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SOUTH THAILAND EXTENDED TOUR

Tour Description

green-slate

THAILAND
BIRDING TOUR
ANY TIME*

Duration:18 days, 17 nights
Group Size:2-6
Anytime Price:$4675
Group Price:$4350
Single Suppl:$425
Est #Species:425-475
Pace:Easy
Difficulty:Easy/Moderate
* This tour is available for any dates of your choosing provided guide services and accommodations are available.

DAY 1 - BANGKOK

International flights typically arrive in the evening. The hotel is reached by a 5-min shuttle van, which is arranged in advance and provided by the hotel. Night in Bangkok at the Aranta Airport Hotel.

DAY 2 - PAK THALE & LAEM PAK BIA

Morning depart early for Pak Thale, about a 2-hour drive. Pak Thale is the best place to find the endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Sometimes this species can be found quickly, while other times it take considerable looking. Numerous other shorebirds are also present in the mudflats, including Lesser Sand-Plover, Greater Sand-Plover, Malaysian Plover, Kentish Plover, Spotted Redshank, Common Greenshank, Common Redshank, Great Know, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Temminck's Stint, and Long-toed Stint. From there continue along the coast to the Mangrove Research Center where Indian Cormorant, Red-wattled Lapwing, Slaty-breasted Rail, Ruddy-breasted Crake, Oriental Pratincole, White-winged Tern, Whiskered Tern, and Oriental Skylark are possible. After lunch take boat out to the sandspit beyond the mangroves on the coast, best place to find Malaysian Plover, White-faced Plover, the latter a likely future split from Kentish Plover. Afternoon bird around Laem Pak Bia looking especially for Nordmann's Greenshank, which regularly winters there, and Asian Dowitcher. Other possibilities include Painted Stork, Chinese Pond-Heron, Javan Pond-Heron, Spot-billed Pelican, Brown Shrike, and Asian Pied-Starling. Also likely are a variety of widely distributed wintering shorebirds along withy Brown-hooded Gull, Great Crested Tern, and Lesser Crested Tern. Night at Good Home Hotel in Phetchaburi.

DAY 3 - LAEM PAK BIA & BAAN SONG NUK

Morning return to Laem Pak Bia as needed to look for Nordmann's Greenshank and Asian Dowitcher if missed the previous day. Then transfer to Kaeng Krachan, about a half hour drive. After arrival and lunch, visit the nearby hide at Baan Song Nuk. This site is the only place were Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush and Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush are regularly seen. It's also an excellent place to see the scarce Blue Pitta. Other birds that sometimes come in to the waterhole near the hide include Kalij Pheasant, Black-naped Monarch, Abbott's Babbler, Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, and several species of bulbuls. Night at Baan Maka Resort near Kaeng Krachan park entrance.

DAY 4 - KAENG KRACHAN

All day birding the road up the mountain in Kaeng Krachan. The habitat is is mixed with open woodland, bamboo stands, and lush montane forest. In April nests of many interesting species are often staked out, but earlier in the year birding along the road is dependent on what species happen to show. In the lower section of the road, possibilities include Oriental Pied-Hornbill, Greater Yellownape, Black-thighed Falconet, Black-and-red Broadbill, and Sultan Tit. Higher up an open area with several dead trees is where Buff-rumped Woodpecker and Black-and-buff Woodpecker are most likely found. A bit higher in lush forest along the road is the best place to find Ratchet-tailed Treepie, a species that often takes some time to find. Other interesting birds include Red-bearded Trogon, Great Barbet, Green-eared Barbet, Crimson-winged Woodpecker, Laced Woodpecker, Black-winged Cuckooshrike, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, and Rufous-fronted Babbler. The very localized Yellow-vented Pigeon is only possible at Kaeng Krachan and is often seen when suitable trees are in fruit along the road. Kalij Pheasant regularly comes out onto the roadway to give stellar views. Also possible are Silver-breasted Broadbill and Red-bearded Bee-eater. Night birding for owls and nightjars near the resort can be very productive. Night at Baan Maka Resort.

DAY 5 - KAENG KRACHAN

Another full day birding the road up the mountain. It's worth spending two full days birding the road as different species appear each day. Several established blinds and feeding stations that require visitors to bring their own blinds are present along the road. Sitting in a blind is the best way to see the rarely seen Ferruginous Partridge and the much more regularly seen Hooded Pitta. Kaeng Krachan is the only place where Rusty-cheeked Hornbill, a split from Brown Hornbill can be found. This hornbill is typically back in the forest and often difficult to find. In bamboo stands Collared Babbler and Gray-breasted Parrotbill sometimes appear. The huge Great Slaty Woodpecker is possible but infrequently seen. Night at Baan Maka Resort.

