Photos with this report (click to enlarge)
Blue Rock Thrush
This report outlines a seven week trip during February & March 2020 which I undertook with my wife, Alison Rowntree, travelling through South-east Asia. We’d done some excellent but very intensive two and three week foreign birding holidays in recent years. The aim of this longer, post-retirement, trip was to take things at a slightly slower pace, combining birding with some sight seeing and relaxation. Our main birding was in Thailand and Vietnam rather than Laos and Cambodia where our stays were quite short. As ever, we took every available opportunity to see mammals as well as birds.
We flew into Bangkok and spent three weeks in central & northern Thailand before crossing the border into Laos and taking a boat to Luang Prabang. From here we flew to Vietnam spending a week in the north and a week in the central area. This was followed by a brief stay in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Finally we returned to Thailand for just over a week in the south. South-east Asia is a relatively cheap, easy and safe place to travel around and we had a fantastic time!
I hope this report will be of use for anyone thinking of doing a similar trip or for those who simply want to extract the bird-related information to assist with independent birding trips.
This is an independent report, not linked to any company or third party provider.
For further information please feel free to contact me - firstname.lastname@example.org
Although (according to the IOC) Thailand only has four endemics, it musters over 1,000 species across a diverse range of sought-after birds. Birding in Thailand is relatively straight forward and it’s possible to see a variety of birds self-guided, even in areas outside key birding sites. As such it’s ideal for the independent birder. Vietnam holds slightly fewer species but these include 17 endemics. Self-guided and casual birding opportunities are more difficult in Vietnam and especially Laos, where birds were generally few and far between outside key locations.
We booked bird guide Nick Upton (www.thaibirding) for a day trip in Thailand principally to look for Spoon-billed Sandpiper which can be tricky without a guide (though many birders have been successful on their own). We also arranged Bui Duc Tien (vietnampittatours.com) for two national parks in Vietnam and he organised the accommodation, transport and food for these visits. Without a guide here, we would only have seen a fraction of the birds Tien showed us.
We also had a guide for one day in Kaeng Krachan National Park, arranged by Baan Maka Lodge, but the rest of our birding was done independently. Preparations for this included reading trip reports, talking to birders who had recently visited relevant areas and using the excellent information on the thaibirding.com website (acknowledged with thanks). As ever, the Fatbirder website, also gives a good overview of each country’s birdlife.
The weather was generally dry and hot, becoming even hotter towards the end of our stay. The only exceptions were Doi Inthanon and Bach Ma where we encountered colder, cloudy conditions (see daily accounts). Mosquitoes were generally few and far between but we did make use of repellent at a few places. We came across a few leeches in Bach Ma just after some rain and I made use of leech socks here. (We probably escaped them at other places due to dry conditions).
We saw 369 species of birds (plus a few mammals including a good variety of monkeys). Although I don’t keep a world list and splits have complicated things, I estimate just over 70 of these were new for me (the vast majority being split roughly between Thailand and Vietnam). My last serious birding in Thailand was 35 years ago and I’ve not visited the other three countries before but I have done birding trips in the Indian Sub-continent, Borneo and Singapore.
We used the Helm field guide Birds of South-East Asia (concise edition) by Craig Robson which provided a pretty good and very portable overview for all the countries visited.
Some photos, in addition to those with this report, can be found in Surfbirds World Birding gallery.
Sightings of selected birds and mammals are included in the daily accounts below and details of all sightings are provided in the systematic list, which follows IOC nomenclature. Numbers are aimed at providing some indication of abundance rather than always being exact counts. Species heard only are not included in the systematic list but a few key records are mentioned in the daily accounts.
Travel & Accommodation
The trip was many months in the preparation and we followed a pre-arranged itinerary. I booked accommodation, international and internal flights well in advance, making good use of TripAdvisor, Booking.com, and agoda as well as booking some places direct. Other arrangements – taxis, buses and some boats etc – were made as we went along.
My reviews of the accommodation we used (mentioned below) can be found on TripAdvisor ("PlymouthPete19") and most of these include lists of birds seen around the hotel.
Food & Money
Much of the local food was excellent, especially the wide variety of street food which we tended to go for wherever possible. Most prices were very reasonable. Western food was available in some places but we generally avoided it. Choices were more restricted in some of the more remote spots in Vietnam.
Vegetarian food is reasonably easy to obtain in most places but may involve a bit of negotiation. There are some vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the more touristy areas. Bottled drinking water, beer and some other alcoholic drinks were widely available.
The currency in Thailand is the Baht (THB) and this can be bought in the UK prior to travel. However, surprisingly, we found the best exchange rate was obtained by taking £50 notes and exchanging them at “Superrich” in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport on arrival. (Make sure the notes are in good condition; we had one rejected because it had slight imperfections). We then topped up our cash from ATMs in Thailand where there appears to be a standard charge equivalent to c£5 for each withdrawal regardless of amount.
In Laos we withdrew funds from an ATM at the border but you also need US dollars for your entry. We took US dollars with us for this and for Cambodia where they are the main currency, although smaller amounts of change may be given in Cambodian Reil. We got Vietnamese Dong from ATMs in Vietnam but found they tended to only allow relatively small withdrawals. (The charge was on a % basis).
Our first period in Thailand was within the visa-free period (up to 30 days) and our second period was permitted as part of a cumulative stay of no more than 90 days.
In Laos we got a visa on arrival for which a payment of 35 US$ each and a passport photo is required. Note - the dollars must be in good condition. We had three notes rejected due to minor blemishes (a tiny bit of ink on the edge)!
We made the most of Vietnam’s 15-day visa-free period, arriving early on day one and leaving late on day 15.
Finally, for Cambodia, we obtained an e-via online in advance for 36 US$ each. This was a refreshingly smooth process. Visas are also available on arrival (slightly cheaper) but the e-visa made entry a speedy process.
Check online for full and latest visa requirements.
2nd February: Bangkok
Arrived in Bahrain after a six hour flight from Heathrow with Gulf Air. From the airport window, I was able to watch a few Laughing Doves, Great Cormorant, House Sparrows and Black-headed Gulls. But some larger Gulls and small waders at distance, had to remain unidentified. Then on to Bangkok, where we arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport mid-evening and after exchanging money, took a taxi (500 THB) to Tara Place hotel. Close by, we enjoyed our first taste of street food before retiring for the night.
3rd February: Bangkok
Woke well before dawn, to the continuous call of Asian Koel (a sound that was to become very familiar during our trip) and eventually got views of it in a tree just outside the hotel. Beautiful Zebra Doves, Black-naped Oriole, Spotted Doves, Common Mynas, Oriental Magpie Robins, Germain’s Swiftlets and - overhead - two Asian Openbills, provided an introduction to some common birds of the region.
After breakfast, we took the hotel’s complimentary tuk tuk to the Grand Palace where half-a-dozen Great Mynas with their prominent crests, an obliging Scaly-breasted Munia, four Coppersmith Barbets (as stunning as ever), some Streak-eared Bulbuls and several Asian Palm Swifts provided the avian interest.
After a brief stop to watch Thai dancing, a river boat trip back to the hotel added single Little & Intermediate egrets. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and enjoying some more common bird activity from the hotel, late afternoon.
4th February: Suan Rot Fai
Took an early morning taxi to this Bangkok park, well known for urban birding, located about 25 minutes drive north-east of Tara Place hotel. With its’ lakes, gardens and some wild corners, the park provides an introduction to a good variety of common species and has a track record of rarer sightings too.
Working from the north end, we quickly connected with some expected species including: Yellow-browed Warblers in the trees, Blue-tailed Bee-eaters performing over the lake, Malaysian Pied Fantails in the undergrowth, male & female Olive-backed Sunbirds and more Germain’s Swiftlets, Coppersmith Barbets, Streak-eared Bulbuls, Asian Koels, Black-collared Starlings, Asian Brown & Taiga Flycatchers & Scaly-breasted Munias. A calling Warbler with double wing bars may have been Two-barred but like a number of other tricky Phyllosc’s to be encountered during our trip, had to be left unconfirmed. Similarly, the winter-plumaged Pond Herons remained either Chinese or Jarvan. A very obliging Asian Openbill, posing for photo’s at point blank range was, however, much more straight forward.
A bit later, along the eastern side, a pair of Scarlet-backed Flowerpeckers added some colour and a Radde’s Warbler skulked in the bushes. But best of all, a charismatic Asian Barred Owlet which flew over our heads, perched close by and then relocated to a higher tree where it dozed in the sun until we left it, over an hour later.
With increasing human activity including cyclists dodging the huge Monitor Lizards, we took a taxi back, walking the last little bit due to the driver’s inability to take us to the correct location!
5th February: Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia
A 4.30am start with guide Nick Upton (thaibirding.com) picking us up before being joined by a Canadian couple, and arriving at Pak Thale pre-dawn. There was one thing on our minds: Spoon-billed Sandpiper! The bird(s) had been quite difficult to find prior to our trip, so expectations were having to be “managed”.
As the light came up at these famous salt pans, some two hours drive south of Bangkok, we started near the “Pak Thale Bird & Nature Center” building, which is close to an area recently purchased for wader conservation. We could immediately see the challenge: a vast area full of huge and often distant, flocks of waders.
As we marvelled at the mass of Lesser Sand Plovers, Black- & Bar-tailed Godwits, Red-necked Stints, Marsh Sandpipers, Kentish Plovers, Black-winged Stilts & Terek Sandpipers, flocks of colourful Painted Storks drifted over against the bright blue sky. Then Nick declared: “I’ve got one!” A scrabble for the ‘scopes, and there it was, feeding merrily amongst a few other small waders. Our iconic target was in the bag and all before 7.30am. Although views were somewhat distant, at the right angles, there was no mistaking that world-famous bill. However, side-on it could easily have been passed off as Red-necked Stint and we felt pretty fortunate to have connected so quickly. We watched the bird for some time before it started feeding too close to the opposite side of a bund between salt pans, to afford worthwhile views.
Continuing up the track and heading through some very sticky mud, we were soon on to further goodies: pale, short-legged Nordmann’s Greenshanks in double figures, a few Broad-billed Sandpipers and a single Greater Sand Plover, the latter proving quite difficult to separate from the Lessers. As we explored the area further, in the vehicle, a Slaty-breasted Rail performed in a channel beside the track, and our first of a few Pacific Golden Plovers appeared. Brown-headed Gulls were the only Laridae on show. But Whiskered Terns were constantly on view feeding over the salt pans and were joined by some Gull-billed Terns. A Brahminy Kite chasing waders was quite a sight!
We then left this area and drove south, checking more of the seemingly never-ending salt pans until Nick eventually picked out an Asian Dowitcher in the distance. Unfortunately closer views were thwarted by a man with a huge digger digging up the track ahead. A few Pied Avocets showed nearby.
Indian Cormorants vastly outnumbered the Littles seen during the day.
A visit to the area with an abandoned building and rubbish tip, mentioned on thaibirding.com, produced little of note. The latter is now removed and bushes have been grubbed out, presumably for development. However we did come across an incredible flock of 500+ Garganeys on a nearby flooded field.
After lunch, we joined Mr Daeng for a boat trip to Laem Phak Bia sand spit. A Chinese Egret performed on the edge of the mangroves before we arrived at the spit which hosted a big flock of Terns. These proved to be mainly Caspians, Commons & Littles but also a few Greater Crested standing out with their dark uppers, and the odd White-winged & Whiskered. Landing on the sand allowed closer inspection and we also enjoyed a few waders including Lesser & a single Greater Sand Plover, plus some Kentish Plovers.
Next we boated slowly along the edge of the boulders which gave us great views of four Malaysian & two Kentish Plovers of the “White-faced” race, the latter looking very distinctive. Several Pacific Reef Herons showed in the same spot as did an unexpected Grey-tailed Tattler.
Back on land, a nearby field produced a singing Oriental Skylark, a flock of 20 Oriental Pratincoles and a Temminck’s Stint to bring the day’s wader total to 33 species, three of which were new for me.
Nick dropped us off in Haad Chao Samran where we checked into the Fisherman’s Resort for three nights.
6th February: Haad Chao Samran
After a leisurely breakfast, we took a walk along the beach south of our hotel and then slightly inland where we found a pair of nesting Collared Kingfishers and some Green Bee-eaters. Along the coast, however birds were few & far between.
In the afternoon, I used one of the hotel’s bikes to head further inland, quickly finding salt pans loaded with waders including Pacific Golden Plovers, Red-necked, Long-toed & Temminck’s Stints, Wood & Marsh Sandpipers and Spotted Redshanks. Pressing on, I explored canals and wetlands where Plain-backed Sparrows, Yellow Bittern, Glossy Ibis, Greater Coucal, Black-browed Reed Warbler, Grey headed Lapwings, Plain Prinia & a Racket-tailed Treepie were all new for the trip.
Back on the main road, I headed for the Laem Phak Bia Environmental Research Project, an area of pools and mangroves with tracks which you can freely walk or cycle (but not drive) round. Here, a Pond Heron in partial summer-plumage revealed itself as Chinese (one of only two identified on plumage during the whole trip). On the track, Eastern Yellow Wagtail & Paddyfield Pipits appeared together. A walk along the mangrove board walk produced little other than some very distant waders on the mudflats at the end (but I later met an American birder who had recently seen a Mangrove Whistler at the start of the board walk). A White-winged Black Tern, Red-wattled Lapwing and an assortment of Herons, Egrets and common waders completed the entertainment.
7th February: Pak Thale
A mega cycle ride today, 24 miles return, to revisit the Spoon-billed Sandpiper site where we’d arrived on 5th February. After a hour’s pedalling, stopping only for a quick look at some Ashy Woodswallows, I was on site early enough to enjoy superb light conditions (the heat haze from mid / late morning can make things tricky here).
There were very few waders around the area where we’d seen the “Spoonie” two days before. However, my interest was raised by a small group of birders on the horizon, focused intently on something. I headed towards them and was greeted by the gathering of international birders with the news that they’d got a “Spoonie”! This one was half the distance of the last and I enjoyed several hours of good ‘scope views of this un-flagged bird feeding, before it gradually moved away. With the sun behind me and the early morning light free from haze, the experience was one to treasure!
With the backdrop of a flock of 26 Nordmann’s Greenshanks and hundreds of Terek Sandpipers, plus the usual array of common waders, the morning was off to a great start. But I had unfinished business. On the earlier visit the usual big flock of Eurasian Curlews had been flushed. But today some 2,000 were present and, without disturbing them, a walk up the beach brought me close enough to scan for Far Eastern. This proved relatively straight forward and after only a few minutes of searching I came across a bird that looked promising: quite conspicuous warm cinnamon-buff below and a very long bill (though perhaps no longer than the longest-billed Eurasians in the flock). Luckily it wasn’t long before it flew a short way revealing all dark uppers to confirm the identification and give me my fourth new species of wader of the trip. Later, the majority of the flock had a fly round and I picked up the same or another; so one or two birds present.
