Sunday, 28 February 1982

30 years ago: 25-28 February 1982, Nam Nao and Khao Yai

Thursday 25th February 1982:  Nam Nao, Thailand
I was up at dawn and stumbled straight down the main trail.  The Fulvous Pitta was right where we’d been told to look for it.  I watched it for 25 minutes before the others arrived.  Good birding in and out of the ravines, lots of Blue Pittas and other nice things (e.g. Bar-backed Hill Partridge).  The forest was very dry, which may have been why the ravines were so good, but the smell of smoke from the hillside created a fire paranoia.  I discovered later that I’d missed Silver Pheasant which was really annoying, a species I particularly hoped to see following similar misses at Nam Nao on the previous trip.  Similarly Colin (who’d seen Silver Pheasant before) didn’t see Eye-browed Wren Babbler which I kept falling over.  Slept on the counter of the drinks stall again.

Birds seen included:  *Bar-backed Hill Partridge 10, Emerald Dove 2, Green-billed Malkoha 1, Brown Fish Owl 1 seen badly in flight, Great Barbet 2, Blue-throated Barbet 2, Blue-eared Barbet 1, Speckled Piculet 1, Bay Woodpecker 1, Greater Goldenback 1, Silver-breasted Broadbill 8, *Fulvous Pitta 1, Blue Pitta 9, Fairy Bluebird 2, White-rumped Shama 2, White-tailed Robin 2, Blue Whistling Thrush 2, White’s Thrush 3, Dark-sided Thrush 1, Slaty-backed Forktail 1, White-crowned Forktail 8, Stub-tailed Bush Warbler 2, Yellow-bellied Warbler 2, Sulphur-breasted Warbler 1, Blyth’s Crowned Leaf Warbler 1, Yellow-browed Warbler 1, Hainian Blue Flycatcher 1 male, *Large Scimitar Babbler 1, White-browed Scimitar Babbler 2, Red-billed Scimitar Babbler 3, Eye-browed Wren Babbler 7, Grey-throated Babbler 10, Golden Babbler 2, White-crested Laughingthrush 2, White-hooded Shrike Babbler 8, Sultan Tit 1, Green Magpie 2, Grey Treepie 1.

Friday 26th February 1982:  Nam Nao, Thailand
Up at dawn hoping to see Silver Pheasant.  None in the recommended ravine (although more wren babblers) but Colin saw 9 but no wren babblers in the ravine I’d been in the previous day!!  Really annoying for us both.  We left Nam Nao at 16:00 and drove to Lom Sok where filled up with petrol and had three appropriately named Big Dip ice creams.  50 kms south of Lom Sok found that the car’s brakes no longer worked properly.  We continued to Saraburi (over 200 kms) stopping at three places on the way which were of no use in trying to fix them.  We arrived by 22:00 and some locals stripped down the brake pads but were unable to replace them so we got them reassembled and continued rather cautiously on to Khao Yai.  A large reticulated python on the road before the park entrance was pulled to safety by Colin tugging its tail.  We then encountered three elephants (two adults with a youngster) on the road in the park more interested in something around the next bend than us.  One of the adults charged at something out of our sight for three or four paces but as we edged around the corner Dave stalled the car, the elephants departed and nothing was evident, the tiger, if that was what it was, having crept off.  Saw Leopard Cat and Mongoose near the park HQ.  Slept in a drink stall at 02:00.

Birds seen included:  Crested Serpent Eagle 1, Bar-backed Hill Partridge 11, Red-wattled Lapwing 2, Emerald Dove 1, Barred Cuckoo Dove 1, Red-headed Trogon 6, Barred Owlet 1, Brown Hornbill 5, Great Barbet 2, Silver-breasted Broadbill 2, Blue Pitta 2, Speckled Piculet 1, Olive-backed Pipit 1, Black Bulbul 3 (white-headed race), Siberian Blue Robin 3, White-rumped Shama 4, White-tailed Robin 2, Blue Whistling Thrush 2, White’s Thrush 11, Dark-sided Thrush 4, Eye-browed Thrush 2, Slaty-backed Forktail 2, White-crowned Forktail 6, Stub-tailed Bush Warbler 3, Yellow-bellied Warbler 1, Sulphur-breasted Warbler 1, Blyth’s Crowned Leaf Warbler 4, Hainian Blue Flycatcher 1 female, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher 1 male, Eye-browed Wren Babbler 2, Grey-throated Babbler 6, Golden Babbler 1, White-crested Laughingthrush 8, White-hooded Shrike Babbler 4, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch 1, Jay 2.

Saturday 27th February 1982:  Khao Yai, Thailand
Up at 06:15 to a really poor days birding.  All skulkers encountered either got away or gave really poor views on the ‘long trail’.  Tried the ‘pitta trail’ but loads of noisy locals on it as it was a weekend and I only identified one bird in two hours.  Walked to the elephant hide to find it had burnt down and was being rebuilt!  Saw Muntjak there and had earlier seen Samba in open grassland beyond the pitta trail during a failed attempt to escape the locals.  Another night at the drinks stall.

