It has to be said for any birder planning a trip to Sri Phang Nga or Khao Sok at this time of year, rain would usually be an expectation. We were very lucky today as in or out of rainforest we were dry, and infact back at our resort in Khao Lak (the excellent La Flora) we had a dry run for a couple of days. One could be unfortunate and have a day or two wiped out by rain, but on the whole we found the showers came in bursts and cleared quickly.
We were picked up around 6.30am by our guide Ike and headed straight to one of the many National Park substations in Sri Phang Nga, passing some rough looking weather and a human trafficking checkpoint on route. Although the start was slow, the sun shined and slowly the birds emerged. Crimson Sunbird, Spectacled Spiderhunter and a Chestnut-bellied Malkoha showed briefly. I had enjoyed collecting a 'list within a list', the Bulbul family. Here was saw our rarest representative, the smaller Scaly-breasted Bulbul. My records state a total of 9 Bulbul species; awaiting confirmation from my 2 guides on this! Having already seen a mixture of 2 birds, a Shrike-babbler, here was another: a Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike. A cracking little bird which unfortunately was a little too high in the tree to take a photo of.
Upon moving on, we pulled over to watch a large raptor displaying over a small plantation. Consulting the ID books confirmed this a Crested Goshawk, what a beast! We than ran over a Cobra, which had been thrown into the road by a gentleman protecting his caged birds! Worth a stop to look at the corpse.
Our next stop took us deeper into the rainforest, at a site where Pittas have been seen recently (not to be by us sadly) but where Broadbills and Barbets were frankly abundant. We enjoyed the frolics of a family of Blue-eared Barbet, and Ike was able to call in a pair of rare Red and Black Broadbill, which left me open-mouthed when I stumbled across a single bird with Ike behind calling them in! Wow. Other birds here included Asian Fairy Bluebird, Large Woodshrike and Red-billed Malkoha.
Our next stop, a site where Tiger sightings are rare, (enough to send a tingle nonetheless) bought us to the doorstep of the Gibbon, for we could hear calling from perhaps a mile away. A frustrating glimpse of a Hornbill species left me knowing I would not be able to tick Hornbill on that view alone.......until 6 Bushy-crested flew past in tandem! Quality rainforest birding. Greater Green Leafbird, Greater Coucal (seen from the car drying off) and Sunbirds galore nipped in and out of the low lying vegetation.
Still in the rainforest, we headed to water to score some different species. By now it was mid to late afternoon and the forest in general had quietened somewhat. We still managed to connect with Chestnut-naped Forktail, a family of 3 feeding in a puddle on the track ahead of the car. As if we needed reminding from our first day out, Forktails are awesome! Great to catch up with some waterfall specialists here, in Grey-rumped and Crested Treeswift. Add to that my first ever Needletail, Brown-backed, and Pacific Swallow, and we enjoyed a stunning display from the masters of the sky. Chestnut-headed Bee Eater was a fine way to complete the day.
Gonna have to write a third and final post guys.......
Black and Red Broadbill
Greater Green Leafbird
Asian Fairy Bluebird
Oriental Magpie Robin
Black and Red Broadbill
Forest track, loads of activity down here