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Worldtwitch Thailand

2001 THAILAND BIRD REPORTS

Bird Conservation Society of Thailand Bulletin (BCST Bulletin)

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


RECENT REPORTS

October, November and early December 2001

Two Great Crested Grebes showed up at the regular site, Nong Bong Khai, Chiang Saen (Chiang Rai), on 24 November (BK). There were also two Great Cormorants on 26-27 November (BK) and an Oriental Darter on the Mae Ngat Dam, Sri Lanna National Park (Chiang Mai) on 10 November (CK, S?, So?, LBNC). Ten Painted Storks at Ban Khao Takhrao, Ban Laem District (Phetchaburi) on 17 November had increased to 24 at nearby Ban Bang Kang on 24 November (BKh). A single Asian Openbill at Kaem Ling Nong Yai (Chumphon) on 4 November (CN) was a southwards straggler.

A Greater Adjutant in flight over an open area near the Phasak Dam, Chaibadan District (Lop Buri) on 19 November (SarT) was the first record of this globally endangered species in Thailand for a few years. Five Black-headed Ibises were seen at Ban Bang Kang on 18 November (BKh). There were three Ruddy Shelducks at Khao Sam Roi Yot (Prachuap Khiri Khan) on 19 November (NI, EP). Over-wintering Black Bazas were again present at Salaya (Nakhon Pathom) with singles on 15 November and 29 November, and two on 22 November (MU); an overwintering or passage bird was at Kaem Ling Nong Yai on 4 November (CN). Four more were seen at Ban Khlong Pring, Bor Thong District (Chumphon) on 14 November (CN). An immature Japanese Sparowhawk at Salaya on 29 November was harrying Asian Koels and a Bronze-winged Jacana (PDR). Four more Japanese Sparrowhawks and a Chinese Sparrowhawk were reported from Kaem Ling Nong Yai on 4 November (CN). An immature Great Spotted Eagle was seen at Samkhok on 4 November (PS).

Three Grey-headed Lapwings at Kaem Ling Nong Yai on 4 November had increased to 4 birds by 24 November (CN). Two Grey Plovers, inland with a flock of Pacific Golden Plovers at Samkhok, on 4 November (PS) was an unusual record.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper was reported by many observers at Khok Kham during 5 to 15 November, with three together on the same salt-pan on 23 November (SD) providing welcome confirmation of the presence of more than one bird. In previous years, there have been two, possibly three, individuals at this time of year, though usually only a single bird later in the winter. A single Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at Khok Kham on 1 December (SD, RJ, PDR, et al.) remained on 2 December when videoed (CT, ST). A Sanderling stayed at Khok Kham from 25 November to at least 2 December (SD). There were 15 Great Knots on the morning of 2 December (SD) with two Red Knots and an Asian Dowitcher putting in an appearance in the late afternoon (PDR). There were 100 Black-tailed Godwits at Bang Pu (Samut Prakan) on 12 November (SJ), rising to 200 on 24 November (PDR). Eurasian Woodcock was seen at Kaeng Krachan on 13 November with two on 14 November (PE, ME, KK). A flock of 20 Eurasian Thick-knees at Prong Salord Reservoir (Phetchaburi) on 4 November (BKh, KS, NS, TT, AW, RW) apparently included some full-grown young. Additionally, there were two Great Thick-knees on the Mekong River at Chiang Saen on 24 November (BK).

Two first-year Slender-billed Gulls were found with the Brown-headed Gull flock at Bang Pu on 12 November (SJ). Three on 17 November (MM) were still present on 1 December (KK, MM, JWKP, PDR). A first-winter Black-tailed Gull was reported from the same site on 23 November (JWKP), while a distant large gull observed by JND without the aid of a telescope on 24 November was thought to be Pallas's Gull. Two first winter Heuglin's Gulls were present on 25 November (PN).

Blossom-headed Parakeets outnumbered Red-breasted Parakeets in a mixed flock of 100 birds feeding in rice fields at the base of Doi Inthanon on 27 November (SC). A further 88 Red-breasted Parakeets were seen at Ban Khlong Pring, on 14 November (CN).

Two or three White-bellied Pigeons were reported from Doi Phu Kha (Nan) during 21-22 October (SJ). Other birds from the same site included Besra, Stripe-breasted Woodpecker, and Crested Finchbill, among many other species.

A juvenile Greater Racket-tailed Drongo showed up in a garden at Ban Mai (Bangkok) on 18 November (PE). Two lucionensis Brown Shrikes were at Kaem Ling Nong Yai on 24 November, with a Black-winged Cuckooshrike on the following day (CN). Crested Finchbills were abundant around the Highland Agricultural Project area of Doi Ang Khang in late November ((JND, AP). Four Black-throated Parrotbills were seen on Doi Inthanon on 1 Nov (CK, NK). Manchurian Bush Warbler was seen near Malee's Guest House, at the base of Doi Chiang Dao (Chiuang Mai) on 1 December (AP).

A male Orange-headed Thrush showed up in Mu Ban Laddawan, Bang Na (Bangkok) on 16 November (ST). A Eurasian Blackbird was reported from Phu Khieo (Chiyaphum) on 17 November (ST). Ferruginous Flycatcher was seen along the Doi Inthanon jeep track on 20 October (CK, S?, So?,), and Mugimaki Flycatcher (female or immature) at Phu Khieo on 18 November (ST). Both Blue-and white Flycatcher and Blue-fronted Redstart were reported from Doi Phu Kha during 21-22 November (SJ), though in neither was the sex mentioned. A white morph male Asian Paradise-flycatcher appeared at Khok Kham on 22 November (SD) and a female or immature was seen at Samrong (Samut Prakan) on 13 November (AS).

An immature Rosy Starling was associating with Asian Pied Mynas between Phetchaburi and Kaeng Krachan on 15 November (PE,ME, KK). Ten Purple-backed Starlings were present at Patong (Phuket) on 20 October (IS). A Common Starling was present at Tha Ton (Chiang Mai) on 2 December (JND). There were 5 Richard's Pipits at Kaem Ling Nong Yai on 4 November and 24 November (CN).

Contributors: Saravuth Chaodamkhaet, Suchart Daengphayon, J.N. Dymond, Dr. Peter Elias, Mary Elias, Peter Ericsson, Nurak Isarasena, Siree Jaroenjai, Roongroj Jukmongkol, Boonphob Kansiwiang, Boonrawd Khieoyuu (BKh), Boonsang Khunthavee, Kamol Komolphalin, Chitapong Kuawong, Lanna Bird and Nature Conservation Club, Mark Mallalieu, Mahidol University Third Year General Ecology Students (MU), Porpol Nontapa, Nature Trails, Naturetrek (NK), Chukiat Nualsri, John W.K. Parr, Edmund Pease, Andy Pierce, Pinit Saengkaew, Apakorn Sae-tang, Ike Suriwong, Krisana Suriyo, Nawanop Suriyo, Chachawan Tantitadapitak, Sopitcha Tantitadapitak, Sarthip Thongnakcokegruad (SarT), Aunchana Watanayut, Ruangyut Wiwatwongwanna; Pongsak ? (no surname supplied); Surachai ?, Somjai ? (Lanna Nature Conservaytion Club; no surname supplied).