Birds seen included:  Scaly-breasted Hill Partridge 1 in flight, Red Jungle Fowl 2, Yellow-legged Button Quail 1 in flight, Emerald Dove 2, Barred Cuckoo Dove 6, Mountain Imperial Pigeon 6, Thick-billed Green Pigeon 5, Great Eared Nightjar 1, White-vented Needletail 1, Orange-breasted Trogon 1 male, Red-headed Trogon 1, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater 2, Blue-tailed Bee-eater 5, Indian Pied Hornbill 1, Great Hornbill 4, Moustached Barbet 1, Greater Yellownape 1, Blue Pitta 2 in flight, Olive-backed Pipit 2, Siberian Blue Robin 1 male, White-rumped Shama 1, White-crowned Forktail 1, Lanceolated Warbler 1, Sulphur-breasted Warbler 1, Pale-legged Leaf Warbler 2, Yellow-browed Warbler 1, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher 1 male, Spotted Babbler 3, Abbott’s Babbler 5, White-crested Laughingthrush 23, Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush 1, Black-throated Laughingthrush 1, Fairy Bluebird 4, Green Magpie 1, Golden-crested Myna 3, Hill Myna 4.

butterfly, species unknown, probably taken at Khao Yai
Samba at Khao Yai
blurred Grey-headed Flycatcher at Khao Yai

Sunday 28th February 1982:  Khao Yai, Thailand
After a brief disturbance during the night when Colin and Dave drove around unsuccessfully for mammals I had real trouble getting up.  Made it quite late to the restaurant with a brief stop on the way for Blunt-winged Warbler.  Dave and I opted for biscuits and legged it off down the restaurant trail.  We got to the ‘river’ in 90 minutes having seen very little but hearing what was probably a pitta getting away (again).  I was crossing the stream precariously on a thin log when Dave, who was behind me, shouted fish owl and then amended it to bittern.  I just managed to get views of a grey brown bittern shaped bird disappearing behind trees.  We waded down after it and Dave, who was ahead at this point, got onto a fish owl.  I got flight views on two occasions and a brief, back on, perched view.  Not very satisfactory.  Then a small kingfisher buzzed past giving untickable views - really frustrating.  I was then pleasantly surprised when the kingfisher reappeared and perched opposite, a nice Blue-eared.  It later repeated this and I took some photos of it, although the light was very poor.  Left Khao Yai at noon, after buying a T-shirt.  Steve did a great job of driving into Bangkok without any brakes.  Ate 6 ice-creams in Saraburi and not surprisingly felt very bloated afterwards.  Arrived at car hire at 15:20 to be told boss should’ve been back at 15:00.  Unpacked the car and at c17:00 phone call and hassling began which Steve handled really well.  After 20 minutes of arguing the owner slammed the phone down and said his brother was coming (at this point Steve had suggested we might not return the car if a refund for the lost time was not forthcoming).  We drove off to the Up Town Coffee House for a meal and returned half an hour later at 20:00, soon getting a 1760 baht refund sorted out.  We wished Steve well, he had been excellent company but was staying in Bangkok prior to continuing on his way to the Philippines, and waited an hour for an airport bus before giving up and getting a taxi for 100 baht.  Colin, Dave and I arrived at the airport at 22:15 for an 06:30 check in the next morning and found somewhere quiet to crash out.

Birds seen included:  Tiger Bittern 1 badly in flight, Mountain Imperial Pigeon 2, Buffy Fish Owl 1 in flight, Great Eared Nightjar 2, Orange-breasted Trogon 1 female, *Blue-eared Kingfisher 1, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater 2, Wreathed Hornbill 1, Indian Pied Hornbill 2, Laced Woodpecker 1, Silver-breasted Broadbill 4, Olive-backed Pipit 1, White-crowned Forktail 2, Blunt-winged Warbler 1, Pale-legged Leaf Warbler 1, Yellow-browed Warbler 1, Radde’s Warbler 1, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher 1 male, White-crested Laughingthrush 1, Fairy Bluebird 2.

Birds seen on journey: Asian Open-billed Stork 3, Oriental Pratincole 2, Indian Roller 25.

Orange-breasted Trogon appearing as a shape in the forest

Silver-breasted Broadbill at Khao Yai - stunning bird, rubbish photo

Wednesday, 24 February 1982

30 years ago: 23-24 February 1982, Doi Ang Khan

Tuesday 23rd February 1982:  Taffon and Doi Ang Chang, Thailand
We were up soon after first light trying to make sense of a rather poor sketch map.  Finally we took a track out onto the paddies in a similar area to that Colin and I had visited on a previous trip.  After 2 hours birding in this area we drove to Fang and changed some money, then drove up the rough road to Doi Ang Chang.  Very steep in places but car managed it without any help.  We arrived just before noon and took trail through giant slabs of rock and over a ridge (presumably into Burma).  We'd hardly gone down it that we saw an amazong Spot-breasted Parrotbill in vegetation by the track.  A really stunning bird.  Amazing change in habitat, heavily cultivated with loads of white poppy fields between rocky outcrops and thinly forested ridges.  Some small collections of huts dotted around.  At one, rather disconcertingly, was a (young) teenager with sub-machine gun slung over his shoulder.  Not sure what he made of us!  We returned to Doi Ang Chang after, presumably, 4 hours in Burma.  We slept on the porch outside the School.

Birds at Taffon included:  Black-shouldered Kite 2, Baillon’s Crake 1, Pintail Snipe 1, Wryneck 1, Richard’s Pipit 50+, Red-throated Pipit 10+, Rosy Pipit 3, Citrine Wagtail 2, Bluethroat 6, Siberian Rubythroat 1 female, Stonechat 20, Pied Stonechat 30, Striated Warbler 2, Yellow-eyed Babbler 4, Brown Shrike 4, Chestnut-eared Bunting c10, Little Bunting 20+, Yellow-breasted Bunting c50.

