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Worldtwitch Thailand

1999 THAILAND BIRD REPORTS

BIRD CONSERVATION SOCIETY OF THAILAND (BCST Bulletin)

E-mail: bcst[at]box1.a-net.net.th


RECENT REPORTS
September – 31 December 1999

A visit to the long-neglected Bung Kroeng Kavia (Kanchanaburi) produced Oriental Darter and Great Cormorant on the lake itself on 7 November (BCST). 30 Intermediate Egrets were counted at Khok Kham on 17 November KKKC). Four Painted Storks were seen in flight near a flock of 100 Asian Openbills near the Sports Village, Bangkok on 8 November (KR). The pond at Kasetsart University Kamphaengsaen Campus (Nakhon Pathom) held roughly 100 Lesser Whistling-duck and 30 Garganey on 26 December (WS).

Five Black Bazas, apparently on migration, drifted southwards over the Sports Village on 1 November (KR) and another was seen at Bang Mot (Bangkok) on 7 November (CP) with 5 at KU Kamphaengsaen Campus on 26 December (WS). A female Northern Sparrowhawk was reported from Doi Hua Mae Kham (Chiang Rai) on 26 November (RJ). Adult Imperial Eagle was reported from Doi Wao (Nan) on 10 December (ST). A Rufous-winged Buzzard and 2 Eurasian Kestrels were seen at Mae Hia (Chiang Mai) on 1 October (JK). An immature Merlin at Tha Ton (Chiang Mai) on 4 and 5 December (AR) was a first record for Thailand (AR). An adult Peregrine Falcon was at Bang Poo on 11 December (PDR).

Grey-headed Lapwings were reported from Mae Hia, Chiang Mai (5 on 1 October: JK) and Kamphaengsaen (10 birds, 26 December: WS). Field Guides tour were successfully directed by mobile phone to the exact site at Khok Kham (Samut Sakhon) which held two Spoon-billed Sandpipers on 1 December. They saw one Spoon-billed on 28 December, which was seen again on 31 December (DP,PDR,WS) providing further indications of a small winter presence.

Totals of 2,160 sandplovers, 61 Grey Plover, 306 Rufous-necked Stints, 63 Broad-billed Sandpipers, 44 Spotted Redshank, 54 Common Greenshank 269 Marsh Sandpipers, 346 Black-winged Stilts were among other birds counted on a circuit from Khok Kham to Wat Bang Bo, via Ban Krasa Khao (Samut Sakhon) on 31 December (DP,PDR,WS).

The military airfield at Takhli (Nakhon Sawan) produced a total of 10 Northern Thick-knees on 13 December (ST). One first-winter “herring gull” was briefly at Bang Poo on 15 December when photographed (ST).

A flock of 12 Pink-necked Pigeons was observed at Suan Thonburirom (Bangkok) on 14 November (CP). Two Large Hawk Cuckoos at Kastsart University, Kamphaengsaen on 26 December (WS).

A flock of 12 Blue Magpies was seen near the Land Development station (Chiang Mai) on 24 October (JK).

A clutch of good birds in plains dry dipterocarp woodland at Sap Sadao, Thap Lan National Park (Nakhon Ratchasima) included White-rumped Falcon, over 30 Blossom-headed Parakeets, a male Streak –throated Woodpecker (only the second record for NE Thailand), 2–3 White-bellied Woodpeckers and several White-browed Fantails (WCS). The presence of the parakeets (a rather scarce bird in Thailand: much scarcer than Red-breasted Parakeet) and the fantails (also very scarce and local and limited to good quality dry dipterocarp) was previously known to park officials.

Female Plumbeous Redstart was seen at Khun Korn Waterfall (Chiang Rai) on 1 December and a male Daurian Redstart at Doi Wawi (Chiang Rai) on 2 December (RJ). Female White-throated Rock Thrush was an addition to the list of birds from Thap Lan National Park on 24 December (WCS). A male Siberian Thrush was photographed on the summit of Doi Inthanon on 9 November (SB,PT). A female Grey-sided Thrush at Kaeng Krachan on 26 December (FG) was a new bird for the park. In addition, a male Red-throated Thrush on the summit of Doi Inthanon on 29 December (KR,ST, T) was the first record of this species for 17 years! Surely a long-awaited tick for many people. A male Grey-winged Blackbird was also present near the stupas below the summit on the same date (KR).

A Buff-throated Warbler in grassland at Khao Yai on 10 December (PDR,JAW) was only the second or third record for the park. Grey-bellied Tesia and male and female Sapphire flycatchers were among other birds reported from Doi Wao (Nan) on 9 December (ST). Ferruginous Flycatcher on Doi Suthep on 7 November (JK) and a male Mugimaki Flycatcher, seemingly always a very late passage migrant with us, at Khao Yai on 22 December (UT/FG). A female Pygmy Blue Flycatcher was reported from Km 38 jeep track, Doi Inthanon (KR).

There were 4 Rosy Pipits at Tha Ton on 4 December (AR). Brown Shrike of the race lucionensis was seen at Phu Soi Sao (Uttaradit) on 26 September (SW). There were least 30 Purple-backed Starlings in the grounds of Maharaj Hospital, Nakhon Si Thammarat daily during 20 September–6 October with the largest number 100 birds on 23 September (SA). Java Sparrow (no numbers given) was said to be nesting near the WFT offices on Phaholyothin Road (Bangkok) on 11 December (AS). The first Crested Buntings, a flock of 15, were noted on Doi Ang Khag on 17 October (TY,WY).

A list of birds from Mae Jarim National Park, Nan Province 6–8 December included Grey-headed Woodpecker, Grey-headed Parrotbill, male and female Sapphire Flycatcher, White-throated Rock Thrush, River Chat and Plumbeous Redstart (ST).

Contributors: Sunit Acharuit, Sinit Boonyasit, Field Guides, Charoenwitt Hankaew, Jittapong Keuawong, Khok Kham Conservation Grouo, Sakchai Netlomwong, Vira Netlomwong, Chanya Patarayutawat, Kant Ratanajun, Andy Roadhouse, P.D. Round, Rudyanto, Wachara Sanguansombat, Attakrit Sriyaphai, Sophicha Tantitadapitak, Phairot Thanaphempulpol, Uthai Treesucon, Thithipong ?, Sarthip Thongnakcokegruad, Supakit Wanasith, J.A. Warham, Wildlife Conservation Society Upper Eastern Forest Survey (WCS), Thadda Yusawat, Wachara Yusawat

Compiled by Philip D. Round and Roongroj Jugmongkol


STOP PRESS

Two Cinereous Vultures were reported captured near Rayong on national television on 2 January (per Santana Pluemshoosak). Why is it that every single report of a vagrant vulture is of a shot or captured bird? It seems villagers simply cannot leave any large bird alone!



RECENT REPORTS October – December 1999

Seventeen Painted Storks were still present at Laem Phak Bia (Phetchaburi) on 21 November (BCST). A female Northern Harrier (no details supplied) was reported from Km 42, near the summit of Doi Inthanon on 19 October (PJ,NN) and a Greater Spotted Eagle (no plumage/age details supplied) was reported from near Mae Jaem Watershed Station on Doi Inthanon, 21 October (PJ,NN). The identity of large eagle with a black subterminal band on a white tail and pale underwing, sighted on Doi Ang Khang on 15 November and reported as a possible Pallas's Fish Eagle (PS) remains unresolved. The features observed resemble immature White-bellied Sea Eagle, however unlikely this might seem.

An adult pale morph and a juvenile Changeable Hawk-Eagle were reported from Doi Inthanon on 28 November (PS). A Mountain Hawk-Eagle and a Black Eagle were seen in Thap Lan (Nakhon Ratchasima) on 14 November (DP,PDR,WS). A male Grey Peacock Pheasant at Khao Yai on 30 November (YP) was very puzzling. Surely, had this species been resident in the park it would have been found before now, with the many tens of thousands of man-hours expended there by birdwatchers. The most likely (and rather alarming) explanation, surely, is that somebody has released one or more captives bird in the park.