After another hour of two watching & photographing waders on the salt pans, with the heat and haze increasing, I decided it was time to go. The ride back in scorching sun was far tougher than the outbound journey. But with a few refreshment stops, I eventually made it back to the hotel for a well-earned rest. A Hoopoe in the grounds was our first of the trip.
8th February: Baan Maka
After a relaxing morning watching birds around the hotel grounds, including plenty or Red Turtle Doves and several very showy Coppersmith Barbets feeding on a fruiting tree, we were picked up by Games from Baan Maka Lodge in Kaeng Krachan, and arrived there an hour or so later for a four night stay.
Games & Ian run this great lodge with a strong focus on birding. They provide just about everything the visiting birder could ask for: accommodation, meals (including early breakfasts), drinks, bird guides, transport and regularly updated information on sightings in the area. I was immediately at home!
A walk by the lake in the lodge grounds produced a colourful mix of Common Flamebacks, Blyth’s or Amur Paradise Flycatcher, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater & Common Iora plus the rather plainer, Racket-tailed Treepie & Spangled Drongo. At the screen near the restaurant, a small, busy flock of similar but readily separable, Greater & Lesser Laughingthrushes put in an appearance.
The lodge has set up some small, basic hides and (for a small charge) provides meal worms which you can take there to attract birds including several top-class specialities. So, armed with our bait, this is where we headed in the late afternoon. Firstly we tried “Crake” hide; no Crakes but the Puff-throated Babblers were so tame they actually joined us inside the hide!
Next it was “Ruby” hide. After a bit of a wait, better luck here with the stunning male Siberian Rubythroat appearing and perching in bushes right next to us. A mind-blowing experience! This top notch Sibe however proved too wary to join the Puff-throated Babblers and attractive White-rumped Shamas scoffing meal worms on the ground, and quickly disappeared.
Back at “Crake” hide, a bit of activity at dusk included the appearance of three chunky Abbott's Babblers and a female Chinese Flycatcher (which kicked off some challenges separating the species from Indochinese) but no Crakes.
9th February: Kaeng Krachan National Park
A whole day spent in the National Park with our guide, Mr Piak. Close to the Burmese border, this is Thailand’s biggest National Park with excellent forest forming part of one of the largest areas of this habitat in the whole of South-east Asia.
The morning consisted mainly of roadside birding between the entrance and the campsite & restaurant. Highlights were two magnificent Great Hornbills overhead, three separate sightings of beautifully coloured Orange-breasted Trogons which Mr Piak expertly dug out of the forest, three Green- & two Blue-eared Barbets on typically high perches and prolonged views of a Banded Broadbill perched beside a track near the campsite.
Fruiting trees encouraged good gatherings of other birds including Golden-crested amongst the commoner Mynas, a flock of Thick-billed Green Pigeons, Blue-winged Leafbirds, one Vernal Hanging Parrot & a selection of Bulbuls including the drab Grey-eyed. Several vocal Common Hill Mynas perched nearby.
Woodpeckers put on a good show too with Greater Yellownapes looking almost fanciful, Grey-headed, Greater (three) & Common Flamebacks, a Buff-rumped, two huge Great Slaty &, buried in undergrowth, a Streak-breasted.
Phylloscopus Warblers looking similar and often in the canopy, continued to present ID challenges. A more obliging Sakhalin or Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, responded only to Sakhalin calls. I’m told, however, that to be sure, call analysis is required (and can be done using a phone app). I decided at this point, to settle for “either / or “!
After lunch at the (recently reopened) restaurant, we took a long and hot walk up the track. This section is currently closed to vehicles. Despite the heat, more birds appeared. Highlights were a Red-bearded Bee-eater sat just above our heads, two Green-billed Malkohas and flocks of charismatic Sultan Tits.
Endearing Dusky Langurs sat at close quarters, watching us as much as we were watching them, and two White-handed Gibbons appeared in trees a little higher up. But despite our guide’s best efforts, a calling Spot-belled Eagle Owl failed to reveal itself.
Other species recorded during the day included: Crested Treeswifts, Brown-backed Needletail, Crested Serpent Eagle, Crested Goshawk, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Asian Barred Owlet, Bar-winged Flycathcer-shrike, Large Woodshrike, Great Iora, Scarlet & Swinhoe’s Minivet, White-bellied Erpornis, Bronzed Drongo, Radde’s, Thick-billed & Sulphur-breasted Warblers, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Indochinese Blue & Verditer Flycatchers & Ruby-cheeked Sunbird.
On our way back, shortly before we reached Baan Maka, we stopped to watch a pre-roost flock of some 200 Chestnut-tailed Starlings at a regular site, but didn’t see any of the rarer Starlings which sometimes join them here.
10th February: Kaeng Krachan
A morning spent around the Lodge, concentrating on the two small hides. We were told that squeaking an empty plastic bottle at “Crake” hide would attract the Ruddy-breasted Crake. I was a bit perturbed when Alison did so really loudly, thinking it would do the reverse and scare everything off. But sure enough, straight away, in it came! With its’ rich underparts and barred vent, this was a terrific bird to be able to watch at close range.
Next we revisited “Ruby”. Again, our luck was in - the Slaty-legged Crake performed superbly right in front of us, enjoying a breakfast of meal worms. The Siberian Rubythroat also showed up, again giving excellent front seat views.
In the grounds, two each of Sooty-headed Bulbuls and Black-hooded Orioles showed in the trees, a Bronze-winged Jacana graced the lake and a Grey-faced Buzzard floated over.
In the afternoon we headed for Dab hide. This is one of a growing number of basic hides on the edge of the National Park, run by local people, with food and water provided to attract forest-dwelling species. Bookings and transport can be arranged via Baan Maka. Then, for a small fee, you can spend a few hours enjoying some great views of many otherwise difficult-to-see species, while supporting eco-tourism. Baan Maka’s log book is a valuable guide to exactly what’s been seen, and the regularity of male Blue Pitta sightings at Dab put it right at the top of our agenda.
On arrival, we were escorted to the hide by the owner who refreshed the meal worm supply and left us on our plastic chairs to watch & wait. A woman photographing birds, confidently said: “the Pitta comes in from that direction”. Too good to be true, I thought! However, before long, Alison picked up the tell-tale Pitta-hop as a bird approached from the predicted direction. There right in front of us was a male Blue Pitta, its’ bright blue upperparts offset by spot-barred underside and rich orange, yellow & black head markings. What a stunner!
Although it disappeared after a while, it was a performance the bird repeated at least six times during the afternoon as it returned to feed and entertain us. There was no shortage of interest between performances. Flocks of Laughingthrushes included both Greater & Lesser Necklaced and, snowy-topped, White-crested. Attractive Common Emerald Doves and Black-crested Bulbuls joined them for a drink and superb Large & White-browed Scimitar Babblers also gave great views. Greater Racket-tailed Drongos came down for a feed, looking like their tails were getting in the way so close to the ground, and several Brown-cheeked Fulvettas and Chinese Blue Flycatchers put in an appearance.
After dark, as I enjoyed a bottle of Fuller’s London Pride from the Lodge bar, my first Collared Scops Owl began calling in nearby trees and soon we had it in view in torchlight: the perfect way to celebrate my birthday!
11th February: Kaeng Krachan
Yesterday’s birding from the hide had left us wanting more, so we booked further morning and afternoon visits.
First, off to Nuy hide which proved much more sophisticated that Dab, with the owner playing calls and operating a pulley system to release meal worms at regular intervals. Despite all this, the star attraction - a female Blue Pitta - which circled the area a few times didn’t really settle. Nonetheless, we enjoyed a very lively morning with plenty of birds always on view. Three Siberian Blue Robins in various plumages included an immaculate male, a Hainan (presenting no identification challenges) & two Chinese Blue Flycatchers and more Bulbuls.
Woodpeckers, perching low and coming to the ground to drink, gave incredible views with both Greater Yellownape & Grey-headed Woodpecker recorded. The Laughingthrush mix was similar to Dab yesterday.
Neung 1 hide was our afternoon destination. After the owner trying to put us in separate hides and us resisting, Alison & I finally sat down together. The venue felt a little over-booked and the number of observers created more noise than our earlier experiences. But as people drifted away, we enjoyed some different birds with small flocks of wary Scaly-breasted & Bar-backed Partridges joined by some Red Jungle Fowl and several Indochinese Flycatchers on show. Again the same three species of Laughingthrush also appeared.
A few endearing Mouse Deer (sp) also showed well and a Great Hornbill overhead as we left, concluded an excellent day.
12th February: Kaeng Krachan to Chiang Mai
Picked up by our taxi (which turned out to be a party bus!) at 6am to go to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport for our flight to Chiang Mai, arriving early afternoon. Here we picked up a pre-booked hire car and drove the short distance to Airport Resident hotel where we spent the night.
13th February: Doi Inthanon
Left Chiang Mai at 7.30am and a couple of hours’ later, after what turned out to be a pretty straight forward drive, entered Doi Inthanon National Park. This montane forest contains Thailand's highest peak at 2,565 metres and after the heat of the south, brought us a much cooler climate.
Our drive to the summit produced few birds but we managed a Wire-tailed Swallow over the Visitor Centre and a Siberian Blue Robin below the balcony at the nearby Mr Daeng’s (a birder-orientated restaurant & accommodation) where we stopped for lunch.
At the summit, I was struck by the changes since my last visit 35 years: none of the car park, shop, cafe, Park buildings and boardwalks were there then. The consequent tourists were everywhere. However, a distinctive Ashy-throated Warbler & several White-crowned Forktails performed well by the boardwalk where two Silver-eared Laughingthrushes appeared with some Bar-throated Minlas, a flock of Chestnut-flanked White-eyes and very colourful Green-tailed & Black-throated Sunbirds.
Most of the rest of the day was spent locating various birding hotpots for the next few days. However, after, checking into the Inthanon Highland Resort for four nights, we visited the nearby Blossom-headed Parakeet pre-roost site where 20+ birds had gathered in the trees by 6pm. Bonus birds included Striated Swallows, Ashy Woodswallows, Chestnut-tailed Starlings, Pied Bushchat & Plain-backed Sparrows.
14th February: Doi Inthanon
Arrived at the summit before dawn, which proved to be a mistake. We were expecting cold (and were wrapped up well) but, at this time in the morning, the 5 degrees Celsius with strong icy wind, made the birding pretty unproductive. We did however manage a Grey-sided Thrush in a big tree by the shops, small parties of Dark-backed Sibias & Rufous-winged Fulvettas, a dark-billed form of Blue Whistling Thrush, plenty of showy Yellow-bellied Fantails and several all-too-brief but striking White-browed Shortwings, before opting for hot coffee.
A short way down the road at the Two Chedis - modern temples with ornamental gardens and great views (entrance fee) - the sunshine brought a few more birds out. Both Mrs Gould’s & Green-tailed sunbirds fed on flowers and a Flavescent Bulbul & several Blyth’s Leaf Warblers showed around the entrance.
Later, we walked into the forest along the “Jeep Track” at Km 37.5 (actually a narrow trail) where we encountered a series of mixed bird flocks. Top of the billing was an immaculate Long-tailed Broadbill in trees above us and we also came across Hume’s Treecreeper, a couple of Lesser Racket-tailed Drongos, a Sulphur-breasted Warbler and Yellow-cheeked Tit (plus an unidentified Seicercus Warbler).
15th February: Doi Inthanon
After a pre-breakfast walk around the hotel grounds, we drove the road starting at Km 13 bridge, stopping frequently to check for birds. A Black Baza over the bridge kicked things off nicely. Just up the hill, two attractive Collared Falconets sat obligingly in dead tree tops, a Blue Rock Thrush popped up on the roadside and several brilliant green Golden-fronted Leafbirds appeared.
We kept driving through some remote villages and after the road climbed, eventually stopped in a patch of forest where an Orange-breasted Trogon was a nice addition to the day. With the road deteriorating into a steep track, we decided to head back, picking up an Asian Barred Owlet en route.
Half an hour’s viewing from the bridge at Km 22 produced a pair of colourful Scarlet Minivets, two House Swifts and two Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters.
Next I walked the Km 34.5 jeep track, which unlike the one at Km 37.5, you could easily get a jeep down. The area c200m from the entrance proved good for birds including my only Clicking Shrike-babbler & Lesser Yellownape of the trip. A bit further up, just before the track splits, the trees produced a pair of Large Niltavas, Stripe-breasted Woodpecker, Streaked Spiderhunter, Verditer Flycatcher, White-bellied Erpornis and Japanese Tit. A good showing of Bulbuls along the trail included: Black-crested, Black-headed, Sooty-headed & Mountain. A walk after turning left where the track splits, produced a Shikra and some scenic views but little else.
On our return, two Wire-tailed Swallows graced the wet fields by the hotel, where half-a-dozen Red-wattled Lapwings were joined by a single Black-winged Stilt. A walk to the Blossom-headed Parakeet viewing tower (sign-posted from the road to the hotel but not the same spot as the pre-roost site) added: a Crested Treeswift, a dozen Ashy Woodswallows, two Purple Sunbirds, Plain-backed Sparrows, Greater Coucal & several Plain Prinias.
16th February: Doi Inthanon
An early start to visit Vachiratarn (Wachirathan) Waterfall before the crowds appeared. A party of four Red-billed Blue Magpies near the Park entrance was a good start. At the waterfall, escorted by a couple of friendly dogs, we soon found a resplendent White-capped Redstart, hugging the rock face, quickly followed by a Plumbeous Water Redstart nearby.
A return trip to Km 34.5 trail (going straight on at the split) produced some repeats plus a bright Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, two surprisingly impressive Striated Bulbuls, several Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrikes, Hume’s Leaf Warblers and some Grey-chinned Minivets (the latter suspected but not nailed on yesterday’s visit here).
After lunch at Mr Deang’s, another walk along Km 37.5 trail proved hard work with the few birds which did show being mainly common repeats. However a Grey-crowned Warbler gave good views.
Back at the summit, much more favourable conditions than our last visit produced close Buff-barred Warblers, and striking White-browed Shortwing and Snowy-browed Flycatcher. The hoped-for Rufous-throated Partridge, however, failed to show.
17th February: Inthanon Highland Resort to Chiang Mai
A leisurely morning spent around our hotel grounds. Highlights were: a Spotted Owlet peering out from a chimney (of the first house on the left as you enter the top road to the big chalets – apparently a regular spot); an Asian Barred Owlet, Rosy & Long-tailed Minivets, Golden-fronted Leafbirds and Purple Sunbird in the trees; and a Black Drongo on a low perch.
During our stay, other species recorded in these excellent grounds included: Ashy & Lesser Racket-tailed Drongos, Hoopoe, Coppersmith Barbet, Olive-backed Pipit, Brown Shrike, Chestnut-headed & Green Bee-eaters, White-throated Kingfisher, Streak-eared & Sooty-headed Bulbuls, Indian Roller, Zebra Dove, Common Iora, Asian Koel, Taiga Flycathcer, Greater Coucal, Common Tailorbird, Asian Openbill, Plain Prinia & White-rumped Shama.
