The four stalwart survivors from the 2000 Thai-Malay trip re-united for a return visit to Asia, this time a hurried sprint around Central Thailand and a single day at the alluringly named Panti Forest Reserve in Johor, South Malaysia.
The following site abbreviations are used throughout this report:
KK: Kaeng Krachan
KY: Khao Yai
KhKh: Khok Kham, (aka Samhut Sakhon)
PT: Pak Thale
Fri March 11th GH, KB and BH arrived on a Thai Air overnight flight from London, picked up the rental car, and birded Khok Kham, returning to BKK to rendezvous with CG. Night at the Amari Atrium Hotel in Bangkok (included in the cost of our flights.)
Sat March 12th Drove early to Samhut Sakhon/Khok Kham, birded until 10am, then drove to Pak Thale for further Spoonie searching. Left at 3pm to allow time to get to Kaeng Krachan by 5pm latest to pick up permits for next 4 days.
Sun March 13th - Tues March 15th KK.
Weds March 16th birded KK early, left at 9am, long slow drive to KY arriving at c4pm to book in to the bungalow accomm.
Thurs March 17th - Sat March 19th KY, dawn-11am, drove back to BKK diverting en route via Limestone Babbler site at Wat Tampraprotisat. Arrived BKK airport 5pm in time for Bangkok-Singapore flight TG401 departing 1915 arrived 2235 hrs. Hertz office closed so taxi to hotel.
Sun March 20th Planned to leave c4-30am for Panti reserve, Malaysia but see below, did not arrive until c9am in the end. Returned in the evening to airport for overnight flight back to UK for KB, BH, GH, (Singapore Airlines SQ322) CG stayed in Singapore and travelled onward in Asia for business.
We pre-booked our 1st night in Bangkok (included in our flight package, www.Amari.com/atrium/ 1880 New Petchburi Road, Bangkok 10310,) and Singapore, (corporate deal at the flash Marina Mandarin,) since we were arriving late.
At KK we stayed in KK village, in small chalets 2kms before the HQ (permit building) on the right when heading in, look for a large Pepsi sign (B500/night between 2 for a shared room, cold shower, good restaurant.) The turn in to this accomm. is just before a 2nd equally good restaurant just next door (big illuminated sign in English, “Restaurant Breakfast Lunch Dinner” which is a great name for a restaurant in my book.) Both restaurants now have English menus, and staff at both establishments were super-friendly and helpful as usual. We tried to speak bits of Thai from our phrase book, which were greeted with appreciation and hilarity in equal measure. I can still only say ‘four beers’ and ‘thank-you’ in Thai with any degree of comprehensibility.
We used 3 maps for Thailand, “Thailand World Map” (publ. by GeoCenter, (too little detail but OK for the big picture, there are probably better available,)) “Bangkok Central Thailand” (publ. by Periplus Travel Maps.) and “Thailand Tourist and Motoring Atlas” (1cm = 10km.) For S. Malaysia we used “West Malaysia” (Nelles Maps) and “Johor Bahru” (Periplus Travel maps again.) More detailed maps are probably available but we had no problems with these, you rarely need to consult them- Keith Taylor’s ageing but very logistically detailed trip report is still fairly accurate for mileages/road directions if you can get hold of a copy.
I had 6 MD’s prepared with all the species I could get, (culled from my own recordings, loans from other birders, the ‘net and commercial sources,) covering almost all of our major target species. I also took back-up copies of each MD although we had no problems. We used battery-powered mini MD recorder/player and shotgun mic. so we could playback and record easily in the field when necessary. I carried everything in a tradesman’s pouch, allowing quick access/both hands to be kept free for birding.
We had culled as many trip reports from the net as possible prior to travelling, (www.surfbirds.com, www.worldtwitch.com etc) and had cut and pasted a likely-species checklist for the time-honoured evening log-calls over beer and Thai food. We used the excellent “Birds of South-East Asia” Craig Robson field guide, taking both the full South-East Asia and Thai-only versions between us. The older “Guide to the Birds of Thailand” Boonsong Lekagul + Phil Round 1991, (Publisher Saha Karn Bhaet Co Ltd) was also useful.
Anti-malarials are advisable for both KK and KY, although we saw few mozzies due to the dry weather. Malarone is great though expensive; we variously took this or the much cheaper Doxycycline, which is equally effective but you have to take it for 4 weeks after you leave the malarial area. As with most places in Asia, up to date Hepatitis, Tetanus are strongly recommended.
Mosquitoes were present in small numbers at all forest sites but were never a problem due to the dry conditions, mozzie-spray was still useful though. Deet-free citronella-based sprays are 100% effective with regard to mozzies but b*gger all use in deterring leeches, and we sprayed 50% deet stuff on boots which visibly deterred leeches from clambering up our legs. We saw lots of terrestrial leeches along trail 6 at Khao Yai when it rained, few when it didn’t, leech socks and high deet-content repellent on boots definitely advised at KY/all forest sites if wet. One dined richly on my waist, (presumably one of the flying leechoni brothers doing a death-defying leap onto me as I brushed against a tree.) I discovered it when it fell off, fat and engorged, into the tradesman’s belt I use to carry my MD player/speaker! KK had no leeches at all, way too dry. To remove them, use salt or a lighted cigarette applied to the leech for a second- they fall off. Alternatively you can just pull them off, (they don’t leave the mouth parts in contrary to general belief,) or if you’re eco-hardcore, leave them until they’re satiated, in which case they fall off of their own accord.
Leeches do not carry disease, so they are an irritation and a distraction, not a danger. Leech socks are available from OBC, obc.admin @ virgin.net and are highly recommended.
Ticks carry typhus and Japanese encephalitis, (the latter during monsoon only I think,) and we saw the odd one (including one huge beast) at Khok Kham and Samhut Sakhon. To avoid, spray yourself with repellent, avoid walking in areas of long grass, tuck trousers into boots blah blah. If you get one pull them off with fingers or tweezers, or cover them in anything viscous- hair gel, mayonnaise, vaseline etc. They let go in their attempt to get air.
Snakes: I stood on a small one at KK but it wriggled out from under my boot and away. All 4 of us had great views of a 1.5m King Cobra slithering across the road at KK; (the snake was doing the slithering, not us.) There are quite a few poisonous snakes in Thailand (Banded Krait is supposed to be at KY for example, although they are very rarely seen; warning posters are posted here and there around the park.) There were the usual spiders, bugs etc, but we didn’t have any incidents beyond the usual ‘omigodwebonmyfacebleugh’ kind.
Tigers do still allegedly occur at KY but they are never seen; there is said to be a healthy population still at KK- probably poached out at Panti by now? Beware of Asian Elephants at Panti and KK- we didn’t see any, (though there was plenty of evidence to their having been present each morning…) but they can be dangerous if encountered at night, and we were advised that some at Panti can be pretty frisky if they feel threatened.
Boots - you need something to keep out the leeches, lightweight hiking boots are best (avoid leather as these get wet/heavy v. quickly and never dry out,) Dull clothes are recommended of course so as not to scare Pittas etc off; it still amazes me how many birders you meet on the trail wearing bright orange t-shirts etc…you may as well add ‘I DIPPED THE PITTA- AGAIN!’ in fluorescent capitals and carry a ghettoblaster down the trail…
Drink bottled stuff throughout, which is cheap and available everywhere (much cheaper from small roadside stalls in the countryside than in towns/at garages.) Ice in drinks is usually OK in Thailand; we drank soft drinks with ice and didn’t have any problems.
Food is incredible in Thailand, the world’s finest IMHO, often very spicy. Thais usually order a variety of main dishes and then share which is the way to go if you travelling with others. We had a memorable dish at the accomm. restaurant at KK; a whole local freshwater fish mashed up and fried with a spicy cashew nut/basil sauce topped with Som Tam (unripe papaya salad,) one of the best Thai dishes I can recall and a snip at about £2 between us. The best local beer is Singha, which note is rather strong at c5.5%. During the day we survived on local junk food; crisps, rolls, and any number of variations on the sugary Thai snack theme. Of these, the mini-doughnuts were best, although we were less keen on the sweetened orange cardboard delicacies. Mind you, if you want to set a new world record for ant attraction it’s worth leaving out a packet on the floor overnight as we did.
The currency is the Thai baht in Thailand (c73/£1 March ‘05; We’re rich! It was only c65/£1 after the big Asian financial crash in the late 90’s…) Bartering is standard in most environments. US dollars are easier to change than UK Pounds, traveller’s cheques can be hard to change outside major cities. The currency in Malaysia is the Ringgit, c6.9MR = £1 UK Pound.
I bought on the web via Columbus, www.columbusdirect.com c£40 for three weeks total. Carry insurance documents in your luggage. The UK Post Office are also cheap for travel insurance.
It had been exceptionally dry in Thailand before we visited, (just at the start of the wet season.) In fact we were told that the rain we experienced at Khao Yai was the first since September. It rained heavily at KY each afternoon, usually only for an hour or so, but on one day there were frequent torrential showers. This was the only adverse weather we encountered. KY was also surprisingly cool early morning.
A small umbrella is useful for the showers, and a hand towel (not white) indispensable for sweat-removal after tramping about off-trail. It was light from 6-30am, (forest interior birdable by 6-45/7am) until 6-30pm.
We pre-booked a 4x4 in Thailand (useful at KK although not required at KY- we could have swapped cars at BKK airport as we travelled past the airport en route from KK to KY but decided not to waste time since we were on a tight schedule,) and a regular 2-wheel drive in Malaysia from Hertz. Following problems and disagreements with Hertz on my last two trips I really cannot recommend paying their relatively high prices. Despite having our flight number/arrival time in Singapore we discovered the Hertz office closed on arrival. As a result we had to return to the airport at 7am the next morning, and hence lost the best of the morning at Panti. The Hertz office is located in a Hotel opposite the arrivals hall at BKK airport now, accessed via a glass walkway over the road, the ones at Singapore airport are within the main airport terminals.
We paid c£320 for a Hertz 4x4 for 7 days in Thailand. We were only asked to present a regular UK driving license, although if you have an IDP (International Driving Permit) or similar bring it with you as this is theoretically required.
We paid c£850 for our flights (direct from LHR-BKK, BKK-Sing, Sing-LHR incl. 1st night’s BKK accomm., but significantly cheaper deals are available if you take a more convoluted route.) We spent an additional £260 each total on car rental, petrol, food, accomm. and beer over the 9 days.
Site Details/Driving directions
Most of these were scribbled down from earlier trips, and we followed them this time to good effect, so if you get lost it’s your own fault…Khao Yai, Khok Kham and Panti could all be birded by public transport if you have enough time, although Kaeng Krachan would be much more difficult unless the campground is open- this was closed due to the risk of fire when we visited.