Compiled by Philip D. Round and Roongroj Jukmongkol


WHITE-WINGED DUCKS AND FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE RALLIES

The Royal Forest Department scored a duck in August this year, when forced by local conservation groups to back down over granting access to four wheel-drive enthusiasts to drive through Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, part of the Western Forest Complex.

Access to the sanctuary by a large convoy of off-road vehicles was supposedly linked with a planned release of captive-reared White-winged Ducks. However, local conservation groups around the Western Forest Complex opposed entry by the off-roaders. In the end, the duck releases went ahead, but the off-roaders were made to wait outside the sanctuary boundary, while the ducks were transported instead by RFD vehicles. Further duck releases have since taken place, but in a rather less contentious atmosphere, when 15 were released in Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary, Chaiyaphum Province, with the enthusiastic participation of schoolchildren (Bangkok Post, 20 November 2001).

In the meantime, it appears that Dr Schwann Tunhikorn, Director of RFD's Natural Resources Conservation Bureau, and the brains behind of the off-roaders and duck release scheme, may still be pressing for further 4WD rallies to take place. This has resulted in deep suspicions among local conservation groups about RFD motives. They have even accused Dr. Schwann of delaying some elements of the flagship, DANCED-funded Western Ecosystem Forest Complex Project, in which community bodies from six provinces participate (Bangkok Post, 25 November 2001).

Actually there are three distinct issues at stake here. Firstly, should RFD's sole, and often arbitrary, management of protected areas to satisfy its own, undefined objectives, be allowed to continue without outside accountability? Secondly, should four-wheel drive rallies be permitted in protected areas? And thirdly, will releases of captive-bred White-winged Ducks actually achieve anything useful, besides generating the "feel-good factor" among those who watch them fly off, possibly never to be seen again?

Let us, for the moment, leave aside the first of these questions. As for the second, you don't have to be an conservation-elitist to suspect that something is not quite right when convoys of off-roaders are encouraged to drive through wildlife sanctuaries or national parks. The RFD car-park in Bangkok is usually fairly full of expensive, well-maintained official 4WD vehicles, so shortage of transport for the ducks is clearly not the problem. If the purpose of the 4WD rally was to encourage public participation in conservation and wildlife management, then surely there other, are less controversial, ways of achieving this praiseworthy objective.

While the impact of the occasional off-road convoy on wildlife and environment is probably minimal, one can't help wondering whether the off-road lobby and RFD might share some hidden agenda here. There are a large number of rather wealthy people who would like nothing better than to spend 50 weekends per year roaring around dirt roads in our parks and sanctuaries in their expensive vehicles. Doubtless, there are also a lot of business interests associated with the recreation industry who sense advertising and other opportunities. Allowing even one convoy of off-roaders in a sanctuary could create a bad precedent. Maybe the off-roaders and RFD have reached some sort of financial understanding which they would much prefer the conservation lobby didn't know about?

RFD can justifiably be proud of its expertise when it come to breeding White-winged Ducks in captivity. One single Captive Breeding Center, at Pong Namron, Chanthaburi, is awash with ducks -- 200 at least! But, with the best will in the world, you have to wonder whether captive-breeding serves any useful purpose, or whether it is just a rather expensive form of poultry-rearing. Are the releases part of an organised wildlife rehabilitation program? Or is it merely that the large numbers of ducks are becoming something of an inconvenience, expense and embarrassment for RFD, which the captive-releases, through reducing the numbers which have to be looked after, will do something to relieve?

Releases are only the start of the procedure, not the end-point. The few examples in other countries where captive-bred animals have been released into the wild have been beset with huge problems. Mortality of released animals from predation and accidents is almost always high. Constant monitoring is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of re-introductions. In the case of the White-winged Duck releases, no follow-up seems to have been planned. Have any even been fitted with radio transmitters, colour bands, or wing-tags to facilitate this? This would help wildlife managers in other Asian countries to learn from Thailand's experience.

One rule of reintroductions, especially when a procedure is still untested, is that the animals should be released in an area of suitable habitat, but which is not currently supporting a wild population of the same species. This is to minimise the risk of disease transmission between captives and wild birds, and to prevent possibly inbred captives interfering with the genetic integrity of any wild population. Furthermore, whatever factors eliminated the wild population in the first place must no longer be acting at the same intensity if the released captives are to have any chance of survival. It is extremely hard to find anywhere in Thailand which meets these conditions, since all parks and sanctuaries are thoroughly infiltrated by poachers. Additionally, both the Western Forest Complex and Phu Khieo, in the north-east, where releases have occurred, still possess a few genuinely wild White-winged Ducks. Releasing captive-bred birds into these areas could expose wild birds to the risk of disease, such as avian tuberculosis, or parasites.

Unconfirmed reports reaching BCST suggest that the White-winged Ducks already released into Huai Kha Khaeng behave rather like domestic stock, hanging around the Khao Bandai substation, and subsisting on hand-outs from sanctuary staff. This might be all well and good if it helps the birds slowly adjust to the wild, but a more likely scenario is that the first-generation of released ducks will be quite unable to adapt to the wild, since they have spent all their previous life in a crowded cage, exposed constantly to the presence of humans . Sooner or later, they will be eaten by leopard cats or other native predators. This could then create the insane situation where the sanctuary workers will then start to kill the predators, to save the ducks! If this sounds unlikely, please remember that Alan Rabinowitz, (Chasing the Dragon's Tail) found the workers at the Khao Nang Rum substation of Huai Kha Khaeng killing leopard cats inside the sanctuary in order to reduce losses among their domestic chickens!

The White-winged Duck is listed by BirdLife International as globally endangered. It will need all the help it can get if it is to survive in Thailand and neighbouring countries for much longer. This is why reintroductions, if attempted at all must be carried out under the correct procedures; subject to the strictest safeguards; alongside appropriate habitat conservation and poaching suppression measures, and with the broadest public support. So please, RFD, don't just muddle along! Do it right this time!


EMPTY FORESTS? THE SLAUGHTER OF WILDLIFE CONTINUES

A truck loaded with "nearly 500 armadillos", (actually globally threatened Sunda Pangolins) was intercepted in Muang District, Chumphon (Bangkok Post, 2 December 2001). The value of the shipment was estimated at one million baht. The truck was registered in Phatthalung. The truck driver "fled the scene".

To many government officials and politicians, the fact that bushmeat is consumed at all is a bit of a joke. They all expect that villagers eat bushmeat: they may "Tut tut" a bit, but assume that "Boys will be boys!", fail to consider its impact, and carry on as normal pretending that nothing is amiss.

