Central and North
1–17 February 2018
Thailand offers slappans and marshes with Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Nordmann’s Greenshank along with superb national parks containing Great Slaty Woodpecker, Ratchet-tailed Treepie, flowerpeckers, sunbirds, warblers and babblers. Further north we will look for Hume’s Pheasant, Pied Harrier, Crested Finchbill, Giant Nuthatch, Red-faced Liochichla and Scarlet Finch along with many more forest and open ground species.
Day 1 Overnight flight from London to Bangkok.
Day 2 Arrival in Bangkok followed by a two-hour drive south to the marshes and saltpans around Samutsakhon and Petchburi. At stops en-route we may see Lesser Whistling-duck, Little Cormorant, Little and Intermediate Egrets, Chinese and Javan Pond-herons, Yellow and Cinnamon Bitterns, Asian Openbill, Black-shouldered Kite, Bronze-winged Jacana, Pin-tailed Snipe, Red-wattled Lapwing, Oriental Pratincole, Red Collared-dove, Coppersmith Barbet, Indian Roller, Greater Coucal, Black-capped and White-throated Kingfishers, Green Bee-eater, Asian Palm-swift, Long-tailed Shrike, Black Drongo, Siberian Rubythroat, Oriental Magpie-robin, Great Myna, Black-collared, Asian Pied, White-shouldered and Chestnut-tailed Starlings, Streak-eared Bulbul, Black-browed and Oriental Reed-warblers, Lanceolated and Thick-billed Warblers, Indochinese Bushlark, Paddyfield Pipit, Olive-backed Sunbird and Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker. This area is famous for a small number of regularly wintering Spoon-billed Sandpipers and we will hope to find at least one amongst the more numerous Red-necked and Temminck's Stints. Other highly-sought-after waders might include Long-toed Stint, Asiatic Dowitcher, Great Knot and Nordmann's Greenshank amongst the commoner Pacific Golden-plovers and Greater and Lesser Sand-plovers. Other birds we may see at several other sites around the Gulf of Thailand include Zebra Dove, Pink-necked Pigeon, Brahminy Kite, Brown-headed Gull, Blyth's Paradise-flycatcher, Racket-tailed Treepie, Yellow-bellied Prinia and Plain-throated Sunbird. Night at a resort by the beach near Laem Phakbia, Petchburi.
Day 3 We will spend the morning birding at Baan Paktale and Laem Phakbia. This is the best time for seeing Spoon-billed Sandpiper and we will search for any other waders we may have missed. After lunch, we will take a boat down a mangrove-lined river and out to a sandbar where the recently-described dealbatus, white-faced race of Kentish Plover can be found alongside Malaysian Plovers. Collared Kingfishers can be found in the mangroves as can Golden-bellied Gerygone whilst on the open sea Brown-headed Gulls are likely to be the only member of this family that we will encounter on the tour together with Pacific Reef-heron and Greater Crested and Lesser Crested Terns. In the late afternoon we will continue on to our base for the next three nights close to Kaeng Krachen National Park.
Days 4–5 Both mornings we will make early starts to enter this superb National Park. Species we will look for include Sultan Tit, Blue-bearded and Red-bearded Bee-eaters, Black-thighed Falconet, Orange-breasted Trogon, Banded Broadbill, Hill Blue-flycatcher, Greater Yellownape, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Ratchet-tailed Treepie, White-headed Bulbul, White-browed Piculet and Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush to name but a few!
Day 6 Today we will drive back to Bangkok and on to Pak Chong, our base for the next three nights. After checking in at our hotel, located near Khao Yai National Park, we will look around the foothills for Shikra, Lineated Barbet, Plaintive Cuckoo, Green-billed Malkoha, Lesser Coucal, Red-breasted Parakeet, Asian Barred and Spotted Owlets, Ashy Woodswallow, Asian Brown and Taiga Flycatchers, Plain-backed Sparrow and Radde's and Yellow-browed Warblers. If we are lucky we may see a thousand Wrinkled-lipped Bats flying out from a cave before dusk like a ribbon in the sky.
Days 7–8 These two days will be spent exploring the evergreen dipterocarp forest in Khao Yai National Park. The park is truly beautiful with rivers and waterfalls set amongst one of the best forests of this type remaining in Asia. Although forest birding is never easy, the rewards are great. The list of birds is impressive and species we will look for include Crested Serpent-eagle, Crested Goshawk, Black Eagle, Changeable Hawk-eagle, Scaly-breasted Partridge, Red Junglefowl, Silver Pheasant, Siamese Fireback, Coral-billed Ground-cuckoo, Vernal Hanging-parrot, Greater Flameback, Black-and-buff and Heart-spotted Woodpeckers, Green-eared, Moustached and Blue-eared Barbets, Brown, Great, and Wreathed Hornbills, Orange-breasted and Red-headed Trogons, Blue-eared and Banded Kingfishers, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Brown-backed Needletail, Collared Owlet, Thick-billed Pigeon, Mountain Imperial-pigeon, Banded, Long-tailed and Silver-breasted Broadbills, Asian Fairy-bluebird, Blue-winged Leafbird, Common Green-magpie, Black-winged Cuckoo-shrike, Ashy, Rosy and Scarlet Minivets, Great Iora, Large Woodshrike, White-throated Rock-thrush, Korean Flycatcher, Hainan Blue-flycatcher, Siberian Blue Robin, White-rumped Shama, Slaty-backed and White-crowned Forktails, Golden-crested Myna, Black-crested, Grey-eyed, Puff-throated and Stripe-throated Bulbuls, Rufescent Prinia, Asian Stubtail, Dark-necked Tailorbird, Blyth's and Pale-legged Leaf Warblers, Sulphur-breasted Warbler, Black-throated and White-crested Laughingthrushes, Abbott's and Chestnut-capped Babblers, Large and White-browed Scimitar-babblers, Buff-bellied and Yellow-vented Flowerpeckers, Black-throated, Eastern Crimson and Ruby-cheeked Sunbirds, Little Spiderhunter and Forest Wagtail. The park is also rich in mammals including White-handed Gibbon, Pig-tailed Macaque, Black Giant Squirrel, Samba and Barking Deer, Asian Elephant and the very rare Tiger. On one evening we will take a night wildlife safari on the national park truck to look for Brown Boobook, Great Eared-nightjar and Large-tailed Nightjar, whilst mammals may include Small Indian and Common Palm Civets, East Asian Porcupine and Siamese Hare.