There were 20 Grey-headed Lapwings on a newly dug prawn pond at Damnoen Saduak (Ratchaburi) on 31 October (PDR). Four were also reported from Ban Lung Tua (Phitsanuloke) on 20 November (PS). Seven Red Knot, 3 Ruff , 50+ Broad-billed Sandpipers were seen at Khao Sam Roi Yot beach (Prachuap Khiri Khan) on 20 November 1999 (BCST). Another Ruff, together with 250 Greater Sand Plovers, 50 Kentish Plovers, 8 Malaysian Plovers, 9 Sanderling, a single Great Knot, 60 Curlew Sandpipers, 20 Rufous-necked Stints and 60 Broad-billed Sandpipers, was present at a high-tide roost at Laem Phak Bia on 28 November. 180 Black-tailed Godwits and 150 Long-toed Stints were also present on ponds and salt-pans in the area (WC,WK,PDR,PY).

Khok Kham produced a Spoon-billed Sandpiper, two Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, 6 Asian Dowitchers, 3 Sanderling and roughly 1000 Marsh Sandpipers on 26 and 27 November (SP,YP,KR). Two Spoon-billed Sandpipers were still present on 1 December (PDR,WS,ST) but there was then no sign of the Sharp-tailed Sandpipers. The long-staying Pied Avocet was in evidence: it has been there seen at least 5 September. Two Eurasian Woodcock were seen at Kaeng Krachan on 24 November (WS).

A large adult gull, probably a Heuglin's Gull was reported from Laem Phak Bia in late October (WK). Ten “herring gulls”, including five grey-backed adult/near-adult birds, either Heuglin's Gulls of the race taimyrensis or another medium to dark grey form, were present at Laem Phak Bia on 28 November. There were also five first and second-winter birds as well as a first winter Great Black-headed Gull, 53 Great Crested Terns, a single Lesser Crested Tern, and up to 15 Caspian Terns (WC,WK,PDR,PY). Eight Caspian Terns and 22 Gull-billed Terns were counted at Khok Kham on 1 December (PDR, PaS,WS,ST) while earlier, two others were seen at Laem Phak Bia on 21 November (BCST). Four Ashy Wood Pigeons, Giant Nuthatch and Black-eared Shrike Babbler were among other birds reported from Doi Ang Khang on 17–18 November (PS). Two White-fronted Scops Owls were flushed and seen well in broad daylight at Kaeng Krachan on 26 November (WS). Garnet Pittas were seen at two sites in Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary (Narathiwat) during 12–19 October (ST).

Siberian Thrush was seen near the summit of Khao Rom, Khao Yai on November (DP,PDR,WS). A male Blue-and-white Flycatcher was reportedfrom Km 42 on 19 October, and Pale Blue Flycatcher (sex?) was reported from near Mae Jaem watershed station, both Doi Inthanon, on 21 October (PJ,NN). Aberrant Bush Warbler was reported from Doi Inthanon on 28 November (PS).

A Blyth's Pipit at Khao Yai on 30 November to 2 December (YP) was a long-anticipated addition to the Thai list. The observer is familiar with this tricky long-distance migrant.

A Crested Myna at Bang Poo (Samut Prakan) on 31 October (SR,SS et al.), apparently joining the large White-vented Myna roost in the military compound, was another first for Thailand. Some caution must always be attached to birds of this nature. So many mynas are kept as cagebirds, that the possibility of an escaped captive should be borne in mind. On the other hand, genuine vagrancy or range expansion for this common open-country species might equally well explain its occurrence. The bird was still present on 21 November when 3 White-shouldered Starlings were also present (WS). About 50 House Sparrows were mixed flock with Tree Sparrows at Na-Ja Luoi, (Ubon Ratchathani) on 23 October (NT). Four Spot-winged Grosbeaks were seen on Doi Ang Khang, 18 November (PS).

Contributors: BCST Official Trip, Wandee Chineswas, Panuwat Julawat, Wichian Kongthong, Nature Trails, Nomjit Nualnetr, Yoav Perlman, Santana Pluemshoosak, Dome Pratumtong, Kant Ratanajun, Philip D. Round, Surachai Runkhunakorn, Pinit Saengkaew, Wachara Sanguansombat, Panuwat Sasiirat (PaS), Suthee Supparatvikorn, Sopicha Tantitadapitak, Preecha Yimpradit.

Compiled by Philip D. Round and Roongroj Jugmongkol


NEST RECORDS FOR COMMON TAILORBIRD

Details of six Common Tailorbird nests observed in a Bangkok garden between February 1998 and October 1999 were provided by Miss B. Mountfield. Only one nest was successful, producing 2 young. Another was parasitized by a Plaintive Cuckoo, with one young cuckoo raised. Four other nests were lost or deserted. One of these four fell to the ground when the dried leaves it was built in became detached, and another was drenched by rain.

It is rare in this day and age to receive garden nest records, perhaps because in today's high-density, congested city, few of us have large enough gardens to make observations at home. It is ironic that, with so many more birdwatchers, one is still obliged to go back to Herbert in the old Journal of The Natural History Society of Siam, 1923–1926 for good accounts of breeding among common birds.


GREEN PEAFOWL RECOVERING?

Reliable observers in Chiang Mai have reported the presence of a sizeable Green Peafowl population at the Royal Project site of Huai Hong Khrai, Doi Saket District of Chiang Mai. No fewer than thirty birds were seen on the morning of 28 November, and it is reported that the population numbers roughly 80 individuals. The habitat is dry dipterocarp and mixed deciduous forest in foothills at 400–500 m elevation. The indications are that this is a genuine wild population which has not been established or augmented by any releases of captive birds. It is thought that the population has built up from near-vanishing point with improved habitat conservation and protection from hunting resulting from the activities of the royal project. It must also raise the hope that there may be other small, as yet undetected, populations scattered throughout the north which may have the potential to recover when circumstances change.

The presence of Green Peafowl at Huai Hong Khrai is on a par with the presence of the habituated gaur herd at the WFT Project Site at Khao Phaeng Ma. Both these sites are something of which Thailand can really be proud and provide beacons of hope for the future. It shows how readily some wildlife species will respond when the threat from hunting is removed and when some regeneration of secondary forest is allowed to take place.

Contributed by Dr. Rungsrit Kanjanavanit


ASIAN WATERFOWL CENSUS

Asian Waterfowl Census 2000 is scheduled for the 2nd and 3rd weeks of January. So if you are visiting any coastal or inland wetland sites during this period, please make a point of estimating of counting the waterbirds present. You don't have to visit any major wetlands to do this: counts of even small sites all help.

It has been some years since Thailand has come forward with a really good contribution on the census, although coverage of major sites has been adequate on some past occasions. One possible plan in January 2000 would be to try to field a team to cover as much of the inner gulf as possible. If you are interested in contributing, please e-mail Philip Round at pdround@ksc.th.com from whom count forms are available, or contact BCST.



RECENT REPORTS, November 1999

Five Spot-billed Pelicans and over 80 Painted Storks were present at Ban Laem (Phetchaburi) from at least 19 September, while the Northern Shoveler also reported in the previous issue was in fact present as early as 3 October (VS,AW). A single Painted Stork was seen over Dusit Zoo (Bangkok) on 1 October (PK). Over 1000 Cattle Egrets roosted in waterlogged Mimosa scrub behind Fang Market (Chiang Mai) on the night of 16-17 October (PDR,SR). Three Spot-billed Duck and 10 Garganey were present on the Mekong River at Chiang Saen (Chiang Rai) on 18 October (PDR). A Northern Pintail was seen nearby at Sob Kok on 19 October (PDR).

A flock of over 100 Black Kites was in evidence on drained prawn-pond at Wat Khao Takhrao, Ban Laem (Phetchaburi) on 23 October (ST). A single Oriental Honey-buzzard flew west over mangroves at Khok Kham (Samut Sakhon) on 24 October and a single Eurasian Kestrel was also seen (KKCC,RJ,PDR). Black Eagle is still present on the summit of Doi Pui (Chiang Mai), where a bird was watched prolongedly hawking through the treetops on 13 October (PDR, SR).

175 Asian Dowitchers on mudflats off Khok Kham on 24 October (KKCC,RJ,PDR,SS) was both the largest autumn count and the latest autumn passage date for the inner gulf. A single Grey-tailed Tattler and a Great Knot were present at Bang Pu (Samut Prakan) on 22 September (SoT). Two more Great Knots, and a Sanderling were reported from Khao Sam Roi Yot (Prachuap Khirikhan) on 5 October (SoT) and 2 Dunlin at Kalong on 5 October (SoT).

