This newly designed tour to Thailand is a little different to our winter visits in that it provides a fantastic opportunity to see a number of very special birds that are usually far easier to see during this mid-Spring period than earlier in the year. Species such as broadbills, trogons, kingfishers, weavers and a wide variety of waterbirds will all be breeding and relatively numerous. In addition, there is an opportunity to see Blue, Eared, Blue-winged and Hooded Pittas, a number of skulking pheasants and partridges, along with a variety of more widespread Asian birds as well. We will visit an exceptionally diverse range of habitats from coastal marshes and mudflats, secluded lakes, to vast lowland rainforest and montane evergreen forest with a seemingly endless list of possibilities! This newly-designed tour will visit the coastal hot-spots along the Gulf of Thailand, before focussing on the forests of Kaeng Krachen and Khao Yai which offers a wide range of localised, scarce and distinctly tropical specialities. As usual, our small group size enables us access to a small hide where often extremely shy forest dwellers such as Scaly-breasted Partridge, Large Scimitar-babbler or even Red-legged Crake can appear from time to time. We then move on to the forest-cloaked mountains and secluded valleys of northern Thailand where a wealth of montane specialities reside. There is a totally different avifauna to the rest of this wonderful country and we will visit the three best mountain sites of Doi Ang Khang, Doi Lang and Doi Inthanon which will provide us with some very exciting birding opportunities. As usual with a Zoothera tour we try and add something a little different and by birding the seldom visited Doi Lang we will do just that! Amongst the many montane specialities that can be found here we will search for the rare Hume's Pheasant, White-headed Bulbul, Stripe-breasted Woodpecker, White-browed and Silver-eared Laughingthrushes, Himalayan Cutia, Clicking Shrike-babbler, Spot-breasted Parrotbill, Dark-backed Sibia and Giant Nuthatch. There are usually a number of feeding stations that attract some truly skulking species and you never know quite what will turn up at these! This tour is only available for a select group of 6 birders plus our expert local guide, which is so essential for tropical forest birding, ensuring an extremely personalised and quality tour.
Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo
Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher
Great Slaty Woodpecker
Asian Golden Weaver
Days 1 - 2 UK - Bangkok 1st - 2nd May
Overnight flight from UK airports (London, Manchester, Edinburgh) to Bangkok and upon arrival transfer to a nearby hotel for an overnight stay.
Day 3 Bangkok - Petchaburi - Kaeng Krachen
An early start will see us drive along the Gulf of Thailand to the Petchaburi area for our first taste of birding in this tropical paradise, where we can see a good variety of typical south-east Asian birds around the mangroves, salt pans, lagoons, fields and marshes. Species in the area include Little Green Heron, Chinese Pond-heron, Pacific Reef Egret, Bronze-winged and Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Zebra Dove, Black-capped and Collared Kingfishers, Germain's Swiftlet, Indochinese Bushlark, Pied Fantail, Mangrove Whistler, Brown-throated Sunbird, Golden-bellied Gerygone, Yellow-vented Bulbul and Plain-backed Sparrow amongst others. Weavers will be in breeding plumage and we could find Streaked, Baya and the rarer Asiatic Golden Weaver in nesting colonies beside the road, whilst some pools could yield Black Bittern or Greater Painted Snipe. There is a huge area of salt workings in this area where there should still be a few waders present such as Pacific Golden and Kentish Plovers, Broad-billed and Marsh Sandpipers, Great Knot, Lesser Sandplover, Temminck's and Red-necked Stints and potentially a few surprises as well! Once we have finished here we will drive to Kaeng Krachen for a 4 night stay. After checking in to our superbly situated accommodation near the park entrance we can do some night birding and try to find Collared Scops-owl and Large-tailed Nightjar.
