Birding Trip Reports March 2019 Phetchabun Thailand
I started my trips out off with a visit to Tat Mok NP on the 6th March. A very hot and sunny day with no cloud cover. The park was looking very dry and there was little bird life to be seen. However a close encounter with a Rufous-winged Buzzard which was actually perched at the roadside low down and another encounter with the rather nasty Silver Pheasant near the Park HQ made it worthwhile. I also recorded some images of a confiding Raddes Warbler.
The real treat of the day however came as I was leaving the park, I had stopped near the first viewpoint and was rewarded with a few photo opportunities by some obliging Red-whiskered Bulbuls’, that was until a Thai family turned up and wanted to talk! This rather put paid to my activities so after a polite chat I bid them farewell and headed slowly down the hill towards the main gate.
About 500 yards down the road I spotted a bird walking across the carriageway. It was a Blue Pitta and I managed a few pictures from the drivers seat without crashing the car before the Thai family I mentioned above headed down the hill too and scared the bird away.
My second Pitta in a month in Tat Mok, the other being an Eared Pitta, having never seen one previously! Needless to say I was buzzing as I headed home.
Hoping for better luck on the 14th March I again returned to Tat Mok NP, a slightly better day for birds and I also met a young Thai man looking for the Wreathed Hornbill nest site. He had seen my post on the Thai Bird Group Facebook page. I gladly showed him and was rewarded with views of the male bird at the nest site. Later my new found friend spotted both birds.
The day was somewhat spoiled by the DNP workers who were burning off large tracts of the bamboo jungle at the lower levels(where I had seen the Blue Pitta). The smoke was terrible and spread upwards through the park making breathing very unpleasant. Again I left the park early but not before I had recorded a new species in the form of a Thick-billed Green Pigeon.
On the 20th March I decided to travel to Tat Mok NP again as there had been rain which I hoped had put paid to the burning! Well the air was certainly fresher and there were no visible fires. Not a particularly good days birding, although I caught a brief glimpse of an Orange-headed Thrush near the waterfall car-park.
I also managed a few photographs of a couple of Asian Emerald Dove that came down to drink in the stream bed at the higher levels of the park.These birds are usually difficult to image since they are rarely seen in the open.
My final trip of the month was a visit to Tat Mok NP on the 29th March 2019. A lovely day out after some heavy rain earlier in the week. Birds were not in great supply mind and the best I could do photo wise was get a decent image of a Puff-throated Bulbul.
There is a fair bit of work taking place in the park at the moment as the DNP have built a dam and piping system to a generator house on the upper reaches of the stream. Their(DNP) plans seem to be to provide “free” green energy to the HQ area since they have laid new power cables from the generator house back down the mountain to the park HQ.
A lot of habitat has been damaged/destroyed in the process and this may account to some extent for the lack of avian activity near the access road. Hopefully the coming rainy season will help restore the habitat. What the long term effects on the stream are remain to be seen, but I am sure it is no coincidence that several species, like the Slaty-backed Forktail, have disappeared as work progressed.
Generally fairly quiet from a birding point of view but the sighting of the Blue Pitta early in the month certainly made up for that. This is probably the last month were I will make 5 trips out given the imminent approach of the hot then rainy seasons. However this year I shall try to get out more during the uncomfortable and less productive time of the year.