Over 100 Brown-headed Gulls were present off Khok Kham on 24 October (KKCC,RJ,PDR,SS). Alexandrine Parakeet, Red-breasted Parakeet and Burmese Shrike were all reported from Lumphini Park in late September or early October (CB). Three Malayan Bronze Cuckoos were reported from Thung Sai, Sichol (Nakhon Si Thammarat) during 28-30 September with Pied Triller at the same locality on 1 October (SoT). Over 20 Blue-throated Bee-eaters were seen over Ban Laem on 3 October (VS,AW).

A passage migrant Black-backed Kingfisher was seen at Ban Lat (Phetchaburi) on 19 September (AW). Over 200 Asian House Martins were feeding over Fang Hot Springs on 16 October (PDR). A Red-whiskered Bulbul (now a scarce bird around Bangkok, and presumably an escaped captive) was seen near Saphan Phan Fa, Ratchadamnoen (Bangkok) on 21 October (JM).

A “migratory race” (presumed leucogenis) Ashy Drongo was reported from Ban Lat on 3 October (AW). A white morph and a short-tailed rufous Asian Paradise-flycatcher were both at Khok Kham on 18 September (KKCC). A single Grey-backed Shrike was seen near Ban Saeo (Chiang Rai) on 18 October (PDR,SR).

House Sparrow was reported from Hat Puk Tian (Phetchaburi) on 2-3 October (CB).

Contributors:

Choopong Bunyasiriwat, Khok Kham Conservation Club, Roongroj Jugmongkol, Panot Krairojananan, Jatuporn Misakul, Philip D. Round, Sonapa Round, Dr. Samaisukh Sophasan, Viriya Saengsawasdi, Sophitra Tantitadapitak, Sarthip Thongnakcokegruad, Aunchana Watanayut.



RECENT REPORTS August-October 1999

Two Spot-billed Pelicans were seen over Kaeng Krachan Dam (Phetchaburi) on 9 August (PC). Ban Samae Chai, Khao Takhrao (Phetchaburi) held two Great Cormorants and a Painted Stork on 3 October, (NT); Milky Stork, 58 Painted Storks and 70 Black-tailed Godwits on newly-drained ponds on 7 October (NT). Numbers of Painted Storks and Black-tailed Godwits had risen to at least 137 and 180 respectively by 10 October, when 30 Grey Herons and 9 Spot-billed Pelicans were also present (PDR,NT). Seven Painted Storks were soaring over the coast near Kalong on 2 October (PDR, SS) with 8 at the same site on 10 October (PDR). There was a Northern Shoveler at Wat Khao Takhrao on 10 October (PDR).

An adult White-bellied Sea Eagle soared over the information centre at Kaeng Kracahan on 9 August (PC). A flock of 50 Oriental Honey-buzzards over Bang Khram (Krabi) on 30 September (YM), brought down low by bad weather, was evidence of ongoing passage at the peak time for this species. A male Amur Falcon at Chong Yen, Mae Wong National Park (Nakhon Sawan/Kamphaengphet) on 27 September (SP,WY) was a rare prize, and is one of very few records of this species for Thailand.

A probable adult Red-necked Phalarope first found at Kalong on 29 August (per ST) was still present on 19 September (NT) and 26 September (Many observers). It had been joined by two others, apparently first-winter birds, on 2 October (PDR,SS). On 26 September, 644 Curlew Sandpipers and 133 Broad-billed Sandpipers were on 3-4 salt pans in the immediate vicinity (PDR). Numbers of Rufous-necked Stints increased from 60+ on 26 September to ca. 400 birds by 2 October (PDR). Two Asian Dowitchers and 400 Black-tailed Godwits were present on mudflats west of Kalong on 10 October.

No fewer than 7 Oriental Cuckoos (2 grey birds and 5 brown birds) were eating caterpillars in Delonix regia trees in a Chiang Mai garden on 25 September. A single Chestnut-winged Cuckoo was also present. (RK,SK). Malayan Bronze Cuckoo was seen at the Thung Sai Bird Conservation Area, Sichol District (Nakhon Si Thammarat) on 24 September (PA,SA) A Eurasian Wryneck was present at Huai Thungthao (Chiang Mai) on 10 October (RK,SK)The first migratory Red-rumped Swallows were noted at Kalong on 2 October (PDR). A male Pied Triller was present at Thung Sai, 24 September (PA,SA).

The first recorded (migratory) Richard's Pipit at Kalong, on the (not particularly early) date of 2 October (PDR) is probably a reflection of sparse coverage rather than actual arrival time. Migratory Black Drongos were also beginning to be in evidence at that date with strong westward passage evident by 10 October (PDR). There were two female or immature Yellow-rumped Flycatchers at Rangjan on 2 October, along with 2 Asian Brown Flycatchers, Black-naped Monarch and Asian Paradise-flycatcher and two Pale-legged Leaf Warblers (PDR). Two Yellow-rumped Flycatchers, an adult male and a female or immature, were seen at Chiang Mai, 25 September (RK,SK).

Another addition to the montane fauna at of Hala Forest, Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary (Yala/Narathiwat) was Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush, (new for the Thailand list) and Rufous-winged Fulvetta, found during early September (ST,UT). Chestnut-backed Scimitar Babbler found earlier by ST in the Bala sector was also found in Hala.

Contributors: Panom Archarit, Sumit Archarit, Pathomphon Charoenjai, Dr. Rungsrit Kanjanavanich, Dr. Suparat Kanjanavanich, Yotin Meekaeo, Nature Trails, Santana Pluemshoosak, Philip D. Round, Smith Suthibut, Sophitra Tantitadapitak, Uthai Treesucon, Wachara Yusawat.



RECENT REPORTS April-August 1999

20 Spot-billed Pelicans were seen in flight over hills at Khao Cha-Ngok (Nakhon Nayok) on 29 May (BCST Trip). Lesser Fish Eagle with nest and a single young was seen on the Khlong Hala (Yala) on 22 April (ST) and 3 male and 6 female Crested Wood Partridges in forest nearby the BPP encampment on 25 April (ST). A Peregrine Falcon was seen low over the road in A. Muang (Tak) on 5 July (PK).

Four River Lapwing were seen from the entrance road to Wat Naraikaram, Kapong District (Phang-nga) on 15 April (ST). At least 40 Eurasian Curlew were present on mudflats at Bang Poo on 1 August (PDR). Three breeding plumage Pheasant-tailed Jacanas were seen on flooded fields at Bang Poo on 1 August, indicating likely breeding (PDR). Although Little Grebes were breeding, no Common Moorhens were noted. Common Moorhens were present, however, (heard calling) around Chorakhe Bua (Bangkok) throughout the non-winter period (UT). Two Masked Finfoots were seen on the Khlong Hala on 22 April (ST). A Thick-billed Pigeon was seen in Lumphini Park (Bangkok) on 26 June (CB).

Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, a presumed passage migrant, was seen at Bala (Narathiwat) on 6 May (ST). One grey and two brown Lesser Cuckoos were seen and on Doi Ang Khang during 26-27 June (ST). Short-toed Coucal, a bird previously only heard last year in the Bala area of Narathiwat, and an addition to the Thai list, was both seen and heard near the BPP Camp on Khlong Hala on 22 and 24 April (ST). Moustached Barbet was seen along the road to the headquarters of Thong Pha Phum National Park (Kanchanaburi) on 26 June (PJ, NN). This is one of the few Indochinese species having a disjunct Tenasserimese population, being known also from Kaeng Krachan and from across the border in eastern Burma. Stripe-breasted Woodpecker was reported to have young in the nest at Mae Wong (Kamphaengphet) during 29-31 May (ST). An occupied nest of Long-tailed Broadbill was also found during the same period.

A Black-naped Oriole (age/sex undetermined) was seen at Samsen (Bangkok) on 30 July 1999 (UT). Eye-browed Wren Babblers were feeding young at Doi Inthanon on 30 June (ST). Chestnut-backed Scimitar-Babbler (one collecting nest-material) was a new Thai record from Bala Forest on 1 May (ST). The same observer also reported White-browed Scimitar-Babbler, which is not known to occur so far south, at the same locality. Due to the possibility of confusion between the two, therefore, more work is needed to resolve matters. Burmese Yuhina was reported from Mae Wong during 29-31 May (ST).

Chestnut-capped Thrush was recorded at Bala, 7 May (ST). Grey Bushchats were feeding young on Doi Ang Khang during 26-29 June and many pairs of Stonechats, another resident on the northern mountains, were also noted (ST). A male Green Cochoa was seen feeding an apparently full-grown juvenile at Doi Inthanon on 30 June (ST).

