Thursday, February 21, 2019

Thailand Birding - Day 1 - The Long Wait

At last we went birding in Thailand. I don't know why we haven't gone to this place before since it is one of the favorite birding destinations in Asia. Perhaps it was because of our frugality. I always thought that a packaged tour would be the only option to see the birds of this country. And that costs a lot. Thanks to my wife's expertise in searching the internet, she was able to book us into a couple of nature lodges where not only were local guides available, but also birds can already be seen within their premises.

February 11, 2019 - We arrived at Bangkok's airport on schedule (about 9 am Thailand time) and the driver who was to take us to our lodge was already waiting for us. We were surprised at the heavy traffic going to our destination. We've been on the road for almost two hours and we were still in an urban area. (I was quite sure that our place to stay would be in a very rural area which were told was about 3 hours away from the airport.) The atmosphere was getting into a cloudy state as I was becoming grumpy due to the long ride and other things when out of the horizon appeared the golden arches. That brought relief to my sulkiness. At last I will be able to fill my stomach and  empty my bladder. After having our lunch at McDonalds we continued our drive. After what seemed like an eternity and a very long wait, we arrived at the Kum Nangpaya Nature Lodge. We were greeted by Nok, the owner. While Cynthia and Nok were talking about our accommodations, I saw some bird activities just outside the terrace. I quickly took out my camera and was a bit puzzled as I looked at my photos. At first I thought it was an Olive-backed Flowerpecker. But the Olive-backed is a Philippine endemic so the one I took photos of must be of a different species. A quick google and I was so happy that we got our first lifer of the trip - a Yellow-vented Flowerpecker!

In the same tree was another beauty. Although not a lifer - we've seen it in Sepilok - this time we got way better shots of the Scarlet-backed flowerpecker.

After we got settled, Nuy, the local guide, offered to take us to a hide where he guaranteed that we will see the Blue Pitta. How can we say no to that? While he was driving, I saw some birds by the roadside. "Lapwings!" I yelled. Nuy stopped the car, and I got some excellent shots of our second lifer from the car window - the Red-wattled Lapwing.

At the hide, aside from the very common White-rumped Shama and Striped-throated Bulbul, we encountered our third lifer - the Taiga Flycatcher.

Another bulbul showed up which at first I thought was a female Stripe-throated but turned out to be a different species and our fourth lifer - the Streak-eared Bulbul.

Our fifth lifer was, we were told, quite a common visitor to the hide - the Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush.

We had waited for two long hours and the promised bird still hadn't showed up. Then Nuy whispered, "there it is!" Slowly, our sixth lifer emerged from the bushes and finally came out in the open. Too bad it was just the female and not the more colorful and aptly named male Blue Pitta.

Satisfied that he made good of his promise, we left the hide and prepared to return to the lodge. While walking towards the car, Nuy pointed a bird to me. I smiled and took an obligatory shot of the Brown Shrike.

As we were driving, I noticed a bird perched on a tree by the roadside. "Hoopoe!" I screamed. That was our bonus bird of the day and our 7th lifer.

Back at the lodge, we still had time to roam the premises. So we explored the area and bagged three more lifers: the Sooty-headed Bulbul, Richard's Pipit and the Thick-billed Flowerpecker.

It was a good start to our Thailand birding trip.

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