Day 9 After a final mornings birding at Khao Yai we will return to Bangkok for an afternoon flight to Chiang Mai and transfer to Doi Chiang Dao for a two-night stay. The birds of northern Thailand have strong Himalayan influences and differ significantly from those in the central and northeastern region we have just visited. With the great diversity of habitat here we will see many new species. En-route to Doi Chiang Dao we may see Grey-faced Buzzard, Barred Buttonquail, White-breasted Waterhen, Freckled-breasted Woodpecker, Eurasian Hoopoe, Burmese and Grey-backed Shrikes, Rufous Treepie, Pied Bushchat and Striated and Wire-tailed Swallows.
Day 10 Doi Chiang Dao, the third highest peak in Thailand, is close to the border with Myanmar and is accessible only by four-wheel drive. It is worth the effort, however, as both Hume's Pheasant and Giant Nuthatch are possible here and the scenery is stunning, with massive pinnacles of mountains rising from the cultivated plains. Further new species might include Blue-throated Barbet, Large Hawk-cuckoo, Crested Treeswift, Grey Treepie, Slender-billed Oriole, Sapphire and Little Pied Flycatchers, White-bellied Redstart, Grey-breasted Prinia, Japanese White-eye, Aberrant Bush-warbler, White-necked Laughingthrush and Crested and Little Buntings.
Days 11–12 Continuing north, we will visit the comfortable mountain resort of Doi Ang Khang, also close to the border with Myanmar, where we will spend the next two nights. Although this area is largely deforested there are still a number of localised specialities including Himalayan Swiftlet, White-tailed Robin, Crested Finchbill, Brown-breasted Bulbul, White-browed Laughingthrush, Red-faced Liocichla, Striated Yuhina, Hill Prinia, Spot-breasted Parrotbill, Spot-winged Grosbeak and Scarlet Finch.
Day 13 Today we will move on to Doi Inthanon National Park which includes Thailand's highest mountain at 2565 metres and has large tracts of original forest. Three nights at Doi Inthanon.
Days 14–15 Over the course of two full days in Doi Inthanon National Park new birds we might see include Black Baza, Oriental Honey-buzzard, Rufous-winged Buzzard, White-rumped Falcon, Collared Falconet, Chinese Francolin, Rufous-throated Partridge, Mountain Bamboo-partridge, Ashy Wood-pigeon, Pin-tailed Pigeon, Asian Emerald Cuckoo, Blossom-headed Parakeet, Speckled Piculet, Bay, Black-headed and Stripe-breasted Woodpeckers, Golden-throated Barbet, Rusty-naped Pitta, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Red-billed Blue-magpie, Maroon Oriole, Long-tailed and Short-billed Minivets, Yellow-bellied Fairy-fantail, Chestnut-bellied Rock-thrush, Chestnut, Dark-sided, Eyebrowed, Grey-sided and Siberian Thrushes, Lesser and White-browed Shortwings, Ferruginous, Slaty-backed and Snowy-browed Flycatchers, Large, Small, Rufous-bellied and Vivid Niltavas, Daurian and Plumbeous Redstarts, Black-backed Forktail, Green and Purple Cochoas, Chestnut-vented and Chestnut-bellied Nuthatches, Brown-throated Treecreeper, Yellow-browed and Yellow-cheeked Tits, Asian House-martin, Flavescent and White-headed Bulbuls, Chestnut-flanked White-eye, Slaty-bellied Tesia, Ashy-throated, Buff-barred, Grey-cheeked and Yellow-streaked Warblers, Davison's Leaf Warbler, Silver-eared Mesia, Chestnut-fronted and White-browed Shrike-babblers, Spectacled Barwing, Blue-winged and Chestnut-tailed Minlas, Grey-cheeked and Rufous-winged Fulvettas, Black-backed and Rufous-backed Sibias, Black-throated Parrotbill, Gould's and Green-tailed Sunbirds, Dark-breasted and Common Rosefinches and Chestnut Bunting.
Day 16 The area to the north of Fang, Tha Ton, is good for a number of specialities, in particular Jerdon's Bushchat. Other new species possible in the area include Blue-breasted Quail, Yellow-legged Buttonquail, Greater Painted-snipe, Grey-headed Lapwing, Eastern Marsh-harrier, Pied Harrier, Citrine Wagtail, Rosy Pipit, Bluethroat, Spotted Bush-warbler, Blunt-winged Warbler, Yellow-eyed Babbler, Baya Weaver and Chestnut-eared and Yellow-breasted Buntings. Following the morning birding at Tha Ton we will return south to Chiang Mai for an afternoon flight back to Bangkok to connect with an overnight flight back to the UK.
Day 17 Arrival in London at the end of the tour.
General Information The climate can vary from cool in the mornings in the hills to hot and humid in the lowlands and forests. There will be a moderate amount of walking, mostly by the roadsides but sometimes on steep trails. There are special medical requirements and you must consult your GP. Visas are not required for UK citizens. Accommodation is in medium-standard hotels with en-suite facilities.
Group size Minimum number for tour to go ahead: 6; maximum group size: 10.