After picking up Paul in the early hours, we set off for the park. We arrived at Kaeng Krachan at around 6am, quickly dropped our gear at Samarn Birdcamp and headed in. The first bird of the day was the Black-Thighed Falconet. What a great little raptor it was, swooping in from a high tree with prey in its beak to feed its young. We stayed around this spot for a while snapping Oriental Pied Hornbills, Hair Crested Drongos and a Green-Billed Malkoha collecting material and building its nest.
We headed a little further along the road and soon spotted a pair of Black and Red Broadbills and a Blue-Eared Barbet which was busily in and out of his hole feeding young. Further up, near Bang Kran campsite we saw Green-Eared Barbets, Black and Yellow Broadbills, Thick-Billed Pigeon, Banded Bay Cuckoo and Asian Fairy Bluebird along with many others.
Along the road between the streams we were blessed to see a Javan Frogmouth sitting on her nest. A rare bird to find, as it sits almost motionless and its camouflage is amazing. Truly an amazing looking bird which warranted the amount of pictures taken.
One of Paul’s target birds was the Hooded Pitta, so I made a few enquiries with a few people as to whether it had been seen yet this year. Everyone was giving me the same bad news and saying it hadn’t been seen yet this year, so I decided we would do this……We headed up to a known spot and set up the hides. It only took about 20 minutes and a little playback before 3 individuals were calling back.. One to the left, one to the right and one directly behind us !!! Then it happened, one flew up and perched on a branch right in front of us, Paul rapidly clicked away and rattled off a good few shots, then it was gone. I believe this was the first pictures taken this year, well done Paul…
At about 1:30 we headed up the road to Panoen Thung. At the Km27 mark we spotted Long Tailed Broadbills and Mountain Imperial Pigeons among others. We tried for the Ratchet-Tailed Treepie, but it didn’t show.. Up at the Orchid Trail a Red-Bearded Bee-Eater showed well. We headed back down at 4 and headed back to the resort to meet up with Japie.
Day 2. Back into the park at 6:30, we again stopped for the Falconet which showed really well, perching on a low branch this time. An Oriental Pied Hornbill was feeding in a low bush, which gave the chance for some great shots. We stopped the same places again for Japie to photograph the birds from the previous day and then headed back for the Hooded Pitta. We sat for around 2 or 3 hours, but sadly there was to be no sounds or sightings of this “mythical bird”. A walk between the streams turned up a few more birds, including a Dusky Broadbill and Crested Serpent Eagle. Although 3 different Pittas were calling, we didn’t get any sightings.
After lunch, the rain came and put a dampener on the day. We tried for more birds around the campsite and along the road between showers, but we didn’t fair to well. As we left the park we managed to get a fair few more birds around the lanes and fields. So, it was back to the resort for some great food and conversation.
Day 3. We had already made a reservation at Luung Sin’s waterhole and a Blue-Winged Pitta had been seen there the day before. Unfortunately, we had had more rain during the night and the birding was slow. Not much showed apart from a Hill Blue Flycatcher, Brown Cheeked Fulvetta, Red Jungle Fowl and Streak-Eared Bulbul. A very frustrating morning !! The drive back to Bangkok still turned up a good few lifers including, Baya, Streaked and Golden Weavers, Bronze-Winged Jacana, and White Fronted Waterhen.
Overall, a really nice trip with 2 really great guys.. Many birds were seen and some great photos taken. Can’t wait to meet up again to nail the Pittas…