Around lunchtime, we drove to Chiang Mai where we dropped the hire car at the airport & took a taxi to Sakhorn Residence in the city centre for a two-night stay. In a big tree opposite our room, a colourful male Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker and a pair of Olive-backed Sunbirds appeared and an Ashy Woodswallow drifted over.
18th February: Chiang Mai
After breakfast, we walked to the bus station to buy tickets for our onward journey before doing a bit of casual birding in the “Public Park” on the east side of the city, where Charoenmuamg and Thuang Hotel Roads meet. This is actually more of an ex-park with abandoned buildings and overgrown areas making it potentially a good spot to try if staying in Chiang Mai. Here we saw: a Thick-billed Warbler, half-a-dozen Scaly-breasted Munias, Ashy Woodswallows, Great Mynas, three Olive-backed Sunbirds and one Indian White-eye.
Near the old town, two Red-whiskered Bulbuls completed the avian interest, before we spent the rest of the day sightseeing and relaxing.
19th February: Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai
Caught the “Green Express” bus to Chiang Rai, a very straight forward and pleasant experience with air conditioning and on-board toilet - all for c350 THB for two! We then checked into the Baan Jaru for two nights before enjoying some excellent street food near the Night Bazaar.
20th February: Chiang Rai
After breakfast, we took the local bus (20 THB each) to the impressive White Temple (few birds here) and returned by Songthaew for a Khao Soy lunch. A few Red-whiskered Bulbuls & Greater Coucals were around the town.
In the afternoon, I hired a bike and headed north for Chiang Rai “beach” by the river. Here and in surrounding scrub, I managed to find a few birds including: Greater Coucal, Indian White-eye, Thick-billed Warbler, a few Green Bee-eaters & Black-collared Starlings, Long-tailed Minivet, Ashy Drongo, Common Tailorbird, plenty of Sooty-headed Bulbuls, a Blyth’s or Amur Paradise Flycatcher, and (based on range) Himalayan Swiftlets.
21st February: Houey Xay to Pakbeng
Picked up at 6.15am for the two-hour journey to the Laos border-crossing at Houey Xay. Immigration is a two-stage process here, first clearing Thailand, before being taken over the Friendship Bridge by bus and purchasing Laos visas. With paperwork and temperature checks complete, we withdrew some Laos Kip from the ATM, trying to get our heads around the mind-boggling number of zeros on the notes!
Two House Swifts over immigration control kicked off the birding; then we were taken on a short mini bus ride to join seven other guests for a two-day Smile Mekong Cruise. This fabulous long-boat sailed us down the Mekong in relaxed style, stopping for a brief village visit before arriving in Pakbeng. Birds were few and far between but included some endearing Small Pratincoles on the rocky islands, as well as three Jerdon's Bushchats, and quite a few Blue Rock Thrushes & White Wagtails.
After checking into DP Guesthouse, we enjoyed a bit of nightlife in the Hive Bar and an Indian restaurant.
22nd February: Pakbeng to Luang Prabang
Following an early breakfast, we resumed our cruise visiting a Buddha cave and whiskey producer along the way. Again, little bird-wise but a Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush and a few Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters provided some colour and (c20 minutes outside Luang Prabang) another half-a-dozen Small Pratincoles gave better views on an island and flying around.
We disembarked in late afternoon and checked into La Bougainvillier in Luang Prabang for three nights.
23rd February: Luang Prabang area
After breakfast we took a tuk tuk (more in the style of a Songthaew) to Kuang Si waterfalls, 45 mins drive to the south-west. For 180,000 kip we got a four hour trip including travel and waiting time at the falls. This tourist hotspot with swimming holes and a Moon Bear rescue centre, proved quite good for birds, which benefit from the surrounding protected forest.
The falls produced both White-capped & Plumbeous Water Redstarts and a Siberian Blue Robin. Forest higher up was quite lively too, with my first Fork-tailed Sunbirds with their distinctive profile, White-rumped Shama, Plain Flowerpecker, Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher, Puff-throated Bulbuls & Pin-striped Tit-Babblers.
Back in Luang Prabang, a pair of Common Tailorbirds entertained us while we sipped red wine by the river.
24th February: Luang Prabang
A down-day enjoying red & yellow curries and fried Mekong seaweed. Birds are few and far between here but we managed a Taiga Flycatcher by the river and a Sooty-headed Bulbul in our hotel garden.
25th February: Van Long
We caught an early morning flight from Luang Prabang to Hanoi where we were picked up by our guide Tien. After stopping for lunch and to buy meal worms, we arrived at Van Long near Ninh Binh. This wetland reserve below imposing limestone cliffs, is accessed from (very) small traditional boats rowed by local women.
As we arrived, a few Pheasant-tailed Jacanas were on view and two Bonelli’s Eagles soared over. Then from the boat, three Grey-headed Swamphens showed in the reeds with Plain Prinias and Stejneger’s Stonechats perched nearby. Plenty of Chinese Pond Herons and some Intermediate Egrets were also about and the cliff face held four Japanese Tits, a Dusky Warbler and both Dark-necked & Common Tailorbirds. However, despite recent reports of a feeding troop, we only managed one distant view of a Delacour’s Langur, the site’s specialist mammal.
Back in the car park, we watched a few Paddyfield Pipits and from the track, as we left, Tien picked out a White-browed Crake in vegetation on a small island.
We then drove the short way to Cuc Phuong, Vietnam’s first National Park, and checked into accommodation at the entrance for three nights.
26th February: Cuc Phuong National Park
Out at 6am and straight to a small screen near the Bong Sub-station at the top end of the road. Here, meal worms put out by Tien quickly pulled in the hoped-for Green-legged Partridge. This shy bird was joined for breakfast by a Rufous-tailed Robin, immediately demonstrating the benefits of this type of viewing arrangement.
It was then our turn for breakfast, and as we enjoyed a banana pancake at the nearby restaurant, a huge flock of brilliant Scarlet Minivets flew high overhead with several Sultan Tits. From steps at the start of a trail in forest here, a tricky Asian Stubtail eventually gave views. Nearby, both Fork-tailed & Crimson Sunbirds added colour, together with two Streaked Spiderhunters. We then continued along the trail to another feeding location. Here, Tien erected a screen and put out more food. A pair of Blue-rumped Pittas with their rather subdued colours, were instant arrivals and Buff-breasted & Grey-throated Babblers were constantly in and out enjoying the buffet. Robins were here too - another subtle Rufous-tailed & a bold female White-tailed. However, a Bar-bellied Pitta calling in the distance, failed to come in.
In the afternoon we returned to the first hide visited. The Green-legged Partridge ran past a few times but never settled. However (the) Rufous-tailed Robin gave very good views with a chunky female Fijian Niltava and several cracking Rufous-throated Fulvettas. An Asian Stubtail giving much better views than the morning’s bird, was a surprise.
The highlight of the drive back was a Pied Falconet perched in a treetop beyond the small lake (left of the road). But searches for Limestone Leaf Warbler & Limestone Wren-Babbler drew a blank and several White-winged Magpies gave only un-tickable views.
27th February: Cuc Phuong National Park
Out pre-dawn again and in the car headlights beside the road, some decent views of Japanese Thrushes including some distinctive males. Further up, roadside attempts for Red-naped Woodpecker and visits to four different spots for Bar-bellied Pitta all failed. However the second site we checked in the limestone forest for Limestone Wren-Babbler produced a pair of these dark and specialised skulkers.
Walking some of the many trails from the Bong Sub-station revealed more good birds. Rufescent Prinia and Brownish-flanked Bush Warblers skulked in low vegetation, three Black-browed Fulvettas appeared together with the day’s second pair of Limestone Wren-Babblers.
After lunch, reports of a Bar-bellied Pitta at the second feeding spot we’d visited yesterday, prompted a return. This time we opted to sit on a log a bit back from the food, rather than erecting the screen. Blue-rumped Pittas were regularly in and out, a Red-flanked Bluetail made a fleeting visit, a male Fijian Niltava perched obligingly and an immature male White-tailed Robin lingered. Then, after quite a long wait - there, at the back of the feeding area a beautifully coloured female Bar-bellied Pitta! Cautiously hopping closer to feed, we enjoyed good views for a few minutes before she disappeared. With the target under-the-belt and menacing rain clouds rapidly darkening the forest, we decided it was time to retreat.
After a break, with the rain cleared, we walked the road from where Tien got us on to two impressive Red-vented Barbets but we had to settle for call-only from Ratchet-tailed Treepie. As we drove down, the Pied Falconet was in the same spot as yesterday, this time accompanied by two Green-eared Barbets. Two Crab-eating Mongooses dashed for cover beside the lake. Further down the road, Alison got on to a Grey-backed Shrike but I dipped.
Other birds seen during the day included Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Crested Goshawk, Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, two Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrikes, two Great Ioras, eight Ashy Minivets and two Puff-throated Babblers.
28th February: Cuc Phuong National Park
As we headed up the road in the half-light, again plenty of Japanese Thrushes were about, this time joined by a Grey-backed Thrush. Birding on the roadside and from a trail beyond the Bong Sub-station, added Red-headed Trogon, two Greater Yellownapes, Purple-naped Sunbird, Grey-eyed Bulbul and White-spectacled & Grey-crowned Warblers. Two nest-building Limestone Wren-Babblers gave good views but a calling Eared Pitta failed to show and, again, both Red-naped Woodpecker and Ratchet-tailed Treepie also eluded us.
After an early lunch Tien drove us to Hanoi where we checked into the Golden Sun Suites and enjoyed a night out with street food & drinks.
29th February: Ha Long Bay
After breakfast we were picked up by minibus and transferred to Ha Long Bay for our one night White Dolphin Cruise. We spent a pleasant day cruising this idyllic bay with its’ backdrop of vegetated limestone islands in a flat clam conditions. Kayaking and a cave visit were also part of the day’s activities. Other than plenty of Black Kites, birds were scarce, although from our moored boat during the evening, I managed to ‘scope several Light-vented Bulbuls on an island and a party of five Fork-tailed Swifts appeared overhead.
Spent the night on the boat.
1st March: Ha Long Bay to Hanoi
After an early breakfast, a visit to a rather too touristy fishing village was somewhat mitigated by sightings of Oriental Pied Hornbills, Blue Rock Thrush and Oriental Magpie Robins. As we cruised back to port, a Pacific Reef Heron gave distant views.
Back in Hanoi, we again checked back into the Golden Sun Suites with plenty of time to get hair cuts and sample the ridiculously cheap Fresh Beer!
2nd March: Hanoi
Spent the day exploring in Hanoi where a few Red-whiskered Bulbuls, several Dark-necked Tailorbirds and a Japanese Tit joined the Tree Sparrows in a little park. We then transferred to the HAAP Transit hotel by the airport for the night.
3rd March: Hanoi to Bach Ma National Park
Up at 3.30am in torrential rain, for our flight to Da Nang. Thankfully flights were unaffected by the weather and we arrived on time to meet Tien and driver Mr Bing. After an enjoyable egg noodle breakfast, we proceeded north via the scenic Hai Van Pass, stopping for coffee in thick cloud. Here a few Barn Swallows were joined by single a Red-rumped Swallow and House Swift.
As we dropped down onto the coast, visibility improved and we enjoyed some great views before arriving at Bach Ma, a National Park with spectacular montane evergreen forest and lots of cloud & rain!
A short stop as we drove up the road produced colourful male Crimson & Fork-tailed Sunbirds, Mountain Fulvetta and attractive Stripe-throated Bulbuls. We then checked into Do Quyen Villa (Km 16) for three nights. Several busy Indochinese Yuhinas seen from our room, was a good start.
After a tasty lunch in the restaurant here, a nearby walk produced a settled Collared Owlet, showing off its’ spotty head, rufous body & “eyes in the back of its’ head”. More Indochinese Yuhinas appeared, together with a pair of Orange-bellied Leafbirds, but a distant call was as near as we got to Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler. With patchy cloud forming, the rest of the afternoon’s birding was a bit challenging. However, from the road, we enjoyed a pair of impressive Red-headed Trogons, our first Necklaced Barbet and, after a lot of effort, the tiny White-gorgetted Flycatcher gave some quite good views.
4th March: Bach Ma National Park
After breakfast of super noodles in soup with a fried egg on top, we drove down the road and walked a narrow trail to a flowering tree where two Austen’s Brown Hornbills and an Orange-headed Thrush got top billing. Nearby, I managed brief views of a Ratchet-tailed Treepie (luckily showing its’ tail pretty well) and an active Rufous-throated Fulvetta showed at close range.
A drive back up the road, past our accommodation, brought us to a site for Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler, a pair of which finally gave themselves up following a long wait and a scramble up boulders in the forest. A bit further down, three absolutely stunning Silver-eared Mesias gave all too brief views but more Indochinese Yuhinas showed very well (we logged 15 by the end of the day).
A long walk from the top of the road after lunch, started with a small flock of Orange-bellied Leafbirds showing well in a flowering tree. But calling Black-throated Laughingthrushes evaded us. With cloud thickening, birding became hard work in the forest but we managed to find a stunning Golden Babbler amongst the Puff-throated Bulbuls, more Necklaced Barbets and another Mountain Babbler. A Blue-rumped Pitta was heard but not seen.
We scanned the road further down for Silver Pheasant, focusing on areas they can easily cross without encountering steep banks, but drew a blank.
5th March: Bach Ma National Park
With very heavy rain overnight and - again - thick cloud reducing visibility, we set out for some pre-breakfast birding. This mainly consisted of driving and walking the road in the hope of Silver Pheasant but our efforts produced very little.
After breakfast (omelette successfully negotiated instead of super noodles) we drove to the top of the road again but saw little other than the Orange-bellied Leafbirds. A short stop just down the road, to look at a Blue Rock Thrush, turned into a much longer stop watching a mixed flock which included a stunning Long-tailed Broadbill, another Ratchet-tailed Treepie and a Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush. But we missed an Indochinese Green Magpie picked up by Tien.
As we drove down, trying to find a clearer spot, just below our accommodation, Mr Bing pointed excitedly and there on the road ahead, was an immaculate male Silver Pheasant! It quickly disappeared into cover but Tien had a plan. We drove a bit closer and waited in the car. After 15 minutes or so, the silver beauty reappeared, this time much closer and wing-quivering. This is the sign for “time to cross the road” and as he did so, two females followed on. We won’t forget that in a hurry!
Further down the road two more Necklaced Barbets were the best sighting and back around the accommodation another Golden Babbler appeared amongst some Leaf warblers.
An afternoon walk from the accommodation quickly produced three new birds in a mixed flock on the forest edge: a distinctive Black-throated Bushtit, Grey-cheeked Warbler and at last, Black-throated Laughingthrush. A Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush appeared nearby. As we entered the forest, another White-gorgetted Flycatcher gave great views and we found a Blyth’s Shrike-babbler, but other than a few leeches, the rest of the walk produced little.
Back at the accommodation, several Black-throated Laughingthrushes gave better in trees behind our room.
