Thursday, December 6, 2012

Kaeng Krachan - November 2012

On 26 November after a short flight on Tiger Airways we arrived in Bangkok and were met by Tom from Baan Maka, who soon had all our gear stowed in the Jeep and next stop was Kaeng Krachan.
We had booked Mr Piak to guide us and the first day we crossed the three streams and birded up to Panontung (974m).
The second day we birded around the Ban Krang campsite before continuing up to Panontung and the bamboo groves, where we had some super views of the Pin-tailed Parrotfinches.
The third day we birded in the morning and after lunch we drove on to Cha-Am for a couple days R&R before returning home to Singapore.
We managed 83 species with a few lifers and really enjoyed the stay. We planned to return in the future to checkout the "hides".

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Khao Yai Nat’l Park–November 2012

We took Air Asia to Bangkok 12 November together with Lioe and Jacky. Uthai, our guide, met at the airport and off to Khao Yai we went.

We stayed 5 days in a 3 bedroom chalet inside the park which was quite clean and comfortable.

We managed to see the Silver Pheasant and the Siamese Fireback among the 84 species spotted, a very satisfying and enjoyable trip.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sri Lanka 18-25 October 2012

When Tiger Airways started their flight to Colombo it was good reason to revisit Sri Lanka again.  Our flight on Tiger Airways arrived at 11pm on Thursday and there to meet us was Upali our guide from Starron Bird and Wildlife Tours.   There were 7 in our group, and we were glad to get into a 15-seater bus that gave us a lot of space, in view that 4 of us had cameras and tripods.   This time we went from Colombo following the west coast to Chilaw where we stayed the first night.   Our first bird in the morning were the crows calling in the morning but as we walked to the beach we could hear the woodpecker calling.   Next stop was another beach famous for whale and dolphin watching but it was not the season yet although at Dolphin Beach one group came back with sightings of Bottlenose not far from shore.  Our next stop at Kalpitiya produced an Indian Pitta and the highlight of the 8 day trip was the jeep safari to Wilpattu National Park where we sighted a leopard just metres from our jeep.   We also visited the ancient city of Anuradhapura where the Sri Lanka first kingdom began and where one of Buddha’s collar-bone is  kept in one of the stupas.  At the tanks on the way to the ancient city we were lucky to see lots of waders including the Common Coot.  Our last stop was Habarana where were stayed at TOC  The Other Corner where we had happy memories of our two previous visits.   The tank here was surprisingly dry so we did not see as many water birds as we expected.   However within the gardens of TOC and along the bund we had good views of many species like the Prinias, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, Brown-capped Babbler and the Shikra.  There was also at least 4 Indian Pittas calling which were too shy to show.  All too soon our trip was coming to an end and on the last day it was a long drive after lunch to Katunayaka for dinner at the Tamarind Tree before  checking-in for the late night flight home.

Monday, July 16, 2012

25 June - Chek Jawa, Last Guided Public Walk of 2012

Public walks to the Chek Jawa sandbar will be suspended due to need to replace the Floating Pontoon. It is scheduled to re-open in December. Here's a few photographs from the last walk.

SGF 2012 Appreciation Dinner

Some shots from the dinner, which was very well attended and well organized.

Friday, July 13, 2012

SGF 2012

Some photographs taken at the Singapore Garden Festival where we volunteered for a couple of days.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mae Ping, Doi Inthanon 1-5 April 2012

Great Slaty Woodpecker
Following our recent trip to Doi Lang, Doi Angkhang and DYK, we had to come back for more birds. This time it was the more accessible Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand, that we focused on.

Black-hooded Oriole
 Oriental White-eye


Again we were acompanied by U-Thai fromChiangmai Birding who included a side-trip to Mae Ping for woodpeckers and we were lucky to get a shot of the Great Slaty.
Spectacled BarwingLesser Necklaced Laughingthrush
  We saw many beautiful birds some of which were lifers and the weather was dry and cool throughout our stay.
White-browed Shortwing
Black-tailed Crake

Birds of Doi Inthanon

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Birding Chiang Dao, Doi Lang, Doi Angkhang and DYK 11-16 Feb 2012

Link to Photos
This trip we joined Linda & Lioe and 2 other friends for birds in North Thailand.  We arrived Changmai at 11:30pm on 10th Feb and spent the night at the Airport Greenery Apartments, a 10 minute drive by hotel minibus. Next morning at 6:30am our guide Uthai came with the 8 seater minivan that Linda had booked. Soon the six of us were on our way to Chiang Dao.
Streak-eared Bulbul

Arriving at 8:30am, we birded for a couple of hours at the temple carpark, then dropped by Malee’s, where we would be returning later. We left for Thaton with birding stops along the way in some villages and rice fields. We stayed the night at The Thaton Garden Resort Hotel.
Link to Photos
On 12th at 6:30am we set off for Doi Lang in the back of a pickup truck fitted with benches. It was a rough 1.5 hours ride before we arrived at the military post at the mountain top. The soldiers were friendly and preparing their breakfast in the open kitchen where nearby we saw Dark-backed Sibia, the male and female Large Niltava, Orange-flanked Bush-robin, and Greenish Warbler. We birded further moving slowly downhill and by lunchtime we had seen many species of Bulbuls. After eating our packed lunch the truck drove us down and at the foothills we got good views of 2 Indian Rollers.

