Thailand: 26-28 March and 16 April 2005

Published by Catherine McFadden (mcfadden AT

Participants: Cathy McFadden, Paul Clarke


During March-April 2005 we spent 2-1/2 weeks birding in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan ( To reach Bhutan from Los Angeles we had to fly by way of Bangkok, so arranged to have a several day layover in Thailand on either side of our Bhutan flights. Wanting to do some birding but daunted by the idea of hiring a car and trying to find our own way around Bangkok, we contacted Nature Trails (;, a Thai company that offers a variety of guided 1-3 day ?short birding breaks? in the Bangkok area. We arranged for them to take us to Khao Yai National Park, located about 2-1/2 hrs northeast of Bangkok, for 2 days prior to our Bhutan trip. On our return layover we would do a one-day trip to the Rangsit wetlands and other sites around the northern perimeter of Bangkok. This arrangement worked very well, and we had some excellent birding, seeing approximately 154 species in our 3 days with Nature Trails.

While in Bangkok we stayed at the Twin Towers Hotel, a large luxury hotel with numerous restaurants and other amenities on site. Through the Asia Bookings internet reservation service (, we were able to get a double room for $33 US per night, a bargain by any standards. The hotel was in downtown Bangkok and convenient to places such as Lumphini Park, but in retrospect staying at a hotel situated nearer the airport would have reduced the travel time to the various birding sites we visited, all of which were north of the city.

26 March: Lumphini Park
Having arrived in Bangkok at 1:30 a.m. after a 17 hr flight we were in no hurry to get up in the morning. We did, however, manage to make it to the hotel?s complimentary breakfast before the 10 a.m. closing time, and then caught a ?took-took? (motorcycle taxi) to Lumphini Park, a large city park that was about a 10 min drive from the hotel. Despite it being a weekend morning the park was relatively empty and the birding very good, serving to acquaint us with many of the more common Thai species. Coppersmith Barbets, Streak-eared Bulbuls and Oriental Magpie-Robins were very common in the park, and we saw our only Black-collared Starlings here. Other species of interest included Black-naped Oriole, Asian Pied Starling, Olive-backed Sunbird, Indian Roller, Chinese Pond-Heron, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Yellow-browed Warbler and Pied Fantail. We returned to the hotel for a late lunch, and then went on a long-tailed boat tour of Bangkok?s canals and floating markets. Although interesting from a sight-seeing perspective, the canal trip did not add any species to those we had already seen in the park, apart from some swifts that were too distant to ID positively.

27 March: Wat Prabuddhabaht Noi and Khao Yai NP
Our guide from Nature Trails, Wisnu Chotikapakorn, picked us up at our hotel at 6 a.m. Despite it being a Sunday we immediately encountered the infamous Bangkok traffic, first having to inch our way through an early morning market around the corner from the hotel, and then running into a traffic jam on the highway past the airport, the aftermath of a collision between a cement truck and an oil tanker. After finally clearing the traffic and the city limits, we asked Wisnu to make a detour to Wat Prabuddhabaht Noi, a temple where Limestone Wren-Babbler is resident. Along the main highway we saw numerous Asian Openbills and Little Egrets in the wet fields. As we drove through dry, open country along the road to the temple we encountered a variety of other birds we would not see at Khao Yai, including Red Collared-Dove, Plain-backed Sparrow, Greater Coucal, Green Bee-eater, Racket-tailed Treepie, White-throated Kingfisher, Asian Koel, Long-tailed Shrike, Common Iora, Plain Prinia, and Sooty-headed Bulbul. At the temple we walked a short distance along the hill to the right of the parking area, and within about 3 minutes found a Limestone Wren-Babbler hopping around the limestone boulders. Too easy!

