Days 12 - 13 Bangkok - Khao Yai An early start will see us heading to Khao Yai for a 2 night stay, stopping en-route at a very special site for the localised Limestone Wren-babbler. This is an intriguing species as it is only found at one or two key localities in this corner of Thailand and we shall make a special effort to find it. We are not too far from Khao Yai and will take some time to enjoy the Lineated Barbets, Black-naped Orioles and a few other species here before heading to the National Park. 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 Pitta, Forest Wagtail or Scaly Thrush, whilst we can always hope for a sighting of the much-wanted Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo. One of the features of our birding will be the sudden appearance of a mixed species flock within which numerous birds occur and just as quickly as they arrived, the flock moves off deep within the forest leaving silence where mere minutes before the trees reverberated to strange calls and the noise of wings. These bird waves usually contain species such as Red-headed
Trogon, Verditer Flycatcher, Striped Tit-babbler, White-bellied Erpornis, Spangled Drongo and Claudia's Leaf-warbler, whilst we need to thoroughly search each flock for new species such as Long-tailed Broadbill, Green-billed Malkoha, Little Spiderhunter or Common Green Magpie amongst many other possibilities. Other birds here include Collared Owlet, Great-eared Nightjar, Great Pied and Wreathed Hornbills, Mountain Imperial-pigeon, Blue-bearded and Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, Banded Kingfisher, Brown-backed Needletail, Blue-eared, Moustached and Green-eared Barbets, Dusky Broadbill, Asian Fairy Bluebird, White-rumped Shama, Indian Roller, Rosy and Swinhoe's Minivets, Siberian Blue Robin, Siberian Rubythroat, Puff-throated and Grey-eyed Bulbuls, Hainan Blue Flycatcher, White-crowned Forktail, Orange-headed Thrush, Olive-backed Pipit, Dark-necked Tailorbird, Yellow-vented and Fire-breasted Flowerpeckers, Pale-legged, Thick-billed, Two-barred, Yellow-browed and Radde's Warblers, Black-throated, Van Hasselt's and Crimson Sunbirds, Black-throated, White-crested and Lesser-necklaced Laughingthrushes, Large and White-browed Scimitar-babblers, Abbott's Babbler and many others. 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. 2 nights at Khao Yai.
Days 14 - 15 Khao Yai - Petchaburi – Pak Thale - Laem Pak Bia After a final morning at Khao Yai in search of any species we still need to see we will head out on the drive to the famous wader hotspots in the Petchaburi area. This is a huge area of salt workings where the sheer numbers of waders is a very impressive sight indeed. In recent years this has been a regular wintering site for a small number of wintering Spoon-billed Sandpipers and we have a very good chance of observing this very rare species. We will also concentrate our efforts on the sought-after Nordmann's Greenshank and Asiatic Dowitcher as well. For the wader enthusiast this is heaven as amongst the more familiar species we can find Pacific Golden and Kentish Plovers, Broad-billed and Marsh Sandpipers, large flocks of Great Knots, Greater and Lesser Sandplovers, Terek Sandpiper, Temminck's, Red-necked and Long-toed Stints and Red-necked Phalarope amongst an impressive total of around 40+ wader species possible here! In the late afternoon we will take a short boat ride through the mangroves to a nearby sandspit at Laem Phak Bia where it is usually possible to see White-faced Plover, along with the increasingly rare Malaysian Plover. Other possibilities include Chinese Egret, Pacific Reef Egret, Great Black-headed and Heuglin's Gulls, Great and Lesser Crested Terns and a few commoner species.
This is a fantastic area and by exploring the nearby rice paddies, marshes and lagoons we have chances of seeing many south-east Asian species such as Little Green Heron, Javan and Chinese Pond-herons, Purple Heron, Yellow Bittern, Asian Openbill, Painted Stork, Cotton Pygmy-Goose, Black-eared and Brahminy Kites, Grey-headed Lapwing, Bronze-winged and Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Purple Swamphen, Gull-billed Tern, Zebra Dove, Pink-necked Green-Pigeon, Germain's Swiftlet, Stork-billed, Black-capped and Collared Kingfishers, Little Green Bee-eater, Pied Fantail, Brown Shrike, Yellow-vented and Streak-eared Bulbuls, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Dusky, Oriental Reed and Black-browed Reed Warblers, Racket-tailed Treepie, Plain-backed Sparrow, White-shouldered Starling, Baya, Streaked and Asiatic Golden Weavers. We will spend an early evening at a special site where we should see White-winged Terns hawking over the pools, along with chances of Ruddy-breasted Crake and Slaty-breasted Rail and Pintail Snipe, whilst as dusk settles Indian Nightjars and 1000's of Lyle's Flying Foxes appear. 2 nights at Petchaburi.