Samhut Sakhon (aka Khok Kham)
Take the Phayathai-Bangkhlo Expressway (runs parallel to the Rama VI road) South on the Western edge of central BKK, following signs to Dao Khanong, (Route 35.) This takes you over the big Rama IX road bridge and WSW out of Bangkok. 20 mins or so after crossing the big bridge, leave Route 35 where signed for the 3242 Road. Follow the 3242 for 7kms into Samut Sakhon, and turn left at the first traffic lights. (Where the road becomes a divided highway with a grass (OK, mud…) centre section.
(Or you can leave at the junction after that if you miss the 3242. If you get off at the later junction find the middle of Samut Sakhon, and turn left onto the 3242, (it runs slap bang through the middle of the town,) then right at the last traffic lights as you head East.)
After less than 1km this minor paved road passes over the railway, then over a large river, and eventually comes to a T junction a further c4kms after the bridge over the river, (en route you pass a service station on the left. (If you can’t find this T junction ask for the Phan Thai Norasingh School if you get lost, which is near this Tee junction.))
Turn left (East) at the T. and follow the road for 3kms. Just before the road crosses another river (over a distinctive ‘dual carriageway’ separated bridge, one side of which is not used,) you come into a collection of wooden houses etc- this is Khok Kham.
Look just before the double bridge on the right hand side for the birdwatching centre- it’s basically a small restaurant which has a very small “birdwatching centre” sign high on the front of it, but easier to see is the large ‘sunshade pagoda’ construction that sticks out nearer to the road than all other houses/restaurants. There’s a log book here.
Ask in the centre for Mr Tee Suchart who can show you where the Spoonie is via a lift on the back of his motorbike- he’s a Thai birder with a distinctive pointy beard, long hair (and a scope…) The best area for the last few winters has been as follows: continue over the ‘dual carriageway’ bridge, and turn right over another steep bridge almost immediately. As SOON as you’ve crossed the river turn left, (so the river is now on your left and the salt pans (most here are actively worked) on your right.) Follow the road for another 2.2kms at which point it changes from paved to dirt road. Continue on for another c1km until you see a wider rough track off to the right, (house on the left with huge earthenware jugs.) There are many narrow boundary tracks between the salt pans, but this one is wide enough to drive a rental car up.
Turn right and follow the track away from the river, stopping to scope suitable pans, (i.e. wet but not flooded.) Look for stint flocks, the Spoonie is usually with other small waders. The bird was very tidal in ’05, high tide recommended.
Finding Tee will increase your chances, it’s a very big area to work without up to date gen. Slip him a few hundred baht for his trouble if you use his services. Tee can be contacted on his mobile, 00-66-10-058-974 (010-058-974 inside Thailand.) He speaks very basic English.
KK is 2.5 to 3hrs drive without traffic from Bangkok, 3.5-5 hours during the day, c2 hours beyond SS. Both Samhut Sakhon and Pak Thale are en route, so you could spend a day birding on the way to KK. Roads are all good and the route is not difficult.
Take the Phayathai-Bangkhlo Expressway (runs parallel to the Rama VI road) South as above following signs to Dao Khanong. This takes you over the big Rama IX road bridge and WSW out of Bangkok. Follow signs to Dao Khanong until you see the first sign for Samut Sakhon/Route 35, (Right Lane c17kms after leaving C. Bangkok.) Keep alert (especially 25kms out) to avoid being filtered off left against your will. After c45 kms follow signs for Samut Songkhram, (do not turn off R35, ie you bypass Samut Sakhon,) and eventually also bypass Samut Songkhram, staying on R35 heading towards Phetchaburi.
c103kms after starting out from Bangkok you filter Left at a T-junction, signed Phetchaburi; this is the North/South Route 4. Follow Route 4 South past Phetchaburi, (ignore sign to Kaeng Krachan/R3204 6kms N. of Ph.) following signs to Prachap Khiri Khan etc. 17kms S. of Phetchaburi, filter into the Right lane at traffic lights, signed to Tha Yang, and also to Kaeng Krachan, (small black and white sign on the Left of the road, easy to miss,) turning Right onto R3187. This road takes you immediately through Tha Yang and then soon filters into another 2-lane highway, which runs alongside a canal, this reaches a T-junction after 9kms. Turn Right here onto route 3419 and follow for 25kms, latterly passing through the outskirts of KK town.
After passing a football field, garage on the Left etc, the road passes through a sentry gate (always open) with sentry hut. 600m after passing through this gate, turn Left, (many signs here in Thai and some in English,) over a bridge over the river, and follow this road for 5kms (past accomm. on the right, see below) until you come to the HQ complex set back on the right-hand side of the road. Buy permits here. Since you cannot buy permits until 8am (sometimes available from c6am on Saturdays/Sundays?) you should buy for multiple days at one time if visiting more than one day/ staying outside the park, so you can get in to the park at the main gate from 5am daily. If staying inside the park (camping only) maybe you only have to pay once as per Khao Yai? Not sure what the deal is here, we paid for 4 days since we were not camping inside the park. All non-camping accomm. is outside the park, near the HQ where permits are bought ie at least 20kms/30 mins drive from the primary birding sites. NB camping was not possible when we visited due to lack of water/fire risk.
Once permits have been secured, note that it is a further c20 km from the visitor's centre to the park gate, and then an additional c15 km to the first campground at Ban Krang, about 45 mins. drive from KK village in total.
Leave HQ continuing in the same direction as above (ie South, away from KK town) and follow the winding road alongside the reservoir (on your right side) for a further 4kms. Take the FIRST major (paved) left turn after the end of the reservoir at a small village, (signed Thor Thip Waterfall etc? (always follow signs for Thor Thip when in doubt…)) Follow this equally winding road for 6kms to a T-junction at another small village. Turn Right, again signed TT Waterfall, and follow this road for 7kms, (ignoring a left turn off a right hand bend after c5kms,) the latter 1km of this road is unpaved but in good condition. Shortly after the paved road resumes you come to a fork- take the left fork and after c2kms you arrive at the main KK entrance, 190kms from BKK in total. Present permit at the gate, (if it is closed and unmanned and no-one is around, the key to the gate is kept hanging on a nail on the back wall of the gate booth (i.e. at the park end of the gatehouse, just to the right of the entrance gate as you face parkwards and about 5 foot off the ground,) drive in, and head up to the campsite where the best birding starts at KM15. Note- you really need 4 x 4 to access all areas of Kaeng Krachan, although Kms15-18 can be birded with a 2WD if the weather is not wet/river crossings are low. There is usually a guy on the gate from 6am onwards, if not you can always go and rouse them from the nearby warden’s accomm. visible from the gate if the key is not on its hook.
KK could be done on public transport I guess but it would be VERY difficult if the campsite is closed as it was during our visit; (very dry, although the 3 river crossings still had water.) The nearest alternative accomm. is in KK village (we paid 250 Baht each per night for shared clean room) which is c30 mins drive from the park- then you have another c15kms to get into the prime lowland habitat/another 12-20kms after that to cover the higher areas (Ratchet-tailed Treepie etc) The road is just about passable by 2WD but a bit of a struggle to get higher up, no problem to bird the lowland kms 15-18 (between 1st and 3rd river crossings) by 2WD rental car when the rivers are low. The single road through the park operates as a one way system in theory, certain hours being up and others down, check at HQ for the latest arrangements. Hitching to the park would be very hit and miss, and pretty much impossible pre-dawn, we saw c5 vehicles/day except for weekends- overall if the campsite is closed a rental car of some description is pretty much essential.
Note that there is no food/drinking water at all in the park. There is a very basic store at the park gates (15kms from the lowest good birding area) and small cheap restaurants with good food in KK village c30 mins drive from the gate, ie c45 mins from the KM15-18 birding area. If you are able to camp, take everything you need in with you. There may be food at the upper campsite/lodge ? (kmc30) but it's a loooong walk uphill (c17kms.)
To get to Khao Yai from Bangkok, take Route 1 North (the elevated expressway) past the airport and continue until you see the sign for Route 2 (to the East) at Saraburi, (c81kms beyond the airport.) Keep in the right hand lane and take this Right (East, this filter curls up on a small flyover over route 1 and is signed to Nakhon Ratchasima,) and follow for another 58kms- when the road splits (two signs for route 2), keep left, and then take the Right filter lane clearly signed for Khao Yai a few kms further on; this right turn is the 2090. The road up to this point is all major multi-lane highway now, pretty good progress possible unless the traffic is a ‘mare. Follow the 2090 for a further 26kms until you come to the checkpoint at the entrance to the reserve. Total distance from Bangkok to the gate is 165kms (North East), a 2-2.5 hour drive very early morning on excellent main roads. The HQ is on your left 12kms beyond the gate, and the campsite a further c6kms again. New developments in 2005 included a spanking new outdoor cafeteria block opposite the HQ car park etc, although we never managed to eat there, having to grab rather cold evening meals at the small concession stalls in the evening behind the main cafe which serve until c7pm, still very edible though if you like Thai food as I do. Note: THERE IS NO BEER (the saddest 4 words in the English language…) sold within the park these days, now that the food set-up has been 'improved'! We took our own having been forewarned.
The small foodstalls of yesteryear on the HQ side of the road are no longer there. The trailheads are more clearly marked than they used to be, and for those who have been before, the ‘Old Trail 6’ referred to in a few recent reports is still in the same place and still called Trail 6 so not sure what all the confusion over ‘new/old Trail 6’ is about? Overall the development of the park has not been an improvement IMHO, more commerce, less flexibility and friendliness, (and no beer for heaven’s sake. Can someone have a word with the Govt.?) It is now possible to book accommodation within the park at www.thaiforestbooking.com Click on the UK flag for English language version. (We stayed in what this website refers to as 'Zone 2' within the park. Zone 1 would probably be better if you don’t have your own transport as it is c2kms closer to the start of e.g. Trail 6.)
NB the checkpoint at KY does not open ‘til 6am, so staying in the park bungalows is an advantage if you can afford it. It is relatively expensive; we paid $312 US for 4 nights between us all, i.e. c$20 a night each, but with hindsight one bungalow would have been enough for the 4 of us at half the cost (two rooms per bungalow each with two twin beds.) There is hot water in theory here, but none of our 4 showers featured the hot water luxury add-on as promised in the brochure.
The ‘Radar Road’ that features in many trip reports is the road to the South of the park that leads to Khao Khieuw. Heading from the HQ etc towards the Pha Kluai Mai campsite, turn right on the major paved road to the South, and then first left after a few hundred metres- this is the Radar Road. Early morning is best, and the first couple of kilometres are best for Siamese Fireback etc.
Please report sightings of colour-ringed birds (any species) at KY to Andy Pierce (UK researcher based there) on-site if you meet up with him or e-mail to Andrew @ pdti.kmutt.ac.th
This is the classic Limestone Wren-Babbler site between Khao Yai and BKK.
Access to the Wat (temple) is from Route 2, the main road between Saraburi and the turn to Khao Yai. The turn from Rt. 2 down to Khao Yai NP is at KM 165.5; the Wat is back up the road towards Saraburi/BKK at the 128 KM stone.
