Saturday, 27 August 2016

Thailand, Koh Samui & Bangkok

We have just returned from 12 days in Thailand, this wasn't a birding/wildlife holiday. We were on the island of Koh Samui for a wedding and had only two free days there, so we used them to see as much of the island as possible and hopefully any bird life along the way, which to be honest wasn't much! Having looked up before hand and emailed some locals it was soon apparent that this was the worst time of year for birding unless going to specialist areas, which we didn't have time to do.

Things started well at Bangkok Airport while taxiing in and out. The airport has lots of wide channels between the taxi ways and runways, these are full of Egrets (Great & Little), Black-winged Stilt and Cormorant.

Even though are hotel was quite rural, on the beach but with woodland behind it, we didn't see much.
Common Myna were everywhere

and Oriental Magpie-Robin put in regular appearances. We did see one Olive-backed Sunbird in the Hotel gardens, but that was our only sighting. I was surprised that we never saw a single sea bird, not even in the distance and nothing on the shore line either, the wedding was fantastic though and that was the reason we were there.

As I said we did have two days out on the island, we hired a taxi both of the days to take us around to the various sights. We did come across some birds on these trips;
White-bellied Sea Eagle,
a bit of a distant poor shot I'm afraid,
Pacific Reef Heron,

Brahminy Kite, White-vented Myna, Zebra Dove,
Large Billed Crow, Asian Glossy Starling,
Chinese Pond Heron,

Tree Sparrow and Red Jungle Fowl.
(The Pacific Reef Heron, White-vented Myna and Zebra Dove were lifers so can't complain!)

Koh Samui Airport gave us our last species for the island as we driving out to the aircraft, a Paddyfield Pipit.

Our plan for Bangkok was definitely sight seeing and to this end we had booked a number of trips.
Our first was in Bangkok, visiting a number of Temples to see the Golden Buddha, Reclining Buddha and the White Marble Temple. So no birds on the menu although we did see lots of Common Myna, Sparrows and Feral Pigeon, then at the end while waiting with our guide for the vehicle to pick us up two Little Heron put in an appearance.

This was a half day trip so after lunch we went for a walk in the local park, just 10 minutes from our hotel.

This provided more Little Heron, Common and White-vented Myna,
Oriental Magpie Robin and Long-billed Crow, but added Spotted Dove, Coppersmith Barbet, Common Iora and White-throated Fantail.
The fantail being a new species for us.

Next day we were up very early as we were going to the River Kwai, this turned out to be a very moving and sobering experience. It did provide us however with a few more birds for our trip as well.
We added, Greater Coucal, Green Bee-eater, Indian Roller, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Grey Sibia,
 Asian Openbill, Red Turtle Dove,
Pied Myna
and Asian Golden Weaver.
 With the Sibia, Drongo and Weaver being added to our life list.

Our next trip out that bought some birding results was out to the temples at Ayutthaya, we added, White-throated Kingfisher, Intermediate Egret, Black Shouldered Kite, Javan Pond Heron,
Asian Openbill
and House Swallow to the list as well as seeing the more common birds. The Javan Pond Heron was the lifer among that lot.

Our final new bird for the trip was an Oriental Turtle Dove sitting on a wire outside our hotel room window!

We had a great time, with great food, great sights and a few great birds thrown in a total of 45 species seen with 10 lifers, I know that's not a lot for a country that boasts around 800, but that wasn't the goal for our time there.