Birds seen at Doi Ang Kang included:  Speckled Wood Pigeon 30, Dusky Crag Martin 8, Olive-backed Pipit 10, Finch-billed Bulbul 12, *Brown-breasted Bulbul 10, Daurian Redstart 2 males, Grey Bushchat 10, Blue Rock Thrush 4, Dusky Thrush 1, Yellow-browed Warbler 1, Buff-bellied Warbler 2, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler 1, *Spot-breasted Parrotbill 1, *White-browed Laughingthrush 2, Spectacled Barwing 2, Blue-winged Minla 1, Black-backed Sibia 10, Gould’s Sunbird 2, Maroon Oriole 3, Long-tailed Shrike 2, Grey-backed Shrike 1, Scarlet Rosefinch 10, Little Bunting 6.

on the way to Doi Ang Khan

Spectacled Barwing at Doi Ang Khan

Wednesday 24th February 1982:  Doi Ang Chang and drive to Nam Nao, Thailand
Up soon after dawn to find it quite cold due to moderate altitude.  Tried to find a logging trail but without success, although did see a Liochicla quickly.  Weather had hotted up considerably by 08:30 and we left the area at 10:30 driving S towards Chaing Mai.  Got stopped by police on way S and Dave rather foolishly told them we’d been to the Burmese border at Ang Kang.  The police immediately searched the car and were not impressed when they found some souvenir opium poppies Dave had.  A further search produced two syringes Colin had in his medical kit, making them think we were addicts!  They insisted on checking the veins in Colin’s arms and legs and we were greatly relieved when they realised we were harmless and let us continue to Chaing Mai for a quick bite to eat.  Drove to Lamphun where we took a dubious short cut, eventually turning back when metalled road became a dirt track.  We got back to the main highway an hour later with 40 minutes to do c45 kms to the next town to fill up with petrol ahead of the 18:00 fuel curfew.  We arrived at 17:48 to find no garages so Steve, in Jackie Stewart mode, put his foot down and we did 25 kms in just under 15 minutes, arriving at 18:03 but just in time to fill up the car and a large container (bought for 50 bhat) to give extra range to make it to Nam Nao.  We drove past a large area of forest that had recently been burnt (blackened tree stumps still sparking) and lots of minor fires.  Arrived at Nam Nao at c01:00 and slept on counter of a picnic shelter/drinks stall.

Birds seen included:  *Bamboo Partridge 1, Speckled Wood Pigeon 110, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater 6, Olive-backed Pipit 10, Brown-breasted Bulbul 10, Black Bulbul 1 (white-headed race), Blue Rock Thrush 1, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler 4, White-browed Laughingthrush 12+, Red-headed Laughingthrush 2, *Red-faced Liochicla 3, Spectacled Barwing 6, Black-backed Sibia 4, Maroon Oriole 2, Grey-backed Shrike 1, Little Bunting 20.

crossing the border at Doi Ang Khan?

poppy field at Doi Ang Khan

me at Doi Ang Khan, possibly in Burma

poppies at Doi Ang Khan



Monday, 22 February 1982

30 years ago: 19-22 February 1982, Doi Pui & Doi Inthanon

Friday 19th February 1982:  drive N, Doi Pui and Doi Suthep, Thailand
Steve drove through the night as far at Tak, arriving at 05:00 with us perilously low on petrol.  The garage there opened soon after 06:00 and we then continued to Chiang Mai for another fill up.  We arrived at Doi Pui by 10:00 and spent the rest of the day birding there and at nearby Doi Suthep.  Colin found a Yellow-faced Warbler but its all important head was partly obscured for me and then it dropped a long way down the hillside - bummer as I’d not seen one before.  We returned to Chiang Mai after dark where we bought food to take to Doi Inthanon.  On arrival at the entrance to Doi Inthanon we couldn’t bluff our way past the park guard so spent the night sleeping out by the Park HQ.

Birds seen included:  Crested Serpent Eagle 1, Crested Goshawk 1, *Red-thighed Falconet 1, White-vented Needletail 6, Stripe-breasted Woodpecker 1, Long-tailed Broadbill 3, Olive-backed Pipit 20, Mountain Minivet 10, Red-flanked Bluetail 1 female, Daurian Redstart 1 male, Grey Bushchat 10, Yellow-faced Warbler 1 briefly, White-tailed Leaf Warbler 10, Blyth’s Crowned Leaf Warbler 5, Hill Blue Flycatcher 7, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher 1, Little Pied Flycatcher 3, *Spot-throated Babbler 2, White-browed Scimitar Babbler 2, Silver-eared Mesia 2, White-browed Shrike Babbler 4, Chestnut-fronted Shrike Babbler 4, Rufous-backed Sibia 1, Black-backed Sibia 3, Chestnut-flanked White-eye 1.

Saturday 20th February 1982:  Doi Inthanon, Thailand
We were up at 07:00 and drove straight up to the summit of Doi Inthanon, arriving an hour later.  It felt quite cold – a very nice change after the heat of the lowlands.  Birding was excellent around the summit all day.  We had superb views of the ‘twitched’ 50+ Dusky and 6 Red-throated Thrushes.  My only disappointment was my failure to see a Grey-sided Thrush in amongst the 50 or so Eye-broweds that were present around the summit 'marsh'.  Maybe I need glasses as I feel that I’m nowhere near as sharp as the others, who all saw it at one time or another.  We drove back down as far as km 31 after dark and crashed out there.

