Saturday, 1 March 2008

Thailand April 7, 2007

THAILAND
APRIL 7, 2007

David M. Gascoigne and Miriam Bauman


We allowed for two days in Bangkok on our way to Bhutan. The first day was allocated as a rest day in order to catch up on jet lag and permit time to relax after the long flights from Toronto via Narita.
Arrangements had been made with Nature Trails, a Bangkok based birding tour company, to have one day’s birding just outside Bangkok. Our guide for the day, Rattapon Kaichid, who uses the easy-to-remember nickname Tu, and our driver Asana Nunthanavanich (nickame Off) picked us up at the Novatel Suvarnabhumi Hotel, near the new international airport promptly at 06:00h. We were soon driving through the busy traffic of this huge, sprawling city, seeing a few Asian Openbills soaring high overhead as we sped along. After about an hour we arrived at our first destination.

Kampangsaen

This is an area close to the agricultural university and features a variety of habitats, including a significant amount of wetland. It was a superb area to bird and we were ably assisted by the keen eyes and extensive knowledge of Tu, who I must say can get a scope on a bird faster than anyone I have ever known, regardless of the position of the bird, whether high in a tree or far off in the distance. Almost without exception we had superb looks at all the birds we saw that day.
One of the desirable species we wished to see was Lesser Whistling Duck and this was the very first species we saw on exiting from the vehicle. In total we saw 14 of them throughout our period at Kampangsaen. A superb Black-capped Kingfisher flew across in front of us and perched obligingly on an overhanging branch where we could scope it easily and look at it to our heart’s content. Black Drongo was common and it was rare that we did not have one or two of these birds close by. We were pleasantly surprised by the presence of numerous Chinese Pond Herons (21 by our count before we left), and we also saw 3 Javan Pond Herons and a single Yellow Bittern. Birds were everywhere we looked, including three marvelous Coppersmith Barbets, one with a mouthful of figs that almost defied the law of gravity there were so many in its bill!
David saw a raptor fly in and come to rest in a tree on the opposite side of the wetland. Tu had it in the scope immediately and it revealed its identity - an Oriental Honey Buzzard. This excitement was followed almost immediately by the arrival of an Oriental Darter which elated Tu who told us that this species was relatively infrequent. It perched high atop a tree and stretched and preened giving us wonderful views.
Two Purple Herons stalked in the marsh and we saw no less than 4 White-throated Kingfishers. To North Americans used to seeing only Belted Kingfisher on a regular basis the colours on tropical kingfishers are truly astounding. We saw our first sunbird species ever (Brown-throated Sunbird), and two species of Bee-eater - Blue-tailed and Green. We were able to get very good looks at two Brown Shrikes, one of which caught and ate a frog.
A Bronze-winged Jacana flew across the marsh from where we flushed it and was quickly lost in the reeds where it landed. Despite the presence of many suitable lily pads we did not see any other jacanas and had to be content with this lone sighting.
Certainly one of the highlights for us was the Painted Snipe that Tu located for us, having heard it calling in a dense marsh. No sooner had we left the marsh feeling very happy about the Painted Snipe when Tu saw an Oriental Pratincole fly in. Off immediately turned the vehicle around and we returned to the marsh, where Tu found not one but two Oriental Pratincoles - we were two happy birders!
A complete list of all the birds we saw at Kampangsaen, in the order in which we saw them, is included at the end of this report. For a morning’s birding it is an impressive list indeed!
We left Kampangsaen at lunch time and were taken to a local restaurant where we had excellent food. It was a wonderful experience for us to be able to dine in a “regular” Thai establishment far from the tourist areas or from the buffets of the major hotels. Tu and Off chose the food and we enjoyed it immensely.