We spent our final night in the restaurant enjoying some great food and sharing local Vodka with staff and other visitors. The full frame photo of Silver Pheasant, looking down on us, was a fitting backdrop!
6th March: Bach Ma National Park & Son Tra
After breakfast, a slow drive down the road proved quite productive with the hard-to-see White-winged Magpie putting in a brief appearance and a handsome Yellow-throated Marten showing equally briefly, in a dead tree. As we left the Park, just after the entrance, we turned right and drove for several Kms. Here Tien got busy searching the small trees and bushes for Marsked Laughingthrush, five of which showed. A Long-tailed shrike was the best of the rest here.
Our next destination was the Son Tra peninsula where after a few stops, Tien found us several troops of the fantastic Red-shanked Douc Langurs. These fascinating creatures are sometimes referred to as the most colourful monkeys in the world and we enjoyed prolonged views of them feeding and crashing through the bushes – the mammal of the trip! Our only Daurian Redstart of the trip and a wing-quivering Crested Goshawk added avian interest before we retired for a seafood lunch in Da Nang.
We then said our goodbyes to Tien, and Mr Bing drove us to the Hoi An Emotion Villa, our base for four nights.
7th - 10th March: Hoi An
Hoi An was scheduled for rest and relaxation and other than large flocks of Eastern Cattle (plus a few Great) Egrets flying up the river to roost, as expected, we saw few birds around the town. The hotel produced a little more interest bird-wise including Plaintive Cuckoo, Dark-necked Tailorbird, Streak-eared Bulbul and Olive-backed Sunbird.
However, a short bike ride to the northern outskirts took me to the local paddy fields which offer the birder visiting Hoi An the opportunity for a bit of decent birding. Three early morning trips here revealed a good variety of species. Yellow Bitterns gave great views perched in the reeds, where both Oriental & Black-browed Reed Warblers and Plaintive Cuckoos also showed well and a singing Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler appeared on one occasion. One morning a striking male Pied Harrier floated over and a Bluethroat popped up nearby. On another visit, a Cinnamon Bittern gave prolonged views perched in a bush. On several visits, a flock of Red-billed Starlings showed well in trees near some buildings in the south-eastern part. On the eastern fringes, a drier area produced a small flock of Red-throated Pipits, Black-winged Kite, Brown Shrike, two obliging Green Bee-eaters and quite unexpectedly, two Vinous-breasted Starlings.
Other species encountered here included: Great Myna, Pied Kingfisher, Purple Heron, Little Ringed Plover, Wood Sandpiper, Red-rumped Swallow, Red Turtle Dove, Long-tailed Shrike, Black Drongo, Zitting Cisticola, Plain Prinia, Stejneger’s Stonechat and a variety of Egrets.
The paddy fields can be accessed by taking Hai Ba Trung Street north out of town. I found the best area to be along the second road on the right just after passing the last house (a big cream coloured one) on the left. The road goes off at 90 degrees for a few hundred Kms and then at 45 degrees. The whole area can be explored via a series of small roads and paths, making cycling an ideal way of getting round.
10th March: Hoi An to Siem Reap
In the afternoon we took a taxi to Da Nang airport. While waiting for our flight to Siem Reap, we heard that due to growing concerns over Coronavirus, all Vietnam’s national parks had closed and the 15 day visa-free period was being rescinded. We had timed our visit just right!
We arrived mid-evening for a brief taste of Cambodia. The Hari Residence picked us up at the airport and we checked in for two nights, enjoying a roof top dinner before getting an early night.
11th March: Angkor Wat
A 4.45am start to see the sun rise at Angkor Wat, a trip arranged by the hotel and an experience which exceeded expectations. There is also some decent forest beside the ruins and here we found Forest Wagtail, parties of Ashy Minivets & Hair Crested Drongos, Shikra, Asian Barred Owlet and Lineated Barbet but unfortunately, not White-throated Rock Thrush. Nearby, a troop of 20 Long-tailed Macaques entertained the crowds.
Above the moat, we watched six Blue-tailed Bee-eaters and an Oriental Darter; and a Common Hill Myna noisily proclaimed its’ presence from the top of a nearby tree.
After visiting a few more temple ruins, where a number of Red-breasted Parakeets were on show, with the heat rapidly rising, we were glad to retire to the hotel’s rooftop pool. Later we enjoyed Pub Street and an Amok curry.
12th March Siem Reap to Krabi
After a leisurely breakfast we headed to the airport from where we flew to Krabi via Bangkok. After a hiccup with pickup arrangements we arrived at the Krabi Aquamarine Resort in Ao Nang mid evening, for a two-night stay.
13th March: Ao Nang
The hotel grounds first thing, attracted a few birds including Brown-throated Sunbird and Yellow-vented Bulbul in the flowering bushes, and overhead, Crested Goshawk and Striated Swallows.
After breakfast, I took the hotel’s shuttle bus to the scenic Hat Nopparat Beach, a short drive (or 20 minutes’ walk) away. With the temperature rapidly rising, few birds were about but exploring the open areas along the edge of the river, I found Pacific & Striated Swallows, Collared Kingfisher, and some Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters and Brahminy Kites.
After a Massaman curry lunch on the seafront, back at the hotel, we were entertained by a few common species including Olive-backed Sunbird, Asian Koel, Streak-eared Bulbul and a Zebra Dove on its’ nest.
In the evening, we returned to Hat Nopparat Beach. Walking over the vast area of exposed sand, we got as close as possible to the four islands where Pale-capped (and some species of Green) Pigeons roost. However, even with the ‘scope, a combination of distance and light conditions rendered the Pigeons we saw, unidentifiable.
A handful of Pacific Reef Herons, Lesser Sand Plovers, Collared Kingfishers, several showy Blue Rock Thrushes and an idyllic sunset were the only compensation.
14th March: Ao Nang & Krabi
Back to Hat Nopparat Beach, pre-breakfast, but apart from a single Greater (in partial summer plumage) and large numbers of Lesser Sand Plovers, there was little of note.
After breakfast we took a taxi to Krabi, where having checked into the Green House hotel for the night, we headed for the jetty on the river (just south of the hotel by a metal bird sculpture). Here, using Google Translate to make my birding requirements clear, I made arrangements with one of the long boat operators for a late afternoon trip on the river (1,000 THB).
Then after lunch, we booked our boat for Ko Phi Phi and a mini bus to Khao Sok.
I arrived at the jetty at 4pm where the boatman found me before I found him and without delay we were off. First we tried a narrow tributary in the mangroves, using the motor to go up and then drifting down in silence. But one brief burst of call was the nearest I got to a Mangrove Pitta.
The boatman then took me to another tributary but we quickly lost the mangroves and it just led to a village which seemed an unlikely spot. Here we were joined by another boatman who assured me it was a good place for Brown-winged Kingfisher and persuaded me to get out (on some very sticky mud) and have a look. Apart from a glimpse of a Yellow Bittern, this drew a blank and with the trip seemingly deteriorating rapidly, I got back in the boat and asked to return to the mangroves.
As we got to the tributary mouth, the second boatman ahead of us in his boat, started waving his arms around and pointing. To my amazement, a stunning Brown-winged Kingfisher was sitting there at point blank range, showing off its’ huge red bill and rich mustard body! I now began to think this guy knew what he was doing. So I was delighted when he moored his boat and hopped on board ours, immediately adopting the role of bird guide. Within minutes he’d spotted several more Brown-winged Kingfishers perched in the mangroves, all of which I’d have missed without him! Flicking through the bird book, he pointed out a few birds that “come to my village”. But he advised that Mangrove Pitta was very hard to see and not very vocal during the evening.
Indeed we had no luck with the Pitta, but Black-capped, Common and Collared Kingfishers all showed up together with a few Whimbrels and Long-tailed Macaques. The boatmen didn’t seem in any hurry to finish, but with the sun slowly sinking, I suggested we head back.
Back in Krabi town, some one thousand Pacific Swallows were gathering to roost.
15th March: Krabi to Ko Phi Phi
Up well before dawn, I walked to the mangrove board walk (just north of our hotel where the road leaves the river and accessed at the back of a car park by a sign in Thai with two model crabs on it). This was my last chance of finding Mangrove Pitta and my tactic was to walk to the end of the board walk and wait for the light to come up. At my destination, three Eastern Barn Owls perched briefly on the cliff before floating off across the river.
As dawn broke, the unmistakable call of Mangrove Pitta pierced the air and I back tracked slightly (to where a short section of board walk goes off at 90 degrees). Here, calls from two birds both sounded close and I scanned the mangroves frantically trying to locate one. However, it took me some 20 minutes before I got a glimpse – a flash of colour hopping along the ground but only a brief view. I wanted more and persisted. Then, I spotted it again; this time, to my astonishment, perched completely in the open on a low branch. The next 15 minutes was a truly memorable experience with this bright beauty sitting there calling and all to myself! Eventually it hopped up and went high in the trees before disappearing. Soon a running group appeared and both birds stopped calling and didn’t start again. I was pleased I’d made an early start!
A Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, Arctic Warbler and Common Flameback in the same vicinity plus several Brown-winged Kingfishers calling but not seen, completed the birding before I returned to the hotel for breakfast.
Our minibus arrived mid-morning to take us the short way to the ferry port at the south end of Krabi, for our boat to Ko Phi Phi island. While we waited for the boat to leave, a Jarvan Pond Heron in summer-plumage and some Brahminy Kites kept us entertained.
During the two hour boat journey, we saw a number of Terns, the highlight being two Black-naped about half way over, plus plenty of Commons and a few Caspians.
We arrived on a scorching hot Ko Phi Phi Don and transferred to our hotel - the HIP Seaview Resort - by long boat. A Pacific Reef Heron below the hotel was the only bird of note and we relaxed for a few hours in the heat before watching a spectacular sunset.
16th March: Ko Phi Phi
Out at 7.15am and already pretty hot. I walked the road from our hotel inland, heading for a sign-posting view point which never materialised. However just as I started, a few impressive Pied Imperial Pigeons gathered in a tree with three Orange-breasted Green Pigeons. Nearby, a Long-tailed Macaque was busy raiding the offerings at a spirit house. Later, a few more birds appeared in the forest including an Oriental Dollarbird perched on a dead tree, three Greater Racket-tailed Drongos and several Black-naped Orioles. Black-nest Swiflets flew overhead and half-a-dozen Scaly-breasted Munias dropped into the long grass.
After breakfast with terrific views towards Ko Phi Phi Lee, we took a long boat taxi to the town where plenty more Pied Imperial Pigeons were about. We had no luck in arranging a boat trip to Ko Phi Phi in search of Frigatebirds, so enjoyed a swim, street food and beers instead!
17th March: Ko Phi Phi to Khao Sok
After breakfast, and watching a few Yellow-vented Bulbuls in the hotel grounds, we transferred by long boat to the town and from here caught the ferry boat back to Krabi. A White-bellied Sea Eagle soared round in the distance just before we departed and en route Terns put on a good show including a Lesser Crested, three Greater Crested, five Little, several Caspian and two more Black-naped. However, a few Frigatebirds were too distant to identify.
Arrival at the ferry port felt a bit like organised chaos but eventually we found the right mini bus and some three hours later arrived at Khao Sok where the National Park is part of the oldest evergreen forest in the world.
We checked into Las Orquideas Resort in the small town of Khao Sok. A walk to the trees at the top of the steep track in the hotel produced a Red-throated Barbet and Asian Red-eyed & Yellow-vented Bulbuls.
18th March: Khao Sok
Out pre-dawn and after a c10 minute walk, I arrived at the National Park entrance. After a bit of a wait for a ranger to appear, I purchased my ticket and took the wide trail (really a track) which follows the river (turn left immediately after the entrance, go past the visitor centre on your right and over the road bridge).
I walked a good section of this in the half light before conditions became properly “birdable” at 6.30am, but no less than half-a- dozen Siberian Blue Robins were discernible on the track before this. Then, beside the river an attractive Chestnut-backed Forktail flashed by and in the forest a few common birds appeared included several Yellow-breasted Flowerpeckers feeding young.
At the end of the track, where there’s a few buildings, the trail becomes a narrow path and here I watched a Black-headed Bulbul before proceeding into the forest. Only several hundred metres in, I heard the sound of something in the dry leaves on the forest floor and put my binoculars straight on a dazzling male Malayan Banded Pitta! Always on the move, but showing well for a couple of minutes, I marvelled at its’ luminous head stripes and deep blue underside before it disappeared. A stunning bird and the fifth species of Pitta on the trip.
The walk back for breakfast threw up a distinctive Maroon Woodpecker, a pair of both Moustached & Abbott’s Babblers and some rather dull Asian Red-eyed Bulbuls. Plenty of primates were also about with spectacled Dusky Langurs and Pig- & Long-tailed Macaques all on show and White-handed Gibbons “singing” in the distance.
Back in Khao Sok town, we booked a minibus for our departure and enjoyed watching a Stripe-throated Bulbul feeding two young in the hotel grounds.
In the evening, we returned to the National Park. (Entrance costs 300 THB and if you enter after 4.30pm the ticket can be used the following day – make sure it’s stamped “night safari” even if you are not doing one). We walked the same trail as I had done in the morning, but found little of note before (between signs 4 & 5) we stopped to watch some Black-and-red Broadbills. Suddenly Alison announced “Pitta!” and right beside the track, we watched a beautifully-coloured female Malayan Banded Pitta. Incredibly, despite several groups of noisy people and motorbikes passing, it stayed to give great, prolonged views.
Back in town, we enjoyed a celebratory green curry & roti. However we were up half the night rearranging our flights home following confirmation that our original one was cancelled due to Coronavirus.
19th March: Ratchaprabha Lake
With a new flight booked on the same day as we’d originally planned to leave, we were picked up by Smiley Lake House and driven the hour’s journey to the pier at Ratchaprabha Lake. This 71 square mile body of water within the National Park was our destination for a one night package on remote floating bungalows.
After a 14 mile boat trip, we arrived at Smiley Lake House for lunch, a dip in lake and kayaking. Beyond a handful of Brahminy Kites, few birds were on show.
In the evening, we took Smiley’s wildlife boat trip which focuses on finding monkeys. A very distant White-handed Gibbon was the only primate we found; however a Stork-billed Kingfisher with a huge fish showed much better and a several Western Ospreys were around.
20th March: Ratchaprabha Lake to Khao Sok
After a restful night on the water, we took the early morning wildlife boat trip. The best birds were Great & Oriental Hornbills and a Crested Goshawk. But glimpses of some distant Langurs were the only primate action.
After breakfast, having opted out of the cave swim, Alison & spent a few hours in a kayak exploring some very quiet inlets and forest edges. Another Stork-billed Kingfisher put in an appearance together with a party of Ashy Minivets and a Lesser Fish Eagle, the latter later showing well from the bungalows, perched on dead trees.
After lunch, from our return boat trip a spectacular White-bellied Sea Eagle gave good views.
