-With Ian and Alec Gillespie
The day started at 6.30 AM at Sri Phang Nga National Park. The weather was cool with overcast skies and few birds were in the open. A couple of Abbot’s Babbler were showing well near the bamboo forest near the entrance to the access road and along the way we flushed what appeared to be a Lesser Fish Eagle which was perched on a limb overhanging the stream. Great Hornbill flew overhead and the sound of Great Argus and Bushy Crested Hornbill calling made for a lovely ambiance as we worked our way down the track towards the clearing.
At the clearing we a found few birds of note, the first being a fabulous Green Broadbill which we were able to tape in without too much difficulty (rather surprising as this particular species is not easy to find at Sri Phang Nga). Shortly after that we connected with a Black and Yellow Broadbill in the same tree. Both birds seemed to be attracted to a particular fruiting tree; however, much of the fruit was now gone and pickings were slim.
Other birds of note included Chestnut breasted Malkoha, Ochraecous Bulbul, Buff vented Bulbul and Blue winged Leafbird.
Seeing that the Banded Pitta had been showing well for the past few months, we decided to try our luck and spend some time at the stakeout for the bird. We made our way down to Ton Deng Waterfall, picking up Chestnut naped Forktail and Pin striped Tit-Babbler along the way. Down at the stakeout we laid out some worms and waited for the bird to appear but after thirty minutes and a few nasty leech bites, all we got was a fleeting glimpse of a pitta in the far distance and a single White rumped Shama displaying nearby.
Back at the campsite we caught up on our lists over a hearty lunch and watched as the rain pelted down in buckets. We also found out that the pair of pittas at the stakeout had now moved on deeper into the forest and were in the process of building their nest. The season of the Banded Pitta had come to an end.
A ranger also informed us that he’d heard Hooded Pitta calling near the bamboo that morning. With the heavy rain coming down, there was no chance we could have found it so we decided to move on.
Our next stop was supposed to be at Baan Lim along the bridge over the Phang Nga River but with rain coming down in torrents, we canceled the stop and moved on to Phang Nga Town.
Still on the hunt for a pitta, our next stop was at Baan Bang Phat mangroves where we walked the trail looking for a few of the specialties there. With cloudy skies and poor weather hampering us, we managed to connect with most of the usuals such as Mangrove Whistler, Collared Kingfisher and Ashy Tailorbird, dipping on the White chested Babbler and a few other species due to the high tide. We did manage to score a few specials though: Brown winged Kingfisher, Black bellied Malkoha and Mangrove Pitta were treats we weren’t expecting.
Taping in the Mangrove Pitta was not an easy task, even though there were a number of birds responding. In the end one bird came flying straight at us, making a hasty mid-air u-turn after nearly colliding with us.
We also heard Ruddy Kingfisher calling but were unable to tape it in.
Both Ian and Alec wanted better looks at the pitta so we made our last stop at Ao Phang Nga National Park, with the hope of also connecting with the lovely resident Black and Red Broadbills there. When we arrived our attention was drawn to a lone Mangrove Pitta calling high in the trees. Initial attempts to connect with it proved difficult until I finally found it 20 feet up in the boughs of a mangrove tree behind the ranger’s residences. The bird was nonchalant and refused to move despite the commotion at the base of the tree; a good thing for us as we were able to get good, long looks at it.
Other birds in the area included Brown winged Kingfisher, Little Egret and what had to be a feral Red Whiskered Bulbul.
Before heading back we stopped over at the pier where Alec photographed a Red breasted Swallow perched on a telephone wire.
All in all it was a good day, despite the foul weather. 60 species in rainy weather is not bad and being able to connect with a pitta was by far the biggest highlight of the day.
The full report, with the birdlist included, will be posted in the Reports section shortly.