Three Striated Grassbirds (Striated Warblers), including at least one recently fledged young were seen at Bang Poo on 1 August (PDR). This is getting to be a very uncommon bird around Bangkok these days. The latest date for Pale-legged Leaf Warbler was 1 May, in Bala Forest (ST) and Ferruginous Flycatcher was seen in Hala Forest, 20 April (ST). Grey-chested Flycatcher was reported at elevations between 555 and 830 m in Bala Forest on 3-4 May (ST, with male Rufous-chested Flycatchers, another scarce resident, at two separate locations in Hala on 24 and 26 April (ST).

A male Japanese Paradise-flycatcher was reported from To Mo Narathiwat) on 17 April and was still present, apparently associating with both rufous and white morph males of Asian Paradise-flycatcher on 20 April (ST).

A Grey Wagtail was seen on Doi Ang Khang on 26 June (ST). If this is a true returning post-breeding season/autumn migrant, it is one week earlier than our previous earliest. Ashy Woodswallow was found incubating at a nest in a telegraph pole at Khao Cha Ngok, Nakhon Nayok on 16 May (ST). Tiger Shrikes were reported from Hala-Bala during 24 April to 5 May (ST).

Vinous-breasted Starling with three recently fledged young was noted in Lumphini Park on 26 June (CB). Three Asian Golden Weavers and one or more nests were present behind the Sports Village, at the edge of the expressway, Prawes (Bangkok) on 16 June (KR). Asian Golden Weavers were again present on Khaen Kaen University Campus near the Faculty of Agriculture Fish Ponds where two males and one female, and around 14 nests, were seen in waterside vegetation on 22 June (NN).

The following nesting records from Bala Forest were received (all ST):

Plain-pouched Hornbill: feeding young or female in the nest, 4 May; Banded Woodpecker (occupied nest/ young in nest, 4 May); Crimson-winged Woodpecker (excavating, 4 May); Checker-throated Woodpecker (occupied nest/young in nest) 2 May; Green Broadbill (feeding fledged young, 6 May); Grey-throated Babbler (feeding fledged young, 6 May); Fluffy-backed Tit-Babbler (collecting nest-material, 9 May); Brown Fulvetta (incubating, 5 May); Chestnut-naped Forktail (feeding fledged young, 2 May); Spotted Fantail (pairs found building, incubating and feeding young in the nest during 1-8 May).

Contributors:

Chupong Bunyasiriwat, Kawin Chutima, Panuwat Julawat, Panot Krairojananan, Nomjit Nualnetr, Kant Ratanajun, Philip D. Round, Sopitcha Tantitadapitak, Uthai Treesucon.

Compiled by Philip D. Round and Roongroj Jugmongkol


Bird trapping around Bangkok goes on unabated

Many long, nylon monofilament lines were strung across a flooded freshwater field at Bang Poo, Samut Prakan when it was visited on 1 August. Each line bore dangling fish hooks at roughly 0.3 m intervals set at about one metre above the water's surface and designed to snag low-flying birds such as herons, jacanas, Watercocks and White-breasted Waterhens. This is a particularly cruel way to catch and kill these birds for food.

(contributed by Philip Round)



RECENT REPORTS January to June 1999

Three male and one female Siamese Firebacks were seen at Sakaerat Experimental Station, Wang Nam Khieo District (Nakhon Ratchasima) on 18 April (DP,WS). Two males were also seen at Khao Yai, at the (by now, well-known) "stake-out" along the lower Khao Khieo road, on 11 April (KUWC). A Yellow-crowned Barbet, heard on 16 April was an addition to the Si Phang-nga National Park (Phang-nga) bird-list(TT). A female Mallard was reported from a pond at Mae Jo (Chiang Mai) on 28 March (TTa). A Pied Kingfisher was seen near Bung Boraphet Fisheries Station (Nakhon Sawan) on 27 March (TS).

A streaked (immature or fugax race?) Hodgson's Hawk-Cuckoo was reported from Ko Adang (Tarutao National Park) on 10 April (TT). Oriental Cuckoos were reported at Lon The Guard Station, Phu Luang Wildlife Sanctuary (Loei) on 26 March (KUWC) and at Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary, Chaiyaphum (2 birds) on 20 March (TTa).

A pair of Alexandrine Parakeets was present at Kasetsart University Bangkhen Campus (Bangkok) on 4 June (DP,WS). According to the watchman, they were visiting daily at this time, and eating seeds/fruits of teak trees. Both Blossom-headed Parakeets (6 birds) and Grey-headed Parakeets (4 birds) were reported from Khao Sanam Phriang Wildlife Sanctuary (Kamphaengphet) on 24-25 February. The Grey-headed Parakeets were entering tree cavities (TS). A Gould's Frogmouth, a new bird for the Khao Nor Chuchi core study area, was both seen and heard calling in foothills near Bang Tieo (Krabi) on 5-6 May (YM). A nest of Collared Scops Owl with two small young was found in a tree-hollow on Doi Pha Hom Pok (Chiang Mai), 13-16 April (Nature Trails).

Copulation and nest-building was observed in a pair of Bat Hawks during 11-15 April at Hala Bala Wildlife Sanctuary (Narathiwat). The full-grown juvenile from the previous year was present in the vicinity (PT). 18 Black Bazas were seen in flight over Sakaerat on 18 April (DP,WS). This may be the latest date we have for undoubted spring migrants. An Osprey was at Kasetsart University, Kamphaengsaen Campus (Nakhon Pathom) on 1 June (WM,PP,PS,SS).

In the inner gulf, 26 Asian Dowitchers were at Kalong on 20 March (PK), 100 at Ban Krasa Khao on 11 April (TTa) and 15 at Khok Kham Fisheries Station on 14 April (PD,JWKP,MP). Three Nordmann's Greenshanks were reported from Samut Sakhon during the Wetlands International/BCST "Super Count" of shorebirds in the inner gulf on 10-11 April (WI). Two reported Little Stints at Ban Laem (Phetchaburi) during 19 March to 11 April (TTa) need to be substantiated by photographs. There were 120 Rufous-necked Stints and 75 Broad-billed Sandpipers at Kalong on 14 April (PD,JWKP,MP). Three Grey-tailed Tattlers were seen (one photographed) at Laem Pakarang (Phang-nga) on 14 and 15 April (PL,KS,ST) A Chinese Egret and two breeding plumage Indian Pond Herons were reported on the same date (PL,KS,ST). Three Indian Pond Herons were reported from Ban Krasa Khao on 11 March (TTa).

20 Spot-billed Pelicans and 2 Painted Storks were seen in flight at Km 73, at Mae Wong National Park (Nakhon Sawan) on 23 May (KS,ST). The pelicans were photographed. An Oriental Darter, 30 Oriental Pratincoles, Watercock and Pheasant-tailed Jacana were all present at Kasetsart University Kamphaengsaen Campus (Nakhon Pathom) on 8 May. There were also ten nests of Cattle Egrets with eggs on the same date.(KUBPC).

No fewer than 8 different Yellow-browed Tits were reported in the vicinity of the of Doi Inthanon summit, at Km 45, on 16-17 April (NT). A White-browed Shortwing was carrying food during the same period (NT). Grey-sided Thrush and Scaly Thrush were seen on Doi Pha Hom Pok on 3 April (TTa). Asian Brown Flycatcher was reported from the summit of Khao Luang, Nakhon Si Thammarat (1,585 m) on 3 May (WL). A male Slaty-blue Flycatcher, a presumed winter visitor, was seen at Mae Sao 21, Doi Pha Hom Pok on 5 April (TTa). Rufous-throated Fulvetta was reported in a bird-wave at 1,500 m, near the Lon Teh Guard Station, Phu Luang Wildlife Sanctuary (Loei) on 25 March (KUWC). Forest Wagtail was at Khok Kham on 11 April (RJ) and a pair of House Sparrows at Tambol Khu Khram, Lum Luk Ka (Phathumthani) on 19 April (SuS). Two Yellow-breasted Flowerpeckers were seen at Khok Nok Kraba, Phu Luang WS on 1 January (KuS). A report of two Green-tailed Sunbirds from Doi Pha Hom Pok on 31 March (TT) needs following up since the endemic Thai subspecies angkanensis is only known with certainty from the summit of Doi Inthanon. A flock of 350 Yellow-breasted Buntings was seen in paddies near Samut Sakhon on 14 April (PD,JWKP,MP).