DAY 6 - WAT KHAO LUK CHANGE & CHUMPHON

Morning visit Wat Khao Luk Chang, a Buddhist temple located a half hour away that has good habitat on the grounds. In addition to the tame White-handed Gibbons on an island, the site offers several good birds. The main target species are Spotted Owlet, Blue-throated Bee-eater, and Rufous Treepie, all normally seen there. Other interesting birds possible there are Cinnamon Bittern and Greater Painted-Snipe in the wetlands and Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Red-breasted Parakeet, Black-naped Oriole, Korean Flycatcher, and Eyebrowed Thrush in the open woodland. After lunch transfer to Chumphon, stopping en route to look for Manchurian Reed Warbler. At Chumphon look for Venous-breasted Starling, best seen there. Night at Nana Buri Resort in Chumphon.

DAY 7 - CHUMPHON & KHLONG SAENG

During winter months (through February), take a boat out to the mangroves near the river mouth to look for Pale-capped Pigeon, a very localized winter visitor to the area. In other months visit Kaeng Krung National Park instead. Possibilities there include Crested Serpent-Eagle, Black-bellied Malkoha, Rufous Piculet, Banded Woodpecker, Black-and-yellow Broadbill, and Rufous-crowned Babbler. After lunch transfer to Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary. This special place may not appeal to everyone as accommodations are very basic, namely bamboo huts on a floating dock with padded sleeping mats on the floor. However, for those amenable to basic accommodations in return for a special experience, the sanctuary is a wonderful place. The accommodations are reached by a 3-hour boat trip through striking Limestone Karst formations dotting the reservoir. En route White-bellied Sea-Eagles are always present and Lesser Fish-Eagles are likely. Sometimes White-handed Gibbons can be seen in the trees along the shore. Other birds such as Blue-eared Kingfisher and rare raptors are very possible. A night boat trip on the lagoon should produce good views of Buffy Fish-Owl. Night in the sanctuary.

DAY 8 - KHLONG SAENG & SRI PHANG NGA

Early morning boat trip on the lagoon looking for Lesser Fish-Eagle if missed the previous day and Dusky Crag-Martin. Also possible are Gray-headed Fish-Eagle, Great Hornbill, Helmeted Hornbill, Bushy-crested Hornbill, and Rufous-bellied Swallow. There is a place a half-hour's hike into the forest where Great Argus can be seen if prior disturbance by guests hasn't caused it to abandon its display grounds. Visiting this site may be an option very early in the morning. Mid-day return to the debarcation point at the dock. Mid-day transfer to Sri Phang Nga. Afternoon birding there. Spend some time in a portable blind at a stakeout where Malayan Banded-Pitta regularly appears, drawn in by mealworms placed there by birders. Also possible there is Hooded Pitta. Nearby is a creek where sitting in a hide typically affords good vies of Chestnut-naped Forktail. Spend some time in a portable blind at a small pool along the road that attracts as many as 7 species of bulbuls.

DAY 9 - SRI PHANG NGA & PHANG NGA

Morning Sri Phang Nga. Six species of hornbills are possible, mainly seen flying over the forest at a distance. Old forest along the road to the campsite is good for Chestnut-winged Babbler, Gray-throated Babbler, Gray-headed Babbler, Black-capped Babbler, and Abbott's Babbler. The stream along the road may yield up several possible forest kingfishers. The campsite can be good for Plaintive Cuckoo, Blyth's Paradise-Flycatcher, Asian Fairy-bluebird, Long-billed Spiderhunter, several species of bulbuls, and more. Mid-day transfer to Phang Nga with birding stops to look for Watercock and Spotted Wood-Owl, the latter a stakeout at a long-standing roost near Thang Muang beach. Late afternoon bird some boardwalks through mangroves at Phang Nga. A small area of mangroves near the park entrance are often good for Ruddy Kingfisher and Brown-winged Kingfisher. Also possible there is Mangrove Pitta. Night at Manora Garden Hotel in Phang Nga.

DAY 10 - PHANG NGA & KHAO NOR CHUCHI

Morning birding a longer boardwalk through mangroves near Phang Nga. Main target birds are Mangrove Pitta, Golden-bellied Gerygone, and Jungle Myna. Mid-day transfer to Khao Nor Chuchi. Afternoon roadside birding in Khao Nor Chuchi, the site where Gurney's Pitta was regularly seen until 2013. There have been no records of it since and may be extirpated in Thailand. Birding is difficult there due to dense undergrowth and steep trails. Instead of doing the trails, bird the road through the park. Late afternoon visit the headquarters area where more open trees attracts birds such as Puff-backed Bulbul and Van Hasselt's Sunbird. Night at Moragot Resort near Khao Nor Chuchi.

