Sunday, January 18, 2009

Birding at Kaeng Krachan National Park - 14/1/2009

Where is Kaeng Krachan National Park
Kaeng Krachan national park is the largest national park in Thailand, It is about 200km south west from Bangkok (Krung Thip). It was 1st declared as the National Park on 12th June 1981. Later it was officiated by the secretary of ministries of Agricultural and Co-operation on 12th Dec 1984. It was then the park boundary extended.

Today the park is 2,915 sq km, located in Tenasserim range, lies as a natural border between Thailand and Myanmar. This park covering part of district Nong Ya Plong, Kaeng Krachan and Tha Yang in Petchaburi province to Hua Hin of Prachuap Kiri Khan province. The highest mountain is Ngan Yik Vong Tong 1,513 m asl, follow by Panoenthung 1,207 m asl.

It's topography is mountainous with vegetation of rich tropical broad leave forest. Petchaburi and Pranburi rivers flow through this park. Kaeng Krachan dam was built in 1966 as a water catchment area for one of the river that flow in the park

Thailand has a tropical climate having 3 season namely – wet, dry and winter. November till mid February is winter where the temperature in some places can drop to single digit celcius. Since Kang Krachan is situated more towards to the south during my visit in the morning at Panoenthung the 2nd highest point is about 15°C. March till April is the hottest and the most driest month. May till October more rain can be experience. For a rough weather forecast preferably to use it's nearest town Petchaburi as a reference.

How to get there
For foreigner like myself 1st we need to fly to Bangkok. Since Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand, there are many flights to it's international airport at Suvarnabhumi. Then to continue the journey can opt for self drive preferably to use 4WD as there are 3 streams need to cross at Kaeng Krachan National Park from Barn Krang campsite to Panoenthung. It would not be a problem for a normal saloon car/van to reach Barn Krang campsite. For comfort travel we hired a van together with it's driver fuel on us with a daily rate of 1,800 Baht. Days we need to go to Panoenthung we hire a 4WD from the transport services offer by the local at Kaeng Krachan villages.

From Bangkok Rama II road hit to Samut Sakon and then to Samut Songkram and this will lead you to Phetchaburi Province. Before reaching Petchaburi follow the sign to Kaeng Krachan. We use this and the journey takes us about 5 hours as we stop for shoppings and lunch along the way. Actually a non-stop journey only takes 3 hrs. Alternatively, it is possible to travel via Nakhon Pathom and Ratchaburi Provinces.

Park Fees
200 baht for foreigner, 20 baht for local, 10 bath for thai children, 30 bath for car, 40 bath for pick-up, 70-80 baht for larger vehicle.

In this trip I noticed that Baht is much more worth to buy at Bangkok. Once you land at Suvarnabhumi airport there are a few money changing counters that offer more attractive rates than in Malaysia here.

Place to Stay
Facilities offer by the park are very limited, during peak season the limited bungalows available could not cater for the amount of tourist.
To know what are the accomodation available click

During this recent visit during weekend I was shocked to see all the 3 big campsites are full of tents. For comfort living there are a number of guesthouses outside of the park located at the Kaeng Krachan Village. However for foreigner the only set back is to daily pay 200 Baht park entrance fees.

For this trip me and my teammates we stayed at A & B Resort at 591 Moo 1 Tha Yang-Kaeng Krachan Rd, Ampher Kaeng Krachan, 76170 Phetchaburi Province
Every chalet is equip with a queen size bed, clean and nice modern toilet, towels are provided selling at the price of 600 baht per night. To booked talk to Chalongporn Maneeratanachatchai tel 032-459338, fax 032-459339 mobile 08 98912328 If call from outside thailand I think we need to add thailand country code +66 in front. Alternative email them at

We feel very much at home at this resort cause the owner's wife Chalongporn can speak fluent cantonese beside being a good cook, PR officer and Resort Manager. Her husband can converse in good english. This is indeed a added points for us who have language problems in thailand.

This is how the chalet looks like from outside. We stayed at those chalet at Zone A. Each one of them are also equip with air-con. Me and my roommate do not swith it on and we close every doors and windows for it was winter during our visit.

See what I meant every chalet is equip with a bridal bed. There are a number of accomodations that you can pick your choice. This is one of it.

