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Birdwatching in Thailand - Information
Birdwatching in Thailand Trips
Birdwatching in Thailand is a fantastic pastime due to the country's geographic location. Thailand's position at the junction of Wallacea, Indochina and Himalayan foothills means that there is a wide variety of bird species to see and by traveling around the country it is possible to find over 400 species of birds in just 2 to 3 weeks.
Whilst Thailand is an excellent country for independent travel due to its good infrastructure, friendly atmosphere and ubiquitous good food, many birdwatchers appreciate the company of an ornithologist who is familiar with the country, culture and language in order to help them find many of the most exciting bird species.
I am now happy to be able to help organise trips for visiting birdwatchers who can benefit from my many years experience of living and birdwatching in Thailand as well as running the thaibirding.com website. Birdwatchers planning a trip can feel free to contact me about a suitable itinerary for their needs.
A Guide To The Birds Of Thailand by Craig Robson
This book was the extremely well-received on its publication and is still currently the most up to date guide to the birds of Thailand available in English. However, that does not mean that it IS up to date and many splits and additions to the Thai list have since been made. However, this is currently as good as it gets for English language field guides in Thailand so it is essential for visiting birdwatchers. You want to get this print of the book, not the Princeton Press version which is full of misprints and other errors.
Day Trips - Ideal For Visiting Birders Who Do Not Have Much Time
For those who only have a short time in Bangkok and want to go birding the good news is that a number of day trips from Bangkok which can provide excellent birding. I often have people contacting me who are visiting Bangkok on business, have a short stopover, who are traveling with non-birding partners or who want a day's guided birding at the beginning of their independent birdwatching tour of Thailand; a day trip works well for people in all of these categories.
These day trips can be arranged for individuals or groups and are appropriate for all levels of birdwatchers.
These day trips are an excellent way of seeing some of Thailand's best wetlands and the birds associated with them. Unfortunately, though, I do not offer day trips from Bangkok to forest locations due to the huge amount of driving on busy roads that it involves.
By far the most popular day trip that I run is that to Laem Pak Bia and Pak Thale in Petchaburi province, about a 2 hour drive from central Bangkok. These areas, on the Gulf of Thailand, adjoin each other and are home to tens of thousands of shorebirds between the months of October and mid April.
On a day trip to this region in the right months I always see a wide variety of shorebirds including;Spoon-billed Sandpiper - Critically endangered, with 250-300 birds only in the wild.Nordmann's Greenshank - Endangered, with less than 1000 mature individuals.Malaysian Plover - Near Threatened, with less than 20000 individuals and declining.
Other shorebirds usually include Great Knot, Long-toed Stint, "White-faced Plover", Greater Sand Plover and Broad-billed Sandpiper. However, a day trip to this area also provides sightings of many open country species such as Plain-backed Sparrow, Oriental Skylark, Asian Pied Starling, Green Bee-eater and many others.
Muang Boran fishponds and Bang Poo make for another excellent day tour with a selection of freshwater wetland species at Muang Boran whilst gulls and waders can be found at Bang Poo.
At times of the year when shorebirds are not in any numbers in Thailand day trips to Khao Look Chang for woodland birds such as Black-headed Woodpecker, Lineated Barbet and Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush, in the morning, and an afternoon at nearby rice fields for egrets, jacanas, storks and nesting weavers are excellent,
Longer Thailand Birdwatching Trips - For Those With More Time
If you want to see a wide selection of Thailand's birds then it is essential to make a longer birding tour of the country. The fact that Thailand spans several biogeographic regions means that by visiting different parts of the country one can see different species. Two to three weeks is a good length of time to allot to a birding tour of Thailand - personally I like to visit two regions (central and north) and spend some time at each location, but some people prefer to pack in three regions (central, north and south) to see more species, but that is too much of a rush for my liking.
The most popular birding tour of Thailand that I do involves visiting Laem Pak Bia/Pak Thale for shorebirds, Kaeng Krachan and Khao Yai for tropical forest species then travel to the north to visit Doi Inthanon, Doi Ang Kang and Doi Lang where northern forest birds and winter visitors can be found. All of these places are nice locations and I usually see 400-450 species in around 16 days.
The types of birdwatching tours that I organize vary depending on the types of birders that are visiting Thailand. For people who like to take their time I visit slightly fewer locations and go at a more relaxed pace. For those people who are "hard-core" birders I usually pack in as many locations and birds as possible.
However, most birdwatchers will have a good idea of where they would like to visit and can contact me to discuss the best itinerary to suit themselves.
Just go to thaibirding.com where you can see my e-mail address and contact me.
You Want More Than A Day Trip But Do Not Have Two Weeks For Birding?
Some of my most enjoyable trips are those which last 3-8 days. This a good length of time to visit a couple of bird watching sites and see a wide variety of species, including some rare and spectacular ones.
Some nice medium length tours can operate from Bangkok, with perhaps the best being 3-5 days at Laem Pak Bia/Pak Thale for shorebirds combined with Kaeng Krachan for forest species. There is a lot to see at these locations with lowland and upland species at Kaeng Krachan plus a couple of really excellent blinds outside of the forest where many birds come to feed as well as nearby rice fields that are full of birds including large raptors in the dry season.
Species such as Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Nordmann's Greenshank, Sultan Tit, Greater Spotted Eagle, Banded Broadbill & Ratchet-tailed Treepie are likely to be seen on trips such as these.
The northern region of Thailand offers some beautiful scenery as well as wonderful birds. Depending on the length of time visitors have a combination of three sites works well - Doi Inthanon, Doi Ang Kang and Doi Lang. In 7-8 days all three can be visited, with less time one or two of these sites can be explored.
Northern tours usually produce sightings of Silver-eared Mesia, Scarlet-faced Liocichla, White-browed Shortwing, Spectacled Barwing, Yellow-cheeked Tit and many others.
If you wish to ask me more about bird watching tours and day trips in Thailand please contact me using my email address on this page - thaibirding.com.
Some Excellent Bird Books That I Frequently Use When Birdwatching In Thailand
A field guide is obviously the most useful, single book to birders when on any bird watching tour, but there are other guides available that allow serious birders to identify and learn more about some of the difficult groups of birds such as raptors, gulls and shorebirds. The following books I personally recommend; I use them frequently and they are excellent.
These are some of the hardest birds in the world to identify, not only do they have dull and cryptic plumage, they are highly skulking and difficult to see. If you hope to get to grips with these birds this book is essential; the bonus is that it is one of the best bird books ever published!
Raptors of the World is a superb book which indeed has illustrations of all the raptors of the world. This is a difficult group of birds to deal with but I have found this book to be invaluable and it is small enough to be carried with you on birding trips.
Are you confused by all those similar-looking shorebirds? It is not uncommon for birders to struggle with this group of species but this excellent book will help you sort them out. All the world's waders are dealt with here and the paperback version is light enough to be taken out into the field.
Gulls are an incredibly complex group of bird species with the taxonomy constantly being re-evaluated. This superb publication deals with all the world's gulls in depth, species and subspecies so that you can attempt to identify every gull you see.