Southern Thailand, 12th - 17th April 2001

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Graham Talbot
Chris Campion


Introduction

Having previously been to central Thailand during January 2001 I took the opportunity of the Easter break to visit Southern Thailand This time I was accompanied by Chris Campion who had birded most areas of Thailand many times before. The main purpose of the trip for me was to see Gurney's Pitta before it was to late as the only area where it is regularly recorded, KNC, is constantly under threat from illegal clearance. More information about the campaign to preserve the area can be found on the OBC- web site www.orientalbirdclub.org/savegurneyspitta/. Information with regards the sites was found in trip reports on the various web sites Most of the information is still current obviously the latter the report the more accurate the information I am especially thank full to Paul Bamford for providing me with up to date information from his trip in March.

Logistics

We flew from Hong Kong via Bangkok to Phuket arriving early in the evening and picked up our pre booked hire car from Avis at the airport. We left hiring the car until really late and the only car left was a big four-wheel drive Jeep which was expensive. The requirement for a four wheel drive is debatable All areas are accessible by a normal vehicle in dry conditions however should you want to explore the area around KNC and it rains a four wheel drive is essential

We stayed in Krabi for two nights in two different hotels one much better than the other and at KNC we stayed in the bungalows at the Morakot.

Food was widely available and the meals at the Morakot were good so long as you liked chicken We also eat at the stalls at the entrance to the park

The weather was hot and humid throughout our stay with thunderstorms and heavy rain on the Sunday and Monday afternoons

Birdwatching was hard going at KNC and although you could hear a lot of birds calling seeing them was difficult Sometimes you could go an hour at a time and see no birds

We hired the local guide Yothin for a day. He is very good but birds are hard to see even with him. However he did find for us a Javen Frogmouth sitting in a tree in broad daylight

Itinerary

Thursday 12th April 2001

Departed Hong Kong at 15.00 arrived at Bangkok and caught our connecting flight to Phuket arriving at 19.30. Picked our pre booked hire car up from the Avis counter at the airport and headed towards Krabi. We got a bit lost on route arriving at Krabi at 22.30 Decided to spend the night at Krabi and set off for KNC the following morning.

Friday 13th April 2001

Woke late due to a latter than planned night on the town and headed towards KNC arriving at about 07.00. Had a bit of trouble finding trail U as they are not number at the start however eventually found it and sat at the Gurney's stakeout for two hours but no sign.

Left trail U and went to check in at the Morakot where we meet an American women whose husband was out birding She informed us that H trail had been productive the last few days with Pin-tailed Parrotfinch being seen. Headed to the trail and within minutes saw the Parrotfinch and also Rufus-vented Makhoa. By now it was very hot and we decided to rest for a while so returned to the Morakot. Returned to the field at 16.30 and as Chris had already seen the Gurney's Pitta on a previous visit he decided to explore H trail again whilst I went to the Pitta stake out on U trail. Within 5 minutes of sitting at U.22 a male Gurney's Pitta came into view and was joined by a female 5 minutes latter I watched them for about 30mins before they eventually hoped out of sight. By now it was getting towards dusk and so I returned to the Morakot to buy the beers

Saturday 14th April 2001

Spent the morning exploring trails A, B, C and E It was hard going and birds were few and far between. At about midday decided to track Yothin down to arrange a guided tour the following day This was duly arranged and the remainder of the afternoon was spent on H trail. At 17.30 went to the Spotted Wood Owl stake out and within a few minutes an adult was found roosting in a tree. Just before dusk it called and flew off

Sunday 15th April 2001

Yothin meet us at the Morakot and we made our way to U trail. Just as it was getting light a Jarvan Frogmouth called and within 15mins Yothin had located it roosting in a tree and we obtained excellent views down to 5m.Spent the rest of the morning off trail and although many birds were heard very few were seen After a quick lunch we left for the Honey Guide site but unfortunately the bird was not on its usual branch nor was it calling. Very soon the ever threatening rain came down and for the next two hours we were huddled under our umbrellas sheltering from it Even when the rain ceased the Honeyguide did not reappear