Heading for Khao Yai from BKK on Rt. 2, look for the small stone kilometre posts at the roadside- when you see KM128, go past it and make the next U-turn you can- you may have to pull over first and wait for a chance to cross.
After u-turning you are heading back towards BKK. When you get to the Km. 129 stone marker, slow down and stay left. You pass under a blue bridge, and soon after on your left will be a chain-link fence within which is an electrical substation. At the end of this chain-link/substation plot is a left turn (paved road) with many signs at the turn in Thai. (There is no English sign here for the Wat, and the road doesn’t look like it leads anywhere useful, but turn anyway!) Continue on this road past some houses/ a small market and after c2 km turn left, also paved, (series of signs, the lowest one has Thai and then below it in English "Wattampraprotisat ( as one word ) - 9 km.")
The road passes through open countryside, eventually reaching some impressive white walls and then the temple entrance. Go in, cross over a very narrow bridge, and keep right of the Barbarella-style wacky temple; park up behind.
Face towards the back of the temple. To your right (east) will be a low building with a veranda and next to it, another building. Between them is a walkway, guarded by some very loud but essentially cowardly dogs. Walk between the two buildings, looking menacingly at the dogs, and then over a concrete walkway over a stream. Turn right and yomp over c50m of rough ground, looking for a rusty gate, which may be tied shut. Go through the gate and up the rough stony track, which soon goes steeply uphill. Continue past another gate about 350 meters, paralleling the stream. The track levels out a bit, and you continue for another c150 meters. c20m before another padlocked gate/orchard, look for a faint track on the right to the stream. Cross the stream on stepping stones, (dry when we were there,) and follow the track to the base of the cliff where there are large limestone boulders. (The track pretty much peters out so you’ll think you are lost, but basically this is the spot.) We followed the advice we had been given and struggled up the limestone escarpment, seeing birds near the top, but judging by the extremely positive response to tape we experienced in the midday heat, if you play tape from the bottom of the escarpment you should see birds easily. Others have seen Eared Pitta (at this Lime-Babbler spot and also about 350m upstream,) and Blue-winged Pitta is supposed to be in the general area of the orchard and streamside in season. (Although the orchard is behind a locked gate it can easily be by-passed by crossing and then re-crossing the stream.) This is also a site for Racket-tailed Treepie, the cliffs are supposed to have Dusky Crag Martin, plus Chinese Francolin has been seen in the Orchard.
Panti Forest Reserve, Johor, South Malaysia
The site is typically a maximum 2-hour drive from downtown Singapore, although note Sunday evening traffic returning from Malaysia to Singapore can make the return journey at least 3 hours. There should be no problems getting out of Sing./into Malaysia in a rental car so long as you specify that you will be crossing into Malaysia at the point of booking. Make sure you ask the rental company for the auto-toll card that you need to pay the toll when you cross each way into/out of Malaysia, otherwise you will have to buy one at the Woodlands bridge crossing which means hassle, delay and a $10 surcharge. Route is fairly straightforward from Sing. as follows:
Take the PIE expressway (signed Jurong), accessed heading East off Upper Bukit Timah Rd. (if coming from the City i.e. heading West, filter left by the Shell Garage off the Bukit Timor Rd, then U-turn and filter left onto the PIE (Jurong.) Take the 1st filter left (only a few hundred metres) still signed Jurong which leads N. to the BKE expressway. Follow the BKE to the Woodlands Crossing Point, c8kms. (Alternatively you can use the Tuas crossing in West Singapore- I have never used this route, it is allegedly slightly more expensive and hence faster to get through, although the route out there/back to Johor Bahru may be slightly longer?)
Hand in disembarkation card at Sing. Customs and pick up Malaysian embarkation card. Pull over to fill it in if you don’t have to queue. Drive across the bridge, hand in embarkation card and get passport stamped etc at Malaysian Immigration, Drive slowly through customs stopping if requested, (when we were there all car boots were being routinely inspected,) then head out. Once through, follow signs for Kota Tinggi, (NB a U-turn is required/signed <1km after crossing the bridge,) then look for KT/Route 3 signs. From here the route is very easy; follow Route 3 c41kms to Kota Tinggi, but do not turn off to KT Village, instead stay on Route 3 signed Mersing. Just after reaching Route 3’s KM270 marker you will see the 270 Trail dirt road off to your left. 3kms further on, at R3’s KM267 kilometre post, (19kms N. of KT) you come to another dirt road on the left (West), just a few metres past 2 WWII stone bunkers either side of Route 3. This is the famous Bunker Trail, and the dirt road was perfectly drivable when we were there, but beware sand/mud in adverse conditions. We drove c7kms in along this dirt road with no problems at all. (There is another dirt road in between 270 and 267 which is presumably the Quarry Trail- seems to be wholly deforested now?)
I walked in 4-5kms in on my previous visit, which including side trails at birding speed took from 7am-3pm round trip. Driving is a better option, stopping to bird the main road/side trails as you see fit. NB theoretically there is now NO ACCESS to Panti, and there are signs up, which presumably tell you this at the start of the KM267 and KM270 trails/dirt roads. However, we had been advised by local birders that Singaporean birders regularly bird the site on Sundays, and we had no problems, despite meeting a number of army trucks etc, the inhabitants of which waved happily to us when we raised a cautious arm in greeting. The forest is used for e.g. Malaysian army cadet training etc, so use common sense and do not bird near the areas where soldiers have set up camp etc.
The 267 (Bunker Trail) road is also apparently much used by heavy trucks heading to/from the sand quarry, (every day except Sunday? We saw/heard none), but they do not interfere too much with the birding, especially if you are using the side trails.
KB, BH and GH for their company in the field as always, the Thai people for being such hospitable hosts, Andy Pierce, James Eaton, Chaiyan Kasorndorkbua for CBGC info, Pam at Boss Travel for the usual immaculate logistical help, Paul Donald for misc. KY notes etc, Dave Farrow for excellent last minute bird call CD delivery service via www.shortwing.com.uk, Dave Gandy for Barred Eagle Owl at KK gen., Alec Napier and Chris Hines for the latest on the Spoonie, Phil Round and Rob Hutchinson for misc. info., Low Bingwen and especially Yong Ding Li for all their help re: Panti, Andy Mears, Brian and Margaret Sykes and John and Judy Geeson for late Eared Pitta info., all trip report compilers whose notes we used, and anyone else I’ve forgotten.
Khok Kham/Pak Thale: Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Great Knot, Asian Dowitcher
KK: Blue Pitta, Malayan Night Heron, Ruddy Kingfisher, Grey Peacock Pheasant, White-fronted Scops Owl, Ratchet-tailed Treepie, Wallace's Hawk-Eagle, Speckled Piculet, Buffy Fish Owl, Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Silver-breasted Broadbill, Black Baza, Orange-headed Thrush, Banded Kingfisher, Scaly-breasted Partridge, Ferruginous Wood- and Bar-backed Partridges, (the latter two species both heard only), and Banded Bay- and Chestnut-winged Cuckoos. (Giant Pitta was seen (but sadly not by us) between the 2nd and 3rd river crossings at KK; there is a small lay-by on the left c400m (?) before you get to the 3rd river crossing heading in to the park- a female was seen and photographed here March 15th ‘05 (we dipped by 5 mins...also tried next morning and played tape etc but not a sniff) on the small trail (c100m long) that runs from the lay-by in a short loop and back to the road (and which never strays more than 5m from the roadside.) The lay-by is just before the bamboo-dominated area before the 3rd crossing, there were two bamboo trees arching over the road at this point. c200m back towards the gate from here there is a small muddy pool which could be worth a stake-out, alternatively the birds have since been seen visiting the 3rd river crossing to drink on at least one occasion.)
KY: Eared Pitta, Blue Pitta, Silver Pheasant, Siamese Fireback, Coral-billed Ground-Cuckoo (heard only) Siberian Blue Robin, White-crowned Forktail, Plain-tailed Warbler, Barred Cuckoo-Dove, Blyth's Leaf Warbler, Mountain Scops- and Bay Owls (both heard only) and Limestone Wren-Babbler, (Wat Tampraprotisat)
Panti: Malaysian Rail-Babbler, Garnet Pitta, Heart-spotted-, Grey-and-Buff- and Buff-rumped Woodpeckers, Black-throated-, Fluffy-backed Tit-and Chestnut-rumped Babblers, Rufous-tailed Tailorbird, Siberian Blue Robin, Violet Cuckoo, Cinnamon-rumped Trogon (heard only)
Fri March 11th GH, KB and BH landed at 5am on Thai Airways TG911 overnight flight from London, picked up the 4x4 rental car and nava-guessed their way to Samhut Sakhon/Khok Kham. They hooked up with Mr Tee Suchart at the site (pre-booked from the UK via his mobile phone, see number above) and in his company birded most of the day there, finding Asian Dowitcher, and Great Knot amongst the usual scads of waders feeding on the salt-pans and at the coast. I was working in Bangkok for the day, and checked in via my GSM mobile phone at 1pm, only to find that they had still not seen the Spoon-billed Sandpiper. High tide was at 430pm, and they finally managed to find the Spoonie at 3.45pm on the rising tide after c7 hours of searching. I then joined up with the (suitably exhausted) usual suspects back at the Amari Atrium Hotel in Bangkok.
Sat March 12th We returned early to Khok Kham to allow me to try to catch up with the Spoonie, arriving just after first light. We headed to the stint flocks and waded through large numbers of Red-necked Stints, Broad-billed Sands etc, but couldn’t find the Spoonie on the receding tide. Left KhKh at c10am and drove to Pak Thale for further Spoonie searching. We drove around the dirt roads, finding 4 Avocets, 8 Ruff and a few small waders, the salt-pan scouring interrupted with a short visit to the coast. A Dusky Warbler entertained briefly in the mangroves, before we headed for the open beach, which held a lone Terek Sandpiper and a single Crested Tern on a wooden post. We gave up the search at 3pm and headed to Kaeng Krachan, arriving in plenty of time to pick up permits at the HQ for the next 4 days. We checked into the accomm., our fears of the resort being overrun on a holiday weekend unfounded, and then drove to the park gates for the last of the light. We ended the day with an excellent dinner at the restaurant adjacent to our chalet, and a brief log-call oiled by a few cold Singhas.
Sun March 13th We left the chalets well before dawn and drove the few kilometres to the park gates, letting ourselves in when we arrived. We drove up to the 1st river crossing and parked, birding to half way between the 2nd and 3rd crossings. CG flushed a Malayan Night-Heron from the river-bed but sadly it flew through the trees and disappeared rapidly, only CG and GH getting views. Beyond the 2nd crossing we heard a Blue Pitta fairly close to the road, and crept in to the dense forest cover to try to tempt it into view with a few snatches of song. The bird came in a little way, but after a minute or so the call was getting fainter. We pursued the bird up a steep slope, always at the same distance behind it. 3 of us managing brief views, but GH was out of luck. We returned, hot and sticky, to the road, picking up a peculiarly co-operative Banded Bay Cuckoo, and hearing 2 Banded Kingfishers, and a distant Ferruginous Wood-Partridge. As we returned to the 1st crossing we hit a good flock, which contained a gorgeous Heart-spotted Woodpecker, a pair of Buff-rumped Woodpeckers, Ashy Minivets and a Sultan Tit.