Back at Khao Sok, a colourful male Orange-bellied Flowerpecker showed in trees just across the road from Las Orquideas Resort, before we enjoyed dinner at Pawns restaurant.
21st March: Khao Sok
Out at first light and, this time, I walked the narrow trail (turn left immediately after the entrance, past the visitor centre on your right, keep the river on your left and the campsite on your right, and take the steps into the forest). This is a steep trail with lots of steps on slopes in dense forest which made birding difficult. However the path is mainly good, much of it being concreted.
My walk along the trail produced little beyond a Blyth’s or Amur Paradise Flycatcher, a few Puff-throated Bulbuls, a single Siberian Blue Robin and some Long- & Pig-tailed Macaques. But on my return, birding by the river was a bit more productive: a Forest Wagtail eventually gave some close views; two Pale-legged or Sakhalin Leaf Warblers performed; a Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot appeared; and a party of Black-crested Bulbuls showed. By the campsite, two White-handed Gibbons put on a good show, swinging through the trees.
Back at the hotel, a Little Spiderhunter showed at exceptionally close range feeding on flowers by reception: the last significant sighting of our trip. Then, after a Massaman curry lunch we left Khao Sok by minibus for the one-and-a quarter hour journey to Surat Thani Airport. From here we flew to Bangkok (Don Mueang) Airport and took a taxi to the Lemontea Hotel for our final night.
Nearby, a few beers and our farewell meal marked the end of a very successful and enjoyable trip.
22nd March: Bangkok to London
Coronavirus concerns were now accelerating and the UK government’s advice had just changed to “come home now unless you want to stay indefinitely”. So despite having had a fantastic trip, we were relived to get our flight from Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) Airport direct, to Heathrow.
Systematic list of birds and selected mammals seen.
Note : Bird nomenclature follows IOC; for dates of sites visited, see daily accounts in trip report; species heard-only not included; very similar species noted as either/or but not included in total.
Bar-backed Partridge, Arborophila brunneopectus, 4 at Kaeng Krachan from Neung hide, feeding amongst rocks.
Green-legged Partridge, Arborophila chloropus, 3 at Kaeng Krachan from Neung hide, mixing with Bar-backed & 1 from screen at Cuc Phuong.
Red Junglefowl, Gallus gallus, 3 at Kaeng Krachan, including a male, from Neung hide.
Silver Pheasant, Lophura nycthemera, A splendid male & 2 females crossing the road together at Bach Ma.
Lesser Whistling Duck, Dendrocygna javanica, 20 in the distance at Pak Thale.
Garganey, Spatula querquedula, A huge flock estimated at 500+ birds, on a flooded field in the Laem Phak Bia area.
Northern Pintail, Anas acuta, 25 in a loose flock in the Laem Phak Bia area.
Crested Treeswift, Hemiprocne coronate, 2 at Kaeng Krachan in the national park, & 1 at the Blossom-headed Parakeet observation tower, Doi Inthanon.
Note: Swiflets were generally identified on range.
Himalayan Swiftlet, Aerodramus brevirostris, Recorded at Chiang Rai.
Black-nest Swiftlet, Aerodramus maximus, Recorded on Ko Phi Phi.
Germain's Swiftlet, Aerodramus germani, Widely encountered in central & southern Thailand and the Da Nang & Hoi An area in Vietnam. Also seen at Angkor Wat.
Brown-backed Needletail, Hirundapus giganteus, 1 over Kaeng Krachan National Park.
Asian Palm Swift, Cypsiurus balasiensis, Single-figure parties over Bangkok and Doi Inthanon.
Pacific Swift, Apus pacificus, 5 at dusk from the boat in Ha Long Bay.
House Swift, Apus nipalensis, 2 at Doi Inthanon around Km 22 bridge, 2 over the border control building at Houey Xay & 1 on Hai Van route between Da Nang & Bach Ma.
Greater Coucal, Centropus sinensis,
Maximum count of 4 at Chaing Rai. Also, 1 or 2 at Suan Rot Fai, Doi Inthanon, Chiang Mai, Ao Nang, Van Long, near Da Nang, Hoi An paddy fields & Angkor Wat. Can be surprisingly elusive for such a large bird.
Green-billed Malkoha, Phaenicophaeus tristis, 2 at Kaeng Krachan in the national park.
Asian Koel, Eudynamys scolopaceus, Widely seen and heard across Thailand with up to 6 a day; favours gardens and rough patches around towns.
Plaintive Cuckoo, Cacomantis merulinus, 4 calling and showing well in paddy fields at Hoi An.
Rock Dove, Columba livia, Widely recorded.
Red Turtle Dove, Streptopelia tranquebarica, Up to 20 a day recorded in the Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area including a few at the Fisherman’s Resort; also 2 around Hoi An paddy fields.
Spotted Dove, Spilopelia chinensis,
Widely recorded across Thailand and in Da Nang & Hoi An areas.
Common Emerald Dove, Chalcophaps indica, In Kaeng Krachan, good views of 5 from Dab hide & 10 from Nuy hide. A very attractive bird.
Zebra Dove, Geopelia striata, This appealing little Dove was regularly encountered mainly in small numbers, in central & northern Thailand. Also 10 at Ao Nang.
Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Treron bicinctus, 3 together near HIP Seaview hotel on Ko Phi Phi.
Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Treron curvirostra, 25 in the national park at Kaeng Krachan.
Pied Imperial Pigeon, Ducula bicolor, Small flocks of this distinctive species seen quite often on Ko Phi Phi both from HIP Seaview hotel and around the town; a total of 30+.
Slaty-legged Crake, Rallina eurizonoides, 1 frequenting a feeding area with a small hide at Baan Maka, Kaeng Krachan, and giving superb views.
Slaty-breasted Rail, Gallirallus striatus, 1 in Laem Pak Bia area.
White-breasted Waterhen, Amaurornis phoenicurus, 2 at Doi Inthanon & singles at Suan Rot Fai & Kaeng Krachan.
Ruddy-breasted Crake, Porzana fusca, 1 frequenting a feeding area with a small hide at Baan Maka, Kaeng Krachan, and giving very close views.
White-browed Crake, Porzana cinerea, 1 at Van Long skulking in vegetation beside the road.
Grey-headed Swamphen, Porphyrio poliocephalus, 3 seen quite well at Van Long from the boat.
Common Moorhen, Gallinula chloropus, Singles at Kaeng Krachan & Chiang Rai & 6 at Van Long.
Eurasian Coot, Fulica atra, 2 at Van Long.
Little Grebe, Tachybaptus ruficollis, 3 just inland from Haad Chao Samran (sadly many more dead and strung up around shrimp farms there) & 20 at Van Long.
Black-winged Stilt, Himantopus himantopus, Up to 80 in Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area each day & 1 at Doi Inthanon.
Pied Avocet, Recurvirostra avosetta, 20 in Pak Thale area.
Grey-headed Lapwing, Vanellus cinereus, 3 just inland from Haad Chao Samran in a wet field.
Red-wattled Lapwing, Vanellus indicus, 1 or 2 on several days in Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area & 6 at Doi Inthanon.
Pacific Golden Plover, Pluvialis fulva, Up to 25 each day in Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area in road-side ditches as well as salt pans.
Grey Plover, Pluvialis squatarola, Recorded on the salt pans at Pak Thale.
Little Ringed Plover, Charadrius dubius, Up to 4 each day in Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area, 1 from the boat on the Mekong between Houey Xay & Luang Prabang & 5 at Hoi An paddy fields.
Kentish Plover, Charadrius alexandrines, Quite common on salt pans in Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area with up to 50 each day, but well out numbered by Lesser Sand Plover. Also, on Laem Phak Bia sand spit, a few of the distinctive sub-species C.a.dealbatus (“White-faced Plover”) which is split by some authorities.
Malaysian Plover, Charadrius peronei, 4 from the boat, on boulders at Laem Phak Bia sand spit.
Lesser Sand Plover, Charadrius mongolus, At least 800 at Pak Thale in large flocks on the salt pans, & 100 on Hat Nopparat Thara beach, Ao Nang, at low tide.
Greater Sand Plover, Charadrius leschenaultia, Just 2 at Pak Thale and 1 at Ao Nang. Can be difficult to separate from Lesser, so others may have gone unnoticed in large flocks of these.
Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Hydrophasianus chirurgus, 3 in winter plumage, from the road at Van Long.
Bronze-winged Jacana, Metopidius indicus, 1 on the lake at Baan Maka, Kaeng Krachan.
Eurasian Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus, 50 at Pak Thale, 1 near Had Chao Samran & 6 from the boat in mangroves at Krabi.
Far Eastern Curlew, Numenius madagascariensis, At least 1 in a huge flock of Eurasian Curlew, viewed from the beach at Pak Thale. Picked out at rest and confirmed in flight.
Eurasian Curlew, Numenius arquata, Only 6 on first day at Pak Thale (when someone appeared to have flushed the big flock). However 2,000 from the beach there on second visit. Also 20 in Laem Phak Bia area.
Bar-tailed Godwit, Limosa lapponica, Up to 300 in flocks in Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area.
Black-tailed Godwit, Limosa limosa, Up to 150 in flocks in Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area.
Ruddy Turnstone, Arenaria interpres, 2 or 3 on each visit to Pak Thale amongst other waders on the salt pans.
Great Knot, Calidris tenuirostris, Up to 20 in small groups on salt pans in Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area.
Red Knot, Calidris canutus, Up to 6 on salt pans at Pak Thale.
Ruff, Calidris pugnax, 8 at Pak Thale.
Broad-billed Sandpiper, Calidris falcinellus, 10 at Pak Thale.
Curlew Sandpiper, Calidris ferruginea, Up to 30 at Pak Thale.
Temminck's Stint, Calidris temminckii, Up to 4 in Laem Phak Bia area. Favours small muddy pools.
Long-toed Stint, Calidris subminuta, Up to 10, in 1s or 2s, in Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area.
Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Calidris pygmaea, Singles on the salt pans at Pak Thale on both visits. Views on the second visit were much better and it was clearly un-flagged, but it is unclear whether this was the same bird seen more distantly on the first visit. A long-awaited and iconic species!
Red-necked Stint, Calidris ruficollis, The commonest small wader on the salt pans with up to 75 in the Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area.
Sanderling, Calidris alba, Up to 30 at Pak Thale.
Asian Dowitcher, Limnodromus semipalmatus, 1 at distance in the Laem Phak Bia area (unfortunately, work on the track meant we couldn’t get closer).
Terek Sandpiper, Xenus cinereus, 200 at Pak Thale in big flocks on the salt pans.
Common Sandpiper, Actitis hypoleucos, Up to 8 in the Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area, from the boat on the Mekong between Houey Xay & Luang Prabang, at Ao Nang & at Krabi.
Grey-tailed Tattler, Tringa brevipes, 1 from boat on boulders at Laem Phak Bia sand spit was unexpected.
Common Redshank, Tringa tetanus, Up to 10 in the Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area.
Marsh Sandpiper, Tringa stagnatilis, Up to 100 each day across a wide range of wet areas in the Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area.
Wood Sandpiper, Tringa glareola, Up to 15 on several days in the Laem Phak Bia area & 8 in paddy fields at Hoi An.
Spotted Redshank, Tringa erythropus, Up to 60 each day in the Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area.
Common Greenshank, Tringa nebularia, Up to 30 each day in the Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area & 10 in paddy fields at Hoi An.
Nordmann's Greenshank, Tringa guttifer,
10 on salt pans on first visit to Pak Thale and 26 there on second visit. This pale, short-legged Greenshank forms flocks, sometimes in with other waders.
Oriental Pratincole, Glareola maldivarum, A loose flock of 20 on a dry field in the Laem Phak Bia area.
Small Pratincole, Glareola lacteal, Small parties of this very attractive little wader on rocky islands, on both days from the boat on the Mekong between Houey Xay & Luang Prabang. A total of 11 birds.
Brown-headed Gull, Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus, Up to 100 each day in the Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area.
Gull-billed Tern, Gelochelidon nilotica, 15 at Pak Thale.
Caspian Tern, Hydroprogne caspia, Up to 50 on 2 days in the Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area and up to 6 from the boat to & from Ko Phi Phi.
Greater Crested Tern, Thalasseus bergii, 6 of these dark-backed birds with other Terns on the sand bar at Laem Phak Bia and 1 from the boat back from Ko Phi Phi.
Lesser Crested Tern, Thalasseus bengalensis, 3 from the boat back from Ko Phi Phi.
Little Tern, Sternula albifrons, Up to 150 each day in the Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area and 5 from the boat back from Ko Phi Phi.
Black-naped Tern, Sterna sumatrana, 2 from the boat both ways between Krabi & Ko Phi Phi.
Common Tern, Sterna hirundo, Up to 50 on several days in the Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area & 20 from the boat back from Ko Phi Phi.
Whiskered Tern, Chlidonias hybrid, Up to 60 each day on the salt pans in the Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area.
White-winged Tern, Chlidonias leucopterus, Up to 3 on several days in the Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area.
Painted Stork, Mycteria leucocephala, Some 75 birds passing over Pak Thale just after dawn on first visit and 10-12 in the Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area on other days.
Asian Openbill, Anastomus oscitans, Small numbers seen at most sites in central and northern Thailand & 1 at Van Long.
Little Cormorant, Microcarbo niger, Up to 25 each day in the Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area & 1 at Angkor Wat.
Indian Cormorant, Phalacrocorax fuscicollis, Widespread & common in the Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area with up to 500 birds daily.
Oriental Darter, Anhinga melanogaster, Singles high over Pak Thale & Angkor Wat.
Glossy Ibis, Plegadis falcinellus, 1 inland from Haad Chao Samran.
Yellow Bittern, Ixobrychus sinensis, 6 in paddy fields at Hoi An including some very confiding birds perched in the reeds. Also, singles inland from Haad Chao Samran & at a village visited by boat in Krabi mangroves.
Cinnamon Bittern, Ixobrychus cinnamomeus, One perched in the top of a bush in the paddy fields at Hoi An.
Black-crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax, Singles at Suan Rot Fai and & in the Laem Phak Bia area.
Striated Heron, Butorides striata, 3 at Suan Rot Fai, in the Laem Phak Bia area & at Krabi. Also singles on several days at both Doi Inthanon & Khao Sok.
Chinese Pond Heron, Ardeola bacchus, Singles in parial summer plumage at the Laem Phak Bia Environmental Research Project & Khao Sok. Also recorded at Doi Inthanon, Chiang Mai (6), Chiang Rai (1), Van Long (30) & in paddy fields at Hoi An (8). In addition, Chinese or Javan commonly encountered in central Thailand, plus 1s & 2s in south Thailand, where range overlaps with Javan, making winter plumage identification impossible.
Javan Pond Heron, Ardeola speciose, 1 in summer plumage by the quay at Krabi while waiting for the boat to Ko Phi Phi. (See also comment under Chinese Pond Heron).
Eastern Cattle Egret, Bubulcus coromandus, Hundreds in Hoi An (flying down river in the evening, to roost), 20 at Suan Rot Fai & 15 at Doi Inthanon were the maximum counts. Also recorded in Laem Phak Bia area, between Chiang Mai & Chiang Rai & from the boat on the Mekong between Houey Xay & Luang Prabang.