By now it was getting dark so we made our way to the hot springs where we had thought we had heard a Goulds Frogmouth the previous evening With Yothins help we soon tracked the sound down to a squirrel. Left KNC and made our way to Krabi

Monday 16th April 2001

Met Mr Dia at 07.00 as arranged and explored the Mangroves for three hours. After about an hour a Mangrove Pitta was heard calling close to the edge and very soon it was found sitting on a branch calling whilst giving excellent views.

Decided to try for the Malayasian Honey guide again so returned to KNC but again the bird was not to be seen. Had a very productive walked on trails A, B and C before having a final look for the Honeyguide just as it started to rain Again no luck. Left KNC and made our way towards Phuket stopping en route at a patch of forest 18Km north of Krabi.

Caught the evening flight to Bangkok where we stayed over night and returned to Hong Kong on the 08.00 flight Tuesday morning.

Birding Sites

Khao Phra-Bang Kram (KNC)

KNC is a small area of lowland forest and is the only known site for Gurney's Pitta. Details of the area can be found in the many trip reports Birding is done along the trails and is hard going but can be rewarding. We had some trouble locating the start of U trail at first and we had to walk a little way down until we found a marker to allow us to identify which trail we were on. We found a map of the trails very useful.

Krabi

We hired the legendary Mr Dia and were not disappointed. He gets a bit excited sometimes and makes a lot of noise when he finds the birds but he knows where to find them. Highly recommended

References (see a selection of Asia Guides available to buy online here)

Field Guide to Birds of South East Asia - Craig Robson

Birds of Thailand - Phil Round
We made use of a number of trip reports from the web especially those of Chris Goodie and Paul Blamford. Paul also provided us with up to date information where he saw the Gurney’s at U .22 a few weeks prior to our trip