We drove to just beyond the 3rd crossing and spent a while trying to see a Silver-breasted Broadbill, eventually scoring amazing views. As we returned to the river crossing we bumped into fellow UK birder James Eaton who urgently beckoned us over. We could hear a calling Grey Peacock Pheasant but we had arrived just too late it seemed- the bird had moved up the steep forested hill and out of sight. However a 2nd bird called on the other side of the road, and most of our expanded group managed brief views as the bird finally clocked us and ran up the opposite hill. A little further down we enjoyed a close Wallace’s Hawk-Eagle, and picked up a few commoner species such as Orange-breasted Trogon, Hill Blue Flycatcher and a group of Large Woodshrikes.
As the heat of the day kicked in we sought respite in the cooler upper reaches of the park, hearing a Bar-backed Partridge at KM21, before eventually pulling over in the small lay-by on the right of the road at KM27. We walked slowly up the road, finding Siberian Flycatchers, Radde’s Warblers, Spot-necked Babblers, 2 Mountain Imperial Pigeons and a White-browed Scimitar-Babbler. A Swinhoe’s Minivet and a Red-headed Trogon showed well, before our tape-trawling eventually pulled in our target for the afternoon, a pair of Ratchet-tailed Treepies, which flounced around in the canopy at the road-edge, flaunting their tails like there was no tomorrow. We eked out the last of the light at KM 18-16, before setting off back down to the gate, our headlights briefly illuminating a couple of Asian Palm Civets before they scurried off into the security of the undergrowth. We returned to last night’s restaurant, graciously received by the proprietress as if we were old friends.
Mon March 14th We again birded between the 1st and 3rd river crossings, enjoying killer views of a male Banded Kingfisher, Great Slaty- and Crimson-winged Woodpeckers, three Crested Jays, (surprised from the forest floor having just come down to drink,) and a lone Orange-headed Thrush. A trail across the river drew us in, and we stole along it as silently as the dry leaf-litter would allow. Only c100m in, we heard a close Scaly-breasted Partridge, and some careful stalking finally gave us great views of a nervous pair, the female walking along the edge of the trail until she finally decided she was distant enough to cross in safety. The rest of the morning passed rather uneventfully, with only a tardy Collared Scops Owl calling to keep us amused. We then retraced yesterday’s route, driving up to KM27 and on to KM33, where we watched a lovely male Rufous-browed Flycatcher, and both Great- and Wreathed Hornbills. We arrived back at the upper campsite a couple of minutes after 4pm, but the lady in charge of the gate would not allow us to drive down against the traffic flow, despite our vehicle being the only traffic flowing anywhere. Our feeble attempts to negotiate in Thai, (tough when you only know how to say ‘4 beers please’) fell on deaf ears, and we birded the hour away just below the campsite, finding Brown Hornbill (here the nominate tickelli aka ‘Rusty-cheeked Hornbill’) another Ratchet-tailed Treepie, 2 Grey Treepie and a diminutive pair of Speckled Piculets. When the traffic police finally relented we drove slowly down the hill, stopping at various points along the way, seeing Green-eared Barbet at KM27, and hearing more Blue Pittas and another pair of Ferruginous Wood-Partridge at KM20.
We waited at KM18 for the last of the light to fade before trying for White-fronted Scops Owl, hearing two birds, but both were in dense cover and eluded our best attempts to spotlight them. We returned to our digs and completed the log over another excellent dinner, this time at the restaurant attached to our accommodation to show our local loyalty, before crashing out around 1030pm.
Tues March 15th A very early start saw us back at KM18 for 5-15am, where we again heard White-fronted Scops Owl and again failed to score views. Once it was light we birded back towards the lower camp-site, CG and GH independently having flight views of an unexpected Ruddy Kingfisher, and also enjoyed walk-away views of a female Banded Kingfisher. At around 730am we bumped into Rob H and James E. again, and Rob wandered over and said with a twinkle in his eye, “James thinks you’ll know what this quiz bird is.” James’s digital SLR was duly proffered and there in the viewfinder was a large-as-life (well almost) Giant Pitta. We quickly established that the shot had been taken less than 5 minutes earlier and less than 10m away, and after a few seconds of quiet profanity, walked the short trail that loops from the back of the lay-by between the 2nd and 3rd river crossings, but to no avail. We spent a further hour in the area, KB glimpsing a suitable blob at one point as it shot across the road, but for the rest of us we had to accept that we had not quite been in the right place at the right time. Eventually we gave up, giving in to the inescapable truth of the 1st law of forest birding (‘never chase other people’s birds…’) and decided to walk up the river bed from the 1st crossing and around to the 2nd. This was productive, giving us point blank views of a roosting Buffy Fish Owl and a Blue-bearded Bee-eater. The rest of the morning continued to throw up good species, including a Black Baza, 3 Silver-breasted Broadbill, a Drongo Cuckoo, a Chestnut-breasted Malkoha, a showy Forest Wagtail on the road and a second Orange-headed Thrush. The afternoon was spent around KM20, producing little other than Spangled Drongo and Green-billed Malkoha, but reptile of the day was certainly a King Cobra that crossed the road in the front of the car. At dusk we returned to the 3rd river crossing and finally tracked down a White-fronted Scops Owl, which, after leading us a merry dance, eventually tired of toying with us and perched out in full view on a liana for 30 secs. 3 Brown Hawk-Owls provided a fitting supporting cast, and we returned to the restaurant Breakfast Lunch Dinner jubilant that our hard Scops Owl work had at last paid off. The lady owner brought the prerequisite cold Singhas out and told us that she had kept the restaurant open for us the previous night but we had never showed. Consumed with guilt, we ordered extra beers all round, which doubtless explains why we put the birding world to rights with Rob and James who had joined us to celebrate their Giant Pitta.
Weds March 16th With the Scops Owl secured, we were able to enjoy a lie-in until 530am, before retracing the now familiar route up to the park, arriving just before dawn. Just beyond the 1st river a Cinnamon Bittern entertained us, posing on the road in our headlights like a stage-struck actor. The morning passed uneventfully for the most part, with only a pair of Black-and-Yellow Broadbill livening things up, until KB bumped into another roosting White-fronted Scops Owl. Whilst pursuing an early Blue Pitta we also heard a single Eared Pitta, which called twice but frustratingly too far away to give us any chance of locating it. Playing tape served only to silence the calling bird. At 9am we reluctantly packed our scopes away and drove back towards Bangkok, picking up open country birds en route, including Asian Openbill, Indochinese Bushlark, Oriental Pratincole and Black-collared Starling. After a brief stop for suitably spicy KFC, we crawled through the traffic, eventually escaping Bangkok and heading North-East, arriving at Khao Yai at 4pm. We checked into our pre-booked bungalow, and decided to use the last of the daylight to bird the start of Trail 6. Just as we hit the trail the heavens opened, and the downpour continued until dark. We persevered, hearing White-crowned Forktail but seeing absolutely nothing, until even CG was forced to admit defeat. We returned to the restaurant to order tepid canteen food and bemoan the lack of beer under the new ‘improved’ KY culinary regime. A single Great-eared Nightjar called above us, hawking over the HQ, a melancholy sound to match our bedraggled mood. We retired to our veranda, plugged our legions of rechargeable batteries into the decidedly risky mains sockets, and cracked open a few less than cold Singhas that we had brought with us. Our log activities proceeded with the usual hilarity, interrupted only by the occasional appearance of a Large Spotted Civet.
Thurs March 17th The day dawned cloudy but dry, and after rescuing our casual breakfast from the marauding ants we headed out into the field, full of optimism that last night’s rain would have the forest bursting with activity. We worked slowly up Trail 6, seeing little in the enclosed corridors of the early part of the trail, but as the viewing improved further up we encountered Moustached Barbet, Pale-legged Leaf-Warbler, Scaly-breasted Partridge, and best of all, a stunning and relatively confiding male Silver Pheasant, which sauntered regally along the trail, with us creeping along in pursuit. Long-tailed Broadbills and Banded Kingfishers called off in the distance, but post-Pheasant the forest was largely quiet.
We turned right at the t-junction at the top of the hill and followed Trail 5 all the way back to the main road, listening for leaf-rustles and scanning in vain along the ridge and beyond for a glimpse of Eared Pitta. The walk back along the road was hot and largely uneventful, save for nice views of a pair of Chestnut-headed Bee-eater. Our restful recovery back at the HQ clearing was interrupted not only by hordes of Thai schoolchildren comparing their newly-acquired leech socks, but also by a fly-over Barred Cuckoo-Dove. Once we had regained our strength, we drove up to the 2nd (Pha Kluai Mai) campsite to try for Coral-billed Ground-Cuckoo. After waiting out another torrential downpour we located the correct shower block and settled down to watch the area of logs and mud at the bottom of the small hill behind the facilities. The star of the show failed to appear, but we did pick up a Blue Rock Thrush, Radde’s Warblers and for CG only, a female Blue Pitta, which hopped behind a tiny screen of foliage and promptly disappeared. We spent the end of the day on the first part of Trail 1, which was enlivened by the presence of more calling Blue Pittas fairly close to the trail. The birds would come in to tape, but still remained devilishly difficult to see, with only KB scoring views c30m downhill from the tape, as one bird hopped at speed across the trail.
Returning to the restaurants just before dusk, a couple of Thai eco-tourists alerted us to the presence of a Malayan Porcupine nestling down beside the main road bridge. We set up scopes and watched this strange animal snuffling around in the undergrowth before it suddenly took fright and careered off into the bushes. Another tasty but luke-warm dinner hit the spot, before we drove up to the Khao Khieuw road, playing owl tape along the first four kilometres. We heard 4 Mountain Scops Owl and two Bay Owls, but the former would perch low in dense cover and the latter come in only so far, resulting in a frustrating night’s work. After a couple of comical forays into the pitch black forest, (during which we discovered just how easy it is to become disorientated in the forest at night,) we eventually gave up, and returned to base to lounge on the veranda and plan tomorrow’s campaigns.
