I could get used to a life at Railay beach. Everything is calm and easy, and the party of Norwegian students are relaxing bigtime! Today we went for the mangroves near Krabi. On the boatride from Railay to Krabi we ticked off three new trip species: Whimbrel, Common Tern and Little Tern. In Krabi we hired a boat and driver at the harbour (many offers), and drove into yet another new habitat for the trip, the mangroves.
We drove around for some time in the mangroves, and enjoyed lots of feeding kingfishers. The Brown-winged Kingfisher was my favorite. A kingfisher at the size of a crow! The first Lesser Whistling Ducks of the trip were seen, and the rarity highlights of the day (and trip?) was a Chinese Egret feeding on a bank inside the mangrove forest, and a Masked Finfoot cryptically swimming in between the mangro roots. New passerines for the trip were Malaysian Pied-Fantail, Striated Swallow and Plain-throated Sunbird. In the more open part of the boatride we saw quite a few terns feeding, and we managed to pick out 5 Black-naped Terns among them.
Back in Krabi we found a small field of grass where there were quite a few birds. Several Richard's Pipits fed on the ound, while at least 15 Pacific Swallows flew around the field. Not much of interest back at Railay, but all through the day we have seen different Brahminy Kites in the air.
We left Hua Hin this morning, and drove up to Bankok airport. On our way we noted two new trip species, Black-shouldered Kite and Brahmini Kite. We flew down to Phuket, and drove from the airport to Krabi. Near the airport we got good views of the first Jungle Myna of the trip. Near Krabi we found taxi boats that drove us out to Railay Beach.
The sceneries on the boatride were absolutely fantastic. The so-called karst landscape around Krabi is limestone formed by the exposure of acidic precipitation through thousands of years.
We checked into some very nice bungalows near Railay beach, and went for drinks at the beach in the afternoon. Todays sedate birding did actually produce two new trip species: a surprising Oriental Hobby and the first positively identified House Swift. The latter were apparently rather common here.
Yesterday was great, and today turned out to be even greater! The sun was (as always) shining and my stomach was finally fine again. We chose another area to bird in the Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, and with luck. We saw most of yesterdays species, but some were seen in fantastic numbers. Lesser Sand Plover (300+), Red-necked Stint (150) and Broad-billed Sandpiper (30) to mention a few.
The shorebird highlight of the day were 8 Malaysian Plovers feeding together with other Charadrius species. In addition to the Malaysian Plovers we found a few new adds for the trip list: Pacific Reef Heron, Intermediate Egret, Great-crested Tern and Oriental Skylark. About 60 species were recorded during the day in the park.
I spent most of last evening and night near a toilet with a quarrelsome stomach, and was slightly exhausted today. The birding however was totally immense! Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park provided tons of shorebirds, herons and other water- and openland birds. The day produced at least 36 new species for the trip, mainly shorebirds.
The star observation of the day was a Pintail Snipe feeding in the open at close range, but the numbers of many wanted species were also very rewarding. We got good views and recorded high numbers of Red-necked Stints (15+ birds) and especially Long-toed Stints (50) and Marsh Sandpipers (50+).
Selected new species for the trip: White-bellied Eagle, White-breasted Waterhen, Pacific Golden Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Greater Sand Plover, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Brown-headed Gull, Plaintive Cuckoo, Collared Kingfisher, Black-capped Kingfisher, Green Bee-eater and Roufus-winged Bush-lark.
Today we went down to Hua Hin. We arrived in the afternoon, and there was not time to do any proper birding. On our way down we observed a Black Kite from the minibus. During a gin and tonic on the hotel veranda we saw hundreds of Black Drongos flying towards their night roost. A spectacular sight. A juvenile Cinnamon Bittern near the hotel was also new for the trip.
Yesterday we left Khao Yai after a slow morning, and went back to Bankok. After a few days in the jungle, it was quite refreshing to spend the upcoming night at Prince Palace Hotel in Bankok. Apparently not much birding in Bankok, but we had a great time out in this obscure city.
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