Grey Heron, Ardea cinerea, Up to 10 in the Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area & 3 in paddy fields at Hoi An.
Purple Heron, Ardea purpurea, Singles on 2 dates in the Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area, at Krabi & in paddy fields at Hoi An.
Great Egret, Ardea alba, Up to 20 in Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area, singles at Kaeng Krachan & Krabi & a few in the Hoi An area.
Intermediate Egret, Ardea intermedia, 1 at Bangkok, up to 6 in the Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area, 8 at Van Long & 6 in paddy fields at Hoi An.
Little Egret, Egretta garzetta, Singles at Bangkok & Krabi, up to 10 in the Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area, 2 at Kaeng Krachan, 2 from the boat on the Mekong between Houey Xay & Luang Prabang; also recorded in paddy fields at Hoi An.
Pacific Reef Heron, Egretta sacra, 3 from the boat, on boulders at Laem Phak Bia sand spit, 3 on rocks below HIP seaview hotel on Ko Phi Phi and 1 from the boat in Ha Long Bay. All dark morphs.
Chinese Egret, Egretta eulophotes, 1 viewed from the boat, on the edge of the mangroves, as we headed for the sand spit at Laem Phak Bia.
Western Osprey, Pandion haliaetus, 2 at Ratchaprabha Lake, Khao Sok.
Black-winged Kite, Elanus caeruleus, 1 over paddy fields at Hoi An.
Black Baza, Aviceda leuphotes, 1 flew over the bridge at Km 13 on Doi Inthanon.
Crested Serpent Eagle, Spilornis cheela, 2 in the national park at Kaeng Krachan.
Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Nisaetus nipalensis, 1 at Cuc Phuong - the only large raptor seen there.
Bonelli's Eagle, Aquila fasciata, 2 circling high over Van Long.
Crested Goshawk, Accipiter trivirgatus, Recorded from boats on the Mekong between Houey Xay & Luang Prabang & on Ratchaprabha Lake; also at, Khao Sok, Cuc Phuong, Son Tra & Ao Nang. All singles.
Shikra, Accipiter badius, Singles at Doi Inthanon, Angkor Wat, Ao Nang & between Khao Sok & Ratchaprabha Lake quay.
Pied Harrier, Circus melanoleucos, A striking male over the paddy fields at Hoi An.
Black Kite, Milvus migrans, At least 50 at Ha Long Bay, with some passing close over the boat.
Brahminy Kite, Haliastur indus, The most frequently seen raptor. 3 or 4 in the Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area including 1 chasing waders! Also, up to 15 in the Krabi & Ao Nang area & 6 on Ko Phi Phi.
White-bellied Sea Eagle, Haliaeetus leucogaster, 1 while waiting for our boat to depart from Ko Phi Phi and another from the boat on Ratchaprabha Lake, Khao Sok, shortly before we returned to the quay.
Lesser Fish Eagle, Haliaeetus humilis, 1 showed well in flight and perched, from the Smiley Raft House at Ratchaprabha Lake.
Grey-faced Buzzard, Butastur indicus, 1 over Baan Maka, Kaeng Krachan.
Eastern Buzzard, Buteo japonicas, 1 over the visitor centre at Doi Inthanon.
Eastern Barn Owl, Tyto javanica, 3 just before dawn at the end of the mangrove board walk at Krabi.
Collared Scops Owl, Otus lettia, A calling individual seen in torch light during the evening at Baan Maka, Kaeng Krachan.
Collared Owlet, Glaucidium brodiei, 1 perched in daylight at Bach Ma (close to Do Quyen Villa at Km 16) and a number of others heard there during the day.
Asian Barred Owlet, Glaucidium cuculoides, A few encountered during daylight with singles at Suan Rot Fai & Angkor Wat & 2 at both Kaeng Krachan national park, & Doi Inthanon (1 at Inthanon Highland Resort & the other along the road from Km 13).
Spotted Owlet, Athene brama, 1 in a chimney pot at Inthanon Highland Resort, Doi Inthanon – apparently a regular stake out.
Orange-breasted Trogon, Harpactes oreskios, 3 in the national park at Kaeng Krachan & 1 at Doi Inthanon (many miles up the road from Km13). All birds seen well, perched.
Red-headed Trogon, Harpactes erythrocephalus, 3 of these colourful birds at Cuc Phuong including male & female.
Eurasian Hoopoe, Upupa epops, 1 at Fisherman’s Resort, Haad Chao Samran & up to 4 regularly at Inthanon Highland Resort, Doi Inthanon.
Great Hornbill, Buceros bicornis, 3 of these large & noisy Hornbills at Kaeng Krachan (2 in national park & 1 near Nueng hide) & 2 from the boat on Ratchaprabha Lake, Khao Sok.
Oriental Pied Hornbill, Anthracoceros albirostris, Seen every day at Kaeng Krachan with a maximum of 15 in the national park. Also, 4 at Cuc Phuong, 3 at Ratchaprabha Lake, Khao Sok & 1 at Angkor Wat.
Austen's Brown Hornbill, Anorrhinus austeni, 2 high up in trees at Bach Ma.
Indochinese Roller, Coracias affinis,
2 or 3 most days in central & northern Thailand.
Oriental Dollarbird, Eurystomus orientalis, 1 perched in a dead tree on Ko Phi Phi.
Stork-billed Kingfisher, Pelargopsis capensis, 2 showed well from the boat on Ratchaprabha Lake, Khao Sok.
Brown-winged Kingfisher, Pelargopsis amauroptera, 5+ from the boat in Krabi mangroves including some good views of these impressive birds perched, & 1 heard at dawn at the end of the mangrove boardwalk in Krabi.
White-throated Kingfisher, Halcyon smyrnensis, Regularly seen with between 1 & 3 birds at Kaeng Krachan, Doi Inthanon, from the boat on the Mekong between Houey Xay & Luang Prabang, Van Long, Cuc Phuong, Bach Ma, Hoi An paddyfields & Ao Nang.
Black-capped Kingfisher, Halcyon pileata, 2 at Suan Rot Fai, up to 3 in Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area & 1 at Krabi. Often perched but rarely approachable.
Collared Kingfisher, Todiramphus chloris, 3 in Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area including a pair nesting at Haad Chao Samran & up to 4 in the Ao Nang & Krabi area.
Common Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis, Up to 2 in Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area, 6 from the boat at Van Long & singles at Doi Inthanon, Hoi An paddy fields & Krabi.
Pied Kingfisher, Ceryle rudis, 2 in paddy fields at Hoi An.
Red-bearded Bee-eater, Nyctyornis amictus, Excellent views of 1 perched low in a tree in the national park at Kaeng Krachan.
Green Bee-eater, Merops orientalis, A few in open country with up to 8 in the Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area, 5 near Chiang Rai “beach” (by the river), 2 at Hoi An paddy fields & 1 at Doi Inthanon.
Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Merops philippinus, 7 at Suan Rot Fai including several perched by the lake & 6 over the moat at Angkor Wat.
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Merops leschenaultia, Singles on 2 days at Kaeng Krachan including 1 at Baan Maka, up to 3 at Doi Inthanon (by Inthanon Highland Resort & Km 22 bridge), 3 from the boat on the Mekong between Houey Xay & Luang Prabang & 8 at Ao Nang just inland from Hat Nopparat Thara beach.
Red-vented Barbet, Psilopogon lagrandieri, 2 in trees near Bong Sub-station at Cuc Phuong (also heard the following day).
Lineated Barbet, Psilopogon lineatus, 1 in a tree at Angkor Wat,
Green-eared Barbet, Psilopogon faiostrictus, 3 at Kaeng Krachan in the national park & 2 at Cuc Phuong, all perched typically high in trees.
Red-throated Barbet, Psilopogon mystacophanos, 1 in grounds of Las Orquideas Resort hotel, Khao Sok, in trees at the top of the track.
Necklaced Barbet, Psilopogon auricularis, 1 or 2 each day at Bach Ma.
Blue-eared Barbet, Psilopogon duvaucelii, 2 at Kaeng Krachan in the national park, perched typically high in trees.
Coppersmith Barbet, Psilopogon haemacephalus, The commonest Barbet, often encountered in parks & gardens. Single figures recorded at Bangkok, Haad Chao Samran, Kaeng Krachan & Angkor Wat.
Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Yungipicus canicapillus, Singles on 2 days at Cuc Phuong.
Greater Yellownape, Chrysophlegma flavinucha, 2 at Cuc Phuong & 4 at Kaeng Krachan including 2 in the national park & 2 giving stunning views on the ground, from Nuy hide.
Stripe-breasted Woodpecker, Dendrocopus atratus, 1 from Km 34.5 trail at Doi Inthanon.
Lesser Yellownape, Picus chlorolophus, 1 from Km 34.5 trail at Doi Inthanon.
Streak-breasted Woodpecker, Picus viridanus, 1 low down in thick vegetation in the national park at Kaeng Krachan.
Grey-headed Woodpecker, Picus canus, 3 at Kaeng Krachan: 2 showing very well from Nuy hide & 1 in the national park.
Common Flameback, Dinopium javanense,
3 at Kaeng Krachan (2 in Baan Maka grounds & 1 in the national park) & 1 from the mangrove boardwalk at Krabi.
Greater Flameback, Chrysocolaptes guttacristatus, 3 in the national park at Kaeng Krachan.
Maroon Woodpecker, Blythipicus rubiginosus, 1 at Khao Sok from the wide trail.
Buff-rumped Woodpecker, Meiglyptes tristis, 1 in the national park at Kaeng Krachan.
Great Slaty Woodpecker, Mulleripicus pulverulentus, 2 of these huge Woodpeckers at Kaeng Krachan in the tops of dead trees in the national park.
Collared Falconet, Microhierax caerulescens, 2 of these attractive little raptors at Doi Inthanon in dead trees a short way up the road from Km 13.
Pied Falconet, Microhierax melanoleucos, Single on 2 successive days at Cuc Phuong in a large dead tree top beyond the small lake towards the top of the road.
Common Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus, 4 at Van Long, 2 singles in Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area & singles on the way to Kaeng Krachan & way back from Cuc Phuong.
Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrinus, 2 at Van Long.
Blossom-headed Parakeet, Psittacula roseate, A pre-roost gathering of 20+ in small trees up the road from Inthanon Highland Resort, Doi Inthanon.
Red-breasted Parakeet, Psittacula alexandri, A total of 10 in roadside trees around Angkor Wat.
Vernal Hanging Parrot, Loriculus vernalis, 1 in a flowering tree in the national park at Kaeng Krachan.
Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot, Loriculus galgulus, 1 in trees by the bridge at the start of the wide trail at Khao Sok.
Black-and-red Broadbill, Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchos, 2+ from wide trail at Khao Sok.
Long-tailed Broadbill, Psarisomus dalhousiae, Singles from km 37.5 trail at Doi Inthanon and at Bach Ma near top of road. One of the best-looking birds of the trip!
Banded Broadbill, Eurylaimus javanicus, Prolonged views of 1 perched not far from the restaurant in the national park at Kaeng Krachan.
Blue-rumped Pitta, Hydrornis soror, 2 pairs gave good, prolonged views from different screens at Cuc Phuong. By Pitta standards, these are rather subtle in plumage tones.
Blue Pitta, Hydrornis cyaneus, At Kaeng Krachan, a superb bright male gave repeated close views from Dab hide and a female showed more briefly at Nuy hide.
Bar-bellied Pitta, Hydrornis elliotii, After a few tries, a female showed well from a feeding station in Cuc Phuong for several minutes. Stunning!
Malayan Banded Pitta, Hydrornis irena, 2 at Khao Sok: a male where the wide trail narrows and a female from the wide trail between signs 4 & 5. Perhaps the best of an outstanding cast of Pittas!
Mangrove Pitta, Pitta megarhyncha, Prolonged views of an immaculate bird perched in the open at dawn, about two-thirds of the way up the mangrove board walk at Krabi (plus another calling there). Also, 1 heard the previous evening from the boat in nearby mangroves.
Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Hemipus picatus, A total of 6 at Kaeng Krachan & 2 at both Doi Inthanon & Cuc Phuong.
Large Woodshrike, Tephrodornis virgatus, At Kaeng Krachan, 8 in the national park & 2 at Baan Maka.
Ashy Woodswallow, Artamus fuscus, Quite commonly seen mainly in small numbers in central & northern Thailand with a maximum of 25 at Doi Inthanon.
Common Iora, Aegithina tiphia, Singles most days at Kaeng Krachan, 2 at Doi Inthanon & singles at Ao Nang, Khao Sok & Hoi An paddy fields.
Great Iora, Aegithina lafresnayei, 4 at Kaeng Krachan (3 in the national park).
Grey-chinned Minivet, Pericrocotus solaris, 2 at Km 34.5 trail, Doi Inthanon, not far from where the track splits.
Short-billed Minivet, Pericrocotus brevirostris, 2 at Doi Inthanon.
Long-tailed Minivet, Pericrocotus ethologus, 6 at Inthanon Highland Resort, Doi Inthanon & 1 near Chiang Rai beach (by the river).
Scarlet Minivet, Pericrocotus speciosus, Flocks of up to 50 over the Bong Sub-station at Cuc Phuong each day, 2 recorded on several dates at Doi Inthanon (including at Km 22 bridge) & 1 in the national park at Kaeng Krachan.
Ashy Minivet, Pericrocotus divaricatus, 8 in forest by Angkor Wat & 6 from a kayak in lakeside trees at Ratchaprabha Lake, Khao Sok.
Swinhoe's Minivet, Pericrocotus cantonensis, 6 in the national park at Kaeng Krachan.
Rosy Minivet, Pericrocotus roseus, A party of 4 made a brief visit to trees at Inthanon Highland Resort, Doi Inthanon.
Brown Shrike, Lanius cristatus, Quite widespread with up to 4 in Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area (including 1 frequenting the grounds at the Fisherman’s Resort, Haad Chao Samran), up to 2 at Doi Inthanon (including 1 around Inthanon Highland Resort) & singles at Chiang Rai & Hoi An paddy fields.
Long-tailed Shrike, Lanius schach, 1 near the park gate at Bach Ma & 2 around paddy fields at Hoi An.
Grey-backed Shrike, Lanius tephronotus, 1 seen by Alison at Cuc Phuong.
White-bellied Erpornis, Erpornis zantholeuca, 2 in the national park at Kaeng Krachan, up to 3 each day at Cuc Phuong & singles at Doi Inthanon & Bach Ma. Often in mixed flocks.
Blyth's Shrike-babbler, Pteruthius aeralatus, A female at Bach Ma along the path from the top of road.
Clicking Shrike-babbler, Pteruthius intermedius, 1 at Doi Inthanon a short way up the trail at Km 34.5.
Black-hooded Oriole, Oriolus xanthornus, 2 in tall trees at Baan Maka, Kaeng Krachan.
