Bird photography in Phetchabun Thailand-Review 2018

a grey white and black drongo that migrates to Thailand
Ashy Drongo(Chinese White Face)

Bird photography in Phetchabun Thailand during 2018 proved fruitful with plenty of species photographed. During the year apart from photographing local birds around the house and patch I increased my visits to Tat Mok and Nam Nao National Parks. Both of these parks are fairly close to where I live in Upper Thailand.

For this years review I shall look at these three geographical areas rather that splitting species into common birds, summer migrants, winter migrants and passage migrants like I did for my bird photography review of 2017.

Garden and Patch Birds

I recorded 111 species of bird either in my garden or in the patch surrounding the house during 2018. This total includes fly-overs and is an increase of 9 species over 2017.

Some notable new species that actually appeared in the garden included Chinese White-faced Ashy Drongo, Ashy Minivet, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, Violet Cuckoo, Barred Buttonquail, Black-winged Cuckooshrike, Black-naped Monarch and a Two-barred/Greenish Warbler.

Two uncommon raptors, a Booted Eagle and a Greater Spotted Eagle where briefly observed from my house in the Autumn raptor migration along with a possible sighting of a Amur Falcon.

Tat Mok National Park

During my many visits to Tat Mok National Park in 2018 I recorded 77 species of birds. I added several new species which included Asian Emerald Cuckoo, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Crested Goshawk, Great Hornbill, Rosy Minivet, Crimson Sunbird, Little Spiderhunter and a Banded Kingfisher.

Bird photography in this park continued to be a challenge, with the birds quite difficult to find in places that lend themselves to photography.

Nam Nao National Park

I only visited Nam Nao National Park on three occasions in 2018 and recorded just 38 species of bird. There are of course lots more species there(200+) but I only concentrated in the open and more public areas where photography is much easier and there is less chance of encountering leeches.

From a photography point of view my most memorable encounter was with a Velvet Fronted Nuthatch, while Red-billed Blue Magpie and White-crested Laughingthrush frequently proved to be very willing subjects. I also manged to photograph five species of woodpecker in just one visit!

Photographic Equipment

2018 proved to be an expensive year for my bird photography gear! Disaster struck in July when I had a senior moment and left my Canon EOS 80D and Canon 400mm f5.6 L lens outside overnight in heavy rain. Despite Canon Thailand getting the camera working again, it does not seem to be the machine it once was! The lens appears OK mind!

Given that I was a month without a camera I decided to invest in a 2nd hand spare body in the form of a Canon EOS 7D mkII. Although I like many features on this camera, particularly the AF system, I do find the image quality comes 2nd to the 80D.

I also invested in a second-hand Canon 300mm f4 L IS lens, to date I am not too impressed with this, although it’s nice to have IS and a wider aperture.

Summary

Overall a very good year for bird photography in Phetchabun Thailand. I have recorded and photographed(in most cases) 159 species of birds which is an increase of 48 on 2017.

Although I am not really interested in having lots of ticks on a list my e-Bird account tells me that my life total for Thailand now stands at 179 species- so I guess that’s about 14% of the Birds of Thailand!

Looking Forward to 2019

While I expect the garden/patch to produce the odd new species I plan to spend more time in the local national parks, I am sure Nam Nao will produce some good opportunities and if I can find a good location, then I am also confident that Tat Mok will produce some goodies. Given that the two parks are interlinked with similar habitat this should be possible.

Birding Pals

You might be interested to know that I am a Thailand based BirdingPal. This is an organisation that puts birders worldwide in touch with each other so they might share a day out birding together in a pals local area. Membership is open to anyone.