Friday, December 3, 2010

Thailand 2006 - a recap

Wow, it's been a while since i last posted anything here (with all but 1 follower at least i haven't disappointed too many LOL.

Anyways, since we are now gearing up for a 3 week birding trip back to Thailand (Audy's homeland) i thought it would be neat to look back quickly on the 2 previous birding trips we have taken there, Dec '06 and Dec '08.

Our first trip in 2006 was a blast, we had only been birding since May but had both caught the birding bug big-time.

Audy was using our first DSLR, a Nikon D50 along with AFS 80-400VR lens and i was using my new digiscope set-up, a Nikon Coolpix P4 mated to a 60mm Fieldscope ED III w/ 30x eyepiece.
I did alright considering i had only been using it for a little over 4 months.
Originally, we had bought it for Audy as she complained about the weight of the 80-400 and had read about this "digiscoping" thing on some Thai forums and wanted to try it as a cheaper alternative to getting another DSLR for me to use (i had decided some time ago that i wanted to do more than just follow Audy around while she took pictures of birds).
I was intrigued, especially after i saw the website of the late Laurence Poh, the "father of digiscoping".

Our trip went quite well even though our bird-count (species shot) was quite low in comparison to other lists.
We arrived in Bangkok, spent some time with the relatives and were soon on a night train up to Chaing Mai and the birds of the north.

black-crested bulbul (pycnonotus flaviventris)   

We arrived in Chaing Mai and hired a driver for a few days.
Our first stop was Doi Suthep-Pui, a large wat (temple) on top of a hill near Chaing Mai.

Saw our first  red-whiskered bulbul (pycnonotus jocosus) of the trip there and the great thing about the trip overall was that everything was new : )

We took a crazy insane off-road trip up a very muddy and pit-fallen road to the Doi Chiang Dao wildlife conservation area (big props to our driver who did amazing things with 4 wheels) and after we got there a surprised ranger told us that the station gets very few visitors as most birders go to another part of the wildlife area (the place we had wanted to go to originally). It was pretty cool but i found it challenging to set up the tripod on the narrow trails that hugged the hillside we were on thus missed a few shots.

sooty-headed bulbul (pycnonotus aurigaster)


Audy shot a lot of the birds there and picked up quite a few gems.

common tailorbird (orthotomus sutorius) 

short-billed minivet (pericrocotus brevirostris) 

We also took a trip up to Doi Inthanon, Thailand's tallest peak and a place Thai's go to in the winter to see frost.

chestnut-tailed minla (minla strigula)


chestnut-crowned laughingthrush (garrulax erythrocephalus)


blue whistling thrush (myophonus caeruleus)

 dark-backed sibia (heterophasia melanoleuca)

We also checked out Chiang Rai and picked up a nice scarlet-backed flowerpecker (dicaeum cruentatum)  among other birds.

We eventually headed back to Bangkok after checking out the Golden Triangle but having forgotten to bring our passports could not visit Laos as was our plan.

Back in Bangkok we found a cool park near Audy's home called Train Park (near the Chatuchak outdoor market).

Picked up a lot of the more common birds there but again, they were all new to us : )

coppersmith barbet (megalaima haemacephala)

blue-tailed bee-eater (merops philippinus)

plaintive cuckoo (cacomantis merulinus)

We also checked out the asian openbill (anastomus oscitans) colony at Wat Pai Lom in Phathum Thani.

We briefly visited Kaeng Krachan national park in Petchaburi and spotted our first red-wattled lapwing (vanellus indicus) ever.

 Spent some time in Chaum at a condo by the sea owned by one of Audy's aunts.

long-tailed shrike (lanius schach)

white-throated kingfisher (halcyon smyrnensis)

indian roller (coracias benghalensis)

collared kingfisher (halcyon chloris)

black-capped kingfisher (halcyon pileata)

green bee-eater (merops orientalis)

Later we checked out Khao Sam Roi Yot national park in Prachuap Khiri Khan and got our fill of shorebirds.
Quite an amazing place with great scenery all around. 

black-winged stilt (himantopus himantopus)

common greenshank (tringa nebularia)

common redshank (tringa totanus)

We next went to Ban Pak Khlong Pramong in Samut Sakhon and checked out the scene there for a bit.

little cormorant (phalacrocorax niger)

pacific golden plover (pluvialis fulva)

common sandpiper (actitis hypoleucos)

little heron (butorides striatus)

Later we went to Ayuthaya the historical capital of Siam and it was quite amazing to be amongst the ruined and crumpled wat's, victims of conflict between the Burmese and Thai. 
We did see a few birds although it was mostly a sight-seeing visit.

cattle egret (bubulcus ibis)

common kingfisher (alcedo atthis)

One last trip we took during our trip was to a huge Buddhist park called Puttamonthon in Nakhon Prathom province.
It's not all that far from Bangkok and was recommended by a Thai bird photographer Audy had been in contact online with. He took time off work to come meet us, he wanted to show us the roost of the spotted owlet (athene brama).

small minivet (pericrocotus cinnamomeus)

black drongo (dicrurus macrocercus)

ashy drongo - migrant variant (dicrurus leucophaeus)

black-naped oriole juvenile (oriolus chinensis)

In a nut-shell, that was our 2006 trip.
We learned a lot from that trip and it helped prepare us for San Blas Mexico in 2007.
Will re-post the Dec 2008 Thailand trip report next. : )

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The Waiting Area

The Waiting Area