5–17 January 2014
This fabulous tour to rarely-visited sites in the south of Thailand will look for a number of speciality birds otherwise only found in Malaysia. You will be based for eight nights in luxury detached villas with two air-conditioned en-suite bedrooms, lounge with satellite TV, kitchen/diner with fridge and tea/coffee making facilities and private swimming pool. Villas also available for sole use by couples for a supplement. Daily excursions will vary between early starts and early returns to late starts and early returns so you will have an opportunity to enjoy your private swimming pool!
Day 1 Overnight flight from London to Bangkok.
Day 2 From Bangkok airport we will drive for about two hours to Petchaburi, birding on the way. We may see Bronze-winged Jacana, Red Collared-dove, Pied Kingfisher, Plaintive Cuckoo, German's Swiftlet, Green and Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, Greater Coucal, Common Myna and Scaly-breasted Munia. After lunch we will visit an area of marsh and grassland where we may find White-breasted Waterhen, Yellow Bittern, Great and Intermediate Egrets, Chinese and Javan Pond-herons, Greater Spotted Eagle, Red-wattled Lapwing, Black-capped Kingfisher, Coppersmith Barbet, Indian Roller and Asian Palm-swifts, Great Myna, Asian Pied Starling, Black Drongo, Streak-eared Bulbul, Pied Fantail, Thick-billed Warbler, Siberian Stonechat, Brown Shrike, Richard's Pipit, Black-browed Reed-warbler and Olive-backed Sunbird. We should also have time for our first visit to Pak Thale saltpans to search for waders. The variety of waders is amazing and should include Wood, Marsh, Curlew, Broad-billed and Common Sandpipers, Red-necked and Long-toed Stints, Black-winged Stilt, Spotted Redshank, Common Greenshank, Pacific Golden-plover, Grey Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Greater Sand-plover along with Common and Little Terns and Brown-headed Gulls. It is at this site that a small number of wintering Spoon-billed Sandpipers can be found. Also here, in the mangroves, we may find Collared Kingfisher, Ashy Tailorbird, Golden-bellied Gerygone and Common Iora, and, along the shoreline, Terek Sandpiper, Whimbrel and Eurasian Curlew. In the late afternoon we will visit the Laem Pak Bia Project, where we aim to find Little Cormorant, Red-wattled Lapwing, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, White-throated Kingfisher, Plain-backed Sparrow and Nutmeg Mannikin. They marshier areas should hold Ruddy-breasted Crake and Slaty-breasted Rail. Two nights Petchaburi.
Day 3 We will depart early and, if we still need it, search for Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Other highly sought-after waders may include Asian Dowitcher, Great Knot and Nordmann’s Greenshank amongst the commoner waders. Other birds we may see include Brahminy Kite, Temminck’s Stint, Kentish Plover, Caspian Tern and Plain-throated Sunbird. After lunch we will take a short trip along a river to an isolated sandbar where we hope to find both Malaysian and the recently-described dealbatus, white-faced race of Kentish Plover. Also likely are Pacific Reef-heron and Greater Crested Tern. If we have been successful with the waders we will visit an area of dry woodland. This new habitat should allow us to find Lineated Barbet, Ashy Woodswallow, Green-billed Malkoha, Asian Koel, Bronzed and Greater Racket-tailed Drongos and Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush. Other birds of this forested area can include Orange-breasted Pigeon, Spotted Owlet and Asian Barred Owlet, Red-breasted Parakeet, Black-headed Woodpecker, Rufous Treepie and Taiga Flycatcher.
Day 4 We will have some time before our afternoon flight to Krabi and we might return to the marshland visited on day two. New species we may come across are Black Bittern, Watercock, Black-naped Oriole and Black-naped Monarch. We will then return to Bangkok for an afternoon internal flight to Krabi. On arrival in Krabi, we will make the 45-minute transfer to our superb luxury villas with private swimming pools in the beautiful resort of Ao Nang, our base for the next eight nights. We should have time for some late afternoon birding so we will walk from the hotel down to a nearby river. Here we hope to see Pink-necked Pigeon, Banded Bay Cuckoo, Pacific Swallow and Asian Brown Flycatcher. The river is a good site for Brown-winged Kingfisher and we stand a good chance of seeing this impressive bird. Also here may be found Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, Ashy Drongo and Dollarbird. As the sun begins to set we will watch out for Great Eared-nightjars and Large-tailed Nightjars feeding on the early evening insects. Eight nights Ao Nang.
Day 5 We will make an early start and head to the excellent Tonepariwat Reserve. Highlights here may include Crested Serpent-eagle, Grey-rumped and Whiskered Treeswifts (often perched), Vernal Hanging-parrot, Black-and-yellow Broadbill, Asian Fairy-bluebird, Dark-sided and Narcissus (Green-backed) Flycatchers and Black-crested, Black-headed, Scaly-breasted and Streaked Bulbuls. Moving on, we may see Blyth's Hawk-eagle, Oriental Honey-buzzard, Ruby-cheeked Sunbird and Oriental White-eye before lunching at Khao Lak village. In the afternoon we will visit Phang-Nga mangroves to look for Ruddy Kingfisher, Streak-breasted Woodpecker and Mangrove Pitta.