Phutthamonthon

This extensive area is a Buddhist park where, on the day of our visit, the king’s granddaughter was also visiting. It is a lovely area with many trees, open areas and water also. We birded there after lunch in the heat of the day and the number of species was not great, but we added some quality birds, including Forest Wagtail, Yellow-rumped Flycatcher and Asian Brown Flycatcher.
Because of expected traffic jams caused by road closures to facilitate the royal visit, we left at around 16:00h and were back at the hotel by 17:00h.

General Comments

Tu and Off were superb companions for the day - personable, friendly and very knowledgeable. We would recommend them very highly, without the slightest hesitation. Our day’s birding was all that we could have wished for and we were very satisfied. Furthermore the advance arrangements handled by Patcharee at Nature Trails were done professionally and all the details were carried out to the letter.
If further information is required, feel free to contact us at theospreynest@sympatico.ca or at 519 725-0866, or you can fax us at 519 725-1176.


ALL SPECIES SEEN AT KAMPANGSAEN
(LD = Lifer for David, LM = Lifer for Miriam)


Lesser Whistling Duck, LD, LM
Black-capped Kingfisher, LD, LM
Black Drongo, LD, LM
Pied Fantail, LD, LM
Plain Prinia, LD, LM
Streak-eared Bulbul, LD, LM
Blue-tailed Bee-eater, LD, LM
Plaintive Cuckoo, LD, LM
Black-naped Oriole, LD, LM
Chinese Pond Heron, LD, LM
Coppersmith Barbet, LD, LM
Spotted Dove, LD, LM
Sooty-headed Bulbul, LD, LM
Asian Cattle Egret, LD, LM
Asian Openbill, LD, LM
White-vented Myna LD, LM
Common Myna, LM
Oriental Honey Buzzard, LD, LM
Oriental Turtle Dove LD, LM
Asian Pied Starling, LD, LM
Indian Roller, LD, LM
Asian Koel, LD, LM
Rock Pigeon
Oriental Darter, LM
Yellow Bittern, LD, LM
Purple Heron, LD, LM
White-breasted Waterhen, LD, LM
Black-collared Starling, LD, LM
Red Collared Dove, LD, LM
Bronze-winged Jacana, LD, LM
Ashy Wood Swallow, LD, LM
Brown-throated Sunbird, LD, LM
White-throated Kingfisher, LD, LM
Common Iora, LD, LM
Brown Shrike, LD, LM
Asian Golden Weaver, LD, LM
Little Cormorant, LD, LM
Little Egret
Black-winged Stilt, LD, LM
Black-shouldered Kite, LD, LM
Bank Swallow
Small Minivet, LD, LM
Chestnut-tailed Starling, LD, LM
Greater Coucal, LD, LM
Javan Pond Heron, LD, LM
Red-wattled Lapwing, LD, LM
Intermediate Egret, LD, LM
Oriental Skylark, LD, LM
Long-tailed Shrike, LD, LM
Barn Swallow
Oriental Magpie Robin, LD, LM
Green Bee-eater, LD, LM
Indochinese Bushlark, LD, LM
Peaceful Dove, LD, LM
Plain-backed Sparrow, LD, LM
Paddyfield Pipit, LD, LM
Asian Palm Swift, LD, LM
Scaly-breasted Munia, LD, LM
Marsh Sandpiper, LD, LM
Wood Sandpiper, LD, LM
Painted Snipe, LD, LM
Oriental Pratincole, LD, LM
Eurasian Tree Sparrow
White-rumped Munia, LD, LM


ALL SPECIES SEEN AT PHUTTHAMONTHON

Chinese Pond Heron
Rock Dove
White-vented Myna
Common Myna
Green-billed Malkhoa
Forest Wagtail, LD (Miriam did not see this bird)
Common Iora
Brown-throated Sunbird
Black-naped Oriole
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, LD, LM
Asian Brown Flycatcher, LD, LM
Black Drongo
Asian Koel
Oriental Magpie Robin
Coppersmith Barbet
Greater Coucal
Pied Fantail
Black-capped Kingfisher
Large-billed Crow, LD, LM
Red-wattled Lapwing
Indian Roller

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