This flies in the face of the evidence that trade in bushmeat, wildlife products and live wildlife is the scourge of protected area systems throughout Asia. Hunting is not carried out by village hunters acting in isolation, for subsistence purposes, but by well organized, market-driven networks. The value of illegal wildlife in trade is probably on a par with that of amphetamines or narcotic drugs. Tiger bones, rhino horns and other parts in demand are low volume, high value and are routinely shipped across borders by international wildlife traffickers. Forests have been emptied of turtles and pangolins, among other sought-after species.

Like the drug trade, the wildlife trade is believed to be controlled by influential, well-connected, mafia-like figures, with almost complete immunity from prosecution. At least, once in a long while, a few hapless drug couriers get put in prison, even if the big fish escape. But does this ever happen with wildlife traders, even the small fry?


FORESTS EMPTIED OF TIGERS?

Biologists using improved, modern monitoring methods are finding alarmingly low numbers of keystone predator species in Thailand's protected areas. A recent (2001) paper presenting the results of intensive camera-trapping in Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary, part of the largest contiguous area of forest remaining in NE Thailand, reported only a single tiger in 300 sq. km in the supposedly best protected core-zone of the sanctuary (Antony J. Lynam, Kitti Kreetiyutanont and Robert Mather, Nat. Hist. Bull. Siam Soc. 49: 61-75).

Camera traps are triggered by anything large enough which walks in front of the infra-red beam, recording (e.g.) pheasants, pittas, and other ground birds as well as large mammals and, additionally, humans. At Phu Khieo, fully eight percent of all camera-trap pictures collected on trails were of poachers and collectors of forest products. The impact of hunters and wildlife smugglers on both tiger prey animals and on the tigers themselves is likely to have been considerable.



RECENT REPORTS September–November 2001

Twenty-five Indian Shags were recorded at Bang Phra (Chon Buri) during 17-19 October (PS). Three Black Storks were reported from Nong Bong Khai on 26 October. (Observer not known, but per ST). A male Hume's Pheasant was again seen near the summit of Doi Pui (Chiang Mai) on 4 November (BL).

Pride of place this month goes to Chumphon Province, where around 8,000 raptors (3 Ospreys, Black Kites, Accipiter spp., apparently including both Japanese and Chinese Sparrowhawks) were reported on migration by a team of observers during 13–14 October (CN). In all, it was estimated that roughly 50,000 raptors passed through during the period 28 September to 31 October, though no details were given as to species. The peak Black Baza passage, which usually falls around 22–30 October (with previous years' peak counts of 4500 per day) seems not to have been detected this year, though 102 birds flew through at Bang Leuk, Muang District (Chumphon) on 21 October (CN).

Six Crab Plovers and 3 Pale-capped Pigeons apparently flew past the raptor watch team at Tha Yang (Chumphon) on 13 October (CN). A female Eurasian Sparrowhawk was reported at Tha Yang (Chumphon) on 18 October (CN), though no details were submitted.

Five Eurasian Woodcocks were seen along the road at Thung Phaya, Thung Salaeng Luang (Phitsanuloke) on 27 October (ST). There were six Pomarine Jaegers (two with full tails) and an immature probable Long-tailed Jaeger were seen off Laem Phak Bia (Phetchaburi) on 3 November (MM,AP,PDR). All birds landed on the sea, briefly, before flying onwards. Nearby saltpans at high tide, between Laem Phak Bia and Bang Kaew, held 4 Painted Storks, 60 Great Knot, 2 Ruff, ca. 600 Rufous-necked Stints; five adult and six first-winter Heuglin's Gulls, and a first-winter Black-tailed Gull. on 4 November (MM,AP,PDR).

Short-toed Coucal  was observed in swampy lowland forest behind the research station at Bala on 1 October (ST). A female Crimson-breasted Woodpecker was seen on Doi Ang Khang (Chiang Mai) on 24 September (SoT). An immature Crow-billed Drongo at Laem Phak Bia on 3 November was a late migrant.

A dark chestnut, tonkinensis race Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch was reported from the Ban Arunothai Road, on the lower slopes of Doi Ang Khang at 700 m on 25 September (SoT). A pair of Black-eared Shrike Babblers and two Red-faced Liocichlas at the Khun Mae Ya Watershed Station on 14 October (DP,WS) were both new locality records.

Strangely, no records of Siberian Blue Robin were reported before 27 September, a male, in the far south, at Bala (ST). Three Sulphur-breasted Warblers were seen at only 285 m elevation, Mae Wong (Kamphaengphet) on 22 October (ST). There was a Ferruginous Flycatcher on Doi Pui at 1400-1500 m on 4 November (BL).

Another exciting record from Chumphon was three Chestnut-cheeked Starlings together with a flock of both Purple-backed and White-shouldered Starlings, at Na Tung, Muang District on 27 October (CN). Photographic documentation of this record was provided. This is the first undoubted record for Thailand of a species which normally winters in Borneo and the Philippines, but which has also strayed to Singapore and Malaysia . A single Purple-backed Starling was reported from Khao Pra-Bang Khram (Krabi) on 21 October (SS) and 56 birds from Tha Tapao, Muang District (Chumphon) on 20 October (CN).

Breeding records:  Black-crested Bulbul, Hairy-backed Bulbul, Grey-headed Babbler, Chestnut-rumped Babbler, Chestnut-winged Babbler, Spectacled Spiderhunter and Orange-bellied Flowerpecker were all seen feeding fledged young at Bala during 27 September to 3 October (ST). Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush was seen feeding two fledged young on the summit of Doi Inthanon on 2 November (ST).

Contributors: Bengt Legnell, Mark Mallalieu, Chukiat Nualsri, Andy Pierce, Dome Pratumtong, Philip D. Round, Sant Saelee, Wachara Sanguansombat, Papot Sukhathorn, Sopitcha Tantitadapitak.

Compiled by Philip D. Round and Roongroj Jukmongkol



RECENT REPORTS September - October 2001

Remarkably, news has reached us of another Oriental Darter breeding site, in Nakhon Nayok Province, where 13 birds and two nests were observed, apparently in eucalypts, on 30 September (PP).

