Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Birding on Koh Phra Thong Part 2

My experiences of the first 24 hours were not to be repeated, the photo opportunities were limited to high and distant birds. There were some nice species about, I was collecting new ones all the time but the shots I was taking were no more than record shots.
Pink-necked Green Pigeon
Pink-necked Green Pigeon
Thick-billed Green Pigeon
Thick-billed Green Pigeon
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Yellow-vented Bulbul
and Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker all being typical examples of big cropped shots.
Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker
After a couple of days I resigned myself to the fact that I would just settle for the occasional visitor near our hut where in the heat of the day we took refuge in the shade.
Phrathong Nature Resort
I wasn't too disappointed, for once I actually settled down to read some books, did a bit of swimming and walked the miles of deserted beach with Claire.
Deserted beach Koh Phra Thong
This really is an island paradise but it comes with a small price to pay. The accommodation isn't luxurious by any means, the water supply is salty so showers aren't what we are used to, the loo has to be flushed manually but these downsides are more than compensated for by your surroundings and best of all the camaraderie of other guests. The small number of people staying meant everyone got to know everyone else. Meals were taken on shared tables, the cross section of nationalities made for interesting conversation. Most people only stayed a few days, we were , along with one guy from Austria, the only ones staying for any length of time.
One evening we took an organised trip out to see some savannah plants. The motorbike taxi coped well despite the load of 5 people.
Motorbike and sidecar taxi for 4 !
As we travelled along I noticed a total lack of birds, in fact I saw just one possible Fork-tailed Swift and this at the very time birds should be reappearing after the heat of the day.
Koh Phra Thong
There were miles of this concrete track, on either side the grass was pretty impenetrable. Little point in me trying to walk anywhere and getting a taxi seemed impossible too particularly as the resort's vehicle was off road for repair for much of the time we were there. Tyres don't last long apparently !
Anyway, our guide for our evening walk was the co-ordinator of the local turtle watch. The deserted sandy beaches still have turtles nesting on them although the numbers have declined severely in recent times. Knowing my interest in birds he dropped off a bird list as seen by two keen birders between November and April in 2011. A total of 127 species, so there were birds to be seen both on this island and the more mountinous neighbour Koh Ra just a very short channel hop separating them both.
Of the birds we saw around the resort, again, because of the terrain, catching them out in open space wasn't easy.
Regulars were  the Olive-backed Sunbirds.
Olive-backed Sunbird
several pairs were about
Olive-backed Sunbird
as were both Black and Greater Racket Tailed Drongo
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
Common Iora
Common Iora
and probably most frustrating of all, the Forest Wagtail. Always on the move , in and out of bright light and shadow, a nightmare. My best effort of many was this one !
Forest Wagtail
Not good !
I had better luck with the Bee-eater on one occasion
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater
and until a small pool dried up, a Little Heron visited frequently.
Striated Heron / Little Heron
but my best opportunity was right in front of me. Sat reading Claire spotted a bird right out in the open that had just appeared from the shrubbery next to our hut. The tiniest movement and it shot back under cover.
Next time I'd be prepared with my camera ready and although it took a couple of days of waiting ( not all day I hasten to add!) it eventually paid off.
Slaty-breasted rail
Slaty-breasted Rail
What a little beauty !
Slaty-breasted Rail
and it wasn't on the other birders list either !
Slaty-breasted Rail
If I got nothing else I was happy with these shots!
In fact the only other worthwhile shots I took were of Olive -backed Bulbul
Olive-backed Bulbul
Yes, I saw others but they will have to remain as images in my mind only!

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