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Bangkok - July 2019

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Old Wednesday 17th July 2019, 09:41   #1
foresttwitcher
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Bangkok - July 2019

I was going to start by saying that I unexpectedly ended up in Thailand last weekend but of course it had to be arranged so it can't have been entirely unexpected! Perhaps best to say that I had the previously unforeseen short-notice opportunity to attend an event in Bangkok last Friday evening and the best value airfare allowed for a slightly extended stay to get in a bit of birding as well. I only had time to get to some of the city parks but as I had never been to South East Asia before (the nearest country I had visited being Nepal) many of the common species were going to be new to me.

Following an RFI on other threads on Birdforum, Britseye gave me a link to Nick Upton's great site and CFMAC & BKKBen supplied some useful hints of places to visit on a limited budget / time-scale.

I just about had time to obtain 'A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand' (Robson) as a guide book.

Thursday 13th July:

A late morning departure from Heathrow to Amsterdam was followed by an overnight flight to Bangkok - both with KLM.

Friday 12th July:

A morning arrival at Suvarnabhumi and pre-booked taxi saw me checking in at my hotel (booked through Trivago) in Lat Krabang mid-morning. Having dumped my bags I did not want to waste any birding time but made the mistake of getting Reception to arrange a taxi into the city so I sat in horrendous traffic for some time. I saw Feral Pigeon at the airport and Black-winged Stilt & Eastern Cattle Egret in roadside ditches plus Common Myna on roadside wires on the journeys.

Eventually arriving at Suan Lumphini I did a couple of circuits of this small inner city park. Little Egret & Striated Heron (Mangove Heron / Little Heron) stalked the edge of the lakes. Spotted Doves perched on the park buildings and numerous tiny Peaceful Doves poked around in the shrubs. The mown grass areas attracted small flocks of Eurasian Tree Sparrows, more Common Myna alongside a few White-vented Myna and some noisy Black-collared Starling. The trees held Oriental Magpie Robin and quite a few Large-billed Crow. A few Asian Palm Swift hawked overhead.

All to soon I had to give the mass transport system a try (MRT & ARL) to Lat Krabang - all very efficient and easy to use once you have it sussed - then a short taxi ride back to the hotel.

Then it was time to sit in another taxi and heavy slow traffic for well over 2 hours and arrive almost too late for the event at the Impact Arena. The taxi back after (the same driver obligingly offered to stay in the area for me to ring him when ready to leave) was quicker but it was still a late finish to a very long day. Nevertheless, an interesting experience and some new birds plus a brilliant gig.
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Old Wednesday 17th July 2019, 13:33   #2
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I used to bump into Craig Robson on the Scillies during the 80’s and even ended sharing a flat with both him and Clive Byers for the second week of my honeymoon in ‘87

Laurie -
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Old Wednesday 17th July 2019, 13:57   #3
foresttwitcher
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Laurie, what did the then new missus have to say abut that?!
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Old Wednesday 17th July 2019, 20:03   #4
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Saturday 13th July:

Despite yesterdays late finish I made an early start this morning to try to avoid the worst of the heat later in the day. I decided to walk from the hotel to the ARL station and eventually found a way seeing the common suburb birds en route: Feral Pigeon, Spotted Dove & Common Myna.

A smooth journey saw me at Suan Rot Fai reasonably early and I set off on a couple of circuits of this much larger city park than yesterday's. I soon saw numerous Peaceful Dove, Large-billed Crow, Tree Sparrow, all three of yesterday's Myna / Starling species and Asian Palm Swift overhead. On the waters edge Little Egret and Javan Pond Heron stalked; in the larger trees Magpie Robin and in the shrubs Pied Fantail. At the less busy southern end I found a Streak-eared Bulbul and a small flock of Scaly-breasted Munia.

After a brief visit to Chatuchak to have a quick look around the market and sample some great street food I returned for another circuit of the park and added a nice male Olive-backed Sunbird, a couple of Indian Rollers and, after having heard a few but failing to see any so far, had a small feeding group of Coppersmith Barbet come really close whilst I was sitting in the shade of a tree by the waters edge - what a nice looking bird.

Mid-afternoon I set off back by train and approaching the stop I needed saw a wetland that I thought may be on a better walking route back towards the hotel. This proved not to be the the case as there was no foot access across the canal and I had to eventually retrace my steps but not before having a good scan of the wetland and it proved to be a productive diversion with: numerous Little and Great Egret, more Javan Pond Heron, many Black-winged Stilt, a few pairs of Lesser Whistling Duck, some scattered Asian Openbill, a few Little Cormorant, two feeding Watercock, Oriental Pratincoles hawking low over the water in the background and a Striated Grassbird in the reeds right in front of me.