12 Garganey were present at Phu Khieo (Chaiyaphum) on 7 October (DP,WS). There was an Osprey at Phu Khieo on 6 October (DP,WS), while 6 Northern Hobbies flew past the Khun Mae Ya Watershed Station (Mae Hongson) on 14 October (DP,WS). A Common Buzzard and a Peregrine Falcon were also seen (WS,DP). Another Osprey, a Black Kite and 15–20 distant, unidentified hawks were seen at Jarakhebua (Bangkok) on 16 November (UT). A passing Japanese Sparrowhawk caught a male Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker on the same day (UT). There was a Chinese Sparrowhawk at Kaem Ling Nong Yai, Bang Leuk, Muang District (Chumphon) on 22 September (CK). Hume's Pheasant was reported from Doi Pui on 21 October (BL). Two Grey-headed Lapwings were recorded at Kaem Ling Nong Yai on 22 September, a very early date, with three at the same site on 29 September (CK). 52 Eurasian Curlews were counted at Le Chalet (Samut Sakhon) on 23 September (PN,SP,TT), and there were at least 215 at Khao Sam Roi Yot on 21 October (MM). Eurasian Woodcock was seen at Khun Mae Ya Watershed Station on 13 October (DP,WS). A Spoon-billed Sandpiper was present with a large concentration of stints at Khao Sam Roi Yot on 22 October (MM,PDR,WS,ST), only one day after another bird made its appearance at the usual wintering site of Khok Kham (Samut Sakhon) on 21 October (SD). Two Ruff , 4 Asian Dowitchers and 120 Broad-billed Sandpipers were also seen (MM,PDR,WS,ST). There were 70 Great Knot, 10 Red Knot and an Asian Dowitcher at Samut Sakhon on 25 October (MM), and a Red-necked Phalarope at Khok Kham on 28 October (MM,RM).

An adult “Lesser Black-backed Gull”, presumably a Heuglin's Gull, was reported from Laem Phak Bia on 6 October (BPF).

Orange-breasted Pigeon was among a list of birds reported from Pak Mae Nam, Thung Kha (Chumphon) on 1 September (CK). 10–12 Blue-rumped Parrots at Mae Nam Phachi Wildlife Sanctuary (Ratchaburi) on 16 September was a slight northwards extension of the Thai range. Another 6–8 Blue-rumped Parrots were seen at Km 17.5, Kaeng Krachan on 23 September (KW). A Hooded Pitta was killed, crashing into a window on Rama 6 Road, Bangkok, early morning on 19 October (SO). Another interesting observation was of 150 Asian House Martins roosting in an isolated 15 m tall leafy tree at Khun Mae Ya on 14 October (DP,WS). Eyebrowed Wren Babbler from Km 16, Kaeng Krachan (KW) would, if accepted, be a new park record

A female Siberian Thrush was seen on Doi Pui on 21 October (BL). Three Siberian Blue Robins (two first-year males and an adult female) were in mangrove scrub at Laem Phak Bia on 29 September, along with a female Yellow-rumped Flycatcher and a juvenile Tiger Shrike (PDR,CR). Two male philippensis Blue Rock Thrushes showed up at Jarakhebua on 16 October (UT). A Dark-sided Flycatcher was seen at Phu Khieo on 6 October (DP,WS) with two at the Khun Mae Ya Watershed Station on 13 October. This last site also produced a Ferruginous Flycatcher on 14 October and two Blue-and-white Flycatchers: a female on 12 October and a first-year male on 14 October (DP,WS). There was another Ferruginous Flycatcher was seen at Bala on 26 September (SoT). Three Yellow-rumped Flycatchers were reported from Wa Ko (Prachuap Khirikhan) in “early September” (WBC). A female or immature Asian Paradise-flycatcher was seen at Krisdanakhorn Village , Phutthamonthol 3 ( Bangkok ) on 20 September (AW). The earliest record of Grey-backed Shrike was on Doi Ang Khang on 24 September (SoT).

A number of records were received from the Sukhumvit 101 Area of eastern Bangkok, indicating diligent recording by a single observer (SJ) during the migration season, and providing some useful first dates. Among these was Drongo Cuckoo on 25 September; 2 Black-naped Orioles on 9 October; Ashy Drongo on 30 September (race not specified), with a pale race Ashy Drongo and Black-naped Monarch on 11 October.

Contributors: Suchart Daemgphayon, Brian P. Farrell, Siree Jaroenjai, Bengt Legnell, Mark Mallalieu, R. Medland, Porpol Nontapa, Chukiat Nualsri, Supavadee Ongoagchai, Santana Pluemshoosak, Dome Pratumtong, Pongpan Phuaphattanakul, Chawatee Ratanadilok na Phuket, Philip D. Round, Wachara Sanguansombat, Sukanya Thanomphut, Termsak Tiranapharin, Uthai Treesucon, Anurak Wattanawongsawang, Kriskorn Wongkornwuthi, Wa Ko Bird Club, Apichart (no surname given), Chatrachai (no surname provided), Woraphan (no surname provided).

Compiled by Philip D. Round and Roongroj Jugmongkol



RECENT REPORTS
August – September 2001

Malayan Night Heron (adult) and six Siamese Firebacks, three of each sex, were reported from Khao Ang Ru Nai (Chachoengsao) on 28 July (DP,WS). The first migrant Little Heron was from Khao Yai on 14 September (GG,PDR). There were at least 40 Painted Storks on prawn-ponds at Laem Phak Bia, Ban Laem District, (Phetchaburi) on 2 September (PDR,SR, ST) and as many as 69 nearer Ban Laem town itself on 12 September (BPF).

Presumed resident Black Bazas were reported from Huai Mae Dee, Huai Kha Khaeng (four birds on 10 September; SoT) and from the Bo Thong Guardstation of Khao Ang Ru Nai (two on 29 August DP,WS). There was a Jerdon's Baza at Thap Krabok, Khao Ang Ru Nai on 30 August (DP,WS), and two Bat Hawks close to Khlong Hala at 100 m, in the Hala Sector of Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary (Yala) on 16 August (WS).

At least 74 Common Sandpipers were counted gathering on a sandbar at Ao Yang, Ta Mai (Chanthaburi) on the evening of 19 August (AN) with three Bar-tailed Godwits and a flock of 100 Little Terns at nearby Ban Ka Chai, Ao Yang on 23 August (AN). Small numbers of Whiskered Terns were present at Laem Phak Bia on 1 September, with already 700 at Bang Pu by 5 September (KK, PK). The first-noted Black-capped Kingfisher was at Khao Yai on 14 September (GG, PDR).

There were four Yellow-footed Pigeons in a fruiting fig at Mae Hia (Chiang Mai) on 26 August (GWF/LBC), and an immature Red-breasted Parakeet nearby on 25 August (GWF, LBC, KS). No fewer than 38 Large Green Pigeons were seen near Khlong Hala, at 100 m elevation on 17 August (WS). There were two Drongo Cuckoos at Mae Hia on 29-30 August (CK) and an Asian Emerald Cuckoo at Doi Inthanon on 29–30 August (CK). Pride of place this month goes, however, to an astounding flock of 50 White-throated Needletails, apparently moving ahead of a rain-front at Khao Soi Dao (Chanthaburi) on 27 August (AN). A Stork-billed Kingfisher was reported from Kaem Ling Nong Yai, Muang District, Chumphon on 25 August (CBG). The same group furnished a detailed list of other species recorded at this site. 75 Plain-pouched Hornbills were counted flying past the Khlong Hala substation of Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary on 17 August (WS).