Birds seen included:  Woodcock 4, *Speckled Wood Pigeon 75, *Large Hawk Cuckoo 1, White-breasted Kingfisher 1, Olive-backed Pipit 2, White-browed Shortwing 2, Red-flanked Bluetail 2 females, Grey Bushchat 4, River Chat 1, Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush 1, Blue Rock Thrush 1, Blue Whistling Thrush 1, Dark-sided Thrush 1, Chestnut Thrush 15, Eye-browed Thrush c50, *Dusky Thrush 50+, Red-throated Thrush 6, Orange-barred Leaf Warbler 10, Ashy-throated Leaf Warbler 20, Slaty-bellied Tesia 2, Slaty-backed Flycatcher 3, Snowy-browed Flycatcher 8, Yellow-bellied Fantail 10, Pigmy Wren Babbler 2, Red-headed Laughingthrush 8, Chestnut-tailed Minla 20, Rufous-winged Fulvetta 10, Green-tailed Sunbird 6, Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker 2, Dark-breasted Rosefinch 3, Scarlet Rosefinch 2, Little Bunting 40.


Yellow-bellied Fantail on Doi Inthanon

Chestnut Thrush on Doi Inthanon

Sunday 21st February 1982:  Doi Inthanon, Thailand
All day birding around the second check post (km 37-38) was a little disappointing despite my seeing both Shortwings (one new).  Failed to find White-gorgetted Flycatcher in the ravines, recent collecting at this site probably not helping.  Crashed out at km 31 again.

Birds seen included:  Mountain Imperial Pigeon 13, Large Hawk Cuckoo 1, Violet Cuckoo 1 male, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater 6, Golden-throated Barbet 1, Speckled Piculet 1, Stripe-breasted Woodpecker 2, White-browed Shortwing 2, *Lesser Shortwing 1, Blue Whistling Thrush 1, Eye-browed Thrush 1, White-tailed Leaf Warbler 1, Blyth’s Crowned Leaf Warbler 2, *Milne-Edward’s Warbler 1, Slaty-bellied Tesia 2, Large Niltava 4, Beautiful Niltava 1, Vivid Niltava 1 male, Slaty-backed Flycatcher 1, Snowy-browed Flycatcher 3, Red-breasted Flycatcher 1, Little Pied Flycatcher 2, White-browed Scimitar Babbler 1, Eye-browed Wren Babbler 1, Grey-throated Babbler 1, Silver-eared Mesia 2, White-browed Shrike Babbler 1, Chestnut-fronted Shrike Babbler 1, Spectacled Barwing 7, Blue-winged Minla 4, Rufous-winged Fulvetta 4, Rufous-backed Sibia 3, Black-backed Sibia 9, Chestnut-vented Nuthatch 2, Maroon Oriole 6, Grey-backed Shrike 2, Black-collared Starling 2, Scarlet Rosefinch 1.

Monday 22nd February 1982:  Doi Inthanon, Thailand
We drove up to the summit after a half-hearted look around km 31 first thing.  A Rufous-throated Hill Partridge around the summit 'marsh' was excellent but there were fewer thrushes in evidence and I again failed to find the Grey-sided amongst a similar number of Eye-broweds.   We had a few roadside stops on way down.  We wandered around behind the Meo village at km 31 and in dry woodland at km 13.  Steve and I missed Black-capped Woodpecker at the last site despite flushing one which then landed in front of Colin and Dave where it gave excellent views, flying off just as we arrived!  During three hours searching we only had two more ‘totally useless’ flight views.  Being a lot lower the area is probably much better early morning when it is cooler.  We left the national park and filled up with petrol in Chom Thong at 17:30 and drove to Chaing Mai where we found an excellent eating place.  We drove north to Taffon, passing Doi Chang Dao seemingly in flames.

Birds seen included:  Rufous-winged Buzzard 2, Red-thighed Falconet 2, Rufous-throated Hill Partridge 1, Green-billed Malkoha 2, Jungle Nightjar 1, Crested Treeswift 1, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater 2, Lineated Barbet 1, Wryneck 1, Grey-capped Pigmy Woodpecker 2, Olive-backed Pipit 10, Rosy Minivet 6, White-browed Shortwing 2, Red-flanked Bluetail 1 female, Daurian Redstart 1 male, Grey Bushchat 4, River Chat 1, Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush 1, Chestnut Thrush 10+, Eye-browed Thrush 50+, Dusky Thrush 4, Orange-barred Leaf Warbler 4, Ashy-throated Leaf Warbler 1, Yellow-browed Warbler 1, Milne-Edward’s Warbler 2, *Buff-bellied Warbler 1 Snowy-browed Flycatcher 1, Red-breasted Flycatcher 1, White-crested Laughingthrush 2, Black-backed Sibia 1, Brown Shrike 1, Long-tailed Shrike 3, Jay 4, Scarlet Rosefinch 6, Little Bunting 20.

