News and Information on Birding Sites Throughout Thailand and the Andaman

-With Peter Van Velzen from Holland.

Peter and I went out to together last year to photograph the Banded Pitta at Sri Phang Nga. This year he was back and wanted to visit another site in Phang Nga, this time to target some mangrove specialties.

We ended up spending most of the day at Ao Phang Nga National Park office, a small but bird-rich area surrounded by mangrove forest.

We arrived at 7 AM and started looking around near the restaurant. Rufous bellied Swallows were buzzing around and there were signs that some of the birds we spotted were fledglings, still under the protection and care of their mothers.

Mangrove Pitta called from the opposite side of the river and both Streak eared and Olive winged Bulbuls were busy feeding on the berries of fruiting palm trees.

Three Vernal Hanging Parrots were seen in a flowering coconut tree.

There was plenty of activity to keep a birder occupied but we were there to photograph. However, many of the species we encountered were not keen on being photographed.

Near the ranger accommodations we heard a Black and Red Broadbill calling and were alerted to a pair which was busy constructing a new nest. Their former nest had apparently been blown down by strong winds last year. There were a total of three nests in the area, one of which was already completed and occupied. The birds were very active in the area, rummaging through the trees for materials with which to construct their cribs.

A Ruddy Kingfisher was flushed from the opposite side of the canal and a juvenile Brown winged Kingfisher was heard calling incessantly for its mother. Mother kingfisher was seen flying up and down the canal, most likely delivering food to its hungry infant.

Common Kingfisher and Little Heron were seen feeding on the banks of the canal.

A Mangrove Pitta was heard but refused to come closer, so after a long vigil we decided to mix things up and visit the nature trail near Mor Kaeng intersection to see if there were any pittas around there.

The nature trail was pretty quiet with the exception of a male Streak breasted Woodpecker and three Mangrove Pittas calling from the other side of the road.

With the heat soaring at optimum levels, we decided to take a break and went off for a well-deserved lunch.

After lunch we visited Baan Bang Paht in search of Brahminy Kite in flight. The usual stakeouts for the bird were quiet, most likely due to the shrimp ponds being recently cleaned and restocked with larvae. We did managed to photograph one bird on a branch before it spotted us and darted for cover.

Things were quiet near the village of Baan Bang Paht, with only a pair of Collared Kingfishers to keep us entertained.

From there we headed back to Ao Phang Nga where we decided to make another run at the Mangrove Pitta. Against all odds the bird responded to playback. It was 2 PM in the afternoon. –What a miraculous stroke of luck!

The first bird came in close but never came down to the ground, refusing to give good looks for the camera. Thirty minutes later a second bird responded, this one being far more playful and aggressive than the first. We followed the bird, which ended up coming down to eye level but chose to keep discreet, hidden behind the labyrinth of exposed roots.

It took a few hours and despite the less than favorable circumstances, Peter got some good shots in.

The last bird for the day was the venerable Spotted Wood Owl of Thai Muang beach. The bird was spotted in the trees with some difficulty. I found it surprising that the bird was hanging around at the time as the annual Sea Turtle Fair was in full swing and the surrounding areas were filled with amusement rides and throngs of raucous revelers.

In all we saw over 30 species of birds but what was most important were the photographs we obtained.

I wish to thank Peter for his patience and perseverance and hopefully we will meet again in the future.

Categories: Featured, Field Report

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