Sunday, February 24, 2019

Thailand Birding - Day 4 - Heart's Day

February 14 - our fourth day of birding in Thailand and also Valentine's Day. We were both excited on our birding schedule for that day. We will be going to the Kaeng Krachan Park where we hoped to see the birds we came to this country for.

We left Baan Maka a little after 6 am. About 30 minutes later, we stopped by the roadside. Son, our guide, started playing back some bird calls. Strangely, there were no response at all. Soon other birders came and stayed at the same spot where we were. I was bit curious about that. My wife and crossed the road and looked at the small pond nearby. A Common Kingfisher was there. Perched on a tree by the pond was White-throated Kingfisher. Son paused from his playback routine and joined us. He pointed to a bird high up on a bare branch. "Black-capped Kingfisher" he said. We got our first lifer of the day, #38 for us.

An hour-and-a-half passed slowly by and I was wondering why we were not moving on since nothing interesting, except for a flock of Sultan Tits, was happening avian-wise. The other birders who joined us earlier were also hanging around. It seemed like they were waiting for something. Then everybody got excited as a small flock of tiny birds landed on the tree trunk across the road. Apparently they (and our guide) were waiting for this. Although the Black-thighed Falconet was a lifer for us, somehow we didn't feel as thrilled as our confreres. For one thing, the small raptors were terribly backlit and quite high up on the tree. 

Obviously, our 2 hour stop over in this place was our guide's plan to show us the Falconet because when he saw that we already took photos of the said bird, he said we can now go to Kaeng Krachan.

We knew beforehand that a major road inside the park was closed and will be for this year and the first half of 2020. Nevertheless, we were told that we might still be able to see the Black-and-red Broadbill and the Long-tailed Broadbill, our target birds for this trip. When we arrived at the "camp" Son left us at the place where some photos of the park were displayed. He roamed around playing bird calls almost non stop. We decided to look around on our own. We did see some birds but none were lifers. Except for one which I didn't even know until we were already back here in the Philippines and I was reviewing our photographs. It turned out that one of the birds we saw was a lifer - the Large Woodshrike.

Nine in the morning and still no broadbills. At that point, Son gave up and decided to take us back to our lodge. There was still ample time before lunch so Cynthia and I went to the lake. On the way there a couple waved at us and pointed at something in the trees. We hurried over to where they were and thanked our "angels" for our 41st lifer - the Brown Boobok also known as Brown Hawk Owl.

Games, the owner of Baan Maka, scheduled us to visit another hide that afternoon. We left around 2 pm. However, when we arrived at the place there was only one spot available. When I tried sitting on the small chair, I noticed that because of the uneven ground it was on, it was tilting and therefore I could not hold my camera steadily (I did not have my tripod with me). So I decided that we would just leave and that the entrance fee we paid be returned to us. Apparently our driver informed Games of the situation because as we were leaving, she came to the place and berated the owner of the hide for telling her that there were still space available when actually there wasn't. The owner was a bit apologetic and told Games that he had another hide at a different place and that nobody was using it. So he took us there and apparently it was newly built and the birds were not that used to it yet. Still, he assured us that birds will come. We settled in and hoped that there would be birds indeed. Thankfully, there were. We even got one more lifer there - the Chinese Blue Flycatcher.

The driver promised to pick us up at 5:30 pm. By 5 my wife and I both agreed to call it a day. Good thing that as soon as we got back to road, our driver was already there.

There was still enough light that afternoon so we went to the lake where Games and Ian were celebrating their Valentine's Day.  Across the lake Cynthia saw a big black bird perched on a branch. "Darter!" I exclaimed. Hearing me, Games smiled and corrected me, saying,  "Little Cormorant". Now that was lifer #43 for us

Despite getting six more lifers that day, it was not exactly how I had hoped it would be. Not seeing our target broadbills somehow was disappointing. That in happened during Heart's Day added a bit of sadness even. Isn't it strange that "heart" and "hurt" sound so much alike?

That night, after a light dinner, my wife, noticing my gloomy mood, told me "It's ok, we have each other".  And that is what Valentine's Day is all about.

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