A pair of Great Slaty Woodpeckers were seen with a small recently-fledged juvenile at Huai Mae Dee, Huai Kha Khaeng on 10 September (SoT)

Two Black-and-red Broadbills were seen at Lum Jangwa Guardstation, Khao Ang Ru Nai on 30n August (DP,WS) and four Silver-breasted Broadbills near Wat Prathat Doi Suthep (Chiang Mai) on 26 August (WN,KR).

The first Blue Rock Thrush of the autumn was seen sheltering from the rain under the eaves of a Sukhumvit Road hotel, Bangkok, on 24 September (GH). A nest of White-tailed Robin, with 3 eggs, was found on Doi Inthanon on 19 August (SK). The first migrant Stonechat of the autumn, a male, showed up at Mae Hia on 26 August (PDR). A first-winter Asian Brown Flycatcher was seen at Khao Soi Dao on 27 August (AN), with five reported from Doi Inthanon on 29–30 August (CK). An extraordinarily early Red-throated Flycatcher, with a red throat, was reported from Mae Wong (Kamphaengphet) on 27 August SoT). Adult male Yellow-rumped Flycatchers were seen at Saphan Mai (Bangkok) on 25 and 31 August (PE) with two at Laem Phak Bia during 8 and 9 September (PDR, KS, WS). There was also a female at Tha Sadet (Suphanburi) on 25 August (NI, RJ, RP, SP); a first-year female at Laem Phak Bia on 1 September and a first year male on the following day (PDR, ST). There was a migrant Asian Paradise-flycatcher at Saphan Mai (Bangkok) on 23 September (PE).

A Rufous-chested Flycatcher was seen in the Hala Sector, Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary at ca. 280 m on 14 August (WK). Spotted Fantail was at this site, and also at the surprisingly high elevation of 1,060 m. Other species seen in the montane zone at 1,060 m included Maroon-breasted Philentoma (a pair), White-throated Fantail and Mountain Fulvetta. Two Chestnut-capped Laughing-thrushes were seen at 1350 m, 15 August (WS), and two Black Laughing-thrushes at 1200 m on 16 August (WS).

The earliest Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler was an adult at Laem Phak Bia on 2 September (PDR), with four more on 9 September (PDR, KS, WS). Oriental Reed Warbler was first noted on 8 September, at Laem Phak Bia (PDR), and Black-browed Reed Warbler around Jarakhe Bua, Bangkok on 13 September (UT). Arctic Warblers were recorded at Huai Kha Khaeng on 28 August (SoT); Laem Phak Bia on 2 and 8 September (PDR, WS). Eastern Crowned Leaf Warbler was seen at Saphan Mai on 31 August (PE).

A flock of 23 Forest Wagtails flew westwards along the coast (possibly going to roost?) at Laem Gnop (Trat) on the evening of 20 August (AN); there were two at Kamphaengsaen Scout Camp on 25 August (RJ); another at Khao Soi Dao on 27 and 28 August (AN) and one at Saphan Mai on 3 September (PE). Four or five White Wagtails were seen on a wetland area near Ayutthaya on 18 September (PE); the first Yellow Wagtail at Laem Phak Bia 0n 1 September (PDR), and a Brown Shrike at Nakhon Chaisri (Nakhon Pathom) on 25 August (NI, SP). There were two Tiger Shrikes at Laem Phak Bia on 2 September (PDR, ST), and at least 7 different birds at this site on 9 September (WS); one at Huai Mae Dee, Huai Kha Khaeng on 10 September (SoT).

Contributors: Chumphon Birdwatching Groups, Peter Ericsson, Brian P. Farrell, Green World Foundation, Dr. George Gale, Noritaka Ichida, Roongroj Jukmongkol, Samak Khodkaew, Chitapong Kuawong, Lanna Bird Club, Wiphaphan Nakphaen, Albert Noorlander, Rungratchanee Phimathai, Santana Pluemshoosak, Dome Pratumtong, Kant Ratanajun, Philip D. Round, Sonapa Round, Wachara Sanguansombat, Kunlapat Sornrarum, Kampol Sukhumalind (KaS), Sopitcha Tantitadapitak (SoT), Sukanya Thanomphut.

Compiled by Philip D. Round and Roongroj Jukmongkol


Another new bird for Thailand?

The tail feather of a peacock pheasant was recovered from an elevation of 1,380 m in the mountains of Hala, Yala province on 15 or 16 August by Wachara Sanguansombat. The preliminary indications from the distinctive elongate and asymmetrical ocelli on the outer an inner webs of the feather, are that this can be none other than Mountain Peacock Pheasant, Polyplectron inopinatum. Though further confirmation is awaited, it is almost certain that this is another stunning addition to Thailand's resident bird fauna.



RECENT REPORTS
June to August 2001

There were 32 Painted Storks in flight over Sena District (Ayutthaya) on 24 July (JWKP). Grey-headed Fish Eagle was reported from Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sabctuary (Surat Thani) on 7 July (SuT) and adult female Besra from Ban Krang, Kaeng Krachan (Phetchaburi), on 5 August (PS). An Oriental Hobby was reported on the summit of Doi Samur Dao, Sri Nan National Park (Nan) on 4 July (PJ,NN).

Several pairs of Pheasant-tailed Jacanas were found breeding at two localities in Bang Pla Maa District (Suphanburi) on 21 July (GG,PDR,CW). The first Little Ringed Plover of the autumn was on 24 July at KMUTT, Bang Khunthien (Bangkok; GG), and the first Common Kingfisher was at Khok Kham (Samut Sakhon) on 4 August (PDR). Two Great Hornbills were seen in the outlying hills in the grounds of Kaeng Krachan Country Club on 29 July (PS). Single juveniles of both Banded Pitta and Gurney's Pitta, adult(s) in attendance, were reported from Khao Nor Chuchi (Krabi) on 7 July (ST).

A nest of Puff-throated Babbler, with three tiny young, at Khao Yai on 12 August (PDR) is a late date for nesting in this species. Rufescent Prinias were found with young in the nest at Krung Ching on 11 August (ST), while a Common Tailorbird feeding a juvenile Drongo Cuckoo at the same locality on the following day (ST) would be a new brood-host record for this species. A pair of Chestnut-naped Forktails with recently fledged young was seen at Krung Nang Waterfall (Nakhon or Surat Thani) on 13 August (ST).

A Grey Wagtail on Doi Inthanon, 24 June was the earliest ever recorded. (per CK), while others were reported on Doi Inthanon in early July (RK). A Plain Sunbird was seen with recently fledged young at Krung Ching on 13 August (ST). Three Pin-tailed Parrotfinches, one of which was apparently a juvenile, were seen at Khao Nor Chuchi on 5 July (ST).

Contributors: George Gale, Panuwat Julawat, Dr. Rungsrit Kanjanavanit, Chitapong Kuawong, Nomjit Nualnetr, John W.K. Parr, Philip D. Round, Sopitcha Tantitadapitak, Sukanya Thanomput (SuT), Chanin Thienwiwatnukul, Chanpen Wongsripheuk.

