Saturday, February 23, 2019

Thailand Birding - Day 3 - Ek's Marks the Spot

February 13 - our third day of birding in Thailand. Games, the owner of the Baan Maka Nature Lodge where we were staying, recommended that we go visit the hides at Baan Songnok. Her driver would take us to that place, she said. She also told us that the owner of the hide, Auntie Ek, speaks English and knows the birds in the area very well.

Right after breakfast we headed off to Auntie Ek's place. She greeted us cordially and escorted us to where her hides were. Expect the partridges to come, she assured us. At first only the uber common birds - the Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush, Red Junglefowls and Spotted Doves - showed up. Then slowly, a covey of partridges emerged from the dark side of the forest. The first kind was the Bar-backed Partridge and lifer #25 for us.

Then came the more shy Scaly-breasted Partridge and our 26th lifer.

Satisfied that we got what we came for, we walked outside. Auntie Ek, bless her heart, pointed at the top of the electric pole across the street from her place. "Plain-backed Sparrow," she said. Somehow this individual was looking at something inside one of the wire connections as it kept flying in front of it then perch at the top of the pole. It kept this interesting routine the whole time we were trying desperately to get a good photo of this hyperactive bird and our 27th lifer.

Soon our driver came to pick us up and bring us back to Baan Maka. As we were about to leave, Auntie Ek, encouraged us to return in the afternoon. "There will be different birds at that time," she said with such confidence, "besides your entrance fees are good for one day anyway." 

"We'll be back," we told her in the most Schwarzenegger-ish accent.

Back at Baan Maka, we had time to spare before our second visit to Baan Songnok. Of course, we wandered around the premises again and were lucky enough to add three more species to our life list: the Dark-necked Tailorbird, the Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher and a Bronze-winged Jacana. 

A little before 3 pm and we were back at Auntie Ek's place. And she was right - there were different birds that came to the hide that afternoon. We had a bonanza of lifers!

Lifer #31 - Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush

#32 - Brown-cheeked Fulvetta

Our 33rd lifer was a challenge. Several species look so very similar that it was hard determining which is which. We believe that the one we just photographed was the Tickell's Blue Flycatcher.

When lifer #34 came, I saw it first and I kept telling Cynthia, "blue-and-white, blue-and-white" as I kept taking photos of the said bird. I was curious why my wife wasn't reacting at all. When I asked her why she was not photographing the Siberian Blue Robin, she said she had no idea what the "blue-and-white" thing I was taking about. I guess that despite its color, that tiny bird blended well with the darkish background and did attract Cynthia's attention.

Having settled the issue, another bird showed up by the small "pool". And yes, it was another lifer - the Pin-striped Tit-Babbler.

After the Tickell's and the Siberian Blue Robin had left, another bird came that looked like a hybrid between those two species. The Hainan Blue Flycatcher was lifer 36 for us.

As we were about to pack up, one more lifer came and our final for the day - the Abbott's Babbler.

Baan Songnok, or I should say Auntie Ek's spot, is definitely a birding paradise. 

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