Khao Yai: 15 September 2015

I made a short visit to Khao Yai National Park with my family on September 15. We first drove up to Khao Kheow check point since very early morning hoping to find some pheasants along the way but we saw exactly zero bird. It was a very dark overcast morning but birds were better than I expected around the check point. The reason was pretty obvious, the surrounding trees were full of moths that were attracted by lights from the check point.

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The first bird to show up at the check point was this male Blyth’s Shrike-babbler which was calling from a pine tree not far from where I parked. Not sure which subspecies it was but it seemed to have darker grey throat and underparts than the one I’m familiar with in the north-west.

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Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike was among the friendliest birds up here. Here’s a female perching almost at eye-level.

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Here she caught a nice-looking moth for breakfast.

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A rather friendly pair of Red-headed Trogons was attracted by the moths around the check point too. Here’s the stunning male.

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The subspecies found here as described in literature is ‘klossi’. Not really sure how it differs from any other subspecies but I noticed that it has very restricted white breast band.

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The female was even more confiding! Also note how the red on underparts seems to less saturated than in the male.

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You can’t really hide with such colour!

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Pin-striped Tit-babblers were also numerous. It’s one of the common birds which I haven’t got any decent photos.

The star of the morning was a rather friendly pair of Red-headed Trogons which came around the check point looking for moths just like many other small birds. At times, they would come perch really close and at eye-level but were always easily flushed, so it wasn’t too easy to photograph them. Other birds that came around the check point included Black-throated Laughingthrush, Hill Blue Flycatcher, White-bellied Erpornis, Pin-striped Tit-babbler, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, White-browed Scimitar-babbler, Common Green Magpie, Blyth’s Shrike-babbler and Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike.

I also spotted Kloss’s Leaf Warbler twice joining a fast-moving mixed species flock but couldn’t manage to take any photo of it. In case you wonder what it looks like, visit this blog entry. I also found a few interesting migrants including this season’s first Yellow-browed Warbler, 2 Dark-sided Flycatchers and several Pacific Swifts. My dad also found a single Tiger Shrike.

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We came across this male Red Junglefowl was standing motionlessly on the roadside while leaving Khao Kheow. It was on its way moulting out of the eclipse plumage.

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Interestingly, we found a small flock of 4 Grey-headed Lapwings! I never expect to find this species up here in Khao Yai before.

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There was only 1 adult (middle) with 3 other immatures.

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The adult showed traces of black breast patch which was lacking in the immatures.

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Scratching!

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Unlike most lapwings/plovers, Grey-headed Lapwing has short but clearly visible hind toe!

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It also deploys the walk-stop-look-snatch technique used so frequently among most lapwings and plovers.

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Regularly checking for danger from above

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Immature Grey-headed Lapwing is a neat bird with clean brownish-grey plumage. Note how it lacks the adult’s black breast patch.

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The last view of the flock before they all disappeared.

But the biggest surprise of the day was a flock of 4 Grey-headed Lapwings foraging on the open lawn near a helicopter landing pad next to Nong Khing reservoir. At first glance, I thought they were Red-wattled Lapwings which are so abundant in the area but then I noticed the yellow bill and plain greyish head. Normally, I wouldn’t expect to see this species up here in Khao Yai but anything can happen during the migration period. One of the birds was an adult with traces of black breast band, while others were immature. Surprisingly, they were very cooperative and allowed me to approach at a very close range even for a 300mm lens unlike any other Grey-headed Lapwings I’ve seen.

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Black-winged Kite sitting and looking out for prey on a distant tree

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One of the many Red-wattled Lapwings. They all showed variable amount of white on the chin, probably a sign of non-breeding plumage?

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Female Sambar Deer at Kong Kaew Campsite

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Male Sambar Deer happily feeding in the drizzling rain

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Long-tailed Shrike subspecies ‘longicaudatus’

We birded until around 11am when it began to rain and didn’t stop at all, so we decided to leave around 1:30pm. Before driving back to Bangkok, we stopped by at Pak Pli briefly and managed to find a single male Asian Golden Weaver and a nice ‘longicaudatus’ Long-tailed Shrike sitting alone in the rain.

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