Ten days on Phuket, Thailand April 2006

Published by Chris Chafer (cchafer AT speedlink.com.au)

Participants: Chris Chafer


Photos with this report (click to enlarge)

Common Tailorbird
Common Tailorbird
Pink-necked Pigeon
Pink-necked Pigeon
Thick-billed Pigeon
Thick-billed Pigeon
Stripe-throated Bulbul
Stripe-throated Bulbul
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Yellow-vented Bulbul
White-throated Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher

Basically this was a 12 day family holiday in which I snuck in some birding. We stayed at Horizon Beach Resort in Patong, an excellent base with great staff and service and an excellent restaurant. Situated just across from southern end of Patong Beach, it provided good base for exploring the surrounds of Patong. We went on several organised trips to islands and elephant riding in Khoa Sok National Park, all good fun. Food was incredibly good, diverse and cheap in Patong and Phuket town. All the organised trips were fully catered with a superb range of yummy foods. We flew from Australia with Malaysian Airlines whose staff were always friendly. April is hot and steamy in Patong with 100% humidity and 30+deg C temps every day. This meant that birding was over by 11am and nothing much was active again until around 3pm.

In Kuala Lumpur we spent 3 days seeing the sights with only a little birding, but a couple of places are worth mentioning if your really short on time. We stayed at the Dorset Regency Hotel, which was good and afforded great views over the city
Considering the restrictions of family fun, I was happy with the 122 species I saw and the trip has provided the rationale to come back soon to this fascinating area.

Guides used were:

Robson, C. 2005. Birds of South-east Asia. New Holland Publishers, London.
Lekagul, B & Round, P.D. Birds of Thailand. 2005. Saha Karn Bhaet Group, Bangkok.

2/4/06 Arrived at Kuala Lumpur international airport (KLIA) at 4am and caught the KL Express train to KL, then the monorail to Bukit Bintang and on to our hotel just a kilometre away. We watched the sun come up over coffee from our 18th floor room and took my first Asian species, House Swift and Black Kite. After checking in we went for a walk to the impressive twin Petronas Towers, which until recently were the tallest buildings in the world. The towers have several hectares of gardens, which are OK for common species such as; Oriental Magpie Robin, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Asian Koel, Black-naped Oriole, Asian Glossy Starling, Slender-billed Crow, Javan Myna and Yellow-vented Bulbul. In afternoon, we went to impressive Batu Caves using local buses, which was an adventure in itself. Didn’t see a lot at the caves which are on the outskirts of KL; Pacific Swallow, Grey-rumped Tree swift, House Crow and Asian House Martin.

3/4/06 Back to KLIA on the train with reasonable sightings of White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Common Myna, Red-throated Pipit, Common Kestrel, Black-shouldered Kite and Lesser Coucal. Arrived at Phuket airport at midday and hotel by 1pm, saw Bronzed Drongo in slow traffic as we passed over forested hills outside Patong. Went for walk along beach and town. In late afternoon, I walked south of Patong, over bridge with mangrove-lined creek for about 3km on the road to Paradise Beach. This has a footpath all the way and passes through some great hilly forest. It was to become a walk I did as often as possible. Birds included Oriental Honey-Buzzard, Olive-backed Sunbird, Cattle Egret, Indian Pond Heron, Little Egret and Blue-tailed Bee-eater. From 2nd floor balcony in hotel room, great views over distant hills and hotel gardens where added Dark-necked and Common Tailorbirds, Common Myna and Olive-backed Oriole.

4/4/06 Organised speedboat trip to Phi Phi Island with Phuket Siam Seacanoe, but much to my dismay we were only to stay on the island for an hour, just enough for lunch and really quick look around. Most of time spent at Mia and Khai Nai islands, all very nice for scenery, snorkelling etc. but not great for birds. Added Black-naped and Bridled Terns, Brown Noddy, Reef Egret and Common Sandpiper. Back at hotel saw Vernal hanging Parrot, Peregrine Falcon and Red-whiskered Bulbul. Disappointingly no frigatebirds.

5/4/06 Morning and evening walk south of Patong as above, most of day shopping and family beach activities. White-throated Kingfisher, Coppersmith Barbet, Asian Palm Swift, Bhraminy Kite, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Crimson Sunbird, Oriental White-eye and Collared Kingfisher. At the hotel saw Red-breasted Parakeet and Pink-necked Pigeon in some fruiting palms.