Fri March 18th We drove up and down the start of the Khao Khieuw (“Radar”) road at first light looking for Siamese Fireback, but finding only a solitary Red Junglefowl. Abandoning the search, we drove to trail 6 and scrambled wearily up and down the initial switchbacks before emerging onto flatter ground. GH was leading, and half way along T6 was just approaching a small stream crossing when I hissed at him to halt, having seen a wonderfully suspicious bouncing movement just to our right. Thinking we were perhaps about to settle GH’s Blue Pitta bogey, I raised my bins, only to find myself focussing on a sight I had spent so many years waiting for- a pair of Eared Pittas not 3m from the trail. We all stood in silence, awed by our good fortune, as the birds went about their business, blithely ignoring our presence. After 15 mins or so we were able to cautiously move around, propping our tired bodies up on the nearby trees and drinking in the detail of these beautiful birds. After nearly an hour we left the birds in peace (“Can it ever be right to walk away from an on-view Eared Pitta? Discuss”) and crept a suitable distance up the trail before commencing our celebrations. The rest of the day was bound to be something of an anti-climax, but we hit a nice flock further up the trail that held Plain-tailed-, Eastern Crowned-, and Pale-legged Leaf Warblers along with the ubiquitous Yellow-broweds, 2 Long-tailed- and a single Banded- Broadbill, Hill Mynahs and a White-bellied Yuhina. We prowled around on the ridge looking for game birds, but as the temperature rose the cicadas’ chorus drowned everything else out and eventually drove us back down the Trail, where we found a pair of White-crowned Forktails, one of which showed uncharacteristically well on the single wet area of the unusually dry stream-bed. Our pittas had gone by the time we passed the spot at which they had entertained us so royally three hours earlier, but even so there was a decided spring in our step as we emerged, triumphant, onto the main road. We broke out lunch, and a Crested Goshawk made an appearance as we wolfed down GH’s impressive rubber-cheese-tuna-and-crisp sandwiches.
The afternoon was spent back at the Pha Kluai Mai campsite and the start of Trail 1/the circular Nature Trail behind the HQ, producing a female type Siberian Blue Robin for CG only, lone Great- and Wreathed- Hornbills, a garrulous flock of White-crested Laughingthrushes tearing up the neighbourhood, and our only Blyth’s Leaf-Warbler of the trip, doing its usual treetrunk-hugging dance of lurve. T1 was quiet, with only a close range pair of Barred Cuckoo-Dove to retain our interest.
Sat March 19th Our last day at KY, so we decided to devote time to the Ground-Cuckoo and Siamese Fireback, the 2 of the ‘Big 4’ KY birds that had so far escaped our best efforts to track them down. As a result we were in place in the Khao Khieuw Road for dawn, and GH eventually managed to get views of a pair of Siamese Firebacks, though the rest of us were relegated to the status of heard-only also-rans. We returned to T1 where a flock of 4 Coral-billed Ground Cuckoos had been seen the day before. Only 200m up the trail we heard the unmistakable sound of a CBGC in the distance. We headed back to the road and tracked in to the forest in the direction of the call, but this took a good 15 mins. of navigating around the river etc, and turned into a frustrating wild goose – (or in this case ground-cuckoo-) chase. We retraced our steps up T1 and this time heard a 2nd CBGC much closer to the trail, a little way ahead. We sat down on the trail, played tape, and the bird responded, coming ever closer. Just as it seemed we could not fail to lure the bird into view, a pair of eco-tourists wandered past, staring in wonder at our prone bodies scattered about the trail. The bird withdrew and stopped calling; the one that got away.
Our chance gone, we forked right and followed the Nature Trail back to the HQ, bumping into White-browed Scimitar-Babbler, Everett’s White-eye, Two-barred Greenish Warbler etc on the way back.
We packed up and headed out of the park, trying the fire station just below the viewpoint for Golden-crested Mynah en route but no joy. Having filled up with petrol we drove slowly back, diverting en route via the famous Limestone Wren-Babbler site at Wat Tampraprotisat. Having followed the excellent directions we had secured in the UK, (without which we would never have found the site for sure,) we trooped up the rocky path in the heat of the day, eventually finding ourselves at the base of the limestone escarpment. We scrambled up the hill, sweating profusely, and balanced gingerly on a large rock near the top of the slope. Having expended considerable effort to reach our lofty perch we debated whether our midday exertions were ill-advised; hardly the perfect time of day to lure out skulkers. However we need not have worried; within 3 seconds of playing a snatch of tape a pair came screaming in, landing virtually at our feet, and proceeded to circle around us calling all the while, and giving amazing views. Lime-Babbler secured!
Having relied rather too heavily on gravity to speed our passage back down the rocky incline, we walked back to the temple, (which looks like a cast-off from the set of ‘Barbarella’,) and headed back to the airport, arriving in time to return the rental car and clean up in the very swish hotel toilets; although lord knows what the residents thought of the four rather dishevelled men in various states of disarray when they disturbed us midway through our ablutions.
Our Thai airways flight left on time at 1915hrs, with two of us upgraded to live the high life in business class, (our bathroom manoeuvres had obviously not been in vain…) and we arrived in Singapore, only to discover that the Hertz rep. had not seen fit to wait for our arrival, despite us having pre-booked, informed them ahead of time of our flight number and arrival time, and double-checked to make sure that they would still be open late in the evening. We took a taxi to the hotel and sat disconsolately in the hotel bar, sipping the world’s most expensive lager and debating our options for getting to Panti at a reasonable hour. The ludicrous price of the alcohol and the fact that we were supposed to be getting up in 5 hours’ time conspired to prevent us from indulging in a further beer-fuelled destruction of Hertz’s reputation, and we hit the sack having decided to return to the airport at 7am to cut our losses.
Sun March 20th We returned to the airport for 7am to pick up the car when the office re-opened. They greeted us with, 'oh, you were the no-show last night’, but we managed not to explain to them the finer points of sales technique with the business end of our tripods and stayed calm… After what seemed like interminable paperwork we were finally able to get on the road, crossed into Malaysia at Woodlands and crawled through traffic, arriving at the Bunker Trail at 9am with the best of the morning gone. We headed straight for the small trail on the left about 2kms in, where we were soon hearing both Cinnamon-rumped Trogon and Garnet Pitta at close range, but saw neither despite careful searching. In the end we gave up and headed further in up the road, trying a couple of spots but not seeing much. Everywhere was so dry that I figured we would need to find some wetter swamp forest if we were to have any chance of digging out a Rail-Babbler. We looked for a trail into wetter forest opposite the small shrine c3kms from the main road but couldn't find a way in, and eventually decided to walk along the road c200m beyond the shrine. By this time it was already 1130am and pretty hot and we had still seen little other than Blue-crowned Hanging-Parrots etc; I was starting to think the day was a write-off. However, after only a few minutes of whistling a Rail-Babbler monotone, I heard one respond very close to the road. We located the source of the sound, and a few whistles later the bird appeared almost at our feet less than 1m away, glowing burnished orange on the forest floor; stellar stuff. Three of the four of us had great brief views, but sadly BH missed the bird. We patrolled further up, hoping for another bird but no joy, so we returned to the same spot and after another 15 mins. or so of effort, amazingly managed to persuade the same bird to return, this time giving two good brief views to all of us before wandering off into the forest.
With our main target bird achieved, the pressure was off, and we drove c7kms in from the main road, to where a medium-sized river crosses under the road, (marked by a small wooden sign on the left of the road as you head in which reads "TP1C".) We walked the small clearing on the right hand side just before the river, finding a nice male Siberian Blue Robin feeding in the open below a fallen tree trunk, and then had a mixed Babbler flock which included Black-throated-, Chestnut-rumped-, Chestnut-winged-, and Fluffy-backed Tit-Babblers. We noticed a few birds coming to drink at the river, and so stayed through the heat of the day, enjoying an ever-changing set of species which included a pair of Grey-and-Buff Woodpecker, Rufous-tailed Tailorbird, a coucal sp. in flight only which I suspect was Short-toed Coucal (we also heard the call; like Greater Coucal but briefer with a short first note?) a pair of Dark-throated Orioles, Buff-rumped- Checker-throated- and Crimson-winged Woodpeckers, Black-and-Red Broadbill, Cream-vented- and Red-eyed Bulbuls, Orange-bellied Flowerpecker, Purple-throated Sunbird, 2 Hill Mynah, a Violet Cuckoo, Crested Serpent-Eagle and 5 Blue-throated Bee-eater. We also had great views of a Black-backed Kingfisher fishing from a low perch in the river, and just before we left an adjutant sp. soared high overhead, presumably Lesser Adjutant.
Eventually we tore ourselves away and returned to the 1st trail we had birded, hoping to find the Cinnamon-rumped Trogon, but not a squeak. However the Garnet Pitta was still calling away, so we carefully picked our way through the forest and finally enjoyed amazing views of the bird perched c1.5 metres off the ground, before it saw us and bounced off across the forest floor.
We drove South to the 270 trail to try for the Giant Pitta before leaving; no sight nor sound of the elusive GP, but we did have more Whiskered- and a couple of Grey-rumped Treeswifts, with a Heart-spotted Woodpecker and a Hawk-Eagle sp. to end the day. The traffic back to Singapore was terrible (Sunday evening...) but we eventually made it back in time for quick farewells before KB, BH, GH had to catch their plane back to the UK.
Report compilation by Chris Gooddie, chrisg (AT) focusrite.com. Mail to this address if you need the full version of this trip report including the systematic species list.
Order largely follows Robson et al. Species in square brackets were heard but not seen. Species in round brackets were ‘probables’ recorded but not conclusively identified.
[Bar-backed Partridge Arborophila brunneopectus
Heard daily at KK.]
Scaly-breasted Partridge Arborophila chloropus
A pair seen at KK, 2 at KY, and frequently heard.
[Ferruginous (Wood-) Partridge Caloperdix oculea
Heard twice at KK, (once between 1st and 2nd river crossings, once at cKM20, 13 and 14/3.]
Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus
A total of 6 seen at KY over 3 days.
Silver Pheasant Lophura nycthemera
A male on the drier sloping section at the far (ridge) end of T6, KY 17/3/05.
Siamese Fireback Lophura diardi
A male and female seen by GH along the Khao Khieuw ('Radar') Road at KY 19/03/05, heard by the rest of us.
Grey Peacock-Pheasant Polyplectron bicalcaratum
One seen just beyond 3rd river crossing, 13/3. Up to 6 per day heard at KK, mostly distant.
Speckled Piculet Picumnus innominatus
A pair KM30 at KK 14/3, c400m below the upper campsite.
Crimson-winged Woodpecker Picus puniceus
1 at KMc16 KK 14/3 and 1 at KM7 Panti 20/3.
Checker-throated Woodpecker Picus mentalis
2 at Panti 20/3.
Greater Yellownape Picus flavinucha
1 at KK 14/3.
Streak-breasted Woodpecker Picus viridanus
2 seen at KK, 1 between the 2nd and 3rd crossings 13/3 and just beyond the 3rd crossing 15/3.
Laced Woodpecker Picus vittatus
1 at the Pha Kluai Mai campsite KY 18/3.
Greater Flameback Chrysocolaptes lucidus
3 on the nature trail off T1 at KY 19/3.
Buff-rumped Woodpecker Meiglyptes tristis
A pair between the 1st and 2nd river crossings at KK 13/3, and one at Panti 7kms in along the Bunker Trail 20/3.
Grey-and-Buff Woodpecker Hemicircus concretus
Male and female seen at Panti, Bunker Trail c7kms in where an obvious river crosses under the road. This was the only significant wet area at Panti, and was heaving with birds as a result.
Heart-spotted Woodpecker Hemicircus canente
1, possibly 2 at KK at 1st river crossing 13/3, and one Trail 270 at Panti 20/3.