Black-naped Oriole, Oriolus chinensis, Up to 6 of these striking birds at both Bangkok & Kaeng Krachan & 2 on Ko Phi Phi.
Black Drongo, Dicrurus macrocercus, Up to 3 each day in Pak Thale & Laem Pak Bia area & singles at Inthanon Highland Resort, Doi Inthanon, & at Krabi & Hoi An paddy fields.
Ashy Drongo, Dicrurus leucophaeus, 5 of this distinctive Drongo at Kaeng Krachan in the national park, 3 at Doi Inthanon & singles at Chiang Rai near the beach (by the river) & at Cuc Phuong.
Bronzed Drongo, Dicrurus aeneus, 3 at both Kaeng Krachan, in the national park, & at Doi Inthanon.
Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Dicrurus remifer, Up to 4 most days at Doi Inthanon.
Hair-crested Drongo, Dicrurus hottentottus, At least 6 in forest around Angkor Wat.
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Dicrurus paradiseus, Up to 6 most days at Kaeng Krachan including 1 lingering in front of Nuy hide, 3 in forest on Ko Phi Phi & singles at Cuc Phuong.
White-throated Fantail, Rhipidura albicollis, 3 at Bach Ma.
Malaysian Pied Fantail, Rhipidura javanica, Small numbers recorded at Bangkok, in the Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area, at Kaeng Krachan & at Ao Nang.
Black-naped Monarch, Hypothymis azurea, 2 at Suan Rot Fai, 1 or 2 most days at Kaeng Krachan, 2 at Doi Inthanon & 1 at Bach Ma. Often associated with other species.
(Blyth's or Amur Paradise Flycatcher,
Terpsiphone affinis / incei, Singles by the stream at Baan Maka, Kaeng Krachan, at Chiang Rai and at Khao Sok.)
Red-billed Blue Magpie, Urocissa erythroryncha, 4 around the national park entrance at Doi Inthanon.
White-winged Magpie, Urocissa whiteheadi, Brief views of this tricky-to-see species, in roadside trees as we descended Bach Ma on departure.
Racket-tailed Treepie, Crypsirina temia,
1 in scrub near some houses in the Laem Phak Bia area & another at Kaeng Krachan
Ratchet-tailed Treepie, Temnurus temnurus, Singles on 2 days at Bach Ma but only relatively brief views of this elusive species.
Large-billed Crow, Corvus macrorhynchos, Recorded daily at Bangkok, the Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area & around Ao Nang & Krabi. Also a few from boats in Ha Long Bay & on Ratchaprabha Lake, Khao Sok.
Eastern Jungle Crow, Corvus levaillantii, 1 or 2 each day at Doi Inthanon.
Yellow-bellied Fantail, Chelidorhynx hypoxanthus, Up to 10 giving good views at the summit bog, Doi Inthanon.
Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher, Culicicapa ceylonensis, Singles at Suan Rot Fai, Doi Inthanon, Kuang Si falls near Luang Prabang & Bach Ma; also 2 in the national park at Kaeng Krachan.
Sultan Tit, Melanochlora sultanea, A loose flock of 10 of these attractive birds in the national park at Kaeng Krachan & 1 or 2 each day at Cuc Phuong.
Japanese Tit, Parus minor, 4 at Van Long, singles on 2 days at Doi Inthanon & 1 in a park in Hanoi.
Yellow-cheeked Tit, Machlolophus spilonotus, Singles on 2 days at Doi Inthanon at Km 37.5 & Km 34.5 trails.
Oriental Skylark, Alauda gulgula, 1 singing over a rough field in the Laem Pak Bia area.
Striated Bulbul, Pycnonotus striatus, 2 of these impressive birds from Km 34.5 trail at Doi Inthanon.
Black-headed Bulbul, Pycnonotus atriceps, Singles in the national parks at Kaeng Krachan & Khao Sok, plus 2 at Doi Inthanon.
Black-crested Bulbul, Pycnonotus flaviventris, Up to 12 of this attractive species each day at Kaeng Krachan & up to 8 most days at Doi Inthanon. Also 6 at Khao Sok.
Red-whiskered Bulbul, Pycnonotus jocosus, Seen around urban areas: 4 at Chiang Mai, 8 at Chiang Rai, 3 at Hanoi & 2 at Hoi An. Unfortunately many more seen in cages.
Light-vented Bulbul, Pycnonotus sinensis, 4 in trees on an island in Ha Long Bay – watched through the scope in the evening from our moored boat.
Sooty-headed Bulbul, Pycnonotus aurigaster, Quite widespread with 2 at Baan Maka, Kaeng Krachan, up to 12 most days at Doi Inthanon, 15 around Chiang Rai, 1 at La Bougainvillier hotel, Luang Prabang, 12 at Van Long & 2 at Hoi An paddy fields.
Stripe-throated Bulbul, Pycnonotus finlaysoni, 2 or 3 most days at Kaeng Krachan sometimes coming to drink in front of hides. Also a few at Khao Sok including 1 feeding young at the Las Orquideas Resort hotel & singles at Bach Ma & Son Tra. At close quarters, this is a very attractive Bulbul.
Flavescent Bulbul, Pycnonotus flavescens, 1 at Doi Inthanon near the Two Chedis.
Yellow-vented Bulbul, Pycnonotus goiavier, 2 at Bangkok, 4 at Ao Nang, 3 at Krabi, 8 on Ko Phi Phi & 1 or 2 each day at Khao Sok.
Streak-eared Bulbul, Pycnonotus conradi, This rather indistinct Bulbul was commonly seen in Thailand with single figures almost every day in central & northern regions. Also 12 at Ao Nang & 4 at Hoi An.
Asian Red-eyed Bulbul, Pycnonotus brunneus, Up to 8 at Khao Sok.
Puff-throated Bulbul, Alophoixus pallidus, 3+ at Kuang Si falls, near Luang Prabang, several groups of 4 at Khao Sok, 2+ each day at Bach Ma & 1 at Cuc Phuong. Often a noisy addition to mixed flocks in the forest.
Grey-eyed Bulbul, Iole propinqua, 2 of this dull Bulbul in the national park at Kaeng Krachan & 1 at Cuc Phuong.
Mountain Bulbul, Ixos mcclellandii, 3 or 4 on several dates at Km 34.5 trail, Doi Inthanon.
Barn Swallow, Hirundo rustica, Mainly small numbers at various sites in central & northern Thailand & central Vietnam. Also 1 en route to Ko Phi Phi. Maximum count - 100+ roosting in Chiang Rai.
Pacific Swallow, Hirundo tahitica, A mass of 1,000 or so, roosting at Krabi, 15 at both Ao Nang & on Ko Phi Phi & a few around Ratchaprabha Lake, Khao Sok.
Wire-tailed Swallow, Hirundo smithii, 3 at Doi Inthanon: 1 over the Visitor Centre & 2 near the entrance to Inthanon Highland Resort.
Red-rumped Swallow, Cecropis daurica, 1 on Hai Van route between Da Nang & Bach Ma & 2 at Hoi An paddy fields.
Striated Swallow, Cecropis striolata, 10 at Doi Inthanon including 4 around the national park entrance, 6 at Ao Nang & 3 at Krabi.
Brown-flanked Bush Warbler, Horornis fortipes, 1 at Cuc Puong in thick vegetation near the Bong Sub-station.
Asian Stubtail, Urosphena squameiceps, After a lot of effort, reasonable views of 1 from steps just up a path from the restaurant at Bong Sub-station, Cuc Phuong. Then, fantastic views of 1 from a screen in forest not far away.
Black-throated Bushtit, Aegithalos concinnus, 1 of these striking birds on the forest edge close to Do Quyen Villa at Km 16, Bach Ma.
Note: many more unidentified Leaf Warblers seen (often high in trees).
Buff-barred Warbler, Phylloscopus pulcher, Good views of 4 at the summit of Doi Inthanon.
Ashy-throated Warbler, Phylloscopus maculipennis, 1 at the summit bog, Doi Inthanon. One of the more distinctive Leaf Warblers.
Hume's Leaf Warbler, Phylloscopus humei, 2 at Doi Inthanon, along Km 34.5 trail & 2 or 3 on several dates at Bach Ma.
Yellow-browed Warbler, Phylloscopus inornatus, By far the commonest Leaf Warbler encountered, with small numbers heard or seen at every site visited in Vietnam and most in central & northern Thailand. Also recorded at Angkor Wat, several places in Laos & at Ratchaprabha Lake, Khao Sok.
Radde's Warbler, Phylloscopus schwarzi, Singles at Suan Rot Fai (in lakeside scrub) & in the national park at Kaeng Krachan.
Dusky Warbler, Phylloscopus fuscatus, Singles from the boat at Van Long & beside a track in paddy fields at Hoi An.
White-spectacled Warbler, Phylloscopus intermedius, 1 along a trail from the bungalows at Bong Sub-station, Cuc Phuong.
Grey-crowned Warbler, Phylloscopus tephrocephalus, 1 near Bong Sub-station, Cuc Phuong.
(Sakhalin or Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, Phylloscopus borealoides / tenellipes, 1 or 2 most days at Kaeng Krachan & Khao Sok including 1 at former, which responded only to Sakhalin calls but in absence of call analysis, no firm identification claimed.)
Arctic Warbler, Phylloscopus borealis, At Krabi, 1 from mangrove board walk.
Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Phylloscopus castaniceps, 1 along Km 37.5 trail at Doi Inthanon.
Sulphur-breasted Warbler, Phylloscopus ricketti, Singles in the national park at Kaeng Krachan & Km 37.5 at Doi Inthanon both loosely associating with mixed flocks.
Blyth's Leaf Warbler, Phylloscopus reguloides, Small numbers on higher parts of Doi Inthanon.
Davison's Leaf Warbler, Phylloscopus intensior, 2 at Doi Inthanon.
Oriental Reed Warbler, Acrocephalus orientalis, 4 in paddy fields at Hoi An, often showing well singing from bush tops.
Black-browed Reed Warbler, Acrocephalus bistrigiceps, 12 in paddy fields at Hoi An where they were quite easy to see & 1 inland from Haad Chao Samran.
Thick-billed Warbler, Arundinax aedon, Singles in the national park at Kaeng Krachan, at Chiang Mai (showing well in an overgrown park) & near Chiang Rai beach (by the river).
Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler, Helopsaltes certhiola, 1 singing from paddy fields at Hoi An.
Zitting Cisticola, Cisticola juncidis, 15 across paddy fields at Hoi An & 1 in Laem Phak Bia area.
Rufescent Prinia, Prinia rufescens, 1 at Cuc Phuong in thick vegetation near the Bong Sub-station.
Plain Prinia, Prinia inornata, 1 in Laem Phak Bia area, 4 at Doi Inthanon by Inthanon Highland Resort, 6 in reeds, watched from the boat, at Van Long & 12 in paddy fields at Hoi An.
Common Tailorbird, Orthotomus sutorius, 4 in the national park at Kaeng Krachan, 2 at both Van Long & Luang Prabang & singles at Doi Inthanon, Chiang Rai & Ao Nang. Very vocal.
Dark-necked Tailorbird, Orthotomus atrogularis, Seen across a variety of sites with up to 5 at Cuc Phuong, 3 at Van Long & 2 at Ao Nang, Hanoi & Hoi An. Also, singles in the national park at Kaeng Krachan, at Khao Sok & at Bach Ma. Very vocal.
Large Scimitar Babbler, Pomatorhinus hypoleucos, In Kaeng Krachan, 1 at Dab hide & 2 at Nuy hide. Good views of this impressive species.
White-browed Scimitar Babbler, Pomatorhinus schisticeps, Singles In Kaeng Krachan, at Dab & Nuy hides. Good views of this attractive species.
Grey-throated Babbler, Stachyris nigriceps, 2 returning for food at a screen in Cuc Phuong near Bong Sub-station.
Golden Babbler, Stachyridopsis chrysaea, 5 at Bach Ma. Often high up, but good views revealed this to be a really attractive bird.
Pin-striped Tit-Babbler, Macronus gularis, A familiar sight in a variety of forest, often in small flocks. Up to 10 in both the national park at Kaeng Krachan & at Cuc Phuong & 1 at Kuang Si falls near Luang Prabang.
Rufous-winged Fulvetta, Alcippe castaneceps, Up to 8 at Doi Inthanon.
Rufous-throated Fulvetta, Alcippe rufogularis, Up to 6 at Cuc Phuong & 1 at Bach Ma.
Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, Alcippe poioicephala, Up to 8 showing from hides at Kaeng Krachan.
Mountain Fulvetta, Alcippe peracensis, Up to 4 each day at Bach Ma.
Black-browed Fulvetta, Alcippe grotei, Up to 3 at Cuc Phuong.
Yunnan Fulvetta, Alcippe fratercula, Small numbers most days at Doi Inthanon.
Limestone Wren-Babbler, Napothera crispifrons, Although it took a few tries,, eventually 3 different pairs showed well at Cuc Phuong including a pair nest-building beside a path from the bungalows at the Bong Sub-station.
Short-tailed Scimitar Babbler, Jabouilleia danjoui, After several tries, a long wait & a scrabble up some boulders, a pair showed well amongst rocks at Bach Ma.
Abbott's Babbler, Malacocincla abbotti, 3 of this chunky Babbler gave very close views from a hide at Baan Maka, Kaeng Krachan; also 2 at Khao Sok.
Moustached Babbler, Malacopteron magnirostre, 2 showed quite well together, from the wide trail at Khao Sok.
Puff-throated Babbler, Pellorneum ruficeps, These distinctive little Babblers are so tame at Baan Maka, Kaeng Krachan, that they actually join you inside the hide! 8 here plus smaller numbers from other hides in the area. Also, 1 at Doi Inthanon & 2 on several dates from a screen near Bong Sub-station at Cuc Phuong.
Buff-breasted Babbler, Pellorneum tickelli, 5 returning to feed at a screen near Boon Sub-station at Cuc Phuong.
Bar-throated Minla, Actinodura strigula, 4 of these rather attractive birds at summit bog, Doi Inthanon, seen on several visits.
Silver-eared Mesia, Leiothrix argentauris, 3 of these stunningly colourful birds showed all too briefly, at Bach Ma, a few Km down from the top end of the road.
Dark-backed Sibia, Heterophasia melanoleuca, A party at the summit of Doi Inthanon.
Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush, arrulax monileger, In Kaeng Krachan, 8 around a screen near the restaurant at Baan Maka and smaller numbers from Dab, Nuy & Neung hides. Often mixed with Greater & gave excellent views. Also, 1 at Bach Ma.
White-crested Laughingthrush, Garrulax leucolophus, This very attractive Laughingthrush visited Dab & Neung hides in groups of 4 or 5.
Black-throated Laughingthrush, Pterorhinus chinensis, This proved difficult to catch up with. A number of calling birds failed to show but eventually 4 seen around Do Quyen Villa at Km 16, Bach Ma, including 2 from our room!
Silver-eared Laughingthrush, Trochalopteron melanostigma, Up to 8 on each visit to the summit at Doi Inthanon, mainly frequenting thick vegetation behind the buildings.
Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush, Pterorhinus pectoralis, In Kaeng Krachan, 2 around a screen near the restaurant at Baan Maka, 10 at Dab hide & smaller numbers at Nuy & Neung hides. Often mixed with Lesser & gave excellent views. Also 1 at Bach Ma.
Masked Laughingthrush, Pterorhinus perspicillatus, 5 in an agricultural area close to the national park entrance at Bach Ma.
Indochinese Yuhina, Yuhina torqueola, Up to 15 a day in Bach Ma, often in small groups and including several from our room at Do Quyen Villa, Km 16.
Chestnut-flanked White-eye, Zosterops erythropleurus, 12 at Doi Inthanon.
Indian White-eye, Zosterops palpebrosus, 4 at Doi Inthanon and singles at Chiang Mai (in an overgrown park) & near Chiang Rai beach (by the river).
Asian Fairy-bluebird, Irena puella, 1 in the national park at Kaeng Krachan.
Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, Sitta nagaensis, 1 at Doi Inthanon.
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Sitta frontalis, 3 in the national park at Kaeng Krachan.
Hume's Treecreeper, Certhia manipurensis, 1 along the trail at Km 37.5, at Doi Inthanon.
Asian Glossy Starling, Aplonis panayensis, 1 at Krabi.
Golden-crested Myna, Ampeliceps coronatus, 2 in the national park at Kaeng Krachan.
Common Hill Myna, Gracula religiosa, 2 in the national park at Kaeng Krachan and 1 at Angkor Wat. All sitting at the top of tall trees & very vocal.
Great Myna, Acridotheres grandis, Regularly encountered at most sites in central & northern Thailand with up to 20 counted. Also, 2 at Hoi An paddy fields.
Common Myna, Acridotheres tristis, Very commonly seen across much of central, northern & southern Thailand. Also a few in central Vietnam & at Angkor Wat.
Vinous-breasted Starling, Acridotheres burmannicus, Unexpectedly, 2 on the edge of the paddy fields at Hoi An.
Red-billed Starling, Spodiopsar sericeus, A flock of up to 20 frequented a line of trees on the edge of the paddy fields at Hoi An. Seen on several visits.
Black-collared Starling, Gracupica nigricollis, 8 of this rather attractive Starling at Suan Rot Fai & near Chiang Rai beach (by the river).
Pied Myna, Gracupica contra, Up to 3 each day at Bangkok & in the Pak Thale & Laem Phak Bia area; also recorded in the national park at Kaeng Krachan.
Chestnut-tailed Starling, Sturnia malabarica, A pre-roost flock of some 200, a short way from Baan Maka, Kaeng Krachan, & 4 near Inthanon Highland Resort, Doi Inthanon, at the Blossom-headed Parakeet pre-roost site.
Orange-headed Thrush, Geokichla citrina, high in trees at Bach Ma.
(White's or Scaly Thrush, Zoothera aurea / dauma, Singles of this tricky pair at Cuc Phuong, twice at Bach Ma & at Son Tra.)
Grey-backed Thrush, Turdus hortulorum, 1 with Japanese Thrushes, at first light on the roadside at Cuc Phuong, as we drove towards Bong Sub-station.
Japanese Thrush, Turdus cardis, Up to 10 several mornings at first light on the roadside at Cuc Phuong, as we drove towards Bong Sub-station. Also several high in trees later in the day, eating berries.
Grey-sided Thrush, Turdus feae, 1 in a tree near the shops at Doi Inthanon summit.
Oriental Magpie-Robin, Copsychus saularis, A familiar sight during the trip. Up to 10 at Bangkok, Doi Inthanon, Chiang Rai, Ao Nang, Van Long, Hanoi & Ha Long Bay.
White-rumped Shama, Copsychus malabaricus, Seen relatively often with up to 4 at Kaeng Krachan (including some showing very well from hides), 3 at Doi Inthanon, 1 at Kuang Si falls near Luang Prabang & up to 3 at Khao Sok.
Asian Brown Flycatcher, Muscicapa dauurica, 1 or 2 at Suan Rot Fai, Kaeng Krachan, Ao Nang & Khao Sok.
White-gorgeted Flycatcher, Anthipes monileger, This tiny and endearing species proved extremely tricky to see, spending long periods perched in thick vegetation. However, 3 eventually seen at Bach Ma.
Hainan Blue Flycatcher, Cyornis hainanus, A male from Nuy hide at Kaeng Krachan.
Indochinese Blue Flycatcher, Cyornis sumatrensis, At Kaeng Krachan, a male in the national park & 3 from Neung hide. Also 1 at Doi Inthanon. Very similar to Chinese and some individuals left unidentified.
Chinese Blue Flycatcher, Cyornis glaucicomans, At Kaeng Krachan, a male in the national park, a confiding male & female at Baan Maka & 2 from Nuy hide. Also 3 (including male & female) at Bach Ma. Very similar to Indochinese and some individuals left unidentified.
White-tailed Flycatcher, Cyornis concretus, A male showed well from a screen at Cuc Phuong.
Fujian Niltava, Niltava davidi, A male & female from different screens at Cuc Phuong.
Large Niltava, Niltava grandis, Up to 3 at Doi Inthanon including a pair beside Km 34.5 trail near where it splits.
Verditer Flycatcher, Eumyias thalassinus, Singles in the national park at Kaeng Krachan & where Km 34.5 trail at Doi Inthanon, splits.
Siberian Blue Robin, Larvivora cyane, 3+ in various plumages including adult male, showing at close range from Nuy hide at Kaeng Krachan & 7 at Khao Sok (6 along wide trail & 1 on narrow trail). Also singles at Mr Deang’s, Doi Inthanon, & Kuang Si falls near Luang Prabang.
Rufous-tailed Robin, Larvivora sibilans, At least 3 gave good views from different screens at Cuc Phuong. Without the feeding at screens, fleeting glimpses in the forest would have been more likely.
Bluethroat, Luscinia svecica, 1 at Hoi An paddy fields.
Siberian Rubythroat, Calliope calliope, A stunning male showed at point blank range from a small hide in Baan Maka, Kaeng Krachan.
White-tailed Robin, Myiomela leucura, A immature male & female from different screens at Cuc Phuong.
Red-flanked Bluetail, Tarsiger cyanurus, 1 paid a brief visit to a screen at Cuc Phuong.
Chestnut-naped Forktail, Enicurus ruficapillus, 1 along river at Khao Sok.
White-crowned Forktail, Enicurus leschenaultia, 1 or 2 on several dates at summit bog, Doi Inthanon. Showed well between crowds.
Blue Whistling Thrush, Myophonus caeruleus, Small numbers most days at Doi Inthanon including the dark-billed race. Also, 2 at Bach Ma & singles at Krabi, Cuc Phuong & Hoi An paddyfields.
Taiga Flycatcher, Ficedula albicilla, Up to 8 most days at Kaeng Krachan, 4 at Suan Rot Fai, singles most days at Doi inthanon & 1 along the river at Luang Prabang.
Snowy-browed Flycatcher, Ficedula hyperythra, 2 at the summit of Doi Inthanon including prolonged views of a striking male by the stream at the bog.
Plumbeous Water Redstart, Phoenicurus fuliginosus, Singles at Vachiratarn (Wachirathan) Waterfall, Doi Inthanon & at Luang Si falls near Luang Prabang.
White-capped Redstart, Phoenicurus leucocephalus, Singles of this beautiful bird at Vachiratarn (Wachirathan) Waterfall, Doi Inthanon, & at Luang Si falls near Luang Prabang.
Blue Rock Thrush, Monticola solitaries, 18+ from the boat on the Mekong between Houey Xay & Luang Prabang, 3 at Ao Nang & singles at Doi Inthanon (along Km 13 road) & Hoi An.
Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, Monticola rufiventris, 1 on a cliff, from the boat on the Mekong between Houey Xay & Luang Prabang.
Stejneger's Stonechat, Saxicola stejnegeri, 6 at Van Long, perched on reeds, & 8 around paddy fields at Hoi An. (Also a Stejneger's / Siberian from the boat on the Mekong between Houey Xay & Luang Prabang).
Jerdon's Bush Chat, Saxicola jerdoni, 3 from the boat on the Mekong between Houey Xay & Luang Prabang, perched on sparse vegetation on rocky islands.
Blue-winged Leafbird, Chloropsis cochinchinensis, 3 in the national park at Kaeng Krachan.
Golden-fronted Leafbird, Chloropsis aurifrons, 4 at Doi Inthanon including 2 quite low in trees at Inthanon Highland Resort.
Orange-bellied Leafbird, Chloropsis hardwickii, 10 at Bach Ma including a group of 8 feeding in a flowering tree at the top end of the road and showing well, sometimes at eye level. A very colourful species.
Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker, Prionochilus maculatus, 5 on one day at Khao Sok.
Orange-bellied Flowerpecker, Dicaeum trigonostigma, A stunning male just over the road from Las Orquideas hotel, Khao Sok.
Plain Flowerpecker, Dicaeum minullum, 1 at Kuang Si falls near Luang Prabang.
Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Dicaeum ignipectus, 2 along Km 34.5 trail at Doi Inthanon.
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Dicaeum cruentatum, The only Flowerpecker seen on more than one date: a pair at Suan Rot Fai, 1 at Kaeng Krachan & 2 in a tree outside the Sakhorn residence, Chiang Mai.
Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, Chalcoparia singalensis, 2 of this colourful little bird in the national park at Kaeng Krachan & a male at the end of the mangrove board walk, Krabi.
Brown-throated Sunbird, Anthreptes malacensis, 2 at both Doi Inthanon & Ao Nang; the latter in the garden of Krabi Aquamarine Resort.
Purple Sunbird, Cinnyris asiaticus, 4 at Doi Inthanon: 2 at the Blossom-headed Parakeet observation tower & 2 at Inthanon Highland Resort.
Olive-backed Sunbird, Cinnyris jugularis, Easily the commonest Sunbird encountered, with regular sightings of mainly small numbers in central, northern & southern Thailand. A maximum of 12 in the national park at Kaeng Krachan. Also l at Hoi An Emotion Villa.
Mrs. Gould's Sunbird, Aethopyga gouldiae, 2 with colours shinning in the sun, at the Two Chedis, Doi Inthanon, along side Green-tailed.
Green-tailed Sunbird, Aethopyga nipalensis, At Doi Inthanon, up to 3 at summit bog & 3 at the Two Chedis; the latter showing well along side Mrs Gould’s in low flowering shrubs.
Fork-tailed Sunbird, Aethopyga christinae, 2 in trees at top of the path at Kuang Si falls near Luang Prabang, up to 3 each day at Cuc Phuong & singles on 2 dates at Bach Ma. An attractive and distinctive Sunbird if views are good.
Black-throated Sunbird, Aethopyga saturate, 1 at Doi Inthanon.
Crimson Sunbird, Aethopyga siparaja, Singles at both Cuc Phuong & Bach Ma.
Purple-naped Sunbird, Kurochkinegramma hypogrammicum, 1 at Cuc Phuong on a path from the bungalows at Bong Sub-station. Looks much more like a Spiderhunter than a sunbird, as its’ alternative name suggests.
Little Spiderhunter, Arachnothera longirostra, 1 gave very close views feeding on flowers within the restaurant area at Las Orquideas Resort hotel, Khao Sok.
Streaked Spiderhunter, Arachnothera magna, Singles on 2 dates at Doi Inthanon, along Km 34.5 trail, & 2 on several days at Cuc Phuong.
House Sparrow, Passer domesticus, Recorded at Bangkok, Chiang Rai & Hoi An.
Plain-backed Sparrow, Passer flaveolus, A male inland from Haad Chao Samran; & at Doi Inthanon, up to 10 in the vicinity of the Blossom-headed Parakeet pre-roost site & 3 at the nearby observation tower.
Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Passer montanus, Very common throughout much of the trip, especially in built-up areas.
Scaly-breasted Munia, Lonchura punctulate, Quite often encountered in open areas in Thailand with maximum counts of 15 at Ao Nang & 12 at Bangkok. Also, 6 at both Chiang Mai & on Ko Phi Phi, 4 at Doi Inthanon, 2 at Chiang Rai & 1 in the Laem Phak Bia area.
Chestnut Munia, Lonchura atricapilla, 1 in the Phak Thale & Laem Pak Bia area.
Forest Wagtail, Dendronanthus indicus, A brief view of 1 in forest by Angkor Wat and much better, prolonged views of another by the river near the buildings at Khao Sok.
Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Motacilla tschutschensis, 2 or 3 on several dates in the Pak Thale & Laem Pak Bia area.
Grey Wagtail, Motacilla cinereal, Up to 6 at Bach Ma & 3 at Doi Inthanon.
White Wagtail, Motacilla alba, Quite plentiful from the boat on the Mekong between Houey Xay & Luang Prabang. Also, singles at Doi Inthanon, Chiang Mai, Luang Prabang & Van Long & 2 at both Chiang Rai & Hoi An paddy fields.
Paddyfield Pipit, Anthus rufulus, Appropriately, 8 around the paddy fields at Hoi An. Also, 3 at both Laem Phak Bia Environmental Research Project & Van Long (in the car park).
Olive-backed Pipit, Anthus hodgsoni, Up to 5 at Doi Inthanon with sightings at Inthanon Highland Resort and beside the river behind Mr Daeng’s; also 3 at Bach Ma.
Red-throated Pipit, Anthus cervinus, 6 in a dry area beside the paddy fields at Hoi An, in the company of Paddyfield Pipits.
Species total: 369
Dusky Langur: 12 of these endearing creatures in the national park at Kaeng Krachan & 10 at Khao Sok.
White-handed Gibbon: 2 of these rather small Gibbons close overhead in the national park at Kaeng Krachan; & at Khao Sok, 1 (distant) from the boat on Ratchaprabha Lake & 2 swinging through the trees near the entrance buildings.
Stub-tailed Macaque: 10 of these range-restricted Macaques in the national park at Kaeng Krachan.
Long-tailed Macaque: 20 around the temple at Angkor Wat, 15 in the mangroves at Krabi, up to 15 at Khao Sok & singles on Ko Phi Phi & at Pak Thale; the latter wandered up to a photographer & sat under his chair!
Pig-tailed Macaque: groups of 4 or 5, on several visits to Khao Sok.
Rhesus Macaque: 20 around Son Tra including a troop performing on the roadside.
Delacour’s Langur: disappointingly only 1 distant view of this two-tone primate from the boat at Van Long.
Red-shanked Douc Langur: eventually, great views of 10 of this colourful monkey at Son Tra. One of the trip’s highlights!
Crab-eating Mongoose: a glimpse of 2 by the small lake towards the top of the road at Cuc Phuong.
Yellow-throated Martin: 1 ran across the road and performed briefly on a tree trunk as we descended Bach Ma.
Red Muntjac: 1 in the national park at Kaeng Krachan.
Mouse-deer sp: 3 showed well from Neung hide at Kaeng Krachan.