Rainy Season Birding in Upper Thailand

Na Ngua

Rainy season birding in Upper Thailand on my small patch can still be rewarding even if conditions are often poor for both observations and photography.

There are in fact a few pluses to  birding at this time of the year.

For example several species of birds only visit the area to breed in Summer(rainy season). While other species, often only found in the forested local national parks, turn up as garden visitors.

Many birds choose this time to nest so there is also the opportunity to observe this at close hand.

Rainy Season in Upper Thailand

The rainy season in Upper Thailand is governed by the strength of the SW Monsoon and the El Nino effect. Usually that means that the rains start in June and go through to the end of September. This year, 2019, the rains arrived late and June and July were dry when compared to “normal” years.

Although the word “monsoon” is often used in the English language to describe heavy persistent rain anywhere in the world,  the reality of the Monsoon(rainy season)in Thailand is somewhat different. Yes it can and does rain very hard at times, but it is rare for showers to last more than an hour and often rainy days are interspersed with drier albeit usually overcast conditions.

When it does rain several inches of rain can fall very quickly making local temporary flooding an issue.

Summer Migrants to the Area

The Black Bittern and Cinnamon Bittern are both summer breeding visitors to this area of upper Thailand where I live. They are the only true migrants observed however several other species resident in Thailand year round are also only seen here in the summer. These include, Black-crowned Night Heron(see photo above), Lesser Whistling Duck and Black-winged Stilt. All these species appear to visit the area to breed as young birds have been observed. No observations of adult birds have been made outside of the rainy season.

Uncommon garden Visitors

Several resident species usually only seen in forested areas will often turn up in the garden. This year, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Black-headed Bulbul and Black-crested Bulbul have been the surprise visitors while in previous years Yellow-eyed Babbler and Tickells Blue Flycatcher have put in appearances.

Two new species of Flowerpecker were also seen in 2019, both the Thick-billed and Yellow-vented were present on several occasions. These were juvenile birds suggesting perhaps that they are breeding in the area.

Access to Local National Parks

Several national parks in Thailand close or restrict access during the rainy season. This is mostly done for safety reasons given the dangers of flash floods, land slips and falling trees, especially in the more mountainous locations. Locally Tat Mok NP has restricted access from July to the end of September with only the lower(up to the HQ area) open.

Footnote:

This article relates to my observations in a very small area of Upper Thailand, basically my garden and the area surrounding my home and does not include the local national parks. It should be appreciated that other migrant birds, some Pittas for example, can be found as breeding visitors to the wider area. They simply do not occur here.