Our 5:30 breakfast was interrupted by a calling Collared Scops Owl which was quickly tracked down. It was then off to KK and forest birding – could it be better than the previous day? A large-tailed Nightjar taking off from the road was next onto the trip list before we entered the National Park.
Parking near km19, we piled out –our first target being Great Slaty Woodpecker. Nick quickly located the resident pair but only Mr Bell managed to get a view before they flew off. That disappointment was soon forgotten as one new bird after another was found, all to the amazing backdrop of singing White-handed Gibbons.
To our left, Greater and Common Flamebacks, Greater and Blue-winged Leafbirds, to our right, Black-crested Bulbuls, Black-naped Oriole, Heart-spotted Woodpecker and Green-eared Barbet, whilst behind us Grey-eyed and Stripe-throated bulbuls. A Black-thighed Falconet flew past and was eventually scoped sitting up on a distant snag. A walk along the road produced our first Thick-billed Green Pigeon along with better views of the Heart-spotted Woodpecker. The earlier miss of the Great Slaty Woodpeckers was corrected as the pair were watched flying overhead.
A drive up to the second stream crossing produced little new except for a cock Red Junglefowl feeding at the roadside. After parking up we walked up the road. The birding, however, was, at this stage, hard work. That was countered by excellent views of a couple of Gibbons. Birding highlight came in the shape of a Red-throated Bee-eater that was a surprise find this low down in the park. This was soon followed by a pair of Black-and-Yellow Broadbills.
Making our way back to stream 2, an Orange-bellied Trogon called. Nick soon located the bird and this kick started another manic period as new bird after new bird was found. A Buff-rumped Woodpecker followed by a Streaked-breasted Woodpecker. These were followed by our second, and third, Broadbill species. A pair of Silver-breasted was soon followed by a Banded Broadbill. The period was capped with an Austin’s Brown Hornbill feeding in the trees above us.
After a quick break to get our breadth back, Nick suggested we ride our luck and try for a Blue Pitta. There was no dissent for that idea and we followed Nick along an elephant track into the forest. A Hainan Blue Flycatcher and a small group of White-bellied Erpornis were noted before a quick blast on the tape produced a response from a Pitta. We gradually made our way to where the bird had called. Another call from the bird showed we were in the right area, but was clearly further back into the tangle of the forest. Nick set of alone to see if he could locate the bird. Up to this point, as with all Pitta hunting expeditions, we had kept all noise to a minimum. Suddenly Nick, who was about 25 into the forest, shouted out he had the Pitta and we should get to him as fast as possible. The ensuing crashing through the understory must have surely scared off the Pitta. But no. There it was, gradually making its way deeper into the forest but stopping every now and then to check us out. A dazzling gem of bright blue, with a flash of bright orange at the rear of the head. A tidy bird indeed. It was a happy group that made their way back to the road, to pick up Blue-bearded Bee-eaters. And all this before lunch!