Saturday, 20 February 2016

Day's 4 and 5

Day 4

After yesterday’s excitement and successes expectation was for a much quieter and slower day. It certainly started that way as several attempts to locate a Black-and-Red Broadbill failed to produce anything. Arriving at the lower campsite we explored the Youth Campsite area and were rewarded with Sultan Tit, Drongo Cuckoo (both square and forked tailed varieties), Violet Cuckoo, Black-naped Woodpecker, Green-billed Malkoha and a Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo. Eventually, a pair of Black-and-Red Broadbill’s were located.

For the afternoon we visited the Lung Sin waterhole hides, outside of the Park. This started of very quietly with little activity. A group of Racket-tailed Treepies dropped in but were clearly wary and agitated and soon disappeared. A short time later Nick heard a sound virtually by his foot and looked down to see a rather large snake slip away, just the other side of the hide canvas.  Within minutes the squirrels and Tree-shrews were active around the pool and birds started to arrive. A pair of Red Junglefowl were followed by a pair of Scaly-breasted Partridges. However all were still wary and didn’t stay long.

A troop of Greater and Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush arrived and signalled another flurry of activity, with the stars being a pair of Kalij Pheasant followed by a pair of Bar-backed Partridges. A second cock Red Junglefowl wandered into view before being spooked and disappearing. Passerines were represented by Puff-throated Babbler and Brown-cheeked Fulveta’s

A female flycatcher flew but not the expected Tickell’s Blue as it lacked any bluish tones to the tail, a female Blue-throated Blue Flycatcher.  It was soon flushed by male and female Tickell’s Blue.  Then, suddenly, next to the pool stood a female Siberian Blue Robin, which was quickly replaced by a 1st winter male. Within minutes a superb full adult male Siberian Blue Robin was there in front of us. In total, at least 6 Siberian Blue Robins, inc 2 adult males, visited over the next 30-40 minutes.

Not to be outdone, the local species hit back with a White-browed Scimitar Babbler showing spectacularly well.

Suddenly, a Crested Goshawk flew straight through scattering every bird.  Unfortunately most of us missed it as flew through, but the Besra that flew through a few minutes later was seen by more.

Day 5

A final morning in KK before heading back to the coastal plain. This time it was straight up to the upper reaches of the park, walking the road a little short of the upper campsite. A pair of Bay Woodpeckers were called in before a flock of warblers led to the discovery of a Long-tailed Broadbill.  Almost immediately we became aware of a passing flock of Collared Babblers, so were on Treepie alert. The flock was found and after a few minutes a Ratchet-tailed Treepie was located, then almost immediately lost. A second was found by Phil a short time later, this one giving prolonged views allowing all to get onto it.

It was then up to the upper camp site where a Taiga Flycatcher was calling and hunting near the entrance. A Feral Pigeon sitting on one of the building roofs was a site tick for Nick. While various viewpoints provided spectacular views of the surrounding forest and mountains the birding was slow. A pair of Scarlet Minivets flew past and a Brown Shrike showed well, but a calling Streaked Spiderhunter couldn’t be located. A spell of raptor watching produced a singles of Black Eagle, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Crested Goshawk and Shikra. Great, Blue-throated and Blue-eared Barbets showed well.

Heading back to the lower campsite, we returned to our vehicle and headed back up to the area between stream’s 2 and 3. Birding remained slow, not helped by the fact that most of the group managed to stand very close to an ants nests and as a result spent some time trying to remove ants from their person. Most unfortunate was Mike who literally ended up with ants in his pants, much to the amusement of everyone else.

Butterflies took over as a fresh pile of elephant dung attracted swarms of the colourful insects.  Back at the lower campsite for lunch and again it was the butterflies that took the main interest as they swarmed to drink salts at the stream crossing.

After lunch, and with diminishing returns from KK, it was decided to head back to Petchaburi a little earlier than planned and check out the rice fields and raptor roost.

Almost immediately on arriving at the rice fields the first raptors were noted – a distant harrier proved to be a ring-tailed Pied Harrier. Piling out of the minibus, Black-eared, Black-winged and Brahimy Kites were noted before a Greater Spotted Eagle was found. This eagle was suddenly mobbed by an immature Steppe Eagle. Unfortunately the Pied Harrier kept distant and quickly disappeared. Nice to get, but an adult male is the ultimate in Harriers. An Eastern Marsh Harrier appeared carrying prey – looked like a rat – which it dropped. Almost immediately, the Greater Spotted Eagle swooped down to claim the prize. Within 10 minutes, no fewer than 4 of the eagles were trying to locate/take ownership of the harrier’s former prey.  A Black Kite drifted over in the company of a Black-eared Kite, allowing a good comparison between the two taxa.

A little down the road, a farmer was burning a field, so we decided to check it out to see if it was brining in raptors, etc. Unfortunately no raptors were to be found, but House Sparrows and White-rumped Munia’s were new for the trip.

Changing focus onto the paddies, Grey-headed Lapwings were added to our already impressive wader list, along with Common Snipe – all seen were clearly common rather than Pin-tailed.  A pool produced 3 Cotton Pygmy Geese and, to the relief and joy of Mr Bevan, 3 Coot, a bit of a rarity this far south in Thailand.

Whilst working through this pond Nick heard a Siberian Rubythroat in the ditch behind us.  A little playback and it appeared on the top of a roadside bush. Unfortunately only Bevan managed to get onto it before it dropped out of sight. What followed was a fraughtful 15-20 minutes trying to coax this most wanted of Sibe’s to show itself. Eventually we all managed to get crippling views of an adult male, its iridescent gorget glowing in the undergrowth.  Fly over Black-headed Ibis and Oriental Pratincole, just didn’t get a look in.

Flushed with that success, we wandered back to view the pond. Next to it was a paddy in the process of drying out and was full of birds. Dozens of egrets (4 spp) herons, waders including our first Ruff, and Eastern Yellow Wagtails.

Raptors seemed to have disappeared, with only the occasional Black-eared or Brahimy Kite being noted, as we made our way to the main view point to watch the harriers coming into roost. An Eastern Marsh Harrier was first to show, and over the next hour or so, around 20 of these came in to roost.  But it was Pied Harriers we were after. First a ring-tailed floated in, followed by a second, and a third. The light was going when Nick picked up an adult male Pied Harrier coming in with a male Eastern Marsh Harrier. We didn’t get to watch this grey and white beauty for long as it quickly dropped into the roost. A few minutes later Mike picked up a second adult male Pied Harrier, this one dropping quickly, but in a place where we could comfortably scope it. Eventually it got up and drifted to the main roost site, giving great views. A great end to another great day.

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