I spent 9 days in central and southern Thailand in February with the sole purpose of seeing three target species; Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Gurney's Pitta and Banded Pitta. The Spoon-billed Sandpiper was the driving force behind the trip and the must see bird due to its endangered nature whilst the Pittas were must see additionals because they were just so damn cool.

So how would I summarize the trip and Thailand for birding. Well I successfully saw and photographed my three targets which was a major plus point however the rest of the trip was very hard work and very underwhelming and overly disappointing. Kaeng Krachen National Park and Khao Nor Chu Chi (KNC) being largely poor whilst Krung Ching Waterfall was an improvement in numbers and quality of birds. Apart from the big three and a few very good birds scattered throughout the trip I would have to rate this trip as my least favorite I have been on, ousting Australia at the bottom of the birding destinations I have visited. It is also the first country that I have been to birding where I ended up coming home early, I was to have a further 4 days at the end of the tour to return for the Spoonies and Kaeng Krachen but as I was exhausted to the temperature, high humidity and disappointed in the birding that I changed my flight and returned home. This was not to do with the group that I was with just my own overall disappointment with the birding in-country.

The difficult birding made bird photography even more difficult and getting any decent images from the trails was nigh on impossible whilst the waders at Laem Pak Bia and Pak Thale were very skittish and mostly very distant and difficult to get close to.

I wouldn't say Thailand is a bad country for birding as there were certainly some outstanding birds seen but it just wasn't my kind of birding. I won't be writing a trip report this time, another first, but will summarize my personal favorite birds and highlights here.

Highlights: Spoon-billed Sandpiper (5-7 birds seen), Banded Pitta, Gurney's Pitta, White-faced Plover, Malaysian Plover, Sultan Tit, Christmas Island Frigatebird, Black-and-yellow Broadbill, Great Hornbill, Short-clawed Otter, White-handed Gibbon, Whiskered Tree-swift, Javan Frogmouth, Wallace's Hawk Eagle.


Thailand - February 2011

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