Thursday, 18 February 1982

30 years ago: 17-18 February 1982, Bangkok, Bang Poo & Rangsit

Wednesday 17th February 1982: Bangkok and Bang Poo Thailand
Arrived at Bangkok at 07:55 after a 19 hour journey. Walked to Thai Airlines Office to check flight to Kathmandu on 1st March was OK (it was). Then walked to Bangkok Car Rent to find no decent car available until the next day. Tried an alternative but a more expensive outfit and didn’t like the people so ended up back at Bangkok Car Rent with a clapped out Cortina for one day. Went to Bang Poo for the rest of the day. Visited Dr Boonsong after dark to find him in good health and Phil Round there too. Told of 100 Dusky Thrushes on Doi Inthanon. Shortly before we left the UK Andrew Moon, who had just returned from Thailand, told me there was an influx of them and we had extended this part of the trip to give us time to visit the north to try for them. It was a relief that they were still there! Drove to Rangsit where had a really bad night’s sleep (too hot).

Birds seen included: Green Heron 4, Javan Pond Heron 1 in summer plumage, Cotton Pigmy Goose 10, Kentish Plover 100+, Greater Sand Plover 100+, Pacific Golden Plover c50, Red-necked Stint 15, Long-toed Stint c50, Broad-billed Sandpiper 4, Marsh Sandpiper 10, Gull-billed Tern 1, Crested Tern 1, Whiskered Tern c50, White-winged Black Tern 2, Common Koel 2, White-breasted Kingfisher 6, Black-capped Kingfisher 4, Black-collared Starling 1.


Greater Sand Plover at Bang Poo

Pacific Golden Plover at Bang Poo
Thursday 18th February 1982: Rangsit, Chiang Rak and attempts to drive N Thailand
Rangsit was excellent at dawn, though Chiang Rak was poor later. Returned to centre of Bangkok to change the car and get a meal. Met Chris Kightly who told us of a Fulvous Pitta at Nam Nao, which got immediately added to our agenda. Drove N but after 75 kms the car broke down (turned out to be a cylinder head). Ironic that the newer car seemed worse than the clapped out one we’d had the previous day. Waited in a cafe for 7 hours while locals failed to fix it, called the car hire company who sent mechanics who also couldn’t fix it and we had to return to Bankok with them. Finally took an hour to fit and test new cylinder heads and we were on the road again driving N through the night.

Birds seen included: Yellow Bittern 1, Javan Pond Heron 40, Asian Openbilled Stork 9, Lesser Whistling Duck 15, Cotton Pigmy Goose 10, Garganey 4, Black-shouldered Kite 4, Eastern Marsh Harrier 2, Baillon’s Crake 5, *Ruddy Crake 6, Pheasant-tailed Jacana 4, Bronze-winged Jacana 15, *Oriental Pratincole 17, Plaintive Brush Cuckoo 1, Common Koel 1, White-breasted Kingfisher 2, Black-capped Kingfisher 2, Blue-tailed Bee-eater 2, Indian Roller 1, Coppersmith Barbet 1, Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler 5, Lanceolated Warbler 2, Black-browed Reed Warbler 15, Oriental Great Reed Warbler 10, Clamorous Reed Warbler 1, Red-breasted Flycatcher 1, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker 3, Brown Shrike 5, White-vented Myna 10, Pegu Sparrow 10, Yellow-breasted Bunting 10.

Baillon's Crake at Rangsit
  

Lanceolated Warbler at Rangsit


Yellow Bittern at Rangsit


Coppersmith Barbet at Rangsit


Tuesday, 16 February 1982

30 years ago: 15-16 February 1982, KL to Bangkok

Five weeks into a planned six month birding trip to SE Asia/Nepal and Colin Winyard, Dave Mills and I travelled from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok with Steve Gantlett who was part way through his own world trip.  Malaysia had been very successful.  We now had two weeks in Thailand to look forward to, a country I had been to twice previously and Colin once.   This personal account of the trip is almost entirely based on diary entries made at the time.  Photos included are generally rather poor digital images of slides taken at the time and projected onto a white sheet of A4 paper. 

Monday 15th February 1982:  Kuala Lumpur to Butterworth and Kangar, Malaysia
We got 10:30 bus to Butterworth after a leisurely burger breakfast and less leisurely rush to bank.  Bus arrived in Butterworth at 17:30 after a pretty boring and uneventful journey.  After a brief stop for a drink we found we couldn’t get a bus direct to Hat Yai (in Thailand) so got one to Kangar (near the border) instead.  Cost M$8 each and took nearly 3 hours.  Stayed in a cheapish hotel (M$15 for a room for 4) but I lost a M$50 note between paying off taxi and getting the room.

Birds seen:  Black-shouldered Kite 1, Black Kite 1, White-breasted Kingfisher 6, Brown Shrike 1.

Butterworth, waiting for a bus

Tuesday 16th February 1982:  Kangar to Padang Basar and train N from Hat Yai, Thailand
We got taxi to Padang Basar, on Malay border, at 08:30 arriving at 09:10 (cost M$2 each).  It took no time at all to exit Malaysia, except for Steve who had overstayed his visa by two days but managed to get away with it.  We walked through a shanty town towards a Thai flag to find a taxi stand but no immigration.  We got a taxi to Hat Yai (40 bhat each) on dirt roads via immigration.  Entered Thailand with no hassles although the form filling was quite time consuming.  The drive to Hat Yai then took just over an hour.  Visited a bank and got tickets on the 12:47 express to Bangkok (332 bhat for a reclining seat).  The train departed at 13:00, stopping briefly at Phattalung at 14:30, at Thung Song junction from 16:05-16:20 (where the engine was changed?), Surat Than (18:30-18:40) and Chang Yai (19:22).  Seat reasonably comfortable but only slept fitfully.

