flameback was another nice addition that we found in a tree near the Scub’s Memorial.
In the afternoon we went to walk to the dry dipterocarp forest nature trail.There are lots of animal tracks along it ( I will talk about it in my next post ) and some remarkable birds as the Oriental Pied Hornbill and the Asian Paradise Flycatcher,another great bird to add to our list.We almost get lost,as there were some junctions along the trail and lots of dried leaves.Our bcst guide called the rangers to pick us up but eventually we found the way to come back.
Once we came back, a Green-billed Malkoha was perched on a branch in a tree near the headquarters and around 5 o’clock we saw the magnificent Black-headed Woodpecker, that is another extremely beautiful and common bird to see there.I think it’s the most beautiful woodpecker that I’ve seen in my life, with their black head with a red stripe crown ( only males ), their yellow throat and chest, pale green back and red rump.
Male Black-headed Woodpecker
At night, Large-tailed Nightjar were singing around the headquarters.Brown Fish Owl is usually found along the small river beside the headquarters. So at night, a small group of birdwatchers went along the river with flashlights but we were not lucky enough to find it.
We woke up at 5:30 am and we were ready for bird watching at 6 am.Early morning a superb Stork-billed Kingfisher was perched on a branch, just a few meters from us !! Thick-billed Green Pigeon was another interesting bird to see perched on a branch near the small river.Green Imperial Pigeon and Mountain Imperial Pigeon were seen flying around the headquarters.Scarlet Minivet was another nice bird to see at that time.
Around 10 am,near the visitor center a pair of Black-headed Woodpecker came to feed on the ground and climbed on a trunk.This bird usually flies quite low among trees and they seems to be very tame in this area.
In the afternoon,following the road to the main gate we stopped at Pa Teng Rang trail. Here, Large Cuckoo shrike and Black-headed Woodpecker were spotted flying around.Near the trail, I saw 5 individuals of Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, unmistakable with their blue back and red bill, climbing on a tree.
Pa Teng Rang trail entrance
After that we went to the next point called Woodpecker Kingdom,at km 10 of the metaled road to the headquarters, where can be found up to 16 species of woodpecker.However,there was a low birding activity in that area.Next stop was at the Green Peafowl lek area.We couldn’t find the Green Peafowl, that is more easily seen in the morning than in the afternoon.There we spotted , among others, Asian Paradise Flycatcher and the magnificent Asian Emerald Cuckoo, a female,perched on a dead tree.I was walking around this area when suddenly a Siamese Hare run into the forest .
Our last stop was beside the gate.There is a water basin where we found Asian Paradise Flycatcher,White-rumped Shama and Pied Fantail drinking on that place.The ranger told us that beside the river there was a place where probably the nicest bird of Thailand, the Green Peafowl, usually come to drink water in the afternoon.We wait for a while but we couldn’t see it.
Place where the Green Peafowl usually comes to drink water, on the right side of the river
It was a great experience to live and see this wildlife sanctuary, even only around the allowed area around the headquarters.Next time I will try to go by my own, but this will be another story !!! See you my friends !!