Great Slaty Woodpecker Mulleripicus pulverulentus
Heard at KK 13/3 and 2 seen there near 2nd river crossing 14/3.
Great Barbet Megalaima virens
1 at KM27 KK 13/3, and heard at similar altitude the next day.
[Lineated Barbet Megalaima lineata
Heard daily at KK.]
[Gold-whiskered Barbet Megalaima chrysopopgon
Heard 17/3, 18/3 at KY.]
[Golden-throated Barbet Megalaima franklinii
Heard on 3 days at KK and 2 at KY.]
[Blue-throated Barbet Megalaima asiatica
1 seen at KK 14/3, and heard daily there and at KY.]
[Yellow-crowned Barbet Megalaima henricii
Heard Bunker Trail at Panti.]
Green-eared Barbet Megalaima faiostricta
1 seen at KM20 KK 14/3 and KM16 16/3, commonly heard there, and heard at KY.
Moustached Barbet Megalaima incognita
1 at KM27 KK 13/3, 1 at KY 17/3, 2 on 18/3 and heard there 19/3.
[Red-throated Barbet Megalaima mystacophanos
Heard at KK, 13/3, 14/3.]
Blue-eared Barbet Megalaima australis
2 at KY17/3, and multiples heard daily at KK, KY.
Coppersmith Barbet Megalaima haemacephala
3 at the main KK gate 12/3, 2 seen en route from KK to KY 17/3, heard at KK, KY on 6 other dates.
Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris
Max. 6 per day at KK, singles daily at KY, and 2 19/3.
Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis
5 at KK, 14/3 singles 13/3, 15/3, heard there on 16/3, 1 at KY 18/3.
Rusty-cheeked Hornbill Anorrhinus tickelli tickelli
2 at KK KM30 14/3, 1 15/3. Some authorities split this from Brown Hornbill, Anorrhinus (t.) austeni, although Robson et al still accords only subspecific status.
Wreathed Hornbill Aceros undulatus
1 at KM33 KK 14/3, 2 at KY 18/3, seen from the new restaurant, flying over the river. In addition, 2 single hornbills spp. of either this species or Plain-pouched Hornbill, Aceros subruficollis were seen at KK 13/3 and 14/3.
[Cinnamon-rumped Trogon Harpactes orrhophaeus
One heard calling repeatedly c200m along the small trail off to the left after 2.5kms as you drive in along the Bunker Trail at Panti 20/3/05 could not be located.]
Orange-breasted Trogon Harpactes oreskios
4 at KK, 1 at KY, plus others heard.
Red-headed Trogon Harpactes erythrocephalus
1 at KM27 KK 13/3, 1 at KY 17/3, plus additional singles heard at each of these sites.
Indian Roller Coracias benghalensis
Common in open country.
Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis
Seen daily at KK, KY, Panti, max. 4 per day.
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
3 at KK, 1 at KY.
Black-backed Kingfisher Ceyx erithacus
2 at Panti, 20/3 both along the Bunker Trail, 1 at KM7, 1 at KM2.
Banded Kingfisher Lacedo pulchella
1 male, 1 female seen at KK between 1st and 3rd crossings, and up to 3 others heard daily
in the same zone. Also 2 heard distantly along T6 KY 17/3.
Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda
1 seen twice at KK 15/3, site as per Malayan Night Heron above. (CG, GH)
White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis
9 in total.
Black-capped Kingfisher Halcyon pileata
3 at Khok Kham, 2 at KK.
Collared Kingfisher Todirhamphus chloris
Singles daily at Khok Kham.
Red-bearded Bee-eater Nyctyornis amictus
One seen two days running at KK 13/3, 14/3, near 2nd river crossing.
Blue-bearded Bee-eater Nyctyornis athertoni
2 at the 1st river crossing, KK 15/3, 2 in bamboo on the 1st bend below the fire station at KY 19/3.
Blue-throated Bee-eater Merops viridis
12 between Khok Kham and KK 12/3, and 6+ at Panti 20/3.
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater Merops leschenaulti
2, from the main road 0.5KMS North of the HQ clearing at KY 17/3.
[Large Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides
Heard at KK, 13/3.]
Chestnut-winged Cuckoo Clamator coromandus
1 between the 1st and 2nd river crossings at KK 13/3, and again 15/3.
Banded Bay Cuckoo Cacomantis sonneratii
1 seen at KK between the 1st and 2nd river crossings at KK 13/3, and others heard daily there. Also heard at Panti 20/3.
[Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus
Heard at KK, 15/3.]
[Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo Carpococcyx renauldi
The bird at the Pha Kluai Mai campsite, KY has apparently become far less regular of late, (the bird does not come in every day, and the hide/screen referred to in earlier reports has now been taken down although the mud/logs are still there.) We heard 2-3 birds along the nature trail at KY (the short circular trail that branches right near the start of Trail 1) and had a bird respond/ come close c300m along T1, but tourists passing by at the critical moment killed our chances. Birds seem to be pretty tape -responsive in March, our close encounter bird came in a long way, just not quite far enough! 4 birds were seen by other birders we met on-site at the junction of T1/the Nature trail, and 1 had also been seen 'within the last 10 days' behind one of the chalets close to the HQ.]
Violet Cuckoo Chrysococcyx xanthorhynchus
1 seen twice over the Bunker Trail KM7 and 1 over the 270 Trail at Panti.
Drongo Cuckoo Suriculus lugubris
1 at the 3rd river crossing at KK 15/3, 1 heard at KK the following day.
Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopacea
1 seen in the HQ clearing at KY 19/3, and a total of 4 heard at Khok Kham and KY.
Green-billed Malkoha Phaenicophaeus tristis
A total of 4 on 3 days at KK, 1 at Wat Tampraprotisat 19/3.
Chestnut-breasted Malkoha Phaenicophaeus curvirostris
2 singles at KK 13/3 and 15/3.
Short-toed Coucal Centropus rectunguis
A coucal sp., almost certainly of this species, seen at KM7 Bunker Trail Panti 20/3.
Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis
8 in total, 3 days.
Vernal Hanging Parrot Loriculus vernalis
Daily at KK, max. 10/day, 3 at KY.
Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot Loriculus galgulus
4 at Panti, along the first stretch of the Bunker Trail.
Long-tailed Parakeet Psittacula longicauda
c15 at Panti.
Germain's Swiftlet Collocalia germani
2 Collocalia thought to have been this species over Bangkok, 11/3. (CG)
Brown-backed Needletail Hirundapus giganteus
A few at KY 16/3 and 17/3. Needletails spp. also seen distantly/daily at KK.
Asian Palm Swift Cypsiurus balasiensis
Seen every day at KK, KY, Panti, max. 100/day.
Fork-tailed- (Pacific-) Swift Apus pacificus
5 at KM27 KK 14/3 and a single at KM20 the following day.
House Swift Apus affinis
c50/day over Bangkok.
Grey-rumped Treeswift Hemiprocne longipennis
2 singles seen at KK (GH.) 2 at Panti, 20/3.
Whiskered Treeswift Hemiprocne comata
5 at Panti, 20/3.
[Oriental Bay Owl Phodilus badius
At least 1 heard along the Khao Khieuw ('Radar') Road at KY 18+19/03.]
White-fronted Scops Owl Otus sagittatus
2 at KK; 1 finally seen well after 3 owling sessions, just beyond the 3rd river crossing 15/3. 1 flushed from a daytime roost c10m in from the road c100m before the 1st crossing 16/3 (KB.)
[Mountain Scops Owl Otus spilocephalus
At least 4 heard along the Khao Khieuw ('Radar') Road at KY 18+19/03.]
[Oriental Scops Owl Otus sunia
1 heard at KK 14/3 (GH.)]
[Collared Scops Owl Otus bakkamoena
Heard at Kmc17 KK, 14/3.]
Buffy Fish Owl Ketupa ketupa
1 scoped at point blank range during the day at the 1st river crossing at KK 15/3.
Asian Barred Owlet Glaucidium cuculoides
7 at KK over 3 days.
Spotted Owlet Athene brama
1 in open country between the main road and Wat Tampraprotisat, 19/3.
Brown Hawk Owl Ninox scutulata
3 seen KK 15/3, just beyond the 3rd river crossing. Also heard at KK and KY, 3 nights total.
Great Eared Nightjar Eurostopodus macrotis
16 seen in total; easily seen and heard at both KK and KY, e.g. over the main clearing at KY, max. 6 per evening.
Large-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus macrurus
22 seen in total, most flushed from the road on the way into KK.
Rock Pigeon Columba livia
Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis
Red Collared Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica
Commonly seen in open country, city gardens etc.
Barred Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia unchall
1 fly-over near the HQ at KY 17/3, and a pair seen at close range c500m along T1 at KY 18/3.
Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica
11 seen in total at both Thai forest sites.
Peaceful Dove Geopelia striata
15 total in suitably degraded habitat.
Thick-billed Green Pigeon Treron curvirostra
7 seen at KK/KY over 4 days.
(Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon Treron sphenura
1 probable well up T6 at KY 18/3.)
(Yellow-vented Green Pigeon Treron seimundi
A Treron sp., almost certainly this species, flew over the clearing between the 1st
and 2nd crossings at KK, 13/3.)
Mountain Imperial Pigeon Ducula badia
3 fly-bys around the higher altitudes at KK, and 3 at KY (ridge at far end of T6, Khao Khieuw Road etc.)
White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus
1 at Khok Kham 11/3 (KB BH GH.)
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa melanoroides
c70 total at Khok Kham over 2 days.
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata orientalis
1 on the mud flats at Pak Thale 12/3.
Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus
12 at Khok Kham.
Common Redshank Tringa totanus
3 at Khok Kham.
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
3 over 2 days at Khok Kham.
Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis
c60 at Khok Kham.
Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
15 at Khok Kham, including one pale bird with half its bill covered in mud which made us pause for thought…
Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
1 at Pak Thale 12/3.
Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus
1 on the mud flats at Pak Thale 12/3.
Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
5 at Khok Kham over 2 days.
Asian Dowitcher Limnodromus semipalmatus
1 at Khok Kham 11/3 (KB, GH, BH.)
Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris
c10 at Khok Kham 11/3 (KB, GH, BH.)
Sanderling Calidris alba
c20 at Khok Kham 11/3 (KB, GH, BH.)
Spoon-billed Sandpiper Calidris pygmeus
1 seen in the usual area at Khok Kham, 1545hrs on the rising tide, 11/3/05, (KB, GH, BH) sadly could not be relocated the following day when I had joined the group. We also looked for them at Pak Thale pm the same day; not seen at PT either, although 7 seen there by Rob Hutchinson later the same evening and had also been seen by others early morning. Both sites are best visited at high tide if possible.
Red-necked Stint Calidris ruficollis
c350 each day at Khok Kham, 11 and 12/3.
Temminck's Stint Calidris temminckii
2 at Khok Kham 12/3 (KB, GH, BH.)