DAY 11 - KHAO NOR CHUCHI & KRUNG CHING

Morning birding around the motel grounds. Then walk the trail in Khao Nor Chuchi leading to the Emerald Pool and Blue Pool. The trail is often good for babblers. One section of the trail is very good for spiderhunters, including Thick-billed Spiderhunter, Yellow-eared Spiderhunter, Spectacled Spiderhunter, and Gray-breasted Spiderhunter. Mid-day transfer to Krung Ching, about a 3½ hour drive. Late afternoon birding along the road in Krung Ching. An overlook is a good place to find Silver-rumped Needletail and Germain's Swiftlet. Night at Krung Ching Hill Resort

DAY 12 - KRUNG CHING

All day hike up the waterfall trail. Numerous good birds are possible, including Black-bellied Malkoha, Scarlet-rumped Trogon, the scarce and difficult to see Black-backed Dwarf-Kingfisher and Ruddy Kingfisher, several species of barbets, notably Sooty Barbet, Blue-eared Barbet, Red-throated Barbet, and Gold-whiskered Barbet, the erratically distributed and hard to find Maroon Woodpecker, Black-and-yellow Broadbill, Rufous-winged Philentoma and the more scarce Maroon-breasted Philentoma, Fiery Minivet, Dark-throated Oriole, Gray-cheeked Bulbul, Gray-throated Bulbul, Yellow-bellied Bulbul, Rufous-tailed Tailorbird, and Brown Fulvetta. Krung Ching is especially good for babblers. Possibilities include Chestnut-winged Babbler, Black-throated Babbler, Gray-headed Babbler, Moustached Babbler, Black-capped Babbler, Short-tailed Babbler, Fluffy-backed Tit-Babbler, and Abbott's Babbler. The forest above the lunch pavilion higher up is a likely place to look for the rare Malaysian Rail-babbler, which can sometimes be drawn in by playback. The open area near the beginning of the trail may yield Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker and Yellow-vented Flowerpecker. Night at Krung Ching Hill Resort.

DAY 13 - KRUNG CHING & THALE NOI

Morning bird a short trail near the beginning of the waterfall trail, looking especially for Rufous Kingfisher and Black-capped Babbler. Also bird roadsides looking for any species missed previous day. Afternoon transfer to Thale Noi with birding en route. The causeway offers many pullouts where water birds abound. Night at Phu Mai Horm Resort in Thale Noi.

DAY 14 - YARING MANGROVES, PEATSWAMP RESERVE, & BALA

Morning drive to Yaring and walk the boardwalk through the mangroves, an hour's drive south. The main target birds are Ashy Tailorbird and Mangrove Blue Flycatcher. Then visit Princess Sirindhorn Peatswamp Forest Research and Nature Stuy Center to look for Malaysian Blue Flycatcher, only location to see this species in Thailand. From there drive to Bala. Afternoon birding the main road in Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary. Note that Bala is the lower section, while Hala is the inaccessible higher section of the sanctuary. It should be noted that there is a travel advisory for extreme southern Thailand, including Yaring and Bala due to regular insurgent attacks, which are mainly directed against government buildings and police. As a consequence, many birders avoid going there. Our guides take clients there several times every year without incident but it's up to each individual to decide if they're ok with a visit there. Night in tent under pavilion shelter.

DAYS 15-16 - BALA

Bala features numerous southern species whose ranges extend no further north. It offers some of the best birding in Thailand but is infrequently visited due to the travel advisory mentioned above. Birding in Bala is along the roads and also a couple trails. A main target bird is the Malaysian Rail-babbler, a difficult species sometimes seen along a trail through wet forest that requires wading across a shallow river. The sanctuary is especially good for hornbills including Black Hornbill, Rhinoceros Hornbill, Great Hornbill, Helmeted Hornbill, White-crowned Hornbill, Wrinkled Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, and Plain-pouched Hornbill. It's also possible to see Garnet Pitta and Giant Pitta, though both are rare and difficult to find. Several forest kingfishers are present including Blue-banded Kingfisher, Rufous-backed Dwarf-Kingfisher, and Rufous-collared Kingfisher. Bala is the best place in Thailand to find Javan Frogmouth, often present near the headquarters area. Many species of barbets, woodpeckers, flycatchers, bulbuls, and babblers are also present. Night in tent under pavilion shelter.

DAY 17 - BALA & BANGKOK

Early morning birding near the ranger station. Transfer to Hat Yai, about 4 hours away. Afternoon flight to Bangkok (not included in tour price). Night at Aranta Airport Hotel.

DAY 18 - END OF TOUR

Morning transfer to Suvarnabhumi International Airport for flight home.

 

TOUR NOTES

Tour price is based on accommodations near birding sites, mainly Thai-style hotels with some camping. Utilizing western-style accommodations can be arranged but will result in a higher price and some changes to itinerary and is not possible near Bala.

 

ADDITIONAL INFO
(Not on Menu Above)

BIRDING LOCALES

 

Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Venous-breasted Starling - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours White-bellied Sea-Eagle - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Malayan Banded-Pitta - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Spotted Wood-Owl - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Thick-billed Spiderhunter - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Black-and-yellow Broadbill - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Scarlet-rumped Trogon - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Black-throated Babbler - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours Rufous-backed Dwarf-Kingfisher - © James F Wittenberger and Exotic Birding Tours