We arrived in Khao Yai in the late morning, and as we drove up the entrance road we quickly found both Oriental Pied Hornbill and Great Hornbill perched beside the road, as well as Green-eared Barbet, Dollarbird, a pair of Vernal Hanging-Parrots at a nest hole, and a soaring Crested Serpent-Eagle. We stopped and hiked the trail into the forest at Km 33, where we saw Red-headed Trogon, a noisy pair of Greater Flamebacks and an industrious Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Moustached Barbet, Black-naped Monarch, Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Dark-necked Tailorbird, Yellow-browed Warbler, White-bellied Yuhina, and a magnificent Wreathed Hornbill. We also saw a White-handed Gibbon, a very impressive Black Giant Squirrel, and, sitting along the main road, Pigtail Macaques. Off to a good start, we stopped for lunch at Park HQ, and then spent most of the afternoon hiking Trail 6, where we hoped to find pheasants and, with luck, Coral-billed Ground-Cuckoo. Although neither of those wishes was granted, we nonetheless had good birding all along this trail. At the first stream-crossing we found Asian Fairy-Bluebird, Striped Tit-Babbler, Grey-crowned Warbler, and added Stripe-throated, Puff-throated and Grey-eyed Bulbuls to our earlier sightings of the more common Black-crested and Black-headed Bulbuls. Further in we encountered Green-billed Malkoha, the stunning Common Green Magpie, Hill Blue-Flycatcher, a cooperative Abbot?s Babbler, and a small flock of Eye-browed Thrushes feeding high in the canopy of a fruiting tree. The highlight, however, was a pair of Eared Pittas busily kicking through the leaf litter close to the trail. While we were watching them we also got a quick glimpse of a tiny Mouse-Deer running through the understory. Late in the afternoon we worked our way along the famous radar road. In open areas at the top of the hill we saw Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, Blue Rock Thrush, a family party of Red Junglefowl, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Brown-backed Needletails drinking at a pond, and two types of deer, the diminutive Muntjac and elk-like Sambar. Along the wooded lower part of the road we found Blue-eared Barbet, Hill Myna, Laced and Black-and-Buff Woodpeckers, and the very pale, white-faced leucogenis subspecies of Ashy Drongo. We left the park at dusk, getting good looks at a Great Eared Nightjar flying down the road in front of the car. We spent the night at Juldis Khao Yai Resort, a nice hotel a few km down the road from the park entrance.

28 March: Khao Yai NP
Wisnu had arranged for us to be let into the park early (normal opening hour is 6 a.m.) so that we could be at the Siamese Fireback stakeout along the radar road by dawn. We waited quietly beside the road for over an hour with no sign of pheasants, but were entertained by a tree full of very active Ashy, Hair-crested and Lesser Racket-tailed Drongos, and got good looks at both Scarlet and Ashy Minivets. Finally we gave up waiting for the pheasants and walked along the road, seeing a flock of White-crested Laughingthrushes, a Black-throated Laughingthrush, and a brief glimpse of a furtive Puff-throated Babbler. As we were pursuing a very close, calling Blue Pitta through the dense roadside vegetation, out onto the road stepped a male Siamese Fireback, creating an instant dilemma ? which way to look? We watched the pheasant for a minute as he stopped traffic in both directions, and then turned back to the pitta, succeeding in getting a quick but unobstructed look at the bird as he crossed a gap in the understory. We returned our attention to the pheasant in time to see the female fly across the road while the male still strutted along the shoulder. After this excitement we drove up to the checkpoint below the radar installation where the only new bird to be seen was a Grey-backed Shrike, but where we enjoyed watching a pair of handsome Yellow-throated Martens cavorting in a tree. As we descended the road from the checkpoint, a female Silver Pheasant crossed the road in front of the car. After another lunch at Park HQ we visited one of the park campgrounds, where we found Red-throated and Yellow-rumped Flycatchers, Two-barred Warbler, and a Slaty-backed Forktail along the river. Before leaving the park in the late afternoon we made one last-ditch effort to find Coral-billed Ground-Cuckoo along Trail 6. No cuckoo, but there was again a lot of activity at the first stream crossing and we picked up Blue-bearded Bee-eater, White-rumped Shama, Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Little Spiderhunter, and a flock of Chestnut-flanked White-eyes. As we finally left the park over an hour later than planned, we were stopped by a group of elephants in the road and had to wait a few minutes before they decided to move and let cars by. We arrived back in Bangkok at about 7:30 p.m., knowing we had to be on our way to the airport by 4 a.m. to catch our flight to Bhutan.

