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Friday 23 February 2018

Thailand Day 11-13 Blue Pitta

The very impressive Great Hornbill and we saw two together and heard others nearby on trail km 33.

  For my last few days I was still based at Pa Gluay Mia Campsite and the highlight on day 11 was 1 male and 3 female Siamese Fireback Pheasant but only the females showed well deep in the forest not far away from the campsite. The following day there were more photographers at the Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo area with still three birds still showing very well. Maybe they ain't got bins, as I keep pointing out but at least their shooting with a camera as there is a lot of birds killed in Thailand with guns and nets! When the photographers had moved on, I made my ways back into the forest and when I returned to the cuckoo site, I met a birder. He turned out to be Markus Graig from Austria who was responsible in finding the first WP's Grey-throated Martin in Kuwait last year where he is working! I showed him where the cuckoo were and also told him that there is another promising site to see Blue Pitta that I was told about this morning by a Thai birder. The Thai told me, go into the forest and you will see it! I left Markus to it and went to get dinner from the cafe. Marcus turned up at the cafe, that was not open. He told me that I could join him in his rented 4x4 to try for the Pitta. Ideal! Before we left for the pitta we had at the campsite area, Indochinese Cuckooshrike, Yellow-vented and Fire-breasted Flowerpecker and Green-billed Malkoha.

Green-billed Malkoha

Indochinese Cuckooshrike
I also had 2 Little Spiderhunter before Markus arrived

This spider was also in the forest

  It was only a short drive up road and as we approached the site, which was just off the road goin SE towards Khoa Khieo Viewpoint, we almost hit 2 male Siamese Fireback Pheasant casually walking along the side of the road! However, they soon disappeared into the forest. We pulled up at the beginning of the trail to where the pitta is meant to be. I went in first and almost stood on a Blue Pitta!! It was directly in front of me as I entered the forest and hoped further away. Markus unfortunly only saw the back of the bird as it moved quickly through the low undergrowth. I was lucky and got very close range views but I didn't feel so good for Markus and despite us standing around for another hour waiting for it to return, it didn't! But we heard it on and off very near to us! We decided to try again tomorrow first thing tomorrow.

2 Siamese Fireback Pheasant performed well at the side of the road

    07.00 the following morning, we entered the forest but after an hour we gave up with no sight or sound of the pitta. There was a large mixed flock of birds moving through next to the road and Markus was identifying them with ease! Me, I would be getting my field guide out on Thailand mushrooms! I made a mistake and brought the wrong book with me instead of my field guide on Thailand birds. Thanks to Markus, nearly every species we saw was almost a new bird for both of us! Orange-breasted and Red-headed Trogon, Black-winged Cuckooshrike, 3 Golden-bellied Leafbird, 2 Sultan Tit, Dark-breasted Taylorbird, 4 White-bellied Erpornis, Two-barred Greenish, Yellow-browed and Pale-legged Leaf Warbler and a Needle-tail sp flew through. Up road we had an Oriental Honey Buzzard. 
  Returning to the car, we tried again for the pitta and after five minutes, Markus connected with it! It soon disappeared and we tracked it down again very briefly by it being vocal.

There were 2 Sultan Tit

Oriental Honey Buzzard

  We went away very happy and decided to try for the White-throated Blue Rockthrush that was seen a few days ago at the old headquarters. After a few hours of looking elsewhere, we could not get this one. However a large flock of Swallow on wires produced a few Rufous-bellied and singles of both Red-rumped and Wire-tailed Swallow. The latter species I wanted to get a photo of but they all got up and most flew off including the Wire-tailed. When Markus looked at the field guide, he discovered that Wire-tailed Swallow should not be in this area and are recorded in the NE Thailand!
  We decided to try out trail km 33 and as soon as we got out of the car, a birder put us on 2 Great Hornbill. On the trail itself we didn't see anything of real note and at 14.00, Markus dropped me off at the visitors center as I had to be at the gate entrance of the national Park as I was returning to Bangkok. The first car came around the corner and put my thumb out and was dropped off at Pak Chong. Here I asked for a minivan to Bangkok and was heading west with in minutes!
 Thanks to Markus, I would of not seen any of these species that I saw yesterday and today!
There were 4 Rufous-bellied Swallow and a rare sighting of a Wire-tailed Swallow with a large flock of Swallow


2 Great Hornbill were at km 33

When I took the sow-chee-ow into the NP when I first arrived, I sat next to John Prines brother!

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