I had a chance to visit Mae Wong National Park in Kamphaengphet province from the afternoon of July 16 to the afternoon of July 17. There was a news of Rufous-necked Hornbills, a rare species of hornbill, showing near Chong Yen camp ground. The birds were reported to come and feed at a fruiting tree, so we thought that there’s a high chance that we could see them quite easily.
Along the way up to Chong Yen, we came across a bird-wave by the roadside which consisted of many White-bellied Erpornises, Rufous-fronted Babblers, Black-crested Bulbuls and my lifer, Olive Bulbuls, which is a species found only in the western part of the country. There was also a quite obliging juvenile Rufous-winged Buzzard perching on the roadside. It’s always great to see youngsters of this scarce Indochinese specialty.
However, as we arrived at Chong Yen, the weather was extremely bad. The wind was really strong, blowing in both rain and fog. Birding was almost impossible. At least, some regular birds at the camp ground still managed to show well including a pair of Silver-eared Mesias, Black-throated Laughingthrushes, a family group of White-necked Laughingthrushes and many Flavescent Bulbuls.
After the night of strong wind and heavy rainfall, the weather started to clear up a bit in the morning. I took a walk along the road downhill and the sun began to shine through. Birds were not very active due to strong wind but I could find a small group of White-browed Scimitar-babblers, a female Dark-necked Tailorbird, a pair of Buff-breasted Babblers, a flock of about 15 yellow morph Oriental White-eyes, another western specialty, and a Mountain Imperial Pigeon which was looking for nesting materials.
Since there was no sign of the hornbill, I decided to go and give it a try at the bird bath around Km. 90 where I met Ben from Sweden, who greeted me with much generosity. At the bird bath, we managed to see and photographed a few species including Buff-breasted Babbler, White-crowned Forktail and a pair of Streaked Wren-Babblers.
I went inside a trail near Chong Yen camp ground around noon to check if there’s anything interesting. There was a really nice bird-wave passing by indeed. In this wave, I could pick out a few Burmese Yuhinas, many Grey-chinned Minivets, Yellow-cheeked Tits, a Speckled Piculet, Grey-throated Babblers, Yunnan Fulvettas, Davison’s Leaf Warblers, Black-throated Sunbirds, Golden Babblers, White-throated Fantails and a male Clicking Shrike-babbler. Despite having seen so many species at once, I could barely take any photo since the birds were all high up in the trees and were moving too fast.
I came back to the camp ground and waited to see if the Rufous-necked Hornbills would show up at the fruiting tree but there was still no sign of them. At least, a pair of Great Hornbills showed up instead along with a very distant adult Black Eagle. We decided to leave around 2 PM and headed back to Chiang Mai since it didn’t seem like we would be able to see the hornbills. Along the way, we came across a male Shikra and 2 pairs of Common Hill Mynas perching on a bare tree by the road.