Another altenative I notice Barn Maka

My Field Trip Report
I took the 1st flight AK880 of the day from LCCT to Bangkok depart from LCCT at 7:50am expecting arrival at Internation Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport at 8:55am local time. Since it is a 2 hrs flight due to the time difference I took the opportunities to read field reports that I can find from the Internet. I was wondering why there are not as many field trips reports just like Doi Inthanon. Later only I know that this largest national park in thailand is not extensively visited by birders.

Airasia flight landed 15 mins earlier. It was long walk to get to the conveyance belt to claim the check in baggages. After passed through the immigrations waited for a while outside at the Starbuck Cafe for my other teammates come down from Khao Yai National Park to proceed to Kaeng Krachan together. I could not join them earlier due to work commitment. They told me they have good sightings at Khao Yai such as Blue Pitta.. for this news I indeed listen with great jeoulosy.

Along the way, our van driver who use to service birders drop us a while to Wat Changlung. He wanted to show us nesting swiflet. I was amazed of this priceless nest. Wooow.. this Wat is indeed "Chook dee.." (bless). This is my 1st time seeing fresh bird's nest that are yet to harvest.

From the edible swiflet's site we proceed for lunch along the way. OOPs a small decent looking shop I notice after lunch while most of my teammates are enjoying their desert (cofee). My shopping spree start. Somehow I feel thailand seems to made more better good quality and affordable clothings than in Malaysia. Imagine a cap for kid only cost 10Baht. For this I regretted that I did not pick it up for my nephew. After than we need to drop to the hypemarket big C for 30 mins along the way to purchased our 4 days breakfast.

After we have done all the shopping we head to Kaeng Krachan, along the way we passed Petchaburi. I notice this is a different outskirt compare to what we have in Malaysia. Here I notice big plot of paddy fields, palm sugar along the way and most of all the big plot of salt pan like big plot of paddy rice fields.

After we have check in to A & B Resort, as it would not be justify for us to Barn Krang Campsite for a short 1.5 hrs window of light for birding, Mam introduce us to Kun Eek who owns Barn Soong Nork. Even though it was a first time to met up with a few of us... but we all seems to exchange news like old friends met up because of the common interest... bird watching. She mentioned about Durai of Fraser's Hill.. merapoh....

Thank you Kun Eek for taking the trouble to prepare a tea sesion for us.. Khun Eek is a retired school teacher and as well a self made artist. She hand painted beautiful birds potrait on hat and T-shirt.

We make use of the available windows of daylights to look out for birds here. Arrrh.. It really excite me to have a good look at the Grey Treepie. Too bad I could not capture it's blue eyes to share with you all.
Birds that I notice here

Ashy Drongo the sub spp leucogenis, Grey Treepie, Black-Naped Monarch, White Rumped Shama, Indian Roller, Streaked-eared Bulbul, Sooty Headed Bulbul, Red Whiskered Bulbul, a flock of Egret spp.

As the daylight disminish we called it a day and we head back to A & B Resort for dinner. Normally food serving at thailand is small therefore Mam help us to order 7 dishes normally it would be just nice for 7 adults. To our surprise not only all the dishes is delicious (aroi mak-mak) but they come in as a big serving. It is indeed a big banquet. ... phew... how to sleep ...I'm so full.

Look at this dish the fish seems to be bigger than the plate.
After dinner before we retired to be we head to look out for night birds. I secretly hope that I would tick Indian Nightjar but.. but this seems to be the Large-Tailed Nightjar.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Birding at Kaeng Krachan National Park - 15/1/2009

Birding at Barn Krang Campsite day 1
This morning in order for us to catch up with the birds at Barn Krang campsite that are usually much more active in the few hours after the 1st light we start our journey from A & B resort at 5:30am (local time). It takes us 30 mins drive from A & B Resort.

We will head to the park gates where park entrance fees need to paid appropriately. Some part of the road are not tar. However the road conditions is not too bad, a normal saloon car/van can safely reach to Barn Krang.
We reached here at about 6am, we makes breakfast as the light condition is still insufficient to have a good look at the birds.

Just as what being expected birds start to be active hopping tree to tree as the 1st light break. Notice flocks of Blue-Winged Leafbird, Ashy Drongo, Woodpecker calls. However birding around the campsite is only possible during the days where the campsite is not flooded with campers.

There are also some nature trails around that one can explore.
Huh... huh.. this is something familiar.. elephant's dung.. You would notice alot of them as you trek up to the 3rd stream.