Long-toed Stint Calidris subminuta
c40 each day at Khok Kham.
Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
c40 each day at Khok Kham.
Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus
c100 each day at Khok Kham.
Ruff Philomachus pugnax
8 at Pak Thale, c200m N. of the Avocets as per below, 12/3.
(Pied) Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta
4 at Pak Thale 12/3/05. These birds were to the North of the usual Spoon-billed Sand. area; when you reach the final crossroads at which you turn right (before the final left) for the Spoonie area, turn left at the crossroads instead and then take the 1st dirt road on the right which winds through other salt pans, a few of which held reasonable numbers of waders. The avocets were on the right after c0.5kms.
Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus
2 at Khok Kham 12/3.
Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
Common at Khok Kham. A few seen on wet paddies between KK and Bangkok, and between Bangkok and KY.
Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis fulva
36 over 2 days at Khok Kham.
Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
2 at Khok Kham 12/3.
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
1 at Pak Thale 12/3.
Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus
Common at Khok Kham, Pak Thale.
Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus
Common at Khok Kham, Pak Thale.
Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus
19 in total at KK and en route between sites.
Oriental Pratincole Glareola maldivarum
5 between KK and Bangkok, 1 at KY 16/3.
Heuglin's Gull Larus heuglini
c70 total at Khok Kham each day (KB, GH, BH.)
Brown-headed Gull Larus brunnicephalus
Common at Khok Kham.
Gull-billed Tern Sterna nilotica
c60 total over 2 days at Khok Kham.
Caspian Tern Sterna caspia
14 total over 2 days at Khok Kham/Pak Thale.
Great Crested Tern Sterna bergii
1 perched on a fishing pole on the mudflats at Pak Thale 12/3.
Common Tern Sterna hirundo
c70 total over 2 days at Khok Kham, Pak Thale.
Little Tern Sterna albifrons
12 total over 2 days at Khok Kham.
Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus
Common at Khok Kham.
Osprey Pandion haliaetus
1 at Khok Kham 11/3, 1 at KK reservoir, 12/3.
White-bellied Sea-Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster
1 Singapore 20/3.
Black Baza Aviceda leuphotes
One was watched perched up at the 3rd river crossing at KK 15/3.
Oriental Honey-Buzzard Pernis ptilorhyncus
3 total over 2 days at KK.
Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus
5 total in open country between sites, 12/3, 16/3, 19/3, 20/3.
Black Kite Milvus migrans
3 between Khok Kham and KK 12/3.
Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela
2 at KK 13/3. 3 at KY, 1 at Panti.
Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus
1 in the main clearing at KY 18/3.
Shikra Accipiter badius
A pair near KK village 12/3, a female at KY, c4 at Wat Tampraprotisat.
Wallace's Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus nanus
2 (or possibly the same bird twice) seen at close range between the 1st and 2nd river crossings at KK 13/3.
Indian Cormorant Phalacrocorax fuscicollis
Common at Khok Kham.
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis
1 at Khok Kham 11/3 (KB, GH, BH.)
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Common in suitable habitat.
Pacific (Eastern) Reef Heron Egretta sacra
5 at Khok Kham 12/3.
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
11 at Khok Kham over 2 days.
Great Egret Casmerodius albus
Common in suitable habitat.
Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
A few small groups in open country.
Javan Pond Heron Ardeola speciosa
Common in suitable habitat.
Little Heron Butorides striatus
c13 at Khok Kham 11/3 and 12/3, 1 en route from KK to KY, 1 at KY.
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
1 at Khok Kham 12/3.
Malayan Night Heron Gorsachius melanophus
1 flushed from the river bed at KK just beyond the 1st river crossing where the river starts to run parallel to the road 13/3. (CG, GH.)
Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus
1 or 2 on the road shortly before first light at KK, between the 1st and 2nd river crossings, 16/3.
Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans
12 total between Bangkok and KY, 16/3 and 19/3.
(Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus
1 adjutant sp. presumed to be this species was seen soaring over KM7 Panti 20/3.)
Eared Pitta Pitta Phayrei
A pair half way along T6 at KY 18/3, (yessssssss!) Amazing views of a confiding pair of these birds feeding c3m to the right of the trail (heading away from the HQ,) just as the habitat starts to become more open/ just as the trail starts to get more level, and c20m before the river crosses from the left side of the trail to your right as you head away from the HQ. This is only a few hundred metres before you start to climb up the slope into drier forest at the end of 'old' T6 (now well signed just beyond the HQ on the RHS i.e. opposite side to the HQ building, same side as the new cafeteria block.) Watched at close range for 45 mins. The birds could not be relocated when we returned in the opposite direction down T6 3 hours later. Just before leaving the birds after an hour or so of watching them we quietly played a single snatch of taped Eared Pitta call to check the birds' reaction; the female completely ignored the tape, the male froze, looking in our direction for c90 seconds, then resumed preening.
Also 1 heard distantly between 1st and 2nd rivers at KK 16/3. (Last visit (July ‘02) I heard (but did not see) birds just beyond 3rd river crossing, c200m before the road starts to climb/goes around 2 tight hairpins.) Bird of the trip without a doubt!
Blue Pitta Pitta cyanea
Views for 3 out of the 4 of us of a male at KK between the 1st and 2nd river crossings 13/3, (KB, CG, BH) a female glimpsed behind the washrooms at Pha Kluai Mai campsite KY 17/3, (CG) and a male between the start of T1 and the junction with the Nature Trail at KY 17/3 (KB.) Also heard on at least 10 other occasions at KK and 4 at KY. Best areas seemed to be KM15-18 at KK, and the first few hundred metres of T1 at KY. We did not even hear any on 3 morning sessions on Trail 6 at KY, (probably too dry.)
Garnet Pitta Pitta granatina
One watched calling c200m along the small trail off to the left after 2.5kms as you drive in along the Bunker Trail at Panti 20/3. We crept in on a calling bird and managed to get amazing views at close range, perched c1.5m off the ground. Stunning as always.
Long-tailed Broadbill Psarisomus dalhousiae
4 in a mixed canopy flock half way along T6 at KY 18/3. 2 heard at KK 14/3, 2 heard along T1 at KY 17/3, 1 heard 19/3.
Silver-breasted Broadbill Serilophus lunatus
Seen and/or heard daily at KK, max. 3/day. Always look immaculately groomed.
Banded Broadbill Eurylaimus javanicus
2 at KK, 1 at KY, 4 at Panti, and heard daily at all sites.
Black-and-Yellow Broadbill Eurylaimus ochromalus
2 at KK, between 1st and 2nd crossing, 16/3. Also heard near 1st crossing, 13/3.
Black-and-Red Broadbill Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchus
1 KM7 Bunker Trail at Panti 20/3.
Asian Fairy Bluebird Irena puella
Common at KK/KY.
Blue-winged Leafbird Chloropsis cochinchinensis
6 over 3 days at KK, 1 at KY 19/3, 2 at Panti 20/3.
Golden-fronted Leafbird Chloropsis aurifrons
1 in isolated/degraded forest 2kms outside the park gates at KK, 12/3.
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus
10 around Khok Kham 12/3, 2 between KK and Bangkok 16/3.
Crested Jay Platylophus galericulatus
3 between 1st and 2nd crossings at KK 14/3.
Common Green Magpie Cissa chinensis
6 in total at KK, KY, and heard daily.
Grey Treepie Dendrocitta formosae
2 at KK, KM30 14/3.
Ratchet-tailed Treepie Temnurus temnurus
At least 3 seen at KK, 2 at KMS 27 13/3 and 1 at KM30 14/3. Tape very useful.
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos
House Crow Corvus splendens
6 Singapore (KB, BH, GH)
Ashy Woodswallow Artamus fuscus
Common in open country.
Malaysian Rail-babbler Eupetes macrocerus
1 seen very well c3kms along the Bunker Trail at Panti, on the left c100 yds. beyond the small red shrine as you drive in, 20/3. Always a wonderful sight.
Dark-throated Oriole Oriolus xanthonotus
A male and female at Panti, KM7 Bunker Trail 20/3.
Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis
1 at KK 13/3, 1 heard there 15/3.
Black-winged Cuckooshrike Coracina melaschistos
A male at KK 14/3. A female in the rain at the Pha Kluai Mai campsite was initially/tentatively identified as Indochinese Cuckooshrike until we checked details in Robson. (Per Andy Pierce, the latter does not occur at KY. (The bird that is, not Mr Robson.))
Brown-rumped (Swinhoe's) Minivet Pericrocotus cantonensis
1 at KK KM27 13/3.
Ashy Minivet Pericrocotus divaricatus
4 at KK, KMc16 13/3.
Scarlet Minivet Pericrocotus flammeus
Fairly common at KK, max 30/day.
Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus picatus
11 total at KK/KY.
Pied Fantail Rhipidura javanica
3 in mangrove stubble at Pak Thale 12/3.
Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus
Very common in open country, but absent in forest.
Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus
14 at KK over 4 days, 1 at KY.
Bronzed Drongo Dicrurus aeneus
Fairly common at KK.
Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus remifer
8 at KK.
Spangled Drongo Dicrurus hottentottus
Fairly common at higher altitudes at KK, often in flocks.
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus
Seen daily in small numbers at KK, KY.
Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea
5 total at KK, KY, others heard.
Asian Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi
2 KM27 at KK, 13/3.
Common Iora Aegithina tiphia
5 over 3 days at KK, 3 at KY.
Green Iora Aegithina viridissima
1 at KK, 15/3.
Great Iora Aegithina lafresnayei
3 at KK, a single 13/3 and a pair 16/3.
Large Woodshrike Tephrodornis gularis
7 total at KK. Also 3 at KY (BH, GH.)
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius
2 at the Pha Kluai Mai campsite KY 17/3, (at least 1 philippensis) and 1 at the new restaurant in the HQ clearing at KY 18/3, roosting under cover on the restaurant rafters.
Orange-headed Thrush Zoothera cintrina
2 seen at KK, 1 on 14/3/05 and 1 on 15/3/05, both between the 1st and 3rd river crossings. (Possibly the same bird twice.)
Dark-sided Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica
4 over 2 days at KK, all around KM27 13-14/3.
Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa dauurica
1 at the HQ building KK village 12/3 (KB, GH.)
Red-throated Flycatcher Ficedula parva albicilla
Common at KK, max. 20/day. 4 at KY.
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia
1 well up the Bunker Trail at Panti, 20/3.
Rufous-browed Flycatcher Ficedula solitaris
1 at KM33 KK 15/3 (CG, GH.)
Hainan Blue Flycatcher Cyornis hainanus
2 at KK 15/3, 1 heard there the following day.
Hill Blue Flycatcher Cyornis banyumas
1 at KK 13/3, 12 over 3 days at KY, plus many more heard.
Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher Culicicapa ceylonensis
2 at KK KM27 13/3, and 2 more at similar altitude the next day.
