Thailand. December 2019.

Having spent time in Laem Pak Bia-Pak Thale central Thailand and several well known birding sites in southeast Thailand recently. We decided a second visit was merited. We stayed in a nice hotel just north of the main airport which was ideal for birding most of the sites north of Phuket. Sites birded were Laem Pakarang for waders which produced three Grey-tailed Tattler easily amid plenty of Terek Sandpiper, Red-necked Stint, Greater and Lesser Sandplover, birding here is easy and the wader roost easily found, a half day would suffice. Khao Phang nga NP. Main birds of note are Chestnut-naped Forktail, Wallace's hawk Eagle and Blue-banded Kingfisher. We got Mangrove Pitta on our second attempt. Next up Ao Sok NP for Banded Pitta (which we failed). But scored Brown-winged Kingfisher, not to mention several other species of Kingfisher.

Next we flew to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Birding Doi Inthanon mostly as this cloud forest is just amazing, every day was a different day bird wise. Both Slaty-backed and White-crowned Forktails were photographed. Gould's Sunbird was easily seen, now called Doi Inthanon Sunbird on the race that is resident only here. Several other species of Sunbird easily observed also. The Summit Coffee shop and carpark was just buzzing in the morning with several waves of birds easily observed. One could spend a month at Doi Inthanon due to the pure size and mixture of birds. Fantastic place and we shall revisit in time.

Mae Hia Agricultural college is about twenty minutes from Chiang Mai and was handy for evening birding. Wire-tailed Swallow is noted here, we scored two birds amid hundreds of Swifts shortly before dusk, several sizes of bats joined the Swifts in good numbers, amazing to see both hunting side by side. Huay Tueng Tao also close to Chaing Mai is a fantastic birding site for open area species with Shrikes, Eastern Yellow and Citrine Wagtails. Bluethroat, Ruddy-breasted Crake, several Cisticolas. Lesser Whistling Duck, Warblers are well represented. Siberian Rubythroat and common waders a busy site all day long, we visited here several times and were not disappointed.

We finally returned to Phuket and made our way to Ko Phi Phi Island. Same evening we hired a longboat to the islands of Ko Pida Nai and Nork to watch the spectacle of the evening gathering of Lesser and some Christmas Frigatbirds. Fantastic with around one thousand on show above our boat. We took plenty of images to separate the two species as they are difficult to separate in the field. Back on Ko Phi Phi the only new bird new for us was Pied Imperial Pigeon which is easy to see thankfully. We did find not any other birds we did not see on the mainland.

We used Birds of Thailand by Uthai Treeucon & Wich'yanan Limparungpatthanakij. The plates are good and it deals with recent splits and races. It has a scanner for every bird to see ample images on your phone. thaibirding.com is an invaluable website run by Nick Upton. We planned most of our trip around his website.

Driving was easy compared to Bangkok and Pattaya, but one still has to be sharp eyed, car rental easy and not expensive, Google maps on the phone sufficed. Hotels and food excellent, Chiang Beer just lovely!

Paul and Andrea Kelly 2020.