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The Forest Nursery in Talang is a collection of secondary growth and forest plantation which the Department of Natural Resources keeps as stock. Some of these trees are reared for replanting in forest reclamation programs while others are used for ceremonial purposes or just kept as part of the reference selection.

The area is divided into two sections, the nursery and the secondary forest. These two sectors are divided by line of electric pylons which cut through middle of the forest.

The first sector is composed of forest plantation, with a number of mature trees interspersed throughout the area. This area is where the office and residences of the RFD staff are located. The area is also a temporary home for hundreds of dogs from Phuket Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and Soi Dog Foundation. Some of these dogs have managed to escape from their holding cells and now wander through the area, preying on mammals and birds, effectively reducing much of the wildlife which once thrived here.

Visiting birders will find some of the dogs to be very friendly and most will eagerly play the role of security, accompanying birders on the trek down the trail and happily scaring off everything and anything on the path. These dogs do not understand commands to disperse and their presence only causes problems for birdwatchers.

The second and largest sector is mostly composed of secondary forest and shrubbery, stretching clear back into the hills. Much of the secondary forest in the area has suffered from encroachment, and the entire sector is surrounded by rubber plantation on all sides. In 2009 the police were called in to rout out a number of armed men who had taken up residence in the western sector. While the media claims these men were escaped convicts, there was a suspicion that these men were actually hired by some influential people looking to expand their business interests. Many of the trees in the sector were ringed, which later killed the trees, leaving large parts of the forest barren and lifeless.


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This map shows the entire forest sector, starting from the main road (yellow stripe) on the right hand side to the Talang Technical College on the left. The thin brown line in the middle is the row of electric pylons which cut through the heart of the property.

The area is teeming with mosquitoes, so visitors should remember to bring along plenty of deet-based repellent and keep their arms and legs covered. Dengue fever is an ongoing problem in the area and some of new strains of viruses have proven to be exceptionally dangerous, resulting in a number of deaths in Phuket.

Birding

Forest cover in Phuket is dwindling drastically, so any place with trees that is undisturbed is going to attract birds. While the Forest Nursery is not an ideal birdwatching site, it does offer a number of species which are scarce or absent in other parts of the island.

In this review we will cover each sector of the forest separately, as the habitat differences play an important role in what species of birds can be found.

Visitors to the site will arrive first at the forest plantation. The very front of the sector (where the RFD housing and dog shelters are located) is blessed with a number of old trees, some of which are very tall. This area is quite productive in the mornings and attract birds like Ashy Minivet, Plain backed Sparrow, Red throated Barbet, Coppersmith Barbet, Forest Wagtail, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Velvet fronted Nuthatch and White rumped Munia.

Greater and Common Flameback also make an appearance from time to time, as do Blue winged and Hooded Pitta in the wet season.

At night the area comes alive with owls, and the area is home to Spotted Wood Owl, Brown Hawk Owl, Collared Scops Owl and on occasion, Oriental Scops Owl. There is a possibility that Oriental Bay Owl is also present in the area, although no surveys taken in recent years.

Mammals such as Colugo and Slow Loris have also been spotted here.

From here birders will make their way through the plantation forest. The forest in this sector is reminiscent of the forest around Khao Nor Chuchi, except that when one looks diagonally through the forest, it’s evident that the trees were planted in rows. Much of the forest was planted around the same time and even though all the trees are genuine forest specimens, the fact that they are of the same age makes it less appealing to many species of birds. This sector is particularly quiet, with even the most common forest birds such as Abbott’s Babbler and Stripe throated Tit Babbler absent from the area.

Closer to the electric pylons, birding starts to improve, with species such as bulbuls and sunbirds foraging among the trees. These birds are assumed to be visiting from the second sector just beyond the clearing. Emerald Dove is also encountered here from time to time.

The clearing where the electric pylons are located has its own set of species, mostly common or open country birds. Most commonly encountered are Brown Shrike, Pacific Swallow, Barn Swallow, Greater Coucal, Indian Roller, Dollarbird, Oriental Magpie Robin, Paddyfeild Pipit and Common Tailorbird.

Barred Buttonquail are sometimes seen, especially if birders are quiet and willing to wait around for a spell.

The highlights of this area are the Black thighed Falconets which feed in the area in the mornings and late evenings. These diminutive raptors use the high tension cables as perches from which to launch their sorties over the open grassland. The birds are conspicuous and easy to spot when present but birders should be aware of their feeding times and make an effort to show up at the right time of the day.

During the passage months a number of raptors like to use the pylons as perches, notably Eurasian Kestrel, Black Baza, Peregrine Falcon and Chinese Sparrowhawk.

The second sector of the forest is composed of secondary growth and mixed forest. This area is undoubtedly the more interesting and productive of the two sectors and offers a chance to find some forest species.

Birds found in this area include Crow billed Drongo, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Black naped Oriole, Red eyed Bulbul, Olive winged Bulbul, Ochraceous Bulbul, Thick billed Green Pigeon, Crimson Sunbird and Purple Sunbird.

A number of raptors like to roost in the area during the migrating and winter months, ranging from Chinese Sparrowhawk and Black Baza to Crested Honey Buzzard and Booted Eagle.

The forest trail winds up through the hills and ends at a rubber plantation about two kilometers from the main entrance.

Directions to Talang Forest Nursery


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The Forest Nursery is located along Highway 402, the main artery which connects Phang Nga with Phuket town. The station is situated near the airport intersection, about 37 kilometers from Phuket town. On this map you can see Phuket Airport on the left hand side. The Talang Forest Nursery is located near the middle of the map along Highway 402 heading north towards the airport and Sarasin Bridge.

Personal Opinion

Pros: One of a few remaining forest sites in Phuket; some days will offer more species than Khao Prataow, the other main forest reserve on the island; one of few sites in Phuket where Purple Sunbird and Black thighed Falconet can be seen; easily accessible from the main road; no entry fee.
Cons: Moody for birding, some days are good while other days are very quiet; forest degraded in some parts; dogs and mosquitoes are a major problem; lacks protection needed to preserve the site for the long-term future.
Rating:   – Average –

The Talang Forest Nursery is blessed to have a small section of natural woodland and with so little forest coverage left in Phuket, any patch of greenery is going to attract birds. The beauty of the area is that it seems to be quite undisturbed, allowing a number of uncommon species to thrive around there. However, because of the poor quality of forest, the site seems to restrict the number of species which can reside there for the long-term.

After a few visits to this site, I feel it has about the same potential as Khao Prataow Wildlife Reserve in Talang. If the RFD can afford to offer it increased protection and allow the natural forest to regenerate, it could become a better birding attraction in the future. Only time can tell what will become of this site.

This page was last updated in January, 2014.

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