Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Thailand Day 3: Baan Song Nok

Literally meaning "A home to spot birds", Baan Song Nok is the home of an old lady, a retired teacher named Khun Ba Aek.  It is located near Kaeng Krachan National Park; about twenty minutes drive from Samarn Bird Camp.   

When we got to the site, Guide K directed us to the bird hides at the back of the property where we quickly set up our gear and waited for the birds. The hide was basically a tent with chairs and an opening that allows the photographers (and their cameras) to look out to a small clearing where a couple of watering holes have been placed.  Birds and other animals would go to these watering holes, especially in summer.  Beyond the small clearing is a wooded area somewhat similar to the LMEP mini forest.

After we had settled down on the chairs, Noulin said he will roam around the property to look for the Blue-winged Pitta.  Not long after he left, we detected some movement in the forest beyond the clearing.  It was a pair of Red Jungle Fowls.  Unfortunately, the female did a quick pass while the more colorful male stayed in the shadows. Thus I managed only four "docu" shots, all blurred.  Sharing the least blurred of the four. 

Female Red Jungle Fowl, Labuyo in Tagalog, Ilas in Cuyonon

A few minutes later, a small brownish bird showed up and took a dip in one of the pools.  A female Tickell's Blue Flycatcher...a lifer for me (#23 in this trip and #299 overall). Curiously, the female doesn't have any tinge of blue in it, just like the Palawan Blue Flycatcher.

Tickell's Blue Flycatcher, female, Lifer #299 (23rd for the trip)

Sitting and waiting is part of a birder's life.  Unfortunately, a horde of mosquitoes decided they like Filipino blood.  There was a "katol" in the hide but it was ineffective. We liberally lathered insect repellents but to no avail.  (I discovered later that mine was expired :-( ).   After sometime with no action, Rey decided to go out of the hide and join Noulin.  And after several more mosquito bites, we all decide to follow and go birding in the garden.  Almost as soon as we left the hide, Conrad's sharp eyes spotted a Common Tailorbird but as is typical of Tailorbirds, it cannot keep still.  Sharing one of the better ones.

Common Tailorbird, Lifer # 280 (seen on Thailand Day 1, #5 for the trip)

Just seconds after we saw the Tailorbird, a Black-headed Oriole appeared high up in one of the trees so we all trained our cameras and tripods on it, all the while silently willing it to come closer.  But, it never did.  

Black-headed Oriole, Lifer # 300, (24th for the trip)

When it became apparent that the Oriole had no plans of leaving its perch, we drifted to different parts of the property.  I found Rey having coffee at the reception area, which is really a sort of a shed with its sides open and there are perches all around.  The owner would place bananas on these perches and different birds would come.  So I set up my gear and waited.  In just a few seconds, a Streak-eared Bulbul arrived.  Having seen it at Samarn Bird Camp on the morning of Day 1, I consider this bird my first lifer in Thailand.  However, I didn't have any good photos until Baan Song Nok.

Streak-eared Bulbul, Lifer #277 (first seen on Day 1, 1st on this trip)

The bananas did not only attract birds but also this cute chipmunk. I believe this is the Indo-Chinese Ground Squirrel.  At one point there were three of four of them fighting for the bananas (in addition to the birds!).

Indo-Chinese Ground Squirrel

The Golden-fronted Leafbird which I saw, but was not able to photograph, on Day 2, also made an appearance.

Golden-fronted Leafbird, Lifer # 297 (first seen on Day 2, 22nd on this trip)

Noulin came running and said that the Pitta has made an appearance and we all ran as fast as our tripods and cameras allowed. Arranged ourselves inside the portable hides that he had set up and waited. And the mosquitoes started feasting on us again...

A few short minutes later, our target bird arrived and we ignored the mosquitoes.

Blue-winged Pitta, Lifer # 301, (24th for the trip)

It suddenly rained and we had to rush back to the reception area and got drenched in the process but by this time we were all sporting ear to ear grins. When the rain eased up a bit, we crossed the street where a Thai version of a carinderia was located and celebrated our morning with a simple, hot, and delicious meal. Thai food of course.

After our sumptuous lunch, we trooped back to the reception area where we had coffee while shooting the various birds that perched and partook of the bananas. Aside from the Streak-eared Bulbul and the Leafbird, several other avian denizens also made an appearance.

First among them was the Stripe-throated Bulbul. A beautiful bulbul, if I may say so. 

Stripe-throated Bulbul, Lifer # 302 (25th for Thailand)

Followed by the Sooty-headed Bulbul.

Sooty-headed Bulbul, Lifer #303 (26th for Thailand)

Conrad's ever sharp eyes spotted a bird on a tree beside the reception area and we all rushed to his side.  It turned out to be a Lineated Barbet but there was no open shot.  After several docu shots, I went back inside the reception area and suddenly the barbet landed near the bananas! Since it was a much larger bird, there was a mad (but quiet), scramble to adjust our distance.  For those with a zoom lens (like me), all we had to do was twist the barrel to get a bigger view but for Ed and Alex who have big telephoto primes, it meant moving back, or in this case, moving out (of the small cottage/reception area).

Lineated Barber, Lifer # 304 (27th for Thailand)

While the barbet was putting on a show, the bulbuls, leafbird, and the chipmunks were also present creating a chaos in the feeding area.  Soon a new bird, a Common Myna, joined the fray and started fighting with the barbet. The Myna is not a lifer for me though as I had already previously seen it in Penang.

Common Myna

When the "commotion" died down, we decided to go back to the permanent hide.  Within a few minutes, the female Tickell's Blue Flycatcher showed up again followed by a Puff-throated Babbler.

Female Tickell's Blue Flycatcher

Puff-throated Babbler, Lifer #305 (28th for the trip)

With the mosquitoes continuing to bother us, we went out again and promptly saw a Common Iora, followed by an Indian Roller, Red-wattled Lapwings and a pair of Green-billed Malkohas which were too far for decent photos. 

Common Iora

Docu shot of an Indian Roller, Lifer # 306, (29th for the trip)

A pair of Red-wattled Lapwings

Finally, Noulin called us because it was time to go and we reluctantly left Baan Song Nok. It was indeed a home to spot birds.  I think I already know what to do when I retire :-)

However, our birding for the day was far from over.  On the way back we saw a Pied Hornbill near the gate of Samarn.  We stalked it for a time but unfortunately no decent photos. Not wanting to call it a day, we did a bit of birding at Samarn.  We saw some bulbuls and a tailorbird near our cottage. Then we saw a blackish bird near one of the trees beside our cottage and we tried to get a photo but it kept to the bushes.  We soon discovered that it had a chick on the ground that it was trying to help.  In order to get a better view, I went around another cottage and saw a familiar looking bird on the ground, a Malaysian Pied Fantail.  It looks very similar to our Philippine Pied Fantail.  In fact I believe they were once both called Pied Fantail until the species was split. So this is a lifer for me :-) 

Malaysian Pied Fantail, Lifer # 307, (30th for the trip)

A few minutes later my target bird appeared but its was constantly moving that getting a photo was a challenge. I consider myself lucky that I was able to get one decent shot. Noulin later identified it as a Racket-tailed Treepie   

Racket-tailed Treepie, Lifer # 308, (31st for the trip)

And later while we were waiting for our dinner at the dining area, the Treepie perched in one of the trees across the driveway.  Since I was the only one with a camera and lens, (the others' lenses were in the rooms), I was the only one able to get this shot.  

Racket-tailed Treepie.

And with that, Day 3 ended.  

1 comment:

  1. Very nice images and birding tales Chin of a very memorable sortie Thailand. :)