Days 4 - 6 Kaeng Krachen
The entrance to the National Park is just a short drive away and we have three full days to explore the hill forest and lowland evergreen forest of the largest National Park in Thailand, which protects 3,000 square kilometres of pristine habitat and the richest avifauna in the whole country. Our visit here gives us the possibility of seeing many lower elevation species as the park only rises to 1513m on Panern Thung, the highest point of the mountain. Birding is done mainly from the 36 kilometre long entrance road and a series of trails and by visiting at this mid-Spring period we have a better chance of seeing a number of sought-after species than earlier in the year. Prominent amongst these species are the much-wanted broadbills and we could see up to six species: Black-and-red, Black-and-yellow, Long-tailed, Silver-breasted, Dusky and Banded Broadbills. This is also a great time of year to see Banded and Oriental Dwarf Kingfishers, Red-bearded Bee-eater, Blue-winged and Hooded Pittas, Great Slaty, Bamboo and Crimson-winged Woodpeckers, and there's also an outside chance of Blue and Eared Pittas as well.
Amongst many other fantastic possibilities here we can find Grey Peacock-pheasant, Chinese Sparrowhawk, Black Baza, Grey-faced Buzzard, Thick-billed and Yellow-vented Pigeons, Collared Scops-owl, Tickell's Brown and Wreathed Hornbills, White-browed Piculet, Common Flameback, Greater Yellownape, Grey-and-Buff Woodpecker, Chestnut-breasted Malkoha, Great, Red-throated, Moustached, Green-eared and Blue-eared Barbets, Black-thighed Falconet, Large-tailed Nightjar, Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Vernal Hanging-parrot, Violet, Asian Emerald, Indian and Banded Bay Cuckoos, Black-naped Oriole, Red-headed and Orange-breasted Trogons, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Himalayan Swiftlet, Brown-backed Needletail, Great Iora, Large Woodshrike, Sultan Tit, Rosy, Grey-chinned and Swinhoe's Minivets, Flavescent and Ochraceous Bulbuls, Dark-necked Tailorbird, Yellow-bellied and Sulphur-breasted Warblers, Hill Blue Flycatcher, Blyth's Shrike-babbler, Large and White-browed Scimitar-babblers, Spot-necked, Collared and Golden Babblers, Black-throated Laughingthrush, Pin-tailed Parrotfinch, Crested Jay and the extremely localised Ratchet-tailed Treepie. Some nightbirding could give us Brown Hawk-owl, Asian Barred Owlet and Collared Scops-owl.
One afternoon we will visit a special site where there is a bird hide and we can observe some interesting species coming to drink and bathe. This can be a very good place with such hard-to-see birds such as Bar-backed Partridge, Kalij Pheasant, Red-legged Crake, Large Scimitar-babbler and Abbott's Babbler. More likely are Red Junglefowl, Scaly-breasted Partridge, Greater and Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrushes, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, White-bellied Erpornis, Black-crested and Sooty-headed Bulbuls. This is definitely a site you won't visit with other tour companies with their bigger group sizes! Nights at Kaeng Krachen.
Days 7Kaeng Krachen – Laem Pak Bia - Bangkok
We will leave here after breakfast and drive to a nice patch of dry dipterocarp forest where we can look for the spectacular Black-headed Woodpecker, along with Rufous Woodpecker, Spotted Owlet, Purple Sunbird and other species. In the afternoon we will take a short boat ride through the mangroves to a nearby sandspit at Laem Phak Bia where we will look for the regionally endemic and increasingly rare Malaysian Plover. Depending what we saw at Petchaburi on Day 3 we should have time to explore this very 'birdy' area where other possibilities include Yellow and Cinnamon Bitterns, Black-crowned Night-heron, Javan Pond-heron, Black-shouldered Kite, Black Kite, Eastern Marsh Harrier,Watercock, Slaty-breasted Rail, White-browed and Ruddy-breasted Crakes, Brown-headed and Heuglin's Gulls, Plaintive Cuckoo, Pink-necked Green-pigeon, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Black-capped and Collared Kingfishers, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Streak-eared Bulbul, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Long-tailed Shrike, Racket-tailed Treepie, Sooty-headed Bulbul, Black-collared and possibly Vinous-breasted Starlings and White-vented Myna. Night in Bangkok.