16 April: Rangsit and Kampangsaen
We had arrived back from Bhutan the previous afternoon and had made another quick trip to Lumphini Park, forgetting that it was the Thai New Year and Water Festival. Not only did we (and our optics) get soaked by the bands of teenagers throwing buckets of water at all passersby, but the park was crowded with families and there were few birds to be seen. Now we were met at 6 a.m. by Kamol Komolphalin, the founder of Nature Trails and a well-known bird illustrator, who would guide us around the northern perimeter of Bangkok. Our first stop was the Rangsit wetlands, an extensive network of small artificial ponds and reed beds located not far from the airport. In the reeds and shrubs we saw Oriental and Black-browed Reed-Warblers, Plain and Yellow-bellied Prinias, a small flock of female or immature Red Avadavats, Chestnut and White-rumped Munias, Dusky Warbler, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Lesser Coucal, Yellow Wagtail, and Yellow-vented Bulbul. Ponds with water held Little Grebe and Little Cormorant, while we found White-breasted Waterhen, Bronze-winged Jacana, Purple Swamphen, Black-winged Stilt, Chinese and Javan Pond-Herons and a Yellow Bittern in those ponds that were drying up.

On our way across the top of Bangkok to Kampangsaen we stopped first at a temple grounds in search of Alexandrine Parakeets, which we did not find. At our next stop, a small fishpond, there was a small colony of Baya Weavers, their intricately woven nests hanging from a palm tree. Kamol told us that these birds are declining as a result of people collecting their nests to use as decorations. At this site we also found a pair of Asian Golden Weavers constructing a nest in what Kamol said was an unusually open location, a small shrub in a water-filled ditch. The fishpond held large numbers of Asian Openbills, Little Egrets, Black-necked Stilts, and roosting Whiskered Terns.

At Kampangsaen we birded a wooded area comprising a rather unkempt arboretum and adjacent scout camp. Visiting the scout camp first, we found Eurasian Hoopoes, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, both Olive-backed and Brown-throated Sunbirds, Ashy Drongo, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Common Iora, and Chestnut-tailed Starling. After a pleasant lunch at a nearby, riverside restaurant we tried the arboretum area, which was fairly quiet in the mid-afternoon heat. We did, however, find lots of Black-naped Orioles and Black Drongos feeding in fruiting trees, a Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, and a Black Baza. A small pond held Common Moorhen and several Lesser Whistling Ducks. When a visit to a larger pond at the nearby university campus failed to turn up any Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Kamol kindly offered to take us to another site where we might find that species, adding an extra hour to our return trip to Bangkok. This site was an extensive fishpond where after considerable searching we did finally locate both a juvenile and adult Pheasant-tailed Jacana, the latter in nearly full breeding plumage. We also saw Purple Heron here, a very distant Black-capped Kingfisher, and on the telephone wires along the road, Blue-tailed Bee-eaters and Ashy Woodswallows. Traffic was very heavy on the way back to Bangkok, and we finally reached our hotel at about 8 p.m. with another very early morning departure for the airport ahead of us.

Cathy McFadden & Paul Clarke
Claremont, CA

Species Lists

Complete species list:
L = Lumphini Park; KY = Khao Yai NP; W = Wat Prabuddhabaht Noi; R = Rangsit; K = Kampangsaen; F = fishpond south of Kampangsaen
? = not seen well, ID unconfirmed.

Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) R,K
Little Cormorant (Phalacrocorax niger) R,F
Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea) F
Great Egret (Ardea alba) W
Intermediate Egret (Egretta intermedia) F
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) R,F
Chinese Pond-Heron (Ardeola bacchus) L, KY,R,F
Javan Pond-Heron (Ardeola speciosa) R,F
Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) W,R
Striated (Little) Heron (Butorides striatus) KY
?Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) F
Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis) R
Asian Openbill (Anastomus oscitans) W,R,F
Lesser Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna javanica) K,F
Black Baza (Aviceda leuphotes) K
Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus) R
Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) R
Crested Serpent-Eagle (Spilornis cheela) KY
Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus) KY
Silver Pheasant (Lophura nycthemera) KY
Siamese Fireback (Lophura diardi) KY
White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus) R
Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) R,F
Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) K
Pheasant-tailed Jacana (Hydrophasianus chirurgus) F
Bronze-winged Jacana (Metopidius indicus) R,F
Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus) R
Red-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus) W,KY,R,K
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) R
Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola) R
Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus) R
Rock Pigeon (Columba livia) L,W,K
Red Collared-Dove (Streptopelia tranquebarica) W,R,F
Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis) L,KY,R
Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica) KY
Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata) L,W,R
Thick-billed Green Pigeon (Treron curvirostra) KY
Mountain Imperial-Pigeon (Ducula badia) KY
Vernal Hanging-Parrot (Loriculus vernalis) KY
Oriental Cuckoo (Cuculus saturatus) K (heard only)
Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea) W,R,K
Green-billed Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus tristis) KY
Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis) W,K
Lesser Coucal (Centropus bengalensis) R
Great Eared-Nightjar (Eurostopodus macrotis) KY
Brown-backed Needletail (Hirundapus giganteus) KY
Asian Palm-Swift (Cypsiurus balasiensis) W,KY,R,K,F
Red-headed Trogon (Harpactes erythrocephalus) KY
White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) W,K
Black-capped Kingfisher (Halcyon pileata) F
Blue-bearded Bee-eater (Nyctyornis athertoni) KY
Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis) W
Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus) F
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater (Merops leschenaulti) KY
Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis) L,KY,R
Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis) KY
Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops) K
Oriental Pied-Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris) KY
Great Hornbill (Buceros bicornis) KY
Wreathed Hornbill (Aceros undulatus) KY
Green-eared Barbet (Megalaima faiostricta) KY
Moustached Barbet (Megalaima incognita) KY
Blue-eared Barbet (Megalaima australis) KY
Coppersmith Barbet (Megalaima haemacephala) L,W,R,K
Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos macei) K
?Greater Yellownape (Picus flavinucha) KY
Laced Woodpecker (Picus vittatus) KY
Greater Flameback (Chrysocolaptes lucidus) KY
Black-and-buff Woodpecker (Meiglyptes jugularis) KY
Heart-spotted Woodpecker (Hemicircus canente) KY
Eared Pitta (Pitta phayrei) KY
Blue Pitta (Pitta cyanea) KY
Sand Martin (Riparia riparia) R
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) W,KY,R,K,F
Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava) R
Richard's Pipit (Anthus richardi) W,KY
Black-winged Cuckoo-shrike (Coracina melaschistos) KY
Ashy Minivet (Pericrocotus divaricatus) KY
Scarlet Minivet (Pericrocotus flammeus) KY
Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike (Hemipus picatus) KY