Siberian Blue Robin Luscinia cyane
1 at the Pha Kluai Mai campsite KY 18/3 in forest behind the right hand (as you face the front of the blocks) toilet block (the CBGC stake-out was behind the middle washroom with very small kitchen attached,) and a very obliging male feeding in an open clearing under a fallen tree at KM7 Bunker Trail Panti 20/3.
Oriental Magpie Robin Copsychus saularis
7 in total at KK/KY, plus others heard.
White-rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus
3 in total at KK, 5 at KY, plus others heard.
White-crowned Forktail Enicurus leschenaulti
A pair showed well towards the far end of Trail 6 at KY, (the only wet area of the river when we were there,) with one bird showing a red colour ring on the left leg.
Black-collared Starling Sturnus nigricollis
Two en route from KK to Bangkok, and 3 between KY and Bangkok.
Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
White-vented Myna Acridotheres grandis
Outnumbered by the previous species, but still very common.
Javan Myna Acridotheres javanicus
Common en route to/from Panti.
Hill Myna Gracula religiosa
2 at KY 17/3 and 2 more the following day, 2 at Panti.
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch Sitta frontalis
3 at KM27 KK 13/3.
Sultan Tit Melanochlora sultanea
1 at KK 13/3 between the 1st and 2nd crossings, and 2 the next day.
Pacific Swallow Hirundo tahitica
Common around KK.
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Fairly common, max. 20/day.
Striated Swallow Hirundo striolata
c6 at KK 15/3, and 500+ just outside the KK park gates 16/3.
Black-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus atriceps
1 at KY 18/3.
Black-crested Bulbul Pycnonotus melanicterus
Common at KK etc.
Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus
1 Bangkok 11/3 (KB) 3 in total at KY.
Sooty-headed Bulbul Pycnonotus aurigaster
4 in an isolated forest patch outside KK 12/3.
Stripe-throated Bulbul Pycnonotus finlaysoni
1 at KK, 4 at KY.
Flavescent Bulbul Pycnonotus flevescens
6 at KM33 KK, 14/3.
Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier
4 at KK 14/3.
Cream-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus simplex
2 at KM7 Bunker Trail Panti 20/3.
Red-eyed Bulbul Pycnonotus brunneus
2 at KM7 Bunker Trail Panti 20/3.
Streak-eared Bulbul Pycnonotus blanfordi
5 at Khok Kham over 2 days.
Puff-throated Bulbul Alophoixus pallidus
Common at KY.
Ochraceous Bulbul Alophoixus ochraceus
4 at KM33 KK, 14/3.
Grey-eyed Bulbul Iole propinqua
5 at KY over 3 days and more heard.
Mountain Bulbul Hypsipetes mcclellandii
3 at KM33 KK 14/3. Anyone else in favour of lumping all bulbuls intro one mega-species?
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis
16 over 2 days at Khok Kham.
Rufescent Prinia Prinia rufescens
2 at Pak Thale 12/3. 1 at KY 17/3 (BH.)
Grey-breasted Prinia Prinia hodgsonii
3 near KK 12/3.
Chestnut-flanked White-eye Zosterops erythopleurus
A few at KY.
Everett's White-eye Zosterops everetti
3 at KK, c20 at KY. Contrary to almost all trip reports (but per Andy Pierce,) ringing results show that it is this species and not Oriental White-eye Z. palpebrosus which occurs at KY.
Oriental Reed Warbler Acrocephalus orientalis
1 at Pak Thale 12/3.
Common Tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius
A couple in Bangkok.
Dark-necked Tailorbird Orthotomus atrogularis
Seen daily in small numbers at KK, 1 at KY.
Rufous-tailed Tailorbird Othotomus sericeus
1 at KM7 Panti 20/3.
Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus
1 Khok Kham 11/3 (KB, BH, GH) 1 in mangroves, Pak Thale 12/3. (CG)
Radde's Warbler Phylloscopus schwarzi
11 at KK, 8 at KY.
Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus
Commonly heard at KK, KY max. 15/day, and up to 3 per day seen.
Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis
1 at the KK HQ in KK village 12/3.
Two-barred (Greenish) Warbler Phylloscopus plumbeitarsus
1 on the nature trail loop off T1 at KY 18/3 and 19/3.
Pale-legged Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus tenellipes
1 seen in a mixed flock along T6 at KY 17/3, also heard calling on 3 days at KK.
Blyth's Leaf-Warbler Phylloscopus reguloides
1 seen trunk-hugging at Pha Kluai Mai campsite KY 18/3.
Eastern Crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus
2 at KK, 1 at KY.
White-tailed Leaf-Warbler Phylloscopus davisoni
1 at KM27 KK 13/3.
Plain-tailed Warbler Seicercus soror
1 T6, KY 18/3.
Yellow-bellied Warbler Abroscopus superciliaris
4 at KM30 KK 14/3.
White-crested Laughingthrush Garrulax leucolophus
c6 at the back of the Pha Kluai Mai campsite KY 18/3, 1 T1 KY 19/3, and a group heard on T6 17/3.
Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush Garrulax monileger
8 seen on 2 days at KK, and others heard daily there.
Black-throated Laughingthrush Garrulax chinensis
2 at KM27 KK 14/3.
Abbott's Babbler Malacocincla abbotti
4 along T6, up on the ridge etc at KY 18/3.
Buff-breasted Babbler Pellorneum tickelli
2 at KMS 16-18 KK, 1 each day 13/3, 14/3. a few others heard daily at the site.
Puff-throated Babbler Pellorneum ruficeps
2 at KY 17/3, others heard at both KK and KY.
White-browed Scimitar-Babbler Pomatorhinus schisticeps olivaceus
1 at KM27 KK 13/3, 2 on the nature trail at KY 19/3.
[Large Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus hypoleucos
Heard on 2 days at KK, and two days at KY.]
Limestone Wren-Babbler Napothera crispifrons calcicola
A pair at the usual Wat Tampraprositat site 19/3, along the minor roads off the KM128 marker between the KY turn-off and Saraburi. Tape useful!
[Rufous-fronted Babbler Stachyris rufifrons
Heard on 4 days at KK.]
Spot-necked Babbler Stachyris striolata
5 at KM27 KK 13/3.1 15/3.
Chestnut-rumped Babbler Stachyris maculata
4 at KM7 Bunker Trail Panti 20/3.
Chestnut-winged Babbler Stachyris erythroptera
2 at KM7 Bunker Trail Panti 20/3.
Black-throated Babbler Stachyris nigricollis
4 at KM7 Bunker Trail Panti 20/3.
Striped Tit-Babbler Macronous gularis
2 at KK, where multiples also heard every day. 1 at KY, 1 at Panti (GH.)
Fluffy-backed Tit-Babbler Macronous ptilosus
A good mixed flock of Babblers at Panti, KM7 Bunker Trail included this species, along with Black-throated-, Chestnut-rumped-, and Chestnut-winged-. Each time we played a new species’ tape that species would appear at the front of the flock as if by magic; very satisfying.
Brown-cheeked Fulvetta Alcippe poioicephala
1 at KM30 KK 14/3 (KB, BH.)
Striated Yuhina Yuhina castaniceps
1 at KM20 KK 15/3 and 1 on T6 at KY 18/3.
White-bellied Yuhina Yuhina zantholeuca
1 on T1 at KY 18/3.
Indochinese Bushlark Mirafra marionae
4 over 2 days in open country near KK, 1 inside the park on the road near the lower campsite, 1 in fields near Wat Tampraprotisat (BH, GH.)
Fire-breasted Flowerpecker Dicaeum ignipectus
2 females at KY 17 and 19/3.
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker Dicaeum cruentatum
1 male at Wat Tampraprotisat 19/3.
Orange-bellied Flowerpecker Dicaeum trigonostigma
A pair at KM7 Bunker Trail Panti 20/3.
Purple-naped Sunbird Hypogrammica hypogrammicum
1 well up the road at KK 13/3 and 1 there 16/3 (KB, BH.)
Purple-throated Sunbird Leptocoma (Nectarinia) sperata
1 at KK 13/3 (GH) and a pair at KM7 Bunker Trail Panti 20/3.
Olive-backed Sunbird Nectarinia jugularis
A pair at KK and c8 at KY.
Little Spiderhunter Arachnothera longirostra
1 at KK, 2 at KY, 2 at Panti (all KB BH GH.)
Streaked Spiderhunter Arachnothera magna
2 at KM30 KK 13-14/3.
Plain-backed Sparrow Passer flaveolus
A pair by farm fields between Phetchburi and KK 12/3.
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
Common outside forested areas.
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
Singles both days at Khok Kham.
Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus
1 just beyond the 2nd crossing at KK 15/3.
White Wagtail Motacilla alba ocularis
Common at Khok Kham, Pak Thale.
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
A total of 9 at KK, KY.
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni
6 on two days at KK.
Paddyfield Pipit Anthus rufulus
4 over 2 days, Khok Kham (KB, BH, GH.)
267 species in total + 18 heard-only.
Mammals, Reptiles etc
Burmese (Siamese) Hare Lepus peguensis
1 at KK 16/3.
Pale (Sunda) Giant Squirrel Ratufa affinis
2 at KK, 1 13/3 and 1 the following day.
Black Giant Squirrel Ratufa bicolor
2 at KY, 17/3 and 19/3.
Grey-bellied Squirrel Callosciurus caniceps
1 at Panti, 20/3.
Finlayson’s (Variable-colour) Squirrel Callosciurus finlaysoni
7 at KK.
Plantain Squirrel Callosciurus notatus
Seen daily at KK max. 5/day, 3 at KY.
Himalayan Striped Squirrel Tamiops macclellandii
Seen daily at KK. The call is confusingly bird-like!
Cambodian Striped Squirrel Tamiops rodolphei
1 at KY 18/3.
Malayan Porcupine Hystrix brachyura
1 by the main road bridge just before the HQ at KY 17/3.
Large-spotted Civet Viverra megaspila
2 from the verandah of our Zone 2 bungalow at KY 16/3.
Asian Palm Civet Paradoxurus hermaphroditus
2 at KK on the main road between the campsite and the gate, 13/3, and 1 15/3.
Dusky Leaf-monkey (Langur) Trachypithecus obscurus
Seen daily at KK and a few at Panti.
Crab-eating (Long-tailed) Macaque Macaca fascicularis
A few at Wat Tamporaprotisat and at Panti.
Northern Pig-tailed Macaque Macaca leonina
6 at KK, daily at KY.
White-handed Gibbon Hylobates lar
8 seen on 2 days at KK. Also heard daily at KK, KY and Panti.
Common Tree Shrew Tupaia glis
Singles at KK, 12/3, 13/3
Indian (Red) Muntjac Muntiacus muntjak
1 at KK 15/3, 2 at KY 18/3, and 1 there the next day.
Sambar Cervus unicolor
7 at KK, many at KY.
King Cobra Ophiophagus hannah
One metre-long indiv. slithered across the road in front of our rental car at KK, at KM c20, 15/3. This species is the longest venomous snake in the world…
If you have any questions or need more details, please feel free to e-mail to the address above. Any records/reports from anyone finding these notes useful gratefully received.