Days 8 - 10 Khao Yai
An early start will start will see us arriving at Wat Praphuttabaht Noi shortly after sunrise where we can search for the localised Limestone Wren-babbler that inhabits the limestone crags around the temple. There can sometimes be Blue-winged Pitta and Red-breasted Parakeet here as well. Leaving here we will drive to Khao Yai for a 3 night stay. In the afternoon we will visit a particular rich area insde the National Park and make our first attempt at Siamese Fireback and will be in a good area for Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo.
The 542,000 acres of hills and mountains of khao Yai are covered by dry deciduous forest at lower elevations and tropical moist evergreen forest higher up, interspersed with productive areas of grassland. This site represents some of the best remaining tracts of lowland forest in the country and is a haven for all forms of wildlife. A single road ascends to the highest point at 1,300m and from here a network of trails will give us access to the forest where we will search for a good selection of the numerous species to have been recorded here. By quietly walking the trails we have a chance of finding some of the shyer denizens of the understory such as Silver Pheasant, Siamese Fireback, Red Junglefowl, Blue and Eared Pittas, whilst there are always chances of locating the much-wanted Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo. Other species that can be found here include Red-headed and Orange-breasted Trogons, Green-billed Malkoha, Little Spiderhunter, Verditer Flycatcher, Striped Tit-babbler, White-bellied Erpornis, Spangled Drongo and Common Green Magpie, whilst we have further chances of Dusky, Banded and Long-tailed Broadbills. By thoroughly exploring the park we can also hope to see Collared Owlet, Great-eared Nightjar, Great Pied and Wreathed Hornbills, Mountain Imperial-pigeon, Blue-bearded, Blue-throated and Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, Blue-eared and Banded Kingfishers, Brown-backed Needletail, Blue-eared, Moustached and Green-eared Barbets, Asian Fairy Bluebird, White-rumped Shama, Indian Roller, Rosy and Ashy Minivets, Puff-throated and Grey-eyed Bulbuls, Hainan Blue Flycatcher, White-crowned Forktail, Olive-backed Pipit, Dark-necked Tailorbird, Yellow-vented and Buff-bellied Flowerpeckers, Grey-eyed Bulbul, Black-throated, Purple-throated and Crimson Sunbirds, Black-throated, White-crested and Lesser-necklaced Laughingthrushes, Large and White-browed Scimitar-babblers, Abbott's Babbler and Pin-tailed Parrotfinch. Other animals present here include Asian Elephant, Pig-tailed Macaque, White-handed Gibbons, Sambar, Muntjac, East Asian Porcupine and a whole range of amphibians and small reptiles to keep the all-round wildlife enthusiast happy. One of the major non-avian highlights is a visit one evening to marvel at the exodus of 500,000 Wrinkle-lipped Bats from their hillside caves. 3 nights at Khao Yai.
Day 11 Khao Yai – Beung Boraphet
After some final birding here this morning we will then drive to Beung Boraphet and explore the lake and surrounding areas for Pied Cuckoo, Chestnut-tailed Starling, and numerous waterbirds including a good selection of ibis, egrets, herons and jacanas. Night at Nakorn Sawan.
Day 12 Nakorn Sawan - Mae Ping
We'll have a later start than usual before heading off to Mae Ping, which is a good area for Collared Falconet, Rufous-winged Buzzard, Yellow-footed Green-pigeon, Blossom-headed Parakeet, White-bellied and Great Slaty Woodpeckers, Indochinese Cuckooshrike, Crested Treeswift, Plains Nuthatch, plus the exciting possibility of White-rumped Falcon. Night at Mae Ping.
