These trip reports for February 2019 cover my visits to local National Parks in Phetchabun Province Thailand. With the end of the cool season in sight I have been trying to get out as much as possible before the weather makes for some uncomfortable birding.
I started the month off visiting Tat Mok National Park on the 5th of February, a beautiful sunny, clear day although the temperature got up to over 30C in the afternoon. Without doubt the highlight of this day and indeed the year so far was when I discovered a pair of Eared Pitta foraging in dead leaf litter not to far from the visitor centre about 11 km from the park entrance. These are my first ever Pitta and one that is not seen too often either. A very close encounter with a Red Junglefowl provided the top photographic opportunity of the day.
With the thought of perhaps seeing the Eared Pitta again I headed back to Tat Mok NP on the 8th February. Sadly no sign of the Pitta but I did record two new species for the park. A Mountain Imperial Pigeon put in a brief appearance and when I stopped near the park HQ I found a Claudia’s Warbler. I was also very pleased to get an image of a Streaked Spiderhunter feeding on a banana flower, a photographic target of mine for a while.
Again the weather was fine but very hot for this time of the year.
On Wednesday 13th February I headed up to Nam Nao NP for my monthly visit. A beautiful day weather wise although still warm with occasional cloud cover and very few people around. Sadly the birds were a bit sparse too! However I managed to clock up two new species for my park list. A pair of Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush and a Large Woodshrike.
I also recorded a couple of pairs of White-faced Jays and got some decent photographs of a Grey-headed Woodpecker.
Monday 18th February I returned to Tat Mok. A pleasant day. Where I got to see the Wreathed Hornbills back at the nest hole and had a very close encounter with a Silver Pheasant. The Pheasant approached me as I was taking photograph’s and tried to attack me. This led me to doing some research on captive bred birds in Thai national parks since I believe the Silver Pheasant is a captive bred release. It seems I am probably right given there is plenty of evidence suggesting that these birds are often subject of a hard release in inappropriate places and numbers.
On Thursday 21st of February I decided to visit Nam Nao NP as the weather remained good. To be honest it was my worst day at this normally productive park. This may be due to the very dry conditions, but birds were in short supply and photo opportunities even less. I even walked the shorter of the loop trails but to no avail apart from brief views of several White-crowned Forktails by the stream.
I didn’t even bother to submit a checklist!!
In the final week of the shortest month I visited Tat Mok NP on the 25th and 28th. Certainly more productive than Nam Nao but birds were still in short supply. That said I managed to add a Little Heron and Ashy Bulbul to my species list for the park. Close views of a Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo, not previously seen in the park, were also recorded.
The male Wreathed Hornbill was also present at the nest hole on the 25th.
On the 28th I had another brush with the Silver Pheasant near the park HQ when I spotted the bird near it’s favoured spot. Again the bird tried to attack me and even when I exited the scene to the car it followed me and stood in the road blocking my exit. Quite funny really but also a bit sad given that these birds are normally very shy. See my comments above regarding captive breeding.
In fact close encounters were the order of the day, with a pair of Rufous-winged Buzzard sitting at the roadside on a low branch and good views of the Little Heron I had previously recorded. I even managed some decent photographs of the Heron which was pleasing given how shy the bird is.
As I left the park on the 25th I also spotted two Black Baza, not an uncommon raptor, but previously unobserved in Tat Mok.
An excellent months birding and photography with several new species added to my park and life lists. Of course the Eared Pitta has to be the top bird observed but I managed a few decent photographs of other species too, notably, Red Junglefowl, Silver Pheasant and Little Heron.