Saturday, 14 April 2012

The Road South to Chumphon

Black-naped Oriole

We decided to head south to Chumphon for the Thai New Year which began yesterday. Of course this meant driving and in order to "beat" the traffic we were en route by 04:00h.  This worked to plan and we were able to stop at Had Wanakorn National Park in Prachaup Khiri Khan province before 07:00h: an additional advantage is its entrance is on the main north-south highway. In effect it is a long,beautiful strip of beach with some forest leading from the entrance to the beach; it is also in part a marine park and includes some of the small adjacent islands. We had effortless but brief views of two owlet species, Spotted Owlet and Asian Barred Owlet. In the woods by the shore there were lots of Indian Rollers, Black-naped Orioles, Black Drongo, Red-wattled Lapwings, Common Hoopoes and a Red Jungle Fowl, "garlic chicken", the pièce de résistance; as it was high tide no evidence of waders. The sea front was busy, lots of people camping and a fair few bungalows, some of which, to the left, the northern side, looked newish and of reasonable quality. Add in a reasonable restaurant where we had some breakfast. Mental note: somewhere to revisit for a couple of relaxing nights by the sea with birding possibilities. In view of heat and two small ones we didn't explore the forest but I managed to shoot a Black-naped Oriole and Indian Roller: the latter seemed larger than those we normally see in our parts. A partly concealed Common Iora had me wondering for a while if I was looking at a male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, until it flew and showed an all yellow head.

Indian Roller

We continued the drive south to Chumphon and split the second half of the drive up with a brief stop at Radar Hill, one of the raptor watch observation points. The formal watch and count, however, is autumnal and follows the north-south migration. Now it's south-north as the raptors head back to the northern hemisphere for spring and summer. There wasn't much action but I did manage to note four Oriental Honey Buzzards over the thirty minutes we stopped. It really was baking hot.

So to Chumphon, city of starlings. I think most self-respecting birds are in hiding as the humans take to the roads to celebrate the new year by throwing gallons of water over each other. This year we have four days of this. Nevertheless Chumphon is one of our favourite places in Thailand and it is nice to be here.

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