This is a brief summary of a trip to Thailand with Paul Oldfield. I had previously spent about 3 months in Thailand and about 5 months in Malaysia, Java and Bali so it was a targeted trip for a few species plus time for some pleasant birding without the pressure to get loads of ‘ticks’. It has to be said that we failed to see many of both the bird and mammal species we were hoping for and it wasn’t a huge success on the photography front. For the first time I did pay proper attention to butterflies and dragonflies which did add another dimension.

It was also my first trip with a new camera: a Sony RX10 iv: I’d got fed up with lugging a SLR around. The Sony is much lighter but I was far from used to it and it is undoubtedly not as good as a SLR in low light, a common problem in Thailand. So that’s my excuses out of the way.

I’m bound to have made some identification mistakes, particularly with insects, so please contact me if you spot any.

31 March 1 April

Pak Thale

After a fairly harrowing drive from Bangkok Airport we arrived at Pak Thale.

Our target was spoon-billed sandpiper and we did see a fairly close summer-plumaged one on the morning of the 1st. Unfortunately this was flushed after a couple of minutes by an overzealous photographer. I’d been concentrating on watching this beautiful bird and so failed to get a photograph at all. We tried to relocate it for several hours but failed.

Other birds included greater and lesser sandplovers, lots of red-necked stints, lots of broad-billed sandpipers, a little stint, 2+ long-toed stints, c.10 great knots, marsh sandpipers, Asiatic dowitcher and Caspian terns. Sadly the birds were generally rather distant for photography.

Back at our accomodation Asian pied starling and red collared dove were rather more cooperative.

We then drove on to Baan Maka past lots of open-billed storks.

1 April - 6 April Baan Maka and Kaeng Krachan NP

Baan Maka was a great place to stay: it was reasonably priced, very comfortable, did great food, had good wildlife watching on site and was very geared up to birders. Indeed it is run by two naturalists: Games and Ian.


I wish we’d spent a night camping in the reserve as well but otherwise it was perfect and definitely recommended.

The following dragonflies were seen on site:

little blue marsh hawk Brachydiplax sobrina

common plain skimmer Rhyothemis phyllis

scarlet skimmer Crothemis servilla

Fulvous forest skimmer Neurothemis fulvia

Rhyothemis plutonia

Lung Sin Hide nr Baan Maka

Our first afternoon was watching from this hide. At first it was very quiet and we nearly left but it did improve. Species seen included about 6 Siberian blue robins,

Tickell’s blue flycatcher,

black-naped monarch,

red junglefowl,

puff-throated babbler

and white-rumped shama.

Moving to the mammals,

Lesser mousedeer (by far my best ever views),

western striped squirrel,

And northern tree-shrew were seen.

Ian took us out on a couple of after dark trips. The first one of these concentrated on amphibians although this land crab was a nice bonus.

The amphibians seen were  painted chorus frog,

yellow frog

spot-legged treefrog,

Nong hur bushfrog,

Mukhlesur’s chorus frog,

and green-backed frog,

This phasmid was rather smart.

Back at Ban Maaka we saw a black-spined toad.

Even better was our next trip out when I finally got to see a slow loris, a species that I’d always failed to see before despite many hours spotlighting around Southeast Asian rainforest. Sadly it was too distant for a photograph to be worthwhile.

Another night species was brown hawk owl which was seen in the hotel grounds.

Kaeng Krachan National Park

A great reserve even if we didn’t do quite as well as I’d hoped at seeing stuff. In particular the sun bear that had been showing in the campsite seemed to have stopped doing so and we failed to see the bird the reserve is most famous for: rachet-tailed treepie.

It didn’t take long for me to see my first new mammal: 6 stump-tailed macaques were seen while we were driving in on the first morning. Unfortunately it was still rather dark and we never saw any more.  We saw several white-handed gibbons well, definitely my best ever views.

Dusky langurs were fairly common.

Another a mammal highlight was the Malayan porcupine at Bang Krang campsite: a species that I had only seen briefly before.

There was a lot of sign of elephant damage and dung but sadly we saw none.

The reptile highlight was undoubtedly this superb oriental vine snake.

Black Asian giant tortoise was another new species for me.

Birding was hard work.  If only all birds were as showy as this great hornbill.

Banded kingfisher

Silver-breasted broadbill

Other species seen included mountain imperial pigeon,

spot-necked babbler, banded and black and yellow broadbills, yellow-rumped flycatcher, orange-headed thrush. We heard blue pitta and grey peacock pheasant but failed to see them.

Green bee-eater was one of the species seen just outside the reserve,

It was hard to concentrate on birds at times partly due to the huge number of butterflies present.

Chocolate tiger

Striped blue crow

Black and white helen

Great eggfly

Orange albatross

Orange gull and striped albatross

Some of the moths were just as smart.

Dysphania militaris

Milionia basalis

6 April

Enroute to Petchburi, we experienced our first Thai twitch. Ian had given us a site where 3 Oriental plovers had turned up. Luckily there were several people there as it was off the road and I’m not sure we would have found it otherwise.  A small crowd by British standards but it was great to see local people bitten by the birding bug.

Petchburi Rice Fields

A good stop with birds being plentiful.

Asian golden weaver,

Streaked and baya weaver were seen.

Javan and chinese pond herons were both present. This is Javan.

Asian openbills were common.

As were purple herons.

We spent three nights in Samut Sakhon. Due to a bit of a ‘cock-up’ on the timings front, this gave us a day in Khok Kha area. This did provide some good birding. The birding was similar to Pak Thale but with considerably more marsh sandpipers which were very common.

Asian koel


Pacific golden plover

Green heron

8 April

Whale watching trip

This was a trip for Bryde’s whales and I was very excited by it. Unfortunately we were unsuccessful and my mood wasn’t great at the end of it.

We saw both crested and lesser crested terns. Identification was easy at the time due to size and ‘jizz’ differences. It was rather more problematical from photographs so I not commiting myself yet. .

crested tern sp

crested tern sp

whiskered tern

pomarine skua

We also saw lots of white-winged black terns and, briefly, a black-tailed gull.

9 April

Wot Nong Si

We broke up our journey to Khao Yai with a stop at Wot Nong Si. The sight of hundreds of Lyle’s flying foxes cheered me up after the disappointment of not seeing any whales.

Khao Yai

We were unable to book into a bungalow without doing it via the website, which was just annoying, but a couple of tents did prove a good option. Sadly we didn’t do well with the birds here. Our main target was coral-billed ground-cuckoo; sadly it was not to be.

Siamese fireback was a new species for me.

I’m glad I’ve seen eared pitta because otherwise hearing but failing to see them would have been evening more frustrating than it was. There were a few migrants going through the campsite area such as red-throated flycatcher, mugimaki flycatcher and blue and white flycatcher. I have been here twice before and done fairly well so perhaps my expectations were too high but I was disappointed.

blue and white flycatcher

blue -bearded bee-eater

red-throated flycatcher

oriental pied hornbill

orange-breasted trogon

The most obvious mammal was northern pig-tailed macaque, which generally made a nuisance of themselves around the campsite and visitor centre.

red muntjac

Sambar were ridiculously tame with one deciding to join a display of sambar models.

We saw little of the ‘herp’ front apart from a couple of dark-eared frogs.

Butterflies were nowhere near as common as they had been at Kaeng Krachan but still a welcome diversion when the birding got too frustrating.

common imperial


common jay

glassy tiger

fivebar swordtail

magpie crow

I’d love to know what this cricket is.

It was then time for a relatively easy drive back to Bangkok airport and the chaos which is car returns. They really aren’t geared up for people hiring cars!