Days 16 - 18 Petchaburi – Kaeng Krachen
Leaving here, we will drive to Kaeng Krachan, calling in to a nice patch of dry dipterocarp forest where we can look for the spectacular Black-headed Woodpecker, along with Rufous Woodpecker, Spotted and Asian Barred Owlets, Red-breasted Parakeet, Purple Sunbird, Forest Wagtail, Rufous Treepie and other species. We should have finished here by mid-morning and then will drive the short distance into the national park and spend the rest of the day birding in this amazing forest. We will then have a further two full days to explore the hill 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. It is located on the eastern flank of the remote Tenasserim mountain range that borders Myanmar. 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 amongst many fantastic possibilities here we can find Grey Peacock-pheasant, Kalij Pheasant, Chinese Sparrowhawk, Black Baza, Grey-faced Buzzard, Black-thighed Falconet, Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Collared Scops-owl, Tickell's Brown, Great and Wreathed Hornbills, White-browed Piculet, Common and Greater Flamebacks, Greater Yellownape, Great Slaty and Grey-and-Buff Woodpeckers, Green-billed Malkoha, Great, Red-throated, Moustached, Green-eared and Blue-eared Barbets, Large-tailed Nightjar, Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Vernal Hanging-parrot, Violet, Asian Emerald, Indian and Banded Bay Cuckoos, Black-naped Oriole, Banded Kingfisher, Red-bearded Bee-eater, Red-headed and Orange-breasted Trogons, Blue Pitta, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Himalayan Swiftlet, Brown-backed Needletail, Long-tailed, Silver-breasted, Black-and-yellow, Black-and-red, Banded and Dusky Broadbills, 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, Taiga, Dark-sided, Rufous-browed and Asian Brown Flycatchers, Blyth's Shrike-babbler, Large and White-browed Scimitar-babblers, Spot-necked, Collared and Golden Babblers, Black-throated Laughingthrush, Crested Jay and the extremely localised Ratchet-tailed Treepie.
One afternoon we will visit a special site where there is a bird hide and can observe some of the forests' shyer species coming to drink and bathe. This can be a very good place with usually hard-to-see birds such as Bar-backed and Scaly-breasted Partridges, sometimes Slaty-legged Crake, Large Scimitar-babbler and Abbott's Babbler all giving point-blank views. More regular birds include Red Junglefowl, Greater and Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrushes, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, White-bellied Erpornis, Black-crested and Stripe-throated Bulbuls, Tickell's Blue, Chinese Blue and Blue-throated Flycatchers, Black-naped Monarch, Pale-legged Leaf-warbler, Puff-throated Babbler, and there is always the chance of a surprise! This is definitely a site you won't visit with other tour companies with their bigger group sizes! 3 nights at Kaeng Krachen.
Day 19 Kaeng Krachen – Petchaburi - Bangkok
Depending on what species we still need we may well spend most of the day in this wonderful forest or visit the open habitat around Petchaburi, which can be very productive for Cinnamon Bittern, Black-crowned Night-heron, Greater Painted Snipe, Watercock, Steppe, Greater Spotted and Eastern Imperial Eagles, Eurasian Wryneck, Plaintive Cuckoo, Mangrove Whistler, Golden-bellied Gerygone, Indochinese Bushlark and Brown-throated Sunbird. Another peek at the vast array of waders is always worthwhile, just in case we can pick out a Far Eastern Curlew or even a Grey-tailed Tattler, or possibly an early returning Oriental Pratincole. By mid-afternoon we will have to head back to our hotel in Bangkok for an overnight stay.
Day 20 Arrival in UK and End of Tour - Sunday 8th February
Early afternoon flight back to the UK and conclusion of a wonderful tour.
Leaders: Nick Bray & local guide.
Single supplement: £350.00
Group size: Minimum for tour to go ahead 3 and maximum of 6 with 2 leaders
Included in cost: Accommodation in twin rooms en-suite, all meals (including bottled water), transport in air-conditioned minibus throughout the tour, internal flights (Bangkok - Chiang Mai return), boat trip if req'd, all reserve entrance fees and services of the leaders.
Not included: International airfare, insurance, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature.
Accommodation: The lodges and hotels used on this tour are of a reasonable - good standard and 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 where early starts and some late finishes can be expected. 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, and some light showers are possible at Kaeng Krachen. Whilst in the northern mountains it can be cooler in the early morning, late evening and overnight.
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Previous Tour Reports: January 2009 2012 Species list January 2012 Tour 1 January 2012 Tour 2 Jan/Feb 2013 January 2014
2014 Checklist North Thailand Report 2014 Central Thailand Tour 2 2014
2013 Photo Gallery 2012 Photo Gallery
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