Black-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus atriceps) KY
Black-crested Bulbul (Pycnonotus melanicterus) KY
Red-whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus) KY
Sooty-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus aurigaster) W,R
Stripe-throated Bulbul (Pycnonotus finlaysoni) KY
Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier) R
Streak-eared Bulbul (Pycnonotus blanfordi) L,R
Puff-throated Bulbul (Alophoixus pallidus) KY
Grey-eyed Bulbul (Iole propinqua) KY
Blue-winged Leafbird (Chloropsis cochinchinensis) KY
Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia) W,K
Blue Rock-Thrush (Monticola solitarius) KY
Eyebrowed Thrush (Turdus obscurus) KY
Plain Prinia (Prinia inornata) W,R
Yellow-bellied Prinia (Prinia flaviventris) R
Black-browed Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus bistrigiceps) R
Oriental Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus orientalis) R
Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius) KY
Dark-necked Tailorbird (Orthotomus atrogularis) KY
Dusky Warbler (Phylloscopus fuscatus) R
Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus) L,KY
Two-barred Warbler (Phylloscopus plumbeitarsis) KY
Grey-crowned Warbler (Seicercus tephrocephalus) KY
Asian Brown Flycatcher (Muscicapa dauurica) L,K
Yellow-rumped (Korean) Flycatcher (Ficedula zanthopygia) KY
Red-throated Flycatcher (Ficedula parva) KY,K
Hill Blue-Flycatcher (Cyornis banyumas) KY
Oriental Magpie-Robin (Copsychus saularis) L,W,R,K
White-rumped Shama (Copsychus malabaricus) KY
Slaty-backed Forktail (Enicurus schistaceus) KY
Pied Fantail (Rhipidura javanica) L,W,R,K
Black-naped Monarch (Hypothymis azurea) KY
White-crested Laughingthrush (Garrulax leucolophus) KY
?Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush (Garrulax pectoralis) KY
Black-throated Laughingthrush (Garrulax chinensis) KY
Abbott's Babbler (Malacocincla abbotti) KY
Puff-throated Babbler (Pellorneum ruficeps) KY
Limestone Wren-Babbler (Napothera crispifrons) W
Striped Tit-Babbler (Macronous gularis) KY
White-bellied Yuhina (Yuhina zantholeuca) KY
Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis) K
Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis) L,K
Little Spiderhunter (Arachnothera longirostra) KY
?Plain Flowerpecker (Dicaeum concolor) L
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum) R
Chestnut-flanked White-eye (Zosterops erythropleurus) KY
?Oriental White-eye (Zosterops palpebrosus) KY
Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis) L,KY,R,K
Asian Fairy-bluebird (Irena puella) KY
Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) W,KY,R,F
Long-tailed Shrike (Lanius schach) W
Grey-backed Shrike (Lanius tephronotus) KY
Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus) W,R,K,F
Ashy Drongo (Dicrurus leucophaeus) KY,K
Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus remifer) KY
Hair-crested Drongo (Dicrurus hottentottus) KY
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus) K
Ashy Woodswallow (Artamus fuscus) W,KY,F
Common Green Magpie (Cissa chinensis) KY
Racket-tailed Treepie (Crypsirina temia) W
Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos) L,W,KY,R
Common Hill Myna (Gracula religiosa) KY
White-vented Myna (Acridotheres grandis) L,W,KY,R,K,F
Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) L,W,KY,R,K,F
Black-collared Starling (Gracupica nigricollis) L
Asian Pied Starling (Gracupica contra) L,R,S
Chestnut-tailed Starling (Sturnia malabarica) K
Plain-backed Sparrow (Passer flaveolus) W,KY,R
Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) L,W,R,K
Baya Weaver (Ploceus philippinus) R
Asian Golden Weaver (Ploceus hypoxanthus) R
Red Avadavat (Amandava amandava) R
White-rumped Munia (Lonchura striata) R
Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata) L,W,R
Chestnut Munia (Lonchura atricapilla) R

Black Giant Squirrel (Ratufa bicolor)
Yellow-throated Marten (Martes flavigula)
Pigtail Macaque (Macaca nemestrina)
White-handed Gibbon (Hylobates lar)
Sambar (Cerves unicolor)
Muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak)
Mouse-Deer (Tragulus sp.)
Asiatic Elephant (Elephas maximus)