Birds seen from train included:  Chinese Pond Heron 3, Lesser Whistling Duck 12, Black-shouldered Kite 1, Wood Sandpiper 1, White-breasted Kingfisher 2, Black-capped Kingfisher 1, Indian Roller 1, Brown Shrike 4.

Sunday, 14 February 1982

30 years ago: 9-14 February 1982, Taman Negara (last week)

Tuesday 9th February 1982:  Taman Negara (Bukit Teresek)
Heavy early morning rain so had late breakfast.  Decided to go up Bukit Teresek but Colin caught up with us having seen a perched frogmouth while leaving the trail for a call of nature.  He took us back to the spot but it had gone.  Spent a lot of time looking, to no avail.  Continued up Bukit Teresek to where we’d seen Roulrouls but nothing doing and turned around to return to HQ, although as rain stopped continued birding until late afternoon.  Then went back for a torch and was at the frogmouth site at dusk but no luck with the bird.  Lots of leeches and falling branches today and the river in flood due to the rain.  Threw up fish and chip supper after being in bunk an hour.  Felt immediately better after.

Birds seen included:  Great Argus Pheasant 2 females, Pink-necked Green Pigeon 3, *Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo 1 immature, Chestnut-breasted Malkoha 1, Southern Pied Hornbill 1, Checker-throated Woodpecker 2, Maroon Woodpecker 2, Black and Red Broadbill 3, Chestnut-naped Forktail 1 female, White-crowned Forktail 1, Short-tailed Babbler 2, Horsfield’s Babbler 1, White-necked Babbler 2, Thick-billed Spiderhunter 2, Crested Jay 2, Hill Myna 2.

view from Bukit Teresek, airstrip visible bottom left

me at Bukit Teresek
Hodgson's Hawk Cuckoo at Taman Negara

Wednesday 10th February 1982:  Taman Negara (Bukit Teresek)
All day on usual route including a trip up Bukit Teresek, but only to the first observation point.  First and last parts of day spent photographing birds in flowering trees and Hooded Pitta in its ravine with film speed 4-8 times too slow.

Birds seen included:  *Grey-headed Fishing Eagle 1 adult, Great Argus Pheasant 2 females (same?), Mountain Imperial Pigeon 5, Malay Hanging Parrot 5, Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo 1 (same), Raffle’s Malkoha 4, Chestnut-breasted Malkoha 2, Asian Palm Swift 2, White-whiskered Treeswift 1, Bushy-crested Hornbill 5, Wreathed Hornbill 2, Southern Pied Hornbill 2, Brown Barbet 1, White-bellied Woodpecker 1, Hooded Pitta 1 (same as 30/1), Bar-bellied Cuckoo Shrike 3, 12 sp. of bulbul (including 1 Puff-backed, 1 Crested Olive & 2 Olive-winged), Short-tailed Babbler 2, Ferruginous Babbler 1, Striped Wren Babbler 3, Black-capped Babbler 3, Red-throated Sunbird 2, Scarlet Sunbird 1 male, Long-billed Spiderhunter 4, Spectacled Spiderhunter 1, Tiger Shrike 1 juvenile, Bronzed Drongo 2.

Chestnut-breasted Malkoha at Taman Negara

Dark-necked Tailorbird at Taman Negara

female Magpie Robin at Taman Negara
male Magpie Robin at Taman Negara

Long-billed Spiderhunter at Taman Negara

Long-billed Spiderhunter at Taman Negara

Spectacled Spiderhunter at Taman Negara

Spectacled Spiderhunter at Taman Negara

Malay Hanging Parrot at Taman Negara

Malay Hanging Parrot at Taman Negara

Malay Hanging Parrot at Taman Negara, not doing much hanging

Add caption

Tiger Shrike at Taman Negara

Tiger Shrike at Taman Negara

Tiger Shrike at Taman Negara

Hooded Pitta in the ravine, requires some imagination but it is facing left and a bit away, the blue shoulder flash visible above the sunlit stem

Thursday 11th February 1982:  Taman Negara (Bukit Teresek), Malaysia
The others left Kuala Tahan to revisit Kumbang again.  I wasn’t much interested and went up Bukit Teresek along the ‘closed’ trail.  It was disappointing but there were some good birds near the summit.  Came back by the usual route and saw the top half of Dave’s Garnet Pitta for about a second.  Few birds generally but a nice day to wander around.

Birds seen included:  Little Green Pigeon 20, Drongo Cuckoo 1, Raffle’s Malkoha 5, Chestnut-breasted Malkoha 3, Himalayan Swiftlet 100, White-vented Needletail 10, Fork-tailed Swift 5, White-whiskered Treeswift 1, Blue-throated Bee-eater 2, Red-bearded Bee-eater 1, *White-crowned Hornbill 2, Wreathed Hornbill 2, Rufous Piculet 1, Buff-necked Woodpecker 2, Black and Red Broadbill 2, Garnet Pitta 1 (briefly), Green Iora 1, White-rumped Shama 1, Eastern Crowned Leaf Warbler 8, Arctic Warbler 2, Chestnut-winged Flycatcher 7, Short-tailed Babbler 1, Moustached Babbler 1, Striped Wren Babbler 2, Chestnut-rumped Babbler 1, Fluffy-backed Tit-Babbler 2, Dark-throated Oriole 1, *Slender-billed Crow 2.

