Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Khao Yai in the Rain

Well what a day! It began with thick mist, low cloud and heavy rain which ran right through the morning and only stopped a couple of times before mid-afternoon. We cruised the roads for Siamese Fireback without any luck at all and when we got bored with this we drove up higher and amazingly had a male Silver Pheasant feeding quietly beside the road. I managed to get rubbish photos in the mist but what a moment – a lifer! It seems to me that every Tom, Dick and Bob comes here and ticks this bird and I’ve been the mug who always dips. Well no more my friends!!  

Silver Pheasant - record shot!!

Moving back down the hill, we had Lesser Coucal, a flyover Large Hawk-cuckoo and a few White-crested Laughingthrushes, Blue-winged Leafbird, and in the forest a couple of Pin-striped Tit-babblers. Dodging the extremely heavy showers we set about finding a Blue Pitta and sure enough there were a couple calling. So knowing how difficult this species is for a group to see, even one as small as mine, we waited quietly at the edge of the forest. Playing the call a couple of times and waiting, then repeating the process a few more times….. Nothing. One more try and it called off to our right, skittling across the forest floor at a rate of knots. We moved position, then manoeuvred again to somewhere else, going deeper into the forest but only David and I got onto it. Having pushed our luck too far, the heavens opened again and it was time to retreat.

After lunch at the Park HQ the weather appeared to be clearing up so we returned to our favourite stretch of road, stopping along the way to get cracking views of Bright-capped Cisticola. Another brief stop gave us more White-crested Laughingthruhes, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, and a distant Thick-billed Green-pigeon perched on a dead snag. The pitta was again our main focus and this time success for everyone! We had an awesome male walking back and forth right in front of us across a relatively open patch of forest right beside the road. After this morning’s efforts this was remarkable. We also got onto a Banded Broadbill as well, whilst an Orange-breasted Trogon also put in an appearance in the afternoon sunshine. Feeling buoyed by our success we walked further along the road and bumped into a flock with Ashy, Grey-eyed and Puff-throated Bulbuls, Radde’s and Two-barred Warbler, White-bellied Erpornis,  and Dark-necked Tailorbird. From here we drove to a nearby campsite and walked down the road to view a clearing where Gold-crested Mynas have been coming to roost, but all we had were Common Hill-mynas, although Crimson Sunbird and a flyover Wreathed Hornbill was also nice. I also heard a Coral-billed Ground-cuckoo in the distance but the presence of an Elephant moving up the slope towards us prompted a hasty retreat and when it came onto the road and began to follow us, the adrenalin kicked in and we were out of there. Driving out of the park at dusk we had to brake sharply when a herd of Elephants crashed out of the jungle right in front of us and crossed the road some 30 yards ahead. Ok well that was enough excitement for one day!

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