Breeding records (birds feeding young) from Doi Pha Hom Pok during 1-6 April were reported for Stripe-breasted Woodpecker, Crested Finchbill, Brown-throated Treecreeper, Grey-throated Babbler, Whiskered Yuhina and Hill Prinia (TTa):

Contributors: Peter Davidson, Roongroj Jugmongkol, Kasetsart University Bird Protection Club, Kasetsart University Wildlife Club, Panot Krairojananan, Phairot Lenawat, Wanlop Limphliphan, Wirot Manokham, Yothin Meekaeo, Nature Trails, John Parr (JWKP), Mukda Parr, Patchara Phongnam, Dom Prathumthong, Wachara Sanguansombat, Pisan Sansuwan, Suraphop Sanitwong (SuS), Kulaphad Soralam (KuS), Kampol Sukhumalind, Thanyarat Sunthornmat, Sakolwan Supasin, Thossaphon Tansurat, Thippamas Tantitadapitak (TTa), Phongsak Temsomboon, Sarthip Thongnakcokegruad, Wetlands International.

A list of 44 bird species observed at Laht-Drawehn Naval Base, Satthahip, Chon Buri province was also received from Michael A. Allen and Krisanadej Jaroensutasinee.

Compiled by Philip Round and Roongroj Jugmongkol


Why go to Doi Inthanon when you can have it all at Minburi?

Anyone who has ever been to the Summit of Doi Inthanon can testify to the tameness of the birds there. This remarkable feature is being appreciated by increasing numbers of nature lovers who thus grow closer to Thailand's rich natural resources and heritage. Are such sights to be threatened and eventually destroyed by a precious few?

What an uncanny sight/ plight to see a pair of Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrushes squashed up in a small cage at Minburi weekend market. Or how about a pair of Chestnut-tailed Minlas for only 200 Baht. There were 5 pairs available at the time. 15 Hoopoes went for 50 Baht each, seeing they are rather common and supply is great! For the more 'morbid' 'nature enthusiast' a pair of Banded Broadbills were available. After all don't we all want to be different! A little closer look produced a pair of Grey-headed Parrotbills. Much sought after even for the most dedicated birdwatcher. Besides the above mentioned 'goodies' small numbers of Green Magpie, Lesser Necklaced and White Crested Laughingthrushes, Avadavats and Parrotfinches were available. So who needs Doi Inthanon? What can we do?

Contributed by Peter Ericsson

30 May 1999

Editors note: Please send us your reports of pet-shops selling wild birds or other protected wildlife.



RECENT REPORTS January-March 1999

An Oriental Darter at Pa La-u (Prachuap Khiri Khan) on 24 January (TT) was a new bird for Kaeng Krachan National Park. Another was present at Wat Asokaram on 4 March (TT). A Ruddy Shelduck was seen on Nong Bong Khai (Chiang Rai) on 30 December (TT); with 5 on 6 February (TT), and two more on Bung Boraphet (Nakhon Sawan) on 7 March (PK). Much more remarkable, however, were 4 Common Shelduck photographed at Kalong (Samut Sakhon) on 29 January (ST). This is only the second record for Thailand, the other being at Chiang Saen over ten years ago. Other ducks were 14 Spot-billed Duck and 2 Tufted Duck at Nong Bong Khai on 30 December; 19 Spot-billed Duck at the same site on 6 February (TT); 3 Common Pochard (2 males and one female) at Bung Boraphet on 19 January, the first record for the Central Plain. The same site held 2 Tufted Duck on 29 January and an unprecedented large number of 14 on 2 March (TT). Only 5 Ferruginous Pochard and a single Baer's Pochard on 29 January (TT) was an unimpressive showing. An Osprey was seen on the Chulabhorn Reservoir Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary (Chaiyaphum) on 21 March (BCST). An adult migratory race Peregrine Falcon was photographed at Don Hoi Lot (Samut Songkhram) on 14 March (PL).

A pair of Mountain Bamboo Partridges was seen at Km 38, Doi Inthanon on 5 March (JK).

Two Pied Avocets at the fisheries station at Hat Chao Samran (Phetchaburi) on 29-30 January (WK), were still present on 9 March (many observers). A flock of 19 Grey-headed Lapwings were feeding at Khlong 6, Pathumthani, one km off the Lam Luk Ka road, on 10 March (PE). A Common Ringed Plover was photographed on the Mekong River at Chiang Saen on 18 January (KS,ST) and was reportedly still present on 7 February (TT). An unprecedentedly large number of 31 Ruff was reported from nearby on 10 March (TT), though numbers had apparently dwindled to 7 birds by 20 March (PDR,UT). A Long-billed Dowitcher, only the third Thai record, was photographed at Kalong on 13 March (ST), and was still present on 20 March (PDR,UT) and 27 March (PK).

The sand-spit (Laem Phak Bia) lying to the north of Hat Chao Samran supported a flock of 24 large gulls on 9 March. These included 5 first-winter Great Black-headed Gulls, no fewer then 10 subadult and two adult taimyrensis Heuglin's Gulls, and seven first winter birds, apparently conforming to two or three distinct forms (PDR). 54 Great Crested Terns and 8 Lesser Crested Terns (the latter the first records for the inner gulf) were also present in the same flock (PDR). Other noteworthy birds were a pair of Malaysian Plovers and 11 Sanderling on the sand spit, and no fewer than 150 Spotted Redshank on nearby brackish ponds (PDR). Meanwhile a single second-winter Heuglin's Gull was still present at Bang Poo on 28 February (PL). Further Malaysian Plovers (one male and two females) were seen on the beach very close to Hat Chao Samran on 20 March (PDR,UT). The Hat Chao Samran-Laem Phak Bia area is also a nesting area for Little Tern, as judged by the numbers of birds vocalising and associating in pairs. This species is a very scarce and local breeder in Thailand.

On 6-8 March, Khok Kham (Samut Sakhon) produced 250 Black-winged Stilts, 600 Kentish Plovers, ca. 3,000 sand plovers, of which ca. 700 were Greater Sand Plover; 5 Ruddy Turnstone, 80 Spotted Redshank, 50 Common Redshank, 500 Marsh Sandpipers, 200 Common Greenshank, 250 Curlew Sandpipers, 450 Rufous-necked Stints, 30 Long-toed Stints, 5 Temminck's Stints and 300 Broad-billed Sandpipers (PD,RT). A further 2,500 mixed smaller plovers (Kentish Plover and the two sand plovers) were seen nearby at Rangjan. Numbers of the larger plovers were unexceptional, with only 65 Pacific Golden Plovers and a single Grey Plover. The two sites combined held a total of about 2,500 Whiskered Terns and 20 Gull-billed Terns (PD,RT). The first spring passage White-winged Terns (4) were at Bang Poo on 27 March when a single Asian Dowitcher was also present (PDR).

A Slender-billed Gull and a Black-tailed Gull were both reported from Bang Poo on 9 March (no age-details given; JK).

A flock of ca. 20 Pink-necked Pigeons was present at Don Hoi Lot on 14 March (PL). A grey morph cuckoo, either Common Cuckoo or Oriental Cuckoo but thought on probability to be the latter, was photographed off Sukhumvit Road (Bangkok) on 23 February (ST). Two Oriental Cuckoos (one rufous morph and one grey morph) were seen between Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary HQ and Promsong Substation on 20 March, with a second grey morph bird at Promsong Substation on 21 March (BCST). A Common Cuckoo was seen and heard singing on Doi Ang Khang (Chiang Mai) during 20-21 March (PS). Two all-dark swifts, thought possibly to be Dark-rumped Swift, were seen over the summit of Doi Chiang Dao (2175 m), Chiang Mai Province, on 11 March (OCH). Two different nests of Orange-breasted Trogon, with young, were seen at Km 17, Kaeng Krachan, on 24 January and 23 February (TT). A Dollarbird in mangroves near Hat Chao Samran on 21 March was an unusual sighting (SS). White-browed Piculet was added to the (still small) list of birds for Phu Soi Dao National Park (Uttaradit) on 5 January (PJ,NN) and Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker to that for Huai Talat Non-Hunting Area (Buriram) on 3 March (SC). 17 nests of Barn Swallow were found in 3 houses at Hat Tha Khon, Phu Phiang District, (Nan) on 28 March (PS). There are now breeding records of Barn Swallow for three northern provinces.

There were ten Fire-capped Tits on Doi Ang Khang on 1 March (BCST trip).