Days 13 - 14 Mae Ping - Doi Inthanon Early this morning we will drive straight to a wonderful resort close to Doi Inthanon for a two-night stay. This is the highest mountain in Thailand at over 2,500m and we shall have ample time to explore the dipterocarp forest of the lower slope and evergreen forest near the summit, where we shall concentrate our search for certain species. This is one of the classic birding sites in all Asia and at the summit a sphagnum bog surrounded by rhododendron trees draped in hanging moss and epiphytes is home to some special birds. At the edges of this bog Pygmy Wren-babbler and White-browed Shortwing can be found skulking in the shadows, whilst Chestnut-tailed Minla, Rufous-winged Fulvetta, Chestnut-crowned and Ashy-throated Warblers, Silver-eared (split from Chestnut-crowned) Laughingthrush, Snowy-browed Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Fantail, Green-tailed and Gould's Sunbirds, Yellow-browed Tit, and occasionally Rufous-throated Partridge, Ashy Woodpigeon, Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker and Yellow-browed Tit can sometimes be found. We can also find Blyth's Leaf-warbler, Clicking Shrike-babbler, Dark-Backed Sibia, Yellow-cheeked Tit, White-tailed Robin, Grey-throated Babbler, Pied Flycatcher-shrike and White-bellied Erpornis.
Moving down the mountain we can find Black-tailed Crake, Rufous-backed Sibia, White-necked Laughingthrush, Chestnut-flanked White-eye, the skulking Slaty-bellied Tesia, Black-throated Parrotbill, White-gorgeted Flycatcher, Rufous-bellied and Large Niltavas, Lesser Shortwing and Brown-throated Treecreeper. Fruiting trees are always productive and the prize of Green or Purple Cochoa awaits us, along with Speckled Pigeon or Wedge-tailed Green-pigeon. The more open grass and scrub areas lower down can also be productive and this is where we could find the rare and localised White-headed Bulbul, and continuing down to the dry deciduous woodland at the base of the mountain we should pick up Black-backed Forktail and both Plumbeous and White-capped Water-redstarts at some beautiful waterfalls. A whole new selection of birds awaits us at the bottom of the mountain where we can see Chinese Francolin, Collared Falconet, the stunning Black Baza, Lineated Barbet, Black-headed Woodpecker, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Common Woodshrike, Indochinese Bushlark and Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch amongst others.
Day 15 Doi Inthanon - Doi Ang Khang
We will set out early this morning and head up into the mountains and the rugged frontier range of Doi Ang Khan. We will be looking for some restricted range species such as Mountain Bamboo-partridge, Crested Finchbill, Brown-breasted Bulbul, White-browed Laughingthrush, Spot-breasted Parrotbill, Spectacled Barwing and Buff-throated Warbler. But there are many more new species here and during our stay we also have a chance of seeing Mountain Hawk-eagle, Lesser Cuckoo, Pacific Swift, Striated Swallow, Speckled and White-browed Piculets, Bay Woodpecker, Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, White-headed and Striated Bulbuls, Daurian Redstart, Hill Prinia, White-tailed Robin, Mountain Tailorbird, Slaty-bellied Tesia, Russet Bush-warbler, Bianchi's Warbler, Spot-throated Babbler, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-babbler, White-browed Laughingthrush, Silver-eared Mesia, Grey-cheeked Fulvetta, Grey-headed Parrotbill and Chestnut Bunting. We will spend the night at a superbly situated mountain resort.
Day 16 Doi Ang Khang - Thatorn River
We will spend the morning checking out various sites and even going up to the border with Myanmar to see if any rarities are around before driving down to the lowlands. We will visit the Thatorn River and surrounding fields and search for the localised Jerdon's Bushchat which is still hanging on in the area. This can be a really exciting area as rarities often turn up here and anything is possible. More likely will be Chestnut-capped Babbler but there is also a possibility of Small Pratincole, Blue-breasted Quail, Yellow-legged Buttonquail, Eastern Marsh-harrier, Pied Harrier, Grey-headed Lapwing and Baya Weaver.