6/4/06 Organised trip to Khao Sok NP, a 2hr minibus ride. Arrived at elephant camp at 8.30am, lots of small birds that were difficult to identify while we waited. Three Great Hornbills flew overhead, very impressive. After 2 hr elephant trek through jungle we had lunch by Sok River, then canoe for several kilometres down river before heading back to Patong around 4.30pm. A great activity day with a few goodies thrown in; Slaty-legged Crake, Chinese Pond Heron and Blue-eared Kingfisher along river. Other new species for day included Spectacled Spiderhunter, Straw-headed Bulbul, Black Drongo, Red Junglefowl, River Lapwing, Yellow-rumped Flycatcher and Plantive Cuckoo.

7/4/06 Half day morning walk south of Patong, past the Meridian Hotel to Paradise Beach (5km, catch a Tuk Tuk back to town). Good habitat variety and plenty of birds; White-throated Kingfisher, Lesser Coucal, Asian Palm Swift, Large-billed Crow, Black-headed, Black-crested, Stripe-throated and Streak-eared Bulbuls, Scaly-breasted Munia and Oriental Magpie Robin.

8/4/06 Family day shopping and sightseeing around Phuket town. Only birding was on Rang Hill adding Red-eyed Bulbul and Grey-breasted Spiderhunter.

9/4/06 Half day morning walk out to Paradise Beach again. Added Black-nest Swiftlet, Brown-backed Needletail, Grey Wagtail, Two-barred Warbler and Brown Shrike.

10/4/06 Went quad-biking at the AVT Park in Kung Bay on north-east side of island. Surprisingly a few good birds seen, with bike trail going through forest, plantation, mangroves, mud flats and ponds. Added Sand Martin, Little Heron, Grey Plover, Kentish Plover, Brown-winged Kingfisher, Crow-billed Drongo.

11/4/06 Hired car and went to various places around island. Naturally it rained most of the day, so bird was poorer than I anticipated. At Khao Pha Thaeo NP visitedthe two waterfalls and added Forest Wagtail, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Thick-billed Pigeon, Blue-throated Flycatcher, Red-eyed Bulbul. In and around the disappointing mangrove board walk near the Sarison Bridge on north end of Phuket Island I added Arctic Warbler, Indian Roller and Brown-throated Sunbird. In a field near Kathu added Paddyfield Pipit.

12/4/06 Sight-seeing trip around Phang-nga Bay and its islands. Great fun, superb scenery and snorkelling and a few new birds; Little Cormorant, Striated Swallow and Blue Rock Thrush.

13/4/06 Flew out of Phuket for KLIA again and back to the Dorset Hotel in KL. Added Oriental Pratincole at airport.

14/4/06 Shopping and KL Bird Park, which was quite good.

15/4/06 Morning walk around Bukit Nanas Park in central KL. A surprising densely forested hill in the middle of town with some good birding. Added Dark-sided Flycatcher, Red Collared Dove and Blue-throated Bee-eater.

Flew out for Australia in the late afternoon.