Bukit Teresek from the south

view north from Bukit Teresek
Friday 12th February 1982:  Taman Negara (Bukit Teresek & ravines)
Same old routine including visit to Bukit Teresek where saw a male Siberian Blue Robin followed by a Garnet Pitta for 5 minutes in ‘the’ ravine, must be the best in SE Asia.  Not much else of note but still managed two new birds.  Others returned having seen a few nice mammals (primarily a civet and a Gaur) and two Banded Pittas on the walk back.  Have seen 50 new birds in 16 full days at Taman Negara (including 3 new pittas).  Decided to give it one more full day, unless a Giant Pitta is seen then all bets are off!

Birds seen included:  Blyth’s Hawk Eagle 1, *Blue-rumped Parrot 1, Malay Hanging Parrot 2, Brown Needletail 2, White-whiskered Treeswift 3, Scarlet-rumped Trogon 1 female, Bushy-crested Hornbill 1, Rhinoceros Hornbill 6, Blue-eared Barbet 1, Black and Red Broadbill 1, Garnet Pitta 1, Bar-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike 3, *Black and White Bulbul 2, Siberian Blue Robin 1 male, Brown Flycatcher 1, White-necked Babbler 2, Plain Sunbird 1, Fairy Bluebird 20.

Saturday 13th February 1982:  Taman Negara (Bukit Teresek & ravines)
Usual route up Bukit Teresek then two and a half hours in ‘the’ ravine where Banded and Hooded Pittas seen.  No new birds today so appear to be timing departure well.

Birds seen included:  Crested Goshawk 1, Wallace’s Hawk Eagle 1, Black-thighed Falconet 2, Blue-rumped Parrot 7, Malay Hanging Parrot 4, Raffle’s Malkoha 1, White-whiskered Treeswift 4, Scarlet-rumped Trogon 1 male, Black Hornbill 2, Blue-eared Barbet 2, Brown Barbet 1, Great Slaty Woodpecker 2, Black and Red Broadbill 4, Hooded Pitta 2 (1 same as on 30/1), Banded Pitta 1 (same as seen previously), Black and White Bulbul 2, Scaly-breasted Bulbul 1, Puff-backed Bulbul 2, Stripe-throated Bulbul 1, White-rumped Shama 2, Eastern Crowned Leafbird 2, Short-tailed Babbler 2, Black-throated Babbler 1, Plain Sunbird 1, Scarlet Sunbird 2, Spectacled Spiderhunter 1, Yellow-eared Spiderhunter 2, Black-naped Oriole 2, Fairy Bluebird 8, Crested Jay 3, Hill Myna 4.

Black-thighed Falconet from Bukit Teresek


Sunday 14th February 1982:  Taman Negara to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Last breakfast at Taman Negara, with coconut and egg jam – yuk!, I finished up my honey instead.  Paid bill (just under M$70 for boat and 18 nights accommodation).  Left at 09:18 having seen 203 species at Taman Negara.  Boatmen down river seemed pretty dozy, grounding boat 3 or 4 times.  We had to walk round one set of rapids while they took the boat through.  It eventually took exactly 3 hours to get to Kuala Tembling.  Here got taxi to Jerrantut (it was waiting at the quay) which took under half an hour.  A quick change into another taxi to Kuala Lumpur, dropping us off in front of City Hotel two and a half hours later.  Got double rooms (M$6.30 per person) and walked to bus station and booked on the 10:30 bus to Butterworth the next morning.

Birds seen included:  Crested Serpent Eagle 1, Rufous-bellied Hawk Eagle 1, Osprey 1, Common Sandpiper 10, Malay Hanging Parrot 5, White-breasted Kingfisher 10, Black-capped Kingfisher 5, Stork-billed Kingfisher 1, Common Kingfisher 5, Black Hornbill 2, Southern Pied Hornbill 1, Ashy Minivet 8, Yellow-crowned Bulbul 12.

leaving Taman Negara - walking the rapids




Monday, 8 February 1982

30 years ago: 4-8 February 1982, Taman Negara (rafting & Kumbang)

Thursday 4th February 1982:  Taman Negara (river on raft), Malaysia
Up at 06:00 and into the forest by torchlight at 06:10.  Got to river entry point at 07:10 with Colin and waited 20 minutes for Steve but he didn’t show.  Waded up Sungei Tembeling to Dave’s finfoot site and on a further 200m.  Steve then joined us and we continued until it was neck deep - Steve  being a bit shorter was swimming at this stage proving his Leica bins were fully waterproof.  Fortunately we soon came across an abandoned bamboo raft which we salvaged and just floated with the 3 of us on it.  Continued a further 750m, including over one set of rapids with no mishaps then leisurely drifted back downstream.  Amazingly good fun ‘shooting the rapids’ although several times the raft grounded and we had to get off.  Incredibly managed to keep reasonably dry, especially binoculars, but as we failed to see finfoot will have to try again.

Birds seen included:  Black-capped Kingfisher 2, *Banded Kingfisher 1 female, Southern Pied Hornbill 2, Large Wood Shrike 2, Blue-winged Leafbird 10, Yellow-crowned Bulbul 8, *Malaysian Blue Flycatcher 4, Rufous-chested Flycatcher 1 male, Sultan Tit 3, Dark-throated Oriole 1.

Colin, myself and Steve rafting at Taman Negara.  Dave, who took the photo, didn't need to join us as he'd seen the finfoot.  He missed a lot of fun though!