Days 17 - 18Doi Lang
The incredibly bird-rich mountain of Doi Lang is only an hour's drive away and this is a truly exciting mountain with a number of quality species. This particular mountain is the prime site for two of Thailand's rarest birds, Giant Nuthatch and Hume's Pheasant. The former species is as big as a medium-sized woodpecker and is found high in the canopy of the tallest trees, whilst the latter inhabits the higher slopes which are dotted with trees.
Birding the amazing montane forest of Doi Lang will give us the opportunity to see several species not likely elsewhere on the tour and is a site seldom visited by other birders - and there is often a rarity or two two get us really buzzing! We will search for Green Cochoa, Himalayan Cutia, Whiskered Yuhina, Black-throated Tit, Spot-breasted and Grey-headed Parotbills and possibly Lesser Rufous-headed Parrotbill, Spotted Wren-babbler, Scarlet-faced Liocichla, White-gorgeted and Rufous-gorgeted Flycatchers, Fire-tailed Sunbird, Buff-throated Warbler, Crested Finchbill, Coral-billed Scimitar-babbler and Spot-winged Grosbeak.
Other species present here include Mountain Bamboo-partridge, Large Hawk-cuckoo, Fork-tailed Swift, White-browed Piculet, Grey-capped and Stripe-breasted Woodpeckers, Hooded and even Rusty-naped Pitta, Asian House Martin, Long-tailed Minivet, Sooty-headed and Mountain Bulbuls, Grey Bushchat, Olive-backed Pipit, Slaty-backed, Slaty-blue, Sapphire, Little Pied and Pale Blue Flycatchers, Chestnut-bellied Rock-thrush, Silver-breasted Broadbill, Great Iora, Slaty-bellied Tesia, Rufescent Prinia, Aberrant Bush-warbler, White-tailed Leaf-warbler, Rufous-fronted Babbler, Blue-winged Minla, Clicking Shrike-babbler, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, Striated Yuhina, Burmese Shrike, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Maroon Oriole, Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, Streaked Spiderhunter, Chestnut Bunting and Common Rosefinch. 2 nights at Doi Lang.
Day 19Doi Lang - Chiang Mai - Bangkok
Following a final mornings birding on this impressive mountain we will drive to Chiang Mai and catch our late afternoon/early evening flight back to Bangkok. Night in Bangkok.
Day 20 Bangkok - UK Wednesday 20th May
Late morning flight back to UK and conclusion of a wonderful tour.
Leader: Nick Upton
Nick lives in Bangkok and runs the highly acclaimed Thaibirding.com website. He has been active in the local birding scene for many years and his services as a tour guide are much in demand. No one is better prepared to show us the special birds of Thailand than him. Nick also co-leads our other Thailand tours as well.
Group size:Minimum for tour to go ahead 3 and maximum of 6
Included in cost:Accommodation in twin rooms en-suite, all meals (including bottled water) except dinners on Day 2 and Day 19, transport in air-conditioned minibus throughout the tour, boat trip, all reserve entrance fees and services of the leaders.
Not included:International airfare, insurance, departure tax, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature.
Accommodation:The lodges and hotels used on this tour range from standard to good, all with en-suite facilities. We will stay in the best available lodges/guest houses close to the birding sites.
Tour Code:This is a standard tour whereearly starts and some late finishes when owling, can be expected. Usually there is some time off during the middle of the day to relax. Most of our birding walks will be of a usual slow pace and relatively easy. Expect a typically tropical climate with most days being hot and humid, some light showers are possible at Kaeng Krachen. Weather can be a little variable in the northern mountains, so expect some showers.
Receive our e-newsletter: Join the Zoothera e-mailing list for up-to-date news on new tours, tour reports and special offers.