Day 6 Today we will visit to Khao Nor Chuchi, previously a reliable site for Gurney's Pitta. The birds are now extremely difficult here due to continued deforestation but if a bird is on territory we will make a special effort to see it. During this time, and afterwards, we might see Scarlet-rumped Trogon, Green Broadbill, Rufous Piculet, Grey-cheeked Bulbul and Chestnut-capped Babbler. After we leave the hide we will walk through the forest and more open areas and may come across Black-thighed Falconet, Crow-billed Drongo, Rufous-winged Philentoma, Buff-vented Bulbul, Raffles's Malkoha, Chestnut-winged Babbler and Black Magpie. The afternoon will be spent visiting various wooded sites and birds we may see could include Purple-throated Sunbird, Red-eyed and Puff-backed Bulbuls, Little Bronze-cuckoo and Large Cuckooshrike. In the evening we will visit some hot springs and wait until the sun is sets as we look for Javan Frogmouth and Oriental Scops-owl.
Day 7 Today we visit another area of mangroves at Ban Bang Phat, where we can walk through the mangrove forest on a boardwalk. We should find Brown-winged and Collared Kingfishers, Large-billed Crow, Mangrove Whistler and Pale-legged Leaf-warbler. Other birds we might see include Osprey, Grey-capped Woodpecker, Small Minivet and Forest Wagtail. We will then move to an area of dry grassland where we should find Blue-tailed Bee-eater, White-throated Kingfisher, Spotted Dove, Brown Shrike and Yellow-vented Bulbul. There is some water here and in the marshier areas we might find Grey-headed and River Lapwings. Eastern Marsh-harrier is also possible here. The drier woodland and grassland can hold Indian Cuckoo, Common Flameback, Richard's, Paddyfield and Red-throated Pipits as well as Common and Pin-tailed Snipe and Booted Eagle may be seen. After lunch we will visit a coastal site good for waders and may see Ruddy Turnstone, Great Knot, Terek Sandpiper and Grey-tailed Tattler. On a recent visit we recorded Chinese Egret here.
Day 8 Our destination today is the wonderful Khao Sok National Park. If we find a fruiting tree will be kept busy for a long time with species including Green-billed Malkoha, Asian Fairy-bluebird, Grey-eyed, Grey-bellied, Stripe-throated, Ochraceous, Yellow-vented and Spectacled Bulbuls, and Yellow-vented, Thick-billed, Scarlet-backed and Orange-bellied Flowerpeckers. Other forest species we might find here include Yellow-bellied Warbler, Rufous-fronted and Puff-throated Babblers, White-rumped Shama, Asian Paradise-flycatcher, Abbott's Babbler, Little Spiderhunter, Great Iora, Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker and Purple-naped Sunbird. This heavily wooded area is home to many other species, including Red-bearded Bee-eater, Chestnut-breasted Malkoha, Bamboo Woodpecker, Tickell's Blue-flycatcher and Ashy Minivets. Raptors may include Crested Goshawk, Lesser Fish-eagle and Rufous-bellied Eagle. After a late lunch we will drive Wat Bang Riang, a temple high up on a rock outcrop. Here we may find Grey-faced Buzzard, Brown-rumped Needletail, Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike and Yellow-browed Warbler.
Day 9 Today is a special day. We have chartered a boat to take us to the beautiful Similan Islands. Specifically, we are going to 'Island number 4' to look for the bizarre Nicobar Pigeon that is easier to see here than anywhere else in its range. Other birds we may see include White-bellied Sea-eagle, Green and Pied Imperial-pigeons and Common Hill Myna, while small numbers of seabirds including Bridled, Common and Lesser Crested Terns. There will also be the opportunity to go snorkelling. Mid evening return to our resort for dinner.
Day 10 Today we will visit Wat Tham Sua, a large temple complex with some good forest. The temple grounds may hold Thick-billed Pigeon, Vernal Hanging-parrot, Blue-eared Barbet, Blue Rock-thrush and Blue Whistling-thrush. Above us we hope to see House Swifts and Brown-rumped Needtails. The forested canyon, enclosed on all sides by high rock walls, is home to Grey-breasted Spiderhunter, Fulvous-chested Jungle-flycatcher, Siberian Blue Robin and Striped Wren-babbler. In the afternoon we will visit Krabi mangroves, another site with a boardwalk through the mangrove forest. We may find Buffy Fish-owl, Ruddy Kingfisher, Chestnut-bellied Malkoha and Oriental Magpie-robin.
Day 11 We will make a return visit to Khao Nor Chuchi. If Gurney's Pitta has been reported we will look for it again but we will also bird other forested parts of this superb area and may see Olive-winged Bulbul, Scaly-crowned and Chestnut-rumped Babblers and Ashy Minivet. Other species possible at the various forest sites include Orange-breasted Trogon, Banded Kingfisher, White-throated Bulbul, Moustached Babbler, Fluffy-backed Tit-babbler and Rufous-tailed Tailorbird.
Day 12 Sadly, today is our last day in Thailand and we may have some time to bird locally after breakfast before heading back to the airport for our internal flight back to Bangkok to connect with our international flight home arriving on day 13.
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.
Group size Minimum number for tour to go ahead: 6; maximum group size: 9 with 1 leader.