Friday 5th February 1982:  Taman Negara (Bukit Teresek and river on raft)
After a leisurely breakfast birded up to the raft arriving just as five boats of kids went past.  Decided to leave it until later and climbed up Bukit Teresek getting brilliant views of Roulrouls on the way.  Back to the raft at 16:00 and took it up river, where met boats coming back as we went up.  The evening was very quiet though, but still no finfoots although a monitor lizard in the river provided momentary excitement.  Mistimed our return, so after docking at the usual place had to walk back though the forest to HQ by moonlight.  No luminous toadstools were evident but we saw a few luminous moulds on leaves.

Birds seen included:  Roulroul 23, Crested Fireback 2 males, Large Green Pigeon 6, Malay Hanging Parrot 3, Drongo Cuckoo 1, Raffle’s Malkoha 1, Chestnut-breasted Malkoha 1, Scarlet-rumped Trogon 1, Black-capped Kingfisher 2, Stork-billed Kingfisher 2, Blue-throated Bee-eater 4, Black Hornbill 2, Southern Pied Hornbill 1, Rhinoceros Hornbill 2, Helmeted Hornbill 1, Brown Barbet 4, Buff-rumped Woodpecker 1, Grey and Buff Woodpecker 1, Black and Red Broadbill 3, Ashy Tailorbird 1, Rufous-tailed Tailorbird 1, Eastern Crowned Leaf Warbler 4, Malaysian Blue Flycatcher 1 male, Rufous-chested Flycatcher 1 imm. male, *Maroon-breasted Flycatcher 1 male, Chestnut-backed Scimitar Babbler 1, Black-capped Babbler 1, Scarlet Sunbird 1 male, Crested Jay 2.

Monitor Lizard at Taman Negara, one of these in the river was the closest we came to seeing a finfoot

Flying Lizard at Taman Negara, altogether less controversial!

Saturday 6th February 1982:  Taman Negara (Kuala Tahan to Kumbang)
Decided to go to Kumbang Hide, leaving after a visit to the shop for provisions.  Not a lot available, tins being rather heavy to carry and biscuits very limited.  A long walk though ‘samey’ jungle, but finally saw Rufous-backed Kingfisher after an initial dip.  In hide by 16:30 but no mammals of any value, though a few good birds.  Did night watches by shift, mine was from 20:30-23:00, but nothing at all appeared during the night.

Birds seen included:  Black-thighed Falconet 1, Malay Hanging Parrot 12, Raffle’s Malkoha 1, *Rufous-backed Kingfisher 2, Blue-throated Bee-eater 2, Southern Pied Hornbill 1, Helmeted Hornbill 1, Brown Barbet 1, *Malaysian Honeyguide 1, Crimson-winged Woodpecker 1, *Olive-backed Woodpecker 1, Maroon Woodpecker 1, Orange-backed Woodpecker 1 male, Large Cuckoo Shrike 2, Green Iora 2, Eastern Crowned Leaf Warbler 3, Pale-legged Leaf Warbler 1, Striped Wren Babbler 5, Black-capped Babbler 1.

Sunday 7th February 1982:  Taman Negara (Kumbang area), Malaysia
Walked to Kuala Treggan on Sungei Tahan.  Steve and I took out a leaky canoe to look for finfoot but hastily returned as water was coming in faster than I could bail it out.  Later waded up a small river with Dave.  After an hour and a half got quite worried as to where it was leading us.  Decided to cut through on a compass bearing but the jungle was too thick.  Compromised by following along next to the river for another half an hour, but very tough going in places and so re-entered the river (minus one pair of socks lost to horrible spiky ferns).  River much rockier and cut my foot but reached the trail where the river crossed it two and a half hours after starting.  Quite a relief.  Really tired as a result and found it hard to stay awake during my shift (20:00-22:00).  Saw nothing and when Colin had a Samba at c23:00 I was too dead to the world to respond and so dipped.  Nothing else was seen.

Birds seen included:  Black-thighed Falconet 1 (same), Malay Hanging Parrot 2, Green-billed Malkoha 1, Raffle’s Malkoha 4, Black-capped Kingfisher 1, Rufous-backed Kingfisher 1, Blue-banded Kingfisher 1, Rhinoceros Hornbill 4, *Yellow-crowned Barbet 1, Black and Red Broadbill 2, Black-winged Flycatcher-Shrike 2, Fiery Minivet 6, Lesser Green Leafbird 6, Blue-winged Leafbird 4, White-rumped Shama 1, Chestnut-naped Forktail 1 female, *Plain Sunbird 2, Long-billed Spiderhunter 2, Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker 1.

mammals seen at Taman Negra were genrally disappointing, this giant squirrel being the best I managed.

Monday 8th February 1982:  Taman Negara (Kumbang to Kuala Tahan)
Walked back to Kuala Tahan in three hours in the rain so saw very little.  Checked back into hut and had a late breakfast.  Rain continued so rest of day was spent lazing around and writing post cards.  ‘Our’ raft has disappeared while we’ve been gone, not that it was probably a very effective way of looking for finfoots but great fun!

Birds seen included:  Malay Hanging Parrot 2, Dollarbird 1, Black Hornbill 1, Southern Pied Hornbill 1, Rhinoceros Hornbill 2, Chestnut-naped Forktail 1 male, Eastern Crowned Leaf Warbler 2, Moustached Babbler 1, Thick-billed Spiderhunter 1, Crested Jay 1, Hill Myna 2.