A male Blue-fronted Robin was seen well at the edge of a pine plantation on Doi Ang Khang on 20 March (PS) and a Scaly Thrush at Phu Hin Rong Kla (Phetchabun) on 5 February (PJ,NN). A pair of Jerdon's Bushchats was seen at Doi Phu Kha (Nan) at 1130 m (PS).Grey-bellied Tesia, a highly enigmatic species in Thailand, was reported from Doi Chiang Dao between 1500 and 1600 m on 12 March (OCH). A report of 20 Purple-backed Starlings at Nong Bong Khai on 7 February (TT) was highly unusual since this bird is usually a spring passage migrant only in Thailand. A male Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker was seen at 1600 m on Doi Chiang Dao, 10 March (OCH)

Contributors: Soynapa Chotlertsak, Peter Davidson, Peter Ericsson, Phanom Khraojantuk, Phairot Lenavat, Ooi Chin Hock, Jitapong Keuawong, Philip D. Round, Pinit Saengkaew, Kampol Sukhumalind, Suthee Supparatvikorn, Thippamas Tantitadapitak, Rob Tizard, Sarthip Thongnakcokegruad, Uthai Treesucon.

Compiled by Philip D. Round and Roongroj Jugmongkol.


Hume's Pheasant surviving on Doi Suthep-Pui against the odds!

We've just received details of a sighting which, though too late to include in the current issue of Recent Reports, nevertheless deserves special mention. Pinit Saengkaew saw a male and a female Hume's Pheasant on the upper slopes of Doi Pui on 9 November 1998. He obtained extremely good views.

This is a remarkable sighting of one of N. Thailand's most exciting birds. Improved coverage in recent years is turning up more sightings of Hume's Pheasants in N. Thailand, though most have come from the well-watched localities of Doi Ang Khang and Doi Chiang Dao, and presumably relate to a small number of frequently-seen individuals with territories close to well-frequented trails. There is definitely a need to spread coverage more widely through the uplands of Mae Hongson, Chiang Mai and adjacent provinces with significant areas of montane habitat, to obtain a better idea of the status of this globally vulnerable species.

The Doi Pui sighting is especially significant, since Hume's Pheasant was one of the few species which H.G. Deignan found on Doi Suthep during his first stay in Thailand in the late 1920s and early 1930s, but failed to find on his subsequent visits during the late 1930s. The absence of subsequent records, in spite of the rather high level of coverage maintained from 1970 onwards, does not necessarily indicate the species was absent, but may simply indicate its ability to evade detection under rather unfavourable conditions. It is also possible, however, that the population has increased from near vanishing point to a slightly higher level with reduced hunting, or that birds have recolonised the mountain from elsewhere. There is less evidence of hunting on Doi Suthep-Pui now than there was in the early to mid-1980s. This may reflect better protection or, more likely, reduced hunting activity by Hmong tribesmen as they become more integrated into the economic mainstream. Since 1994, the management of the Doi Pui summit area has also improved, in some ways, through the setting up of a 24-hour manned checkpoint, and restriction of vehicular access to the summit.

One question which should always be kept in mind with pheasants is whether the birds seen might have been released from captivity. While there have been a number of highly-publicized (but ill-advised) releases of captive-bred Silver Pheasants and Red Junglefowl, often in inappropriate habitats, as far as we know, there have been no releases of Hume's Pheasants for the simple reason that there are too few captive or captive-bred individual around for anyone to countenance letting them go.

At all events, the recent sighting might suggest the Hume's Pheasant possesses greater resilience in the face of gross human disturbance than has been suspected. We are very happy to learn of its continued existence on Doi Suthep-Pui and we congratulate Mr. Pinit on his discovery.


Red-whiskered Bulbul--Thailand's next nationally threatened species?

If there can be any testament to the ruthless capacity of Thai bird trappers to systematically wipe out a species through over-exploitation, then it is provided by the total disappearance of Red-whiskered Bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus) from southern Thailand. In the early to mid-1980s, the Red-whiskered Bulbul was still a widespread and common bird throughout the south, but by the early 1990s, it had totally disappeared. Unlike some other vanished species with rather narrow habitat requirements, (e.g., Straw-headed Bulbul P. zeylanicus, which is largely confined to riverine lowland forest), the Red-whiskered Bulbul is an open-country species which can flourish in cultivation and moist grassland, and which has probably benefited from the gross deforestation of the Thai landscape. So what went wrong?

The explanation is simple. Throughout Thailand, but especially in the south, where it is known as nok krong hua juk, the Red-whiskered Bulbul is a favourite cagebird and is found in households throughout. Southern populations are said to have sweeter, more melodious voice than those in the north and so southern birds have been preferentially caught. Large numbers roost communally in grass and scrub, and are very vulnerable to being caught with mist-nets or other means.

Even though the Red-whiskered Bulbul has been wiped out in the south, there has been no diminution in the numbers of those still being kept as cagebirds. Where are these coming from? They are reportedly being trapped all over the country and shipped south. Before too long, flocks of Red-whiskered Bulbuls around Chiang Mai or elsewhere could be history!

It is high time that more attention was again given to the problems of Thailand's enormous, unregulated but illegal, domestic wildlife trade. We'd like to hear from BCST members about any sightings of bird shops and markets. What species are in trade? How many? And where? Please also report any observed instances of mist-netting of birds for trade. And for those who regularly watch the same site, have you noticed any reduction in the abundance of the Red-whiskered Bulbul? Please let the society know.


Nicobar Pigeons disappear from Ko Similan

The last few visiting birdwatchers who have visited Ko Similan National Park complain that it is now just about impossible to see Nicobar Pigeons there. A few years ago, Nicobar Pigeon could be seen easily at the park headquarters at Ko Miang (Ko 4), Mu Ko Similan National Park. You didn't even have to walk in the forest to search for them. It was sufficient to sit in the park cafeteria sipping a cold drink and then sooner or later (usually sooner) one or more birds would come strutting through.

Those days are gone, it appears, not that there hasn't been some warning of what was likely to happen. On my second visit to Ko Similan in March 1994, I noticed two dogs at the park headquarters. The presence of dogs or cats on a previously uninhabited island is total anathema to any slightly knowledgeable person, and so I complained to the part assistant chief. In return he was extremely rude and abrupt to me in response, claiming that dogs were occasionally left on the island by many boat owners and "there was nothing he could do!" (The dogs I saw were living very happily at the park restaurant). I thought, then, that the days of Nicobar Pigeons were probably numbered. As luck would have it, though, I found myself sitting next to Mr. Noppadol Brikswan, then the Head of the Marine National Parks Division, on the flight back from Phuket to Bangkok a few days later, and when I mentioned the dog problem to him, he took note and assured me that action would be taken. Of course, not long after that, Mr. Noppadol was transferred elsewhere. Now Similan National Park is paying the price of the Marine National Parks Division's poor management: far too much, more or less unregulated human use, mounds of garbage on the island, dogs and less and less wildlife.

Royal Forest Department staff are always grumbling about the management difficulties they face. Unlike mainland national parks, however, where park staff have to cope with poachers and encroachers living around (and sometimes inside) national parks, Ko Similan National Park is composed of uninhabited islands, without even sea-gypsies to contend with. When things go wrong, we can see very clearly that the blame lies one hundred percent with park staff and officials for failing to implement appropriate management measures. It's easy to see what happens. So much money is generated from sales of restaurant food and drink, that in the minds of park staff, this starts to become the reason for a park's existence--not wildlife and nature conservation.


Dogs destroy wildlife at Khao Sok National Park

While staying at Khao Sok National Park in February 1999, ornithologist Nick Dymond saw two dogs from a private resort situated near the park headquarters following behind two tourists as they walked into the forest. When Nick caught up with the group some time later, he saw one of the dogs carrying a baby Small-clawed Otter in its jaws. The dog had apparently captured and killed the otter inside the park. Domestic dogs are only one of the many threats faced by wildlife inside protected areas. In theory, though, they are a threat which park staff can easily do something about. These dogs at Khao Sok live at or near the headquarters. They should either be removed elsewhere, or humanely destroyed. Clearly, they have no place inside a national park.

The park staff at Khao Sok should learn from those at Doi Inthanon where it appears, any stray dogs seen in the vicinity of the summit bog, with its unusually tame and approachable birds, are summarily shot or otherwise removed, before they can do any damage. BCST has written to the director of the national Parks division to bring this matter to his attention.