For this scene it reminds me ad Doi Inthanon - Rong Deng's place.

There are numbers of birds photos hang up at the food stall at Barn Krang's Campsite.

Simple meals can be order from here.
I was really amazed of the amount of nature appreciation being introduced to the teens here in thailand. This is the second occasion I saw such scene. I notice this group is about 100 peoples as they were having a briefing session by their facilitators as I trek down from the 3rd stream. Now they march out to try to look out for birds..
Here I start to share with you all some of the birds photos that I managed to took.

This sub-spp of Ashy Drongo is completely different from what we can find in Peninsular Malaysia here.
Hill Myna start to flock in on this bare tree.
Greater Flameback male and female also came by. I managed to photograph the male.
Banded Broadbill that Mam spotted.
I start to trek up to head to the 3rd stream as I notice that birds at the campsite are those I can find in Malaysia here.
As I walk up I noticed a ...tuck..tuck.. sound at the low shrub.. OOOh Dusky Warbler.. I remember I 1st got this as a lifer at KSNP just a few weeks ago.. That day it was just some small glimpse but here at Kaeng Krachan Dusky Warbler seems to be abundant.. Ok I take some photos of you guys later.
An Olive Backed Sunbird this sub-spp occurred also at the north of Peninsular Malaysia.
Stripe-Throated Bulbul where this individual came quite low to feed on this fruits.
I do recalled 4 individual - 2 pairs of Greater Flameback fly in and out just above my head for a while.

White-Rumped Shama came by as I was looking as some warbler.
A flock of Ashy Minivet.
AAARh... now I have a lifer.. Spangled Drongo..
A familiar calls nearby which lead me to look out for.. OOOH a flock of Sultan Tit.
Hahh.. I noticed a soft trogon call this is statement I told Kim. We have a small glimpse but due to I yet to tick this as lifer in Malaysia I trek back to the spot to wait for it in silence. Cannot imagine I have to come thus far to clock this as my lifer..

There is a fruiting tree near the stream, Asian Fairy Bluebird and Puff-Throated Bulbul share the same tree.

Red-Throated Flycatcher perched nearby the stream.
Huh... huh... what is the stretching ground sound.. could it be Pheasant... Partridges...??? Let me walk slowly to find out.. you Red Junglefowl. I start to notice this is a different sub-spp compare to what we have in Malaysia.
Dusky Warbler is also a seed eater.
I could not imagine that the bird life here is so good.. at 2pm+ (malaysian time) I still encounter birds.. this is something I would not encounter back in Malaysia.. I regretted that I forgotten to throw a few pack of biscuits into my pocket.. I need to trek back to the campsite to have lunch..

After lunch we head back to the jeep track.. I heard some soft.. crack..crack (sound from something walk on dry leaves)... Mam alerted us that she saw a glimpse of a ground bird.. Wow.. all of us trace out for the sound.. After a while we have a good look of these 3 birds.

Wooow.. we have a good look of this birds but we could not ID it at 1st... This seems to look like this and this and this... Ok never mind we saw a Partridge or a Quail anyway.. We will ID it later.

The whole team seems to be very satisfied that we just have a good sightings..

Now I have a good look of the Spangled Drongo.
A Drongo Cuckoo only allow me at this angle to see it.. But I have seen this back in Malaysia.
OOOPs my camera battery drain out just a day out in the field .. This is something I never encountered.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Birding at Kaeng Krachan National Park - 16/1/2009

Birding at Panoenthung

Yesterday Khun Chai our van driver assist us to made the arrangement for a 4WD pick up transfer from A & B Resort to Panoenthung. It cost us 1,800 Baht per day. Since the journey is another 30 mins from Barn Krang Campsite, we need to push off at 5am (local time). We are blessed to have Khun Piak as our 4WD pick up driver. He is also a birder beside offer 4WD transportation to Panoenthung.
We have a quick toilet stop at Barn Krang campsite. It was pitch darkness. I'm glad that I packed along my new bright small torch. As I walked to the toilet I heard owl calls.. I suspect is the presence of the Brown Hawk Owl.