Compiled by Philip D. Round and Roongroj Jukmongkol


Review of the conservation scene

The past few months have seen some tumultuous events reported on by the Bangkok Post and many Thai-language newspapers.

No fewer than five leading environmentalists were shot dead, apparently on the orders of influential people, during 2001. The first victim was Jurin Ratchapong, who had campaigned to preserve mangrove forests in Phuket. The second was Narin Phodaeng, who led a campaign against the destruction of Cha-ang mountain in Rayong. He was followed by Pitak Tonwuth, a student leader who protested against a rock-blasting quarry in Phitsanulok. Then Chaweewan Puksoongnern, a leading campaigner for environmentally friendly liquor production, was shot dead in Nakhon Ratchasima. The most recent victim was Suwat Wongpiyasathit, who spearheaded a campaign against a foul-smelling garbage landfill in Samut Prakan. These murders attracted as much attention outside of Thailand as inside, and were reported around the world. The world's perception of “The Land of Smiles” will be that it is the rich or powerful who are smiling, since they can do away with anybody brave or foolish enough to stand in their way, without fear of legal reprisals.

In June, mob-rule prevailed in Doi Pha Chang Wildlife Sanctuary when an unruly crowd of 50 villagers from Ban Nam Pook, armed with knives, axes, pistols, shotguns and muzzle-loaded rifles descended on a guard station in Pong District, Phayao Province and burnt it to the ground. The station chief, Mr Sakmanoon Kesornphan, was dragged out of his hammock, shot dead, and his face hacked about with a machete. Some of the villagers were allegedly development and defence volunteers, armed with government-provided pump-action shotguns. A four-wheel truck was set on fire and an assault rifle stolen from a wounded warden.

This area, lying in the upper Yom drainage is the headquarters of illegal teak-logging and many villages still work for influential, well-equipped and well-connected illegal logging concerns. Villagers were ostensibly angry at being arrested for cutting logs in the wildlife sanctuary, though there are indications they were backed up or encouraged in the attack by an influential figure. At time of writing (more than two months later) nobody has been prosecuted for murder, or for the violent destruction of government property.

Big-time prawn-farming is back in the news. Leading figures in the government are agitating for the ban on tiger prawn farming in the central plains to be lifted, claiming that this would earn billions of baht in foreign exchange. The likely effects of salinization and destruction of the kingdom's Chao Phraya Rice Bowl seem to have been ignored, with proponents claiming that the waste water can be managed using new techniques. Who are they trying to fool? Even with the ban in place, an estimated 80,000 rai of illegal, polluting prawn farms have sprung up in rice-growing areas. If government officials are unwilling or incapable of enforcing an uncomplicated ban, how on earth are they going to ensure that in future prawn farms all install water treatment facilities? Prawn-farming has been likened to “slash-and-burn” agriculture, as the prawn farmers move on to devastate new areas when yields drop due to pollution and fungus disease. Unfortunately, the dice seem to be loaded in favour of the prawn farmers, since the present Chairman of the National Environment Board reportedly has a son who is a prawn farmer!

At first sight, prawn-farming may not seem to have in common with the recent flood disaster in Lomsak district, Phetchabun, in mid-August, which took over 100 lives and destroyed millions of baht worth of property. However, logging and prawn-farming are both instances where immediate profit is given precedence over consideration of the long-term welfare of environment. In the case of the Phetchabun floods, it was logging and the expansion of agricultural land 30 years ago that gave us today's bald mountains, incapable of preventing run-off and soil erosion following torrential downpours. The excuse used by the loggers and the military in the 1960s and 1970s was that the mountain jungles had to be cleared because they held communist insurgents. However, many people profited enormously from timber sales at that time.

How to deal with the aftermath of this forest clearance? It seems there are too many influential people with large land-holdings in the Phetchabun mountains to permit any rational approach, involving land-use zoning and reafforestation, to be applied. Instead, it seems more likely that the main outcome of the flood disasters will be a renewed clamour for the building of reservoirs by those politicians linked with the construction industry.

After being shelved during the previous government, due to public opposition, the Sino-Thai eucalyptus-planting project is being revived. This follows a meeting between Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji last May. Details of the project, expected to be finalised when the PM visits China in late August, seem to be being kept out of the public eye. However, it is expected to cost around one billion US dollars and consume 700,000 rai of land, with projected output of 700,000 tonnes of paper a year. The question is, since most deforested forest land is already occupied by farmers, where will the eucalyptus be planted? BCST and other nature conservation bodies fear that unoccupied national reserve forest land, which continues to support a proportion of native tree cover, and which harbours much wildlife, will be used.

On a more optimistic note, it was announced in June that Thailand would nominate five sites as Wetlands of International importance under the Ramsar Convention. The sites are Nong Bong Khai Non-Hunting Area in Chiang Rai Province; (2,711 rai); Bung Khong Long Non-Hunting Area in Nong Khai (13,837 rai); Don Hoi Lod in Samut Songkhram (546,875 rai); Krabi estuary in Krabi (133,120 rai) and Chalerm Prakiat Wildlife Sanctuary in Narathiwat (126,625 rai).

The convention was signed in Ramsar (Iran) in 1971, and came into force in December 1975. It provides a framework for international cooperation for the conservation of wetland habitats. Thailand's first (and so far only) Ramsar site, after Bangkok became a signatory in 1998, is Khuan Khi Sian in the Thale Noi Non-Hunting Area, Phattalung Province.

There is also encouraging news concerning another wetland, Khao Sam Roi Yot, Prachuap Khiri Khan province, where establishment of a Ramsar site was previously derailed due to local opposition by influential prawn-farmers and landowners. Academics led by Surapol Sudara, of Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Science, and Nirawal Pipitthasombat, from the Office of Environment Policy and Planning, have been asked to help draft a plan to develop the park as an international wetland and waterbird conservation area, and have spent some time meeting with locals to explain that wise and sustainable use is one of the goals of Ramsar designation. Existing uses of the wetland, such as fishing and harvesting of wetland products, undertaken by the majority of (lower-income) people who live around the site would therefore continue, while Ramsar designation might also promote ecotourism there, as has happened at Thale Noi. Attitudes seem to be changing for the better, giving renewed hope for the future of this major wetland.



RECENT REPORTS May - July 2001

Two breeding plumage Javan Pond Herons were noted at Hat Sai Ri, Mu Ko Chumphon National Park (Chumphon) on 8 May (CN). A pair of Cotton Pygmy-Geese were on the Bang Khunthien campus of King Mongkut's University of Technology, Thonburi on 27 June, with Osprey at the same site on 14 June (GG,PDR). An Osprey was also reported from Thung Kha (Chuphon) on 12 May (CN) with two more, said to be displaying, at the Sirindhorn Dam (Ubon Ratchathani) on 7 July (WK). Two Jerdon's Bazas were seen at Km 15, Kaeng Krachan (Phetchaburi) on 23 June (BK,KS,AW) with another soaring over Mawsingto, Khao Yai on 14 July (GG,PDR). There were immature Brahminy Kites at Nong Kut Kalerm, Muang District (Yasothon) on 16 June (WK) while 2 Rufous-winged Buzzards were seen in each of Si Muang Mai and Khong Chiam Districts of Ubon Rathchathani Province during June. A number of nestlings were in the possession of villagers (WK).