Annotated Species List

Little Cormorant (Phalacrocorax niger) 1 Krabi 16 April
Chinese Pond Heron (Ardeola bacchus) Small numbers around KNC
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) 1 Krabi 16 April
Striated Heron (Butorides striatus) 6 Krabi 16 April
Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) 1 Krabi 16 April
Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela) 1 KNC 14 and 15 April
Crested Goshawk (Accipiter trivirgatus) 1 KNC 14 and 16 April, 1 Krabi 16 April
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) 1 Krabi 16 May
Thick-billed Pigeon (Treron curvirostra) 8 KNC 15 April
Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) Small numbers all days
Vernal Hanging Parrot (Loriculus vernalis) 2 KNC 15 May 5 18 KM north Krabi 16 April
Indian Cuckoo (Cuculus micropterus) Heard KNC 14 April
Plaintive Cuckoo (Cacomantis merulinus) Heard KNC 14 and 15 April
Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea) 1 Heard Krabi 16 April
Chestnut-bellied Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus sumatranus) 2 KNC 13 April
Chestnut-breasted Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus curvirostris) One KNC 16 April
Collared Scops Owl (Otus lempiji) One heard KNC 13 April
Spotted Wood Owl (Strix leptogrammica) One KNC 14 April
Large-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macturus) 1 hot springs 14 April
Javan Frogmouth (Batrachostomus javensis) 1 KNC 14 April, 1 near Hot Springs 14 April
Brown-winged Kingfisher (Halcyon amauroptera) 5 Krabi 16 April
Ruddy Kingfisher (Halcyon coromanda) 1 heard Krabi 16 April
White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) 1 KNC 13,14 and 15 April 3 Krabi 16 April
Rufous-collared Kingfisher (Actenoides concretus) 1 KNC 16 April
Blue-throated Bee-eater (Merops viridis) 10 Krabi 16 April
Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis) 2 Krabi 16 April
Red-crowned Barbet (Megalaima rafflesii) 1adult and 1 Juv KNC 14 April
Red-throated Barbet (Megalaima mystacophanos) 1 KNC 16 April
Streak-breasted Woodpecker (Picus viridanus) 1 KNC 13 April, 1 KNC 15 April 1 Krabi 16 April
Great Slaty Woodpecker (Mulleripicus pulverulentus) 1 Krabi 16 April
Banded Woodpecker (Picus mineaceus) 1 KNC 14 April
Green Broadbill (Calyptomena viridis) 1 heard KNC 14 and 15 April
Black-and-red Broadbill (Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos) 2 Krabi 16 April
Mangrove Pitta (Pitta megarhyncha) 2 birds seen and at least 3 others heard Krabi 16 April
Banded Pitta (Pitta guajana) 1 heard KNC 13 and 15April
Gurney's Pitta (Pitta gurneyi) 1 male 1 female seen for 20mins U trail 13 April
Pacific Swift (Apus pacificus) 10 KNC 14 April
House Swift (Apus affinis) 1 KNC 16 April
Grey-rumped Treeswift (Hemiprocne coronata) 1 KNC 13 April and 1 Krabi 16 April
Pacific Swallow (Hirundo tahitica) 20 Krabi 16 April
Red-rumped Swallow (Hirundo daurica) 1 Krabi 16 April
Large Woodshrike (Tephrodornis virigatus) 1 KNC 15 April
Great Iora (Aegithina lafresnayei) 1 KNC 13 April
Blue-winged Leafbird (Chloropsis cochinchinensis) 2 KNC 14 April
Black-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus atriceps) Seen daily KNC
Black-crested Bulbul (Pycnonotus melanicterus) 1 KNC 13 April
Ochraceous Bulbul (Criniger ochraceus) 2 KNC 15 April
Yellow-bellied Bulbul (Criniger phaeocephalus) 1 KNC 13 and 14 April, 10 in plantations near KNC 16 April
Cream vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus simplex) 1 - 2 seen daily KNC
Crow-billed Drongo (Dicrurus annectans) 1 Krabi 16 April
Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos) 1 KNC 15 Apri
Black-capped Babbler (Pellorneum capistratum) 1 KNC13 and 14 April
Large Wren Babbler (Napothera macrodactyla) 1 KNC 14 April
Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis) 1 KNC 14 and 15 April, 1 Krabi 16 April
White-rumped Shama (Copsychus malabaricus) 1 KNC 15 April
Fulvious-chested Flycatcher (Rhinomyias olivacea) 1 KNC 14 April
Asian Brown Flycatcher (Muscicapa dauurica) 1 18 Km north Krabi 16 April
Sooty Flycatcher (Muscicapa sibirica) 1 KNC 15 April
Tickell's Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis tickelliae) 1 adult 1Juv KNC 13 April
Pied Fantail (Rhipidura javanica) 1 Krabi 16 April
Asian Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradisi) Up to 3 seen daily KNC Both white and rufous morph birds seen.
Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) Seen daily
Orange-bellied Flowerpecker (Dicaaeum trigonostigma) 1 KNC 13 and 14 April
Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker (Prioonochilus maculatus) 2 KNC 14 and 16 April
Purple-throated Sunbird (Nectarinia sperata) 2 KNC 14 April
Spectacled Spiderhunter (Arachnothera flavigaster) 2 KNC 14 April
Yellow eared Spiderhunter (Arachnothera chrysogenys) 4 18Km north of Krabi 16 April
Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) 4 Krabi 16 April
White-rumped Munia (Lonchura striata) 3 KNC 16 April
White-bellied Munia (Lonchura leucogastra) 2 KNC 13 April
Pin-tailed Parrotfinch (Erythrura prasina) 1 KNC 13 April

G Talbot
2 Brandreth Road
Beckton
London
E6 5QB
e-mail gtalbot@netvigator.com