Poaching of fragrant wood now worse than ever

Mai hom (fragrant wood) poaching is getting worse and worse, and the poachers are bolder than ever. In recent months, mai hom poachers have infiltrated Khao Yai National Park virtually to the doorstep of the park headquarters. It is hard to go 100 m in the forest in the headquarters area without spotting mai hom trees that have been cut down. Female wildlife researchers working in the park routinely encounter, and are intimidated by, mai-hom poachers. Pick-up trucks driven by merchants enter the park readily during daylight hours and there is some suspicion that park workers are implicated. The poachers don't even bother to keep their activities quiet, but even use chainsaws to fell the trees and extract the fragrant wood. Mai hom or mai krisana is the name given to the wood of the tree Aquilaria crassna which is found in eastern and SE Thailand. The similar A. malacensis is found in southern Thailand . If an Aquilaria tree gets infected by a certain fungus, the heart-wood rots and develops a fragrant aroma. This heartwood can be sold for a very high price which, weight for weight, is one of the most valuable commodities taken from the forest after rhinoceros horn.

We mean no particular criticism of Khao Yai. As we write, mai-hom poaching is continuing in all parks and sanctuaries in eastern Thailand in which Aquilaria trees are found. It is just that, since Khao Yai is more easily accessible, it is easier for outsiders, such as BCST, to find out what is going on. The usual strategy of RFD when confronted by evidence of poaching is to try to hush it up, since no protected area superintendent wants his promotion prospects blighted by attendant bad publicity. But, in fact, we have a lot of sympathy with the forest officials who carry out an extremely arduous task in the face of government indifference. The foresters complain that, when they catch mai hom poachers, the police fine them 100 baht and let them go again. The trade is just too lucrative for all concerned and the suspicion is that that powerful politicians or other vested interests are implicated in this sordid business.

Not only the Aquilaria tree itself is endangered. Mai-hom hunters hunt wildlife for meat during their many weeks-long forays in the forest. They also poach elephants for ivory. This has led to the near disappearance of tusked male elephants from many herds. It was mai-hom poachers from Prachinburi who shot the last elephants and Sumatran Rhinos in the Banthad mountain range of southern Thailand twenty years ago. The mai-hom being taken out of Khao Yai today is lower-grade material that formerly poachers wouldn't have bothered with. But all the best-grade mai-hom has long since gone, and now the poachers are taking out what is left.

In the meantime, what is our high-profile, publicity-conscious Director-General of Royal Forest Department proposing to do about it? I think we all know the answer to this question.


Birdwatcher's field notebook: 15 years ago

Date: 25 December, 1983:

Location: Ban Sob Ruak ("The Golden Triangle"), Chiang Saen, Chiang Rai, Thailand (on the banks of the Mekong River)

"Got a ride up-river in a small dug-out boat with a diminutive engine. This was in the charge of a small boy to whom we were happy to pay Bht.50 for about two hours. This Christmas Day, I am pleased to have set foot in the territory of three countries: a sandbank in the middle of the river, belonging to Laos, which held 4 Fire-capped Tits and Black-faced Buntings in the riparian scrub; and a small tongue of land across Ruak stream, belonging to Burma. There were about 20 Plain Martins entering burrows in the stream bank. A Black Stork flew across the river from Burma to Laos, and there were 40-50 Spot-billed Ducks midstream in the Mekong."

"This place has arguably the best ambience (lack of forest excepted) of any place I have been in Thailand. I can imagine that it will be spoilt in a few years. Just this afternoon, a Thai-style long-tail power-boat came roaring upriver and berthed below us. It would only take two power-boats here, roaring up and down, to spoil the place completely."

Editor's note: The writer envisaged the increase in boat traffic. He did not envisage the canalization and concreting over of the lower Ruak Stream and consequent destruction of the Plain Martin nesting colony; nor the unfinished gambling casino across the stream in Burma, and the obscene shopping mall on the Thai bank of the mainstream Mekong River, both built by a Thai Member of Parliament with more money then good sense; nor the proliferation of luxury resorts in the area, owned by both Thai and foreign hotel chains.



RECENT REPORTS, January-February 1999

An Oriental Darter, 5 River Lapwings and 2-3 Grey-headed Lapwings were reported from the confluence of the Moei and Sob Yuam rivers (Mae Hongson) on 24 January (CV).

Two adult Malayan Night Herons were seen at Khao Pu-Khao Ya National Park (Phatthalung) on 22 February (JND). There were five or six White-rumped Vultures, 3 near Kapook Kapieng, Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary (Uthai Thani) on 8 January (BK and a Peregrine Falcon at Bang Khan Railway Station (Bangkok) on 12 February (WP). The Chiew Larn Reservoir in Khao Sok National Park (Surat Thani) produced an Osprey, 3 immature White-bellied Sea Eagles and an adult Lesser Fish Eagle on 27 February (YM,PDR).

A pair of Hume's Pheasants was seen on Doi Ang Khang (Chiang Mai) on 10 February (AA, PS, HT) and no fewer than five females reported from the vicinity of the Den Ya Khat Substation of Doi Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary (Chiang Mai) on 11 February (CK).

A Spoon-billed Sandpiper on salt-pans at Khok Kham (Samut Sakhon) on 14 February (JND,PDR,SS), at almost exactly the same place where at least two were located in mid-March 1995, raises the probability that small numbers of this rare and globally threatened species may overwinter annually, and have been previously overlooked. In spite of its proximity to Bangkok, this site is scarcely ever watched. It supports the largest concentration of stints and other small waders of any site in the inner gulf: 300 Rufous-necked Stints, 30 Broad-billed Sandpipers, a single Red Knot and a Great Knot were among the other waders counted on 14 February, together with 21 Caspian Terns and a single Gull-billed Tern.

An Eastern Curlew and 2 Nordmann's Greenshank were seen at Ko Libong on 19 February (JND) within 1 km of the village at the west end of the island.

The first winter Black-tailed Gull, a second winter, very dark-backed, (Heuglin's?) Gull, an unidentified first winter "herring-type" gull and a distant adult were all seen at Bang Poo on 11 February (WS). Two Great Black-headed Gulls, the Black-tailed Gull, and three 'herring gulls" (none of which included the dark-backed bird) were present on 17 February (RJ).

3 Wedge-tailed Pigeons were seen along with a flock of ca. 30 Yellow-vented Pigeons at Km. 42, Kaeng Krachan, on 30 January (PS,PaS) and a single male Wedge-tailed again at Km 17 on 20 February (PS). An immature male Violet Cuckoo was seen at Huai Thung Thao (Chiang Mai) on 15 February (AB), and a Dark-rumped Swift along the Mae Chaem road, Doi Inthanon on 29 January (JND). Indian Nightjars were heard calling on the AIT Campus (Pathumthani) on 10 February (AS). A pair of Gould's Frogmouths and a Reddish Scops Owl were also heard or seen at Khao Pu-Khao Ya during 20-24 February (JND. A Black-and-red Broadbill was seen at Hat Chao Mai on 18 February (JND) and a Hooded Pitta at Khao Pu-Khao Ya on 23 February (JND) was an unusual mid-winter record of a species which is mainly a passage migrant and breeding visitor in Thailand.

A pair of Wire-tailed Swallows was present on a concrete-lined irrigation canal at Mae Hia (Chiang Mai) on 19 January (KingBird Tours) and 17 February (KW), indicating continued breeding of this scarce species in the vicinity of the city. A leucogenis Ashy Drongo was at Don Muang (Bangkok) on 14 February (WP). A female Daurian Redstart was seen at Den Ya Khat on 11 February with males at nearby Pa Kia, Doi Chiang Dao on 24 January (KingBird Tours) and Ban Pang Yang, Samoeng (Chiang Mai) from 9 January to at least 10 February (CK). February (CK). A male Oriental Magpie Robin was observed attacking a female, thought to be from a neighbouring pair, at AIT on 15 February. The male was pecking at the head and body of the female, on the ground, and was then joined by a second female. When the bird was checked later, it had succumbed to its injuries (AS). The winter's second Eurasian Blackbird, a female this time, was reported from Km 8-9, Doi Inthanon on 12 February (AB). An Orange-headed Thrush was killed by a motorcycle on ko Libong on 20 February (JND). A Rufous-faced Warbler on Doi Chiang Dao, 4 February (JND) was the first record for many years of this little-known species in Thailand. A Chinese Bush Warbler was reported from Km 31, Doi Inthanon on 30 January (JND). There was a male elisae Narcissus Flycatcher on 24 February and a male glaucicomans Blue-throated Flycatcher on 22 February at Khao Pu-Khao Ya (JND). A Chestnut-tailed Starling entering a tree-cavity on the AIT Campus, 4 February (AS), suggests the possibility of nesting. A male House Sparrow was seen at Don Muang Railway station (Bangkok) on 10 February (WP), and a pair of Red Avadavats at Ban Lung Tua (Phitsanuloke) on 13 February (AA,PS,HT).