Seven Siamese Firebacks (6 males and one female) were reported from Sakaerat (Nakhon Ratchasima: no date supplied; K).

Two pairs of Malaysian Plovers were reported from Patiu District (Chumphon) on 2 June (KR). The first Wood Sandpiper of the autumn migration period was seen at Laem Phak Bia (Phetchaburi) on 7 July, with 3 present on the following day (PDR). 18 Bridled Terns were said to be nesting offshore on Hin Ngaam Islets, Patiu District on 1 June (KR).

Grey-headed Parakeet was reported from Si Muang Mai on 6 July (WK). A Grey Nightjar photographed Kaem Ling Nong Yai (Chumphon) on 10 May (AN,CN) was a very late date There was a Rufous-backed Kingfisher at Km 16 Kaeng Krachan on 23 June (BK,KS,AW) with a female Rufous-collared Kingfisher in the same general area on 17 June (NT). A male Malaysian Honeyguide was seen in the Bala Sector of Hala-Bala (Narathiwat) on 31 May (ST).

A House Crow was present with approximately 60 Large-billed Crows in Krabi on 5 June (DB). An Oriental Reed Warbler at Laem Phak Bia on 7–8 July (PDR) was thought to be an aberrant individual, which had possibly oversummered somewhere in the region, since it had not yet undergone any moult. In spite of this, the bird was in good condition and was heavily laden with fat, as if preparing for a long migration

The first Grey Wagtail of the season, in Khao Yai on 12 July (GG,PDR), was not a particularly early date.

At least two pairs of Asian Golden Weavers was present on the Bang Khunthien campus of King Mongkut's University of Technology, Thonburi during June, with one completed nest seen (GG). This had increased to 4 or 5 pairs by early to mid-July (GG). No breeding records have been received this season from the known nucleus at Bang Mot, where birds are still presumed to be present. News from the known Streaked Weaver colony in Rayong is not good however. According to SuT, the nesting area of the weavers is now much disrupted by inland prawn-pond developments.

Breeding records: From Kaeng Krachan: nests of Green Magpie and Silver-breasted Broadbill each with a bird either incubating or brooding small young, 16–17 June (NT).

From Bala (all ST): Gold-whiskered Barbet feeding young in nest and Red-throated Barbet feeding young in nest 8 June; Blue-eared Barbet feeding young in nest, 5 June; Brown Barbet with fledged young 7 June; Crimson-winged Woodpecker with fledged young, 8 June; Green Broadbill with fledged young, 15 May; Spectacled Bulbul with fledged young 7 June; Grey-cheeked Bulbul with fledged young, 8 June; Buff-vented Bulbul with fledged young 6 June; Thick-billed Spiderhunter nest and young, 8 June.

From Khao Nor Chuchi (ST): Orange-breasted Trogon with fledged young 30 May; Red-throated Barbet excavating presumed nest, 3 June

Elsewhere:

Nest of Ashy Woodswallow with a single young at Kasetsart University Kamphaengsaen campus (Nakhon Pathom) on 19 June (PDR). A fledged, food-begging juvenile was seen at Khao Yai on 28 June (GG,PDR).

Contributors: Chumphon Birdwatchers' Group, Sa Kaeo Conservation Club, David Buckingham, Dr. George Gale, Boonrawd Khiawyuu, Wichian Kongtong, Nature Trails, Ariya Nualsri, Chukiat Nualsri, Kant Ratanajun, Philip D. Round, Krisana Suriyo, Sopitcha Tantitadapitak, Aunchana Watanayut, Kittipong (no surname supplied).

Compiled by Philip D. Round and Roongroj Jukmongkol.


SA KAEO ORIENTAL DARTER COLONY RE-OCCUPIED

Exciting news from the Sa Kaeo Conservation Club is that the waterbird colony on the land of Lung Son Sornjandaeng, Mu 18, Khlong Malakaw Tai, Muang District, Sa Kaeo (deserted during the dry season, even by roosting birds) has been reoccupied.

During a visit on 8 May 2001, there were 20 Oriental Darters present and said to be 8 nests (though no eggs laid as yet). There were also 30 Purple Herons with two nests; many tens of Little Cormorants, Black-crowned Night Herons, and more than 1000 Little Egrets, Cattle Egrets and, reportedly, Intermediate Egrets. Since there are no nesting records of Intermediate Egret it is rather important to visit the site and confirm the breeding status of these latter birds.

(Information contributed by Kampol Boonchoosawang, Sa Kaeo Conservation Club)



RECENT REPORTS April – May 2001

A single Black-headed Ibis was again seen in mangroves at Thung Kha (Chumphon) on 29 April (EC,PC,YP). 40–50 Amur Falcons over Doi Ang Khang (Chiang Mai) on 21 April (JG, UT) represents the second consecutive migration season in which a significant concentrations has been found. One hopes that this species will be looked for, and recorded regularly from now on during spring and autumn passage. Both Northern Hobby and Peregrine Falcon were reported over Phu Chi Fa (Chiang Rai) on 18 April (SK). Bat Hawk in the Bala Sector of Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary (Narathiwat) was said to be in its fourth nesting cycle in the same nest, in a Koompassia tree on 25 April, when thought to be incubating (ST). However, three full grown birds, presumably the breeding pair and one full grown young from a previous nesting, were seen at the same site on 17 May. The full grown young was still being fed by at least one adult (HW).

Chinese Egret was photographed at Laem Pakarang (Phang-nga) on 15 April (PK,KS,ST) and three Grey-tailed Tattlers were present on the following day (PK,KS,ST). A Nordmann's Greenshank, moulting into breeding plumage, was seen at Krabi on 6 May. More than 10 Great Knots were also still present. (EC,PC,YP).

A pair of Red-legged Crakes was seen at a nest in Pandanus clump, one bird incubating, on 2–3 June (many observers). The nest was found by a villager who was clearing a small patch of secondary scrub in Bang Tieo village (Krabi). He obligingly desisted from further cutting, so as not to disturb the birds. A Masked Finfoot was seen at Krabi on 8 May (NT).

250 Bridled Terns were seen on the boat crossing between Ko Tarutao and Ko Adang (Satun) on 3 May. On the following day, one of the Bridled Terns was being harried by a jaeger thought to be pale morph Pomarine Jaeger, though seemingly lacking the distinctive spoons on the tail (WS).

