This is one of the major reasons why I only take small groups to Thailand, but read on........
Spent the first few hours of daylight on the approach road to the first campsite this morning and picked up a few good birds, beginning with several Southern Brown Hornbills picking their way around some leafless trees in the valley below. There was also a Greater Yellownape, Common and Greater Flamebacks, Golden-crested Myna at last, Asian Drongo-cuckoo, another Black-and-red Broadbill, Orange-breasted Trogon, Large Woodshrike, Great Iora but no falconets…
During our lunch break back at the lodge a White-shouldered Starling was spotted in a flowering tree and equally unexpected was an Orange-headed Thrush that flew in next to us whilst we were drinking coffee in the dining area!
So back to the reason for small groups....... In the afternoon we visited one of the hides near Kaeng Krachen which overlooks a small drinking pool, arriving around 2.30pm and settled in for a long wait. We expected to wait in a hot hide, getting bitten by mosquitos and only seeing the odd bird every so often. In reality the time flew by and there was always activity, not only from a procession of great birds but by a variety of squirrels as well – which pleased some of us more than others! Oh and no biting insects!
|Lesser Mouse Deer|
Upon arrival we were amazed to see the first of 3 Lesser Mouse Deers coming in to some fruit put out by the owners and what a little darling it was too! Inside the first twenty minutes a group of 4 Bar-backed Partridges appeared and quietly fed in the leaf litter off to our right, but they didn’t hang around too long – and didn’t return at all. So a great start indeed.
|Bar-backed Partridge - note the red throat that this race shows|
Several Black-naped Monarchs came in for a bathe and, like everything else, perched up nicely for photographs. When a few Greater-necklaced Laughingthrushes flew in, they brought with them a pair of White-browed Scimitar-babblers and we really enjoyed studying these and all of the other birds, ‘up close and personal’.
As well as the monarchs, a trickle of other ‘blue flycatchers’ were eventually drawn in with Chinese Blue Flycatcher, a few Tickell’s Blue Flycatchers, and a female Blue-throated Flycatcher. At times there was a riot of activity with numerous species all arriving simultaneously and then a short lull of a few minutes before the next burst.
|Chinese Blue Flycatcher|
When 3 Scaly-breasted Partridges quietly crept in I was so pleased and relieved at the same time – a huge result.
Another sprinkling of stardust came when a Large Scimitar-babbler appeared but it only stayed for a few moments, as it is one of the shyest denizens of the forest and a truly tough bird to get a decent view of under normal circumstances.
Next up were a group of Brown-cheeked Fulvettas coming in for a bathe, followed by several Pin-striped Tit-babblers and later on a pair of Abbott’s Babblers as well.
|Abbott's and Puff-throated Babblers|
A Pied Fantail chose to fly through the hide we were sat in on several occasions, whilst Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush joined a party of greaters towards the end of the day.
|Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush|
|Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush|
But the final piece de resistance came when a stunning Slaty-legged Crake appeared, not once but twice, to bathe in the pool.
|Slaty-legged Crake - stunning isn't it...?|
I was totally stunned to be honest and never have I seen this shy, retiring, exceptionally skulking species out in the open. What a day and if only the Eared Pitta had come in instead of calling from some distance away, well that would have been cool too! And as you can see there's far too many photographs from this posting, but I wanted to convey just how busy the drinking pool was and how good the views were.
Feel sorry for the 'big' groups that don't get to experience this..... Lol