The long, hot walk back to the hotel seemed not too bad after another interesting day with some more nice birds.
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Old Thursday 18th July 2019, 06:24   #5
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She loved meeting and chatting with them. I forgot to mention that Ian Lewington was sharing as well. The (ex-bride) taught Art stuff and illustrated wild and garden plants for people like Readers Digest. With those 3 being illustrators she had some good chats re techniques etc - she had a soft spot and got on swimmingly with Ian he even invited us to stop at his house in Oxford but sadly our marriage went platonic a coupla years later (not before a son and heir was born) we remain friends and she still enquires about ‘the lads’

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Old Thursday 18th July 2019, 20:29   #6
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Sunday 14th July:

Last full day today, so set of early again via taxi / ARL & BTS trains / taxi to Bang Poo, starting at the pier. The first species to make itself apparent was a very noisy group of Collared Kingfisher on the edge of the mangroves. The timing of my visit was determined by the desire to have a good look around before the heat of the afternoon so I had not taken any account of the tide and unfortunately it was right out so the birds were spread thinly over a vast area of mud; but I had thought to bring my scope with me today so I stopped along both sides of the pier to the end and back for a number of scans. Little Cormorants perched on the bamboo poles set up to stabilise the mud; Little Egrets were common along with a few Great Egret and a single Intermediate Egret for a good size comparison; further out there were a few small groups of waders - the familiar Curlew, Whimbrel, Redshank & Black-winged Stilt joined by a few Greater Sand Plover (at least the few that were close enough to ID were apparently this species); a lot of stealthy Javan Pond Herons, with one a bit distant but that seemed to be plenty dark enough on the head and breast to be a Chinese Pond Heron (although e-bird reports suggest this species is not common this time of year!); even further out near the waters edge were a few Asian Open bill plus a couple of Black-headed Ibis.

Back at the entrance gate a mixed flock of House Swift and Barn Swallow were overhead and whilst sorting through these an Indian Cormorant flew over. I could hear a distant Coppersmith Barbet.

I then took the raised concrete path (to the right-hand side when looking along the pier) through the mangroves hearing a number of unfamiliar sounds in the canopy but unable to see any of the culprits. A number of Sand Martin flew up and down the creek alongside the path.

Back at the buildings, the path through to the mangroves and pools on the other side appeared to be closed due to ongoing construction works but I tried behind the buildings, as suggested in Nick Upton's notes, and after waiting for a small group of photographers to get their fill of a Pied Fantail at a small drinking pool the route through was clear. The first hide looking over the largest pool had a few Black-winged Stilt plus a number of fairly spectacular Painted Stork feeding in the water, resting on a sand bank and flying around. It was hot by now so the bird activity was fairly low but walking along the network of tracks I flushed more Little and Great Egrets, numerous Peaceful Doves, a non-adult Black-crowned Night Heron and a Greater Coucal. Plus a Plain Prinia perched up briefly but nicely and there were a few Scaly-breasted Munia near the boundary wall of the reserve area.

When the Collared Kingfishers were quiet I could hear more unfamiliar calls and from the suspension bridge / canopy walkway managed to see a couple of Oriental White-eye. Back on the ground level tracks the makers of the calls began to give themselves up at last and I soon had good views of both Common Iora and Golden-bellied Gerygone plus a Zitting Cisticola flew over in a more open area. After doing the other raised walkway through the mangroves, which was a bit quiet, back in the area behind the buildings I had good views of a Racket-tailed Treepie.

Another good day's birding in my opinion but time to head back via air-conditioned taxis and trains to a cool hotel room.

Monday 15th July:

Only really time for a relaxed pack and breakfast this morning and then off to the airport on the free hotel shuttle bus for the start of the long journey home. A very brief taste of a small part of Thailand but plenty to enjoy and 22 lifers added - not bad given that a few weeks ago this trip was not even on my radar!
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Old Friday 19th July 2019, 05:05   #7
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Very nice report as usual Pete, some cracking birds there! Many thanks for sharing!

Chris
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Old Friday 19th July 2019, 18:34   #8
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Thanks, Chris, glad you enjoyed it.
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Old Saturday 20th July 2019, 22:55   #9
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Seems like you squeezed a lot of birding out of the time available, despite Bangkok's horrendous traffic. I loved your account of the small wetland you found near the hotel - and the good birds it delivered.

Cheers
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Old Sunday 21st July 2019, 12:12   #10
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Cheers Mike, yes, I was well pleased with what I saw in a short space of time - I don't think I have ever spent so much time in taxis and on trains!

Looking forward to your next Conference birding trip.
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