It's only on checking my blog archive that I realise I haven't been to Chaloem Phrakiat Thai Phrachan National Park since May last year. Then the reservoir was virtually empty and I was troubled by this. I am glad to say it was looking much healthier today though by no means bursting. On the basis of today I can promise you I'll be back much sooner next time.
The Park is about an hour's drive from home heading south for a little and then west towards the Myanmar border. It runs parallel to Kaeng Krachan though is to the north. From what I can gather from the Department of National Park's website the park was once an enclave of communist insurgents and has only been a designated and protected National Park since about 2003. Here is the good bit: it gets very few visitors.
Of course the mandatory stupidity: I forgot to bring a card for my camera so no pictures! This is particularly galling as a Kalij Pheasant (Lophura leucomelana), walked out in front of me and showed briefly but long enough to have allowed a couple of decent shots. In fact it was so quiet in the bamboo forest that I picked up the pheasant's rustle in the undergrowth before he appeared, grey blue, a red "comb" and a silvery grey train. This bird's unexpected presence will ensure my return.
Lots of noise and lots of unidentifieds. Two eagles, possibly Greater Spotted, but too high to identify and a lighter coloured smaller raptor. A small, fast, black and dark blue bird simply refused to let me get it in the bins and I reckon I saw this species three or four times in the course of my visit. Definites included a Red-throated Flycatcher, a female, Black-crested Bulbul, Green-billed Malkoha, Greater-Necklaced Laughingthrush, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Common Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail and the more common species.
Now there was one good thing about leaving my SD cards at home. It meant I had to write field descriptions. Now I reckon I wouldn't have got a correct ID on the Red-thoated Flycatcher had I not done this. My notes read:"Like ABF ( Asian Brown Flycatcher) but white tail edges, black tail". That clinched the ID when I got home and looked at the field guides. I believe it is a lifer too along with the Grey Wagtail and the pheasant. I am pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to ID the wagtail either without a field description. I think I need to remember to do this all of the time!
There is one bird that I really wished I had the scope for. It must remain an unidentified but I think it was a woodpecker. Too far away for the binoculars, a small bird with a black mask and at least three white lines on its wing.
Without a doubt this was my most productive visit to this park and as I said above I will head back some time soon. As well as the birds I enjoyed the little bit of a hike I had in the jungle today.