Species Lists

Red Junglefowl Khao Sok NP, Ton Soi Falls
Coppersmith Barbet SW Patong, Horizon, Ton Soi Falls
Great Hornbill 3 overhead, Khao Sok NP - stunning
Indian Roller near Sarasin bridge
Blue-eared Kingfisher Sok River, near Khao Sok NP
White-throated Kingfisher near Patong bridge; Petronas Towers park, KL Express line
Collared Kingfisher Patong bridge
Blue-throated Bee-eater Bukit Nanas park
Blue-tailed Bee-eater SW Patong
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater SW Patong
Plaintive Cuckoo Khao Sok NP
Asian Koel Kulala Lumpur, Patong
Greater Coucal opposite Meridian hotel, s Patong
Lesser Coucal KLIA
Vernal Hanging-Parrot Horizon
Blossom-headed Parakeet Horizon
Black-nest Swiftlet Patong
Brown-backed Needletail SW Patong
Asian Palm-Swift SW Patong
House Swift Patong, Kuala Lumpur
Grey-rumped Treeswift Batu Caves, KL
Rock Pigeon KLIA, Patong
Spotted Dove Patong, Phuket
Red Collared-Dove female Bukit Nanas park, KL
Zebra Dove near Sarison bridge, Kuala Lumpur
Thick-billed Green-Pigeon Bang Pae Falls
Slaty-legged Crake Khoa Sok, along Sok R
Bar-tailed Godwit ATV park
Whimbrel ATV park
Common Sandpiper Patong bridge, ATV park, Khai Is, Long Is
Pacific Golden-Plover KLIA
Grey Plover ATV park
Kentish Plover ATV park
Lesser Sand Plover ATV park
River Lapwing sandy river on way to Khao Sok NP
Oriental Pratincole Phuket airport
Black-naped Tern Phi Phi Island
Common Tern Chalong harbour
Little Tern Chalong harbour
Bridled Tern Phi Phi Island
Whiskered Tern Chalong harbour
White-winged Tern Chalong harbour
Brown Noddy Phi Phi Island
Oriental Honey-buzzard Patong hills
Black-Shouldered Kite Bang Pae Falls, KLIA
Black Kite Kuala Lumpur
Brahminy Kite Patong, Chalong harbour
White-bellied Sea-Eagle Chalong harbour, KLIA
Black Eagle hills between Patong and Kathu, near Laguna hotel
Mountain Hawk-Eagle SW Patong
Common Kestrel KLIA
Peregrine Falcon Patong tower
Little Cormorant Hong Is
Little Egret Chalong harbour, Patong bridge, ATV park
Pacific Reef-Egret Patong bridge, Khai Is
Great Egret Chalong Bay
Cattle Egret Kathu, Laguna
Chinese Pond-Heron Khao Sok NP, Patong bridge, Chalong Bay
Javan Pond-Heron Patong bridge, KLIA
Little Heron Khao Sok NP, ATV park
Brown Shrike SW Patong, Patong bridge
House Crow Patong, Kuala Lumpur
Slender-billed Crow Kuala Lumpur
Large-billed Crow SW Patong, James Bond Is, Horizon
Black-naped Oriole Petronas Towers, Horizon, TonSoi
Black Drongo 15+ Kathu
Crow-billed Drongo ATV park
Bronzed Drongo hills between Patong and Kathu
Common Iora SW Patong
Blue Rock-Thrush James Bond Is
Dark-sided Flycatcher Bukit Nanas park, KL
Asian Brown Flycatcher Bang Pae Falls
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher near Khao Sok NP
Blue-throated Flycatcher Bang Pae Falls
Oriental Magpie-Robin Horizo, SW Patong, Phuket, Petronas Park
Asian Glossy Starling Horizon, SW Patong
Common Myna Patong, Phuket
White-vented Myna Petronas Park, KL
Javan Myna Petronas Park, KL
Pacific Swallow Horizon, Patong, Chalong Bay
Striated Swallow 6+ James Bond Is.
Asian House-Martin ATV park, Kuala Lumpur
Straw-headed Bulbul Khao Sok in garden tree
Black-headed Bulbul near Meridian hotel s Patong
Black-crested Bulbul near Meridian hotel s Patong
Red-whiskered Bulbul 20+ Horizon
Sooty-headed Bulbul 2 Horizon
Stripe-throated Bulbul Patong, Phuket hill
Yellow-vented Bulbul Patong, Phuket hill, Ton Soi, Kulala Lumpur
Olive-winged Bulbul near Meridian hotel s Patong
Streak-eared Bulbul near Meridian hotel s Patong
Red-eyed Bulbul Bang Pae, Phuket Hill
Yellow-bellied Prinia Patong creek
Oriental White-eye Patong bridge
Common Tailorbird Horizon
Dark-necked Tailorbird Horizon, Kathu
Arctic Warbler Sarinson bridge mangroves
Two-barred warbler Patong bridge
Orange-bellied Flowerpecker Bang Pae Falls
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker Horizon, SW Patong, Bukit Nanas
Brown-throated Sunbird Sarison bridge mangroves
Olive-backed Sunbird Horizon, Sarison bridge mangroves
Crimson Sunbird SW Patong
Little Spiderhunter Ton Soi Falls, Bang Pae Falls
Spectacled Spiderhunter Khao Sok NP, Sarison bridge mangroves
Grey-breasted Spiderhunter SW Patong, Phuket Hill
Eurasian Tree Sparrow common Patong, Phuket, Kuala Lumpur
Forest Wagtail Ton Soi Falls, Bang Pae Falls
Grey Wagtail male breeding SW Patong
Richard's Pipit KLIA
Paddyfield Pipit Kathu
Scaly-breasted Munia Horizon, breeding