Link to PhotosBack at Thaton, we transferred back to our minivan and were soon on our way to Doi Angkhang.
On the way we birded in the pine forest next to the military camp and managed glimpses of Nuthatches and good views of the Grey Bushchat. By 4pm we arrived at the Ban Luang Resort, which was nestled in a valley with beautiful flowers growing on the slopes. It was colder than we had expected and we woke next morning to a temperature of 4ยบ C in our chalet. We spent 2 nights here where we had good views of White-capped Redstart, Black-headed Greenfinch and Little Bunting and many more birds that seemed to be residents here. We also spent a day birding at the King’s Project where the gardens and flowers were the draw to the city folks. There were many birds at the back of the kitchen area apart from among the tall trees and garden grounds.

Link to Photos
From Doi Angkhang we back-tracked to Chiang Dao and checked into Malee’s Resort where we had a nice chalet in their garden. We walked to the temple where we had visited on our first morning and this time we had more time to seek out the birds. The next morning another early packed breakfast and another truck came to bring us up to Den Ya Kat (DYK), this ride was more bumpy than the one we had at Doi Lang. After 1.5 hours we reached the top where a park station is located. While the driver proceeded to grill his fish for his breakfast we had our packed breakfast on the picnic benches with 3 hungry but friendly dogs looking forward to some scraps.  After a quick bite we set off to the pond area and the pine forest area, somehow the Nuthatches are so far up it was difficult to get a good shot. We went back to the bench waiting for the bird waves.  In one of the waves, a yell of "Hoopoe" got us jumping off our seats.  While the bird did not stay long most of us got a shot of it.  We then spent time wandering around the park.  Someone called the group back as the driver who had been to DYK many times had found an interesting bird perched on a tree, a Grosbeak and later its mate came along, making this pair the highlight of our DYK visit.

Link to Photos
In the afternoon we descended stopping at another park station midway but by then it was hot and not many birds were seen. We returned to Malee’s and in the late afternoon we walked to the temple again to see if the Asian Paradise Flycatcher seen the previous evening was back.  It did not show up although we had good views of the Grey headed Canary Flycatcher. 
On 16th, our last morning we started 6.30am and walked to the temple and this time we walked up the 100 steps to the top.  The first bird that greeted us on the flight of steps was the Streak Wren Babbler. Unfortunately the 2 dogs from Malee’s came along and rushed up spooking the birds off before anyone could get a shot. We returned to Malee’s for a late breakfast and checked out at 10.30 am for Chiangmai airport.  Our 6 days of birding yielded 136 species and stoked our interest to return to check out the birds of another mountain, Doi Inthanon.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Fraser's Hill 5-8 March 2012

Our recent trip gave another the opportunity to relax with more birds. Weather was a little wet, usually in the afternoon, so still lots of birding in the morning and evenings.


C21_2160Fraser's Hill, a set on Flickr.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Chinese New Year (CNY) in Japan 18-26 Jan 2012

Rather than our usual CNY at home, we decided to visit our friends in Japan for a taste of winter weather. We were prepared for the cold weather but were lucky to have beautiful sunny dry and snow covered vistas when we were at Hakodate, our first port of call.
We hit the tourist spots of Mount Hakodate, Goryokaku Tower and Kanemori Red Brick Warehouses, and had a great time hopping on and off the old tram using our 1-day pass exploring the old district, walking to the churches and gardens albeit snow-covered. We also enjoyed the many small family run restaurants with a variety of food and very friendly people. After an all too short visit we were soon on our way to Tokyo.
From Haneda we took the airport bus to Fujisawa where Philip and Nariko met us and took us to their home in Tsujido. Even though we were not on a birding trip, the next morning we were happy to record a few lifers just a few minutes walk from their apartment. 
A 10 minute walk from P & N's place, is Shonan beach, a popular place with surfers,  In fact surf boards are seen outside most apartments and on the customised racks on most bicycles. On our morning walks along the beach there were always several surfers searching for their wave in the 2 degree weather.

Black-eared Kite
White Wagtail
Brown-eared Bulbul

Enoshima Island was very close by and we spent an afternoon visiting the shrines and gardens. No visitor would miss the Black-eared Kites flying overhead that sometimes dive very low and an intriguing warning sign explaining their behaviour reminded us of our Macaques at home. These Kites are also in the habit of snatching food from unwary visitors.

Enoshima Causeway

Kamakura Daibutsu
On another day we visited Kamakura, easily reached by train from Ofuna which is one stop away from Fujisawa.

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
As we bid goodbye to our friends, we were already planning another visit to experience a different season next year.