It’s great to be back in Thailand once again and having met up with Nigel, Daryl, Jeff & Heather late last night we were all assembled at 5.30am and ready for the drive towards Khao Yai. We had a lovely clear blue sky to see us on our way and after an hour and a half pulled in to the famous site of Wat Praphuttabaht Noi, home of Limestone Wren-babbler. It is a nice little spot with a Buddhist temple surrounded by tall limestone crags and within a matter of just a few minutes we were watching a pair of wren-babblers clambering around the boulders at the base of the cliffs. These disappeared after a minute or so, but we then discovered another pair which were on view for around ten minutes. Superb!
Other birds here are not numerous but we took our time and had nice views of a Peregrine carrying some prey, Coppersmith Barbet, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, both Asian Brown and Taiga Flycatchers, a female Black-naped Monarch, Black-naped Oriole, Olive-backed Sunbird, Yellow-browed Warbler, Long-tailed Macaque, Variable Squirrel, and just before we left a huge Lineated Barbet flew in to a tall tree right next to us.
So leaving here we drove on for another couple of hours to Khao Yai, seeing a group of Red-breasted Parakeets along the way, plus a fine male Plain-backed Sparrow near the entrance gate. Once inside the park we headed straight to a stake-out which was home to a stunning White-throated Rock-thrush and male Mugimaki Flycatcher. Both of these birds were extremely confiding and waiting for us to put some food down and flew in right beside us as soon as we arrived. It is quite amazing to think these birds have been returning to the very same spot for the last 4 or 5 years.
There was also a bold White-rumped Shama hopping around the leaf litter right in front of us as well. A short walk from here only gave us Black-crested Bulbul and White-bellied Erpornis so we decided to head to the Park HQ for lunch.
Afterwards we drove deeper into the park, seeing a very close and obliging Bright-headed Cisticola along the way. Normally you wouldn't get excited about a cisticola but this one came in so close and lingered that you simply have to enjoy the bird. And we had a bonus find at the same spot, in a Rufescent Prinia (a new bird for this tour), before walking along the road for a couple of hours.
A Grey-backed Shrike was scoped before we found a large fruiting tree and a Moustached Barbet also looked nice in the scope, whilst a Yellow-vented Flowerpecker was seen as well and perched views of Mountain Imperial-pigeon are always a bonus.
Next up, an Orange-breasted Trogon flew over Nigel and Jeff, whilst a little further along we had Puff-throated and Grey-eyed Bulbuls, Dark-necked Tailorbird, Thick-billed, Fire-breasted and Yellow-vented Flowerpeckers, Brown-rumped Minivet, brief Black-throated Sunbird and Stripe-throated Bulbul. Scope views of a female Wreathed Hornbill were much appreciated by everyone,
Driving back we stopped for another walk and scored with two males and a female Siamese Fireback feeding beside the road. Then a cracking male Red-headed Trogon put in an appearance, followed by a reasonably close Collared Owlet, several White-crested Laughingthrushes and a brief Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush. We then spent the last hour of daylight beside a large pool waiting for needletails to come down to drink – which they didn’t, so had to console ourselves with plenty of Asian Palm Swifts a and a few Himalayan Swiftlets. As dusk settled several Great Eared-Nightjars hawked for insects around us. They are simply stunning birds, looking for all the world like a harrier and boy did they give good close views. It was also nice to see Large-tailed Nightjar here, and a Grey Nightjar was a huge bonus as well.