Contributors: Andy Anderson, A.(Tony) Ball, Bruce Kekule, J.N. Dymond, Roongroj Jugmongkol, Chitapong Kuawong, Wanchai Plabphleungthong, Philip D. Round, Wachara Sanguansombat, Pinit Saengkaew, Piyanipa Saengkaew (PaS), Dr. Samaisukh Sophasan, A. (Tony) Stones, Hideo Tani, Dr. Chavalit Vidthayanon, Krisakorn Wongkornwut.

Compiled by Philip Round and Roongroj Jugmongkol



RECENT REPORTS November 1998-January 1999

There were 7 Black-headed Ibises at Ban Thasadet (Suphanburi) on 10 January (PS) with two more, and a single Painted Stork in flooded paddies in Muang District, Suphanburi on the same day (KUWC). Another Painted Stork was found at Sanambin Non-Hunting Area (Buriram) on 23 January (NA). In a winter when no major concentrations of ducks were reported, the most significant records were 14 Spot-billed Ducks on the Mekong River at Chiang Saen (Chiang Rai) on 1 January, with a male Ruddy Shelduck there on 2 January (ST); two Common Shelduck, only the second record for Thailand, on Bung Boraphet (Nakhon Sawan) on 16 January (KK & PK); and six Comb Ducks on Sanambin on 23 January (NA). Four wetland sites in Buriram (Huai Chorakhe Mak, H. Talad, Sanambin and Nong Sanoh) produced among them only 4 Common Teal, one Northern Shoveler and ca. 90 Northern Pintail during 3-23 January (NA). A drake Mallard and 4 Spot-billed Ducks were reported from Nong Bong Khai (Chiang Rai) on 3 February (PKr,SK).

A possible juvenile Bonelli's Eagle was seen at ca. 1000 m on Doi Ang Khang (Chiang Mai) on 5 December (TT) and a Eurasian Kestrel at Kasetsart University Bangkhen Campus (Bangkok) on 8 January (KUWC). Three Silver Pheasants (two males and a female) on Doi Suthep on 7 December (JK) was a welcome confirmation of the survival of this species on this mountain. A Water Rail at Nong Bong Khai on 30 December (TTa) and 1 January (TT) was still present on 3 February (PKr,SK). A Black-tailed Crake at Doi Chiang Dao (Chiang Mai) on 24 January (SS) was the third sighting at this, Thailand's second known location. A concentration of 200 Eurasian Coot was noted on Huai Chorakhe Mak (Buriram) on 6 December (NA). Three Nordmann's Greenshanks and 450 Terek Sandpipers were counted at Krabi River mouth on 28 January (KingBird) and 40 Spotted Redshank at Naong Sanoh on 16 January (NA).

A wader survey by boat between the Bangkok Municipal boundary in the east, west to Ban Krasa Khao, west of the Tachin River Mouth, in Samut Sakhon Province, on 4 February, produced between 3000 and 4000 waders. The most numerous species were Pacific Golden Plover (1140); Sandplovers (530); Curlew Sandpiper (350), Common Redshank (ca. 1000),Common Greenshank (120), and, very surprisingly, 270 Bar tailed Godwits. This is a most unusual and unexpected concentration of Bar-tails for the Inner Gulf. Other noteworthy birds were 20 Eurasian Curlew, 38 Ruddy Turnstone and a single Great Crested Tern (KKCC, BCST, WI). The same team covered Don Hoi Lot (Samut Songkhram) by boat on 7 February, adding 2,000 sandplovers (mainly Lesser Sandplovers), 200 Grey Plover, 150 Pacific Golden Plover, 200 Black-tailed Godwits, 100 Ruddy Turnstone and 30 Great Crested Terns. Several dolphins (probably Bottle-nosed) were also seen. (Data from Bangpoo and Wat Kalong to Rangjan, and Ban Laem, Phetchaburi, covered during 5-6 February is not yet available. However, this is probably so far the most complete survey of waders in the inner gulf ever carried out)

Significant concentrations of the nationally threatened Pompadour Pigeon were seen at Thung Salaeng Luang (Phitsanuloke), with 400-500 birds on 10-13 December (KUWC) and six at Sala Phrom, Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary (Chaiyaphum) on 23 January (KUWC). An Ashy Woodpigeon was seen on Doi Pha Hom Pok on 10 December, and 29 Speckled Woodpigeons on 15 December (TT). An Alexandrine Parakeet was present in Lumphini Park (Bangkok) on 12 December (BCST); and 6-8 Red-breasted Parakeets, a male Asian Emerald Cuckoo and 3 Small Minivets at Wat Song Phluu, Bang Kruay District (Nonthaburi) on 7 December (SKh). Another male Asian Emerald Cuckoo was at Kasetsart University, Bangkhen, on 5 December (KUWC), with a wintering Large Hawk Cuckoo on 6 and 15 December (KUWC).

A flock of 30 Long-tailed Broadbills was seen in Wiang Heng District (Chiang Mai) on 28 November (JK). Six Long-tailed Broadbills were apparently engaged in cooperative nest-building activities near the Sala Phrom Guardstation of Phu Khieo on 15 January (KUWC). Two Brown-rumped Minivets were reported in a mixed flock with Ashy Minivets at Bang Tieo on 23 December (KB,KW), while records of Brown-rumped Minivet were also received from Phu Luang Wildlife Sanctuary (Loei), where there were also 80-100 Nepal House Martins, near the Nam Khai Guard Station on 4-5 February (KUWC). A Short-tailed Parrotbill was seen at Phu Luang on 6 December (KUWC) and a possible male Blue-fronted Robin was reported at this site also during 8 and 10 December (KUWC). A Eurasian Blackbird was present at Huai Thungthao (Chiang Mai) from at least 19 December onwards (TB). Three elisae Narcissus Flycatchers were reported from Bang Tieo: a female or immature on 23 November (PC,AS) and a second female/immature and a male on 22 December (KB,KW). An Asian Paradise-flycatcher was at Kasetsart University, Bangkhen on 5 December (KUWC). There were flocks of 200 Chestnut-tailed Starlings at Thung Kamang, Phu Khieo on 15 January (KUWC), 30 White-shouldered Starlings at Huai Talad NHA on 2 December (NA) and 114 Black-headed Greenfinches at No Leh, Doi Ang Khang on 31 December (TT). A male Scarlet Finch was seen on Doi Pha Hom Pok on 16 December with 7 Spot-winged Grosbeaks on 15 December (TT). Five more Spot-winged Grosbeaks were found on Doi Inthanon on 22 January (KingBird) and a male Red Avadavat and 100 Java Sparrows at Kastsart University, Bangkhen on 20 December (KUWC).

Contributors: Nakhon Atsadamongkol, Tony Ball, Bird Conservation Society of Thailand, Klos Bunthavee, Pathomphon Charoenjai, Sakol Kasemphan, Kasetsart University Wildlife Club, Khok Kham Conservation Club, Kamol and Patcharee Komolphalin, Jittapong Keuawong, Surasak Khokmi (SKh), Phanot Krairojananan, (PKr), Phanuwat Sasirat, Suthee Supparatvikorn, Thossaphon Tansurat (TTa) Thippamas Tantitadapitak (TT), Attakrit Sriyapai, Wetlands International, Kritsakorn Wongkorawut.

Compiled by Philip Round and Roongroj Jugmongkol


Surveys at Phu Jong Na Yoi

A Cambridge University team carried out a brief wildlife survey in Phu Jong Na Yoi National Park, Ubon Ratchathani, during December 1998-January 1999. Among their more significant findings was confirmation of the presence of several nationally or globally threatened mammals, including Sunda Pangolin, Slow Loris, Pileated Gibbon, Pig-tailed Macaque, bear, Golden Jackal and Sambar . Their bird records included a male niltava which was probably a Fujian Niltava and a possible Japanese Thrush. Further details are eagerly awaited.

Worldtwitch Thailand


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