We continue the journey then. Along the way we met up with Orange Headed Thrush sub-spp of innotata , White-Throated Rock Thrush (lifer), Lesser Mousedeer. As we about to reached to the summit... suddenly kun piak step on the break very hard.. that really makes some of my teammates really have to hold on tight. Well actually Kun Piak spotted a Bar-Backed Partridge. However before I could hold up my binoculars this small Partridge disappear within second.. :-(

General visitors would go to the summit view point for admiring sun-rise. As there are big crowds at summit Khun Piak just before 2 km to the summit he gave us a 1st taste of birding at Panoenthung, while waiting for the day sunrise's admirer vehicle to ascend. Here we stop for our breakfast. As usual we extend our asian hospitality to our driver... Well my vocabulary in thai is very limited... I said.. "Khun Piak.. kin aar han chow aaah."

Khun Piak seems to like a local bird guide for us. He said... SSSsssh... White Hooded Babbler somewhere... I heard another melodious babbler call... He confirmed it as the White-Browed Scimitar Babbler.

This is at Panoenthung.
It is indeed cold here. I wore my newly bought long-sleeve t-shirt that cost me only 100Baht in additional to that I also wear 2 layer of jackets. This is a candid shot courtesy from one of our teammates Mr Lean. We were admiring at a few Moustached Barbet (lifer) and suddenly I spotted a Great Barbet.. OOOh that makes me jump for joy for this good look at the Great Barbet that comes with so many colours.. We also have 2 Great Hornbill flock in to feed at the same fruiting tree as the Barbet.
This is another look of the summit.After the 3rd streams from Barn Krang the jeep track is only meant for a single vehicle to pass through. This means that certain hours are mean for vehicles to ascend and descend.
This is the camp ground.
Today is friday still weekday the camping ground will be full of tents during weekend.
There are a few trails around Panoenthung Scenic Point.

Why the general visitor takes the effort to come here ?

To get a feel of the "Sea Fog"
A few Flavescent Bulbul came by.. But the Great Barbet.. Moustached Barbet is a better sightings.
Hahh.. See I really saw the Great Barbet.. Well the fruiting tree is very far..
A few of us try the trail near the scenic point.. nothing much except Black Crested Bulbul...
We aim with hope to look out for the Rachet-Tailed Treepie that can be only spotted at Kaeng Krachan's summit. However no chance...
Lunch at that only food stall at the summit allows us to admired a Rachet-Tailed Treepie's Photograph hang up on the wall. There is a Leopard photo hang on the wall as well.. Huh... did I hear it correctly this Leopard was at this big tree apposite the food stall here...
After lunch Khun Piak drop us a few spot to look out for birds. I heard a woodpecker busy pecking on a bamboo. It took me a while to search for where is this sound originate from as the sound seems to echo here and there.. I also secretly wish that it would be the Bamboo Woodpecker. I still waiting for my great lucky day to have a good look at them rather then a small glimpse that day when I bird with Gloria and Tim back in Malaysia.

Anyhow this time this I have a good look at the White-Browed Piculet. Dusky Warbler here seems to more abundance than the my neighbouring Myna back at home.
I noticed a fruiting tree a few Barbet came. Moustached Barbet and Blue Throated Barbet..

They told me just after I left this spot A Great Barbet also drop by... AAAARRRH... I should have waited little bit longer..

A sudden bird waves came. This Ashy Bulbul interest me. Another lifer for me cause this is a different sub-spp from Malaysia.
I trek down a little bit more.. as I alone suddenly I saw one ground bird leisurely cross the path.. OOOPs Partridge.. The 1st Partridge let out a loud screeching sound as it notice my presence. Actually I was quite far from it.. I waited in silence then the second bird came.. and I hope there is a 3rd bird just like the Scally Breasted Partridge... Huh.. I could not believe my eyes.. true enough a 3rd bird came by and I just to press the shutter..the thought of would it be a good shots is the last thing in my mind.

My other teammates catch up with me later and they asked me why I was dancing for joy then.. I told them I saw 3 Bar-Backed Partridges and I managed to takes some photos as well..

I told khun Piak..."Khun Susan heen liew sam nork Bar-Backed Partridges.... tai root" and I nod my head.. I show him the photos. He also express joy. Having Khun Piak as our driver as he is also a birder seems let me feel that he is just a part of the team.
Finally I have a good look at the Black-Winged Cuckoo Shrike (lifer).

A flock of Rosy Minivet flock in, I only managed to take the photo of the female.
I do recall to look at the rump ... yup not a fiery..
A few White-Browed Scimitar Babbler came to look out for food here..

Today I can consider myself a very lucky .... OOOH thank you Lord for allow me to see another spp of ground bird...