A Pied Cuckoo was reported from Mae Sarieng (Mae Jongson) on 27 May (PW, per RK). A Rusty-breasted Cuckoo was seen at Phu Khao Thong during 30 April to 4 May (ST). One Short-toed Coucal was seen, and another three heard in the Bala Sector of Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary on 3 May (JG,UT). A Gould's Frogmouth was also found on the same date (JG, UT). Barred Eagle Owl was seen at the viewpoint, Bala on 20 April (WS), and again on 17 May (HW). A nesting Red-bearded Bee-eater at Km 27.5, Kaeng Krachan during 12–13 May was said (by EC,PC,YP) to be “slightly disturbed by photographers coming much too near to the nest”.

Rufous-collared Kingfisher was heard calling, and taped at Km 16, Kaeng Krachan at 0600 h on 5 May (NSC, PE, TPL, TT). Three White-crowned Hornbills were seen at the Wildlife Research Station, Bala on 20 April (WS). Four Wrinkled Hornbills including one immature, were seen at Km7, Bala on 25 April (ST) and a male was seen near the viewpoint a few kilometers away on 17 May (HW). Plain-pouched Hornbill was reported from Km 27.7, Kaeng Krachan sometime during the period 10–14 May (EC). A Fire-tufted Barbet was reported from To Mo, in the Bala Sector of Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary (Narathiwat) on 6 March (CT). It is surprising that the only two Thai records of this montane species have come from the (largely submontane) Bala Sector, rather than the much more mountainous Hala sector of the sanctuary. Streak-throated Woodpecker was reported from Ban Krang, Kaeng Krachan at during 10–14 May (EC,PC,YP). A Blue-winged Pitta visited a house garden at Laksi (Bangkok) on 24 April and remained until 29 April (JW). Dusky Crag Martins were reported from Phu Chi Fa on 17 April (SK).

Siberian Blue Robin was still present at Khao Nor Chuchi (Krabi) on 3 May (EC,PC,YP). Male Daurian Redstart was reported from Huai Nam Dang (Chiang Mai) on 15 April (SK). Many male Jerdon's Bushchats were seen in montane grasslands at Phu Chi Fa on 18 April (SK). There were at least five singing Chestnut-capped Thrushes at Bang Tieo on 3 May (PDR,BS,ST). Arctic Warbler was seen at Budo (Narathiwat) on 14 May (CBH); Dark-sided Flycatcher at Bala during 28–30 April (WS) and Ferruginous Flycatcher at Thung Tieo (Krabi) on 1 May (PE). Brown-streaked Flycatcher was seen feeding fledged young at Khao Phanom Bencha (Krabi) on 7 May (EC,PC,YP). Two Yellow-rumped Flycatchers, one of which was an adult male, were present at Bala on 21 April (WS) A male Blue-and-white Flycatcher photographed at Pha Kluey Mai, Khao Yai on 23 April (NP) may be only the second record for the park. Rufous-winged Philentoma was seen wit fledged young on 4 May (ST)

Five Vinous-breasted Starlings, including some juveniles, were seen in the inner city (Phaya Thai Children's Home, Rama 6 Road) on 8 May; Asian Pied Starlings were also recorded with fledged young at that time (RK, KN, AS). Two Chestnut-tailed Starlings were seen entering a nest-hole carrying food to at least four chicks at Kasetsart University, Kamphaengsaen (Nakhon Pathom) on 16 April (SK). This seems to be the first confirmed breeding record from the Central Plains.

A (presumed male) Scarlet Sunbird was seen at the Phu Khao thong Guard Station, Bala during 26 April to 4 May (ST).

Some last dates for migrants received from the Chiang Mai area (all IS) were: Brown Shrike (9 May); Siberian Rubythroat 22 April; Yellow-browed Warbler 22 April; Grey Wagtail (3 May).

Nesting records from the Bala Sector of Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary were received from ST as follows:

Blyth's Hawk Eagle, young in nest, 6 May; Little Green Pigeon, pair nest-building, 1 May; Grey-rumped Treeswift incubating, 26 April; Blue-eared Barbet incubating, 26 April; Rufous Woodpecker with three young, 7 May; Red-backed Kingfisher one pair feeding young in the nest, 30 April and one other occupied nest, 6 May; male and female Black-and-red Broadbills nest building, To Mo, 28 April; nest and two young of Banded Pitta at Chong Khao Khaad, 27 April; Pacific Swallow nesting below bridge, 28 April; Horsfield's Babbler feeding two small fledged young, 30 April; two pairs of Spotted Fantails, one with fledged young and another with nest and young, on 4 May.

Contributors: Erwin Collaerts, Peter Collaerts, Christian Boix-Hinzen, Ng Soon Chye, Peter Ericsson, John Gee, Rungsrit Kanjanavanit, Surasak Khokmi, Tai Ping Ling, Kesara Nipapattanachai, Rachanee Ketyangyeunwong, Suppalak Klabdee, Prasong Kraisakdawat, Nichaya Praditsup Yvon Princen, Aphakorn Settang, Pinit Saengkaew, Wachara Sanguansombat, Kampol Sukhumalind, Ike Suriwong, Brian Sykes, Tom Tarrant, Chanin Thienwiwatnakul, Sarthip Thongnakcokegruad, Nature Trails, Uthai Treesucon, Pramoj Waithyakul, Jittanat Wisesjinda, Third International Hornbill Workshop (HW).

Compiled by Philip D. Round and Roongroj Jugmongkol



RECENT REPORTS March - early May 2001

Three or four female Christmas Frigatebirds and two possible female Great Frigatebirds were identified off Ko Phi Phi Le (Krabi) on 27 April (DJF). Single breeding plumage Indian Pond Herons were seen at Rangjan (Samut Sakhon) on 14 April and at Khao Sam Roi Yot on 30 April (PDR,SS). Two Bar-headed Geese were photographed on the Mekong River at Chiang Saen (Chiang Rai) on 1 March (SarT), while two Ruddy Shelduck on the same date were too far away for similar documentation to be obtained. Hume's Pheasants, up to 3 males and 2 females, were seen daily near Den Ya Khat, Doi Chiang Dao during 26 March to 2 April (WS), while a male was seen at Km 21 on Doi Ang Khang on 16 April (SoT). A probable Japanese Quail was flushed from paddies at Tha Ton on 21 March (MG).

An Osprey was seen perched at the side of the Nam Mae Klang, Km 12, Doi Inthanon (Chiang Mai) on 16 April (PaP). 47 Black Bazas were seen on northwards migration on the early morning of 25 March, at Kaem Ling Nong Yai, Tambol Bang Leuk, Muang District Chumphon (CN). A Greater Spotted Eagle flew over Phaen Din Samur (Krabi/Trang) on 1 April (YM,SR). A Chinese Sparrowhawk was seen sitting by the khlong (presumably awaiting frogs, a prime prey species for this hawk) at Khao Hin Daeng, Huai Kha Khaeng (Uthai Thani) on 19-20 April (PSR, SS). Another was reported from Kaeng Krachan Country Club on 29 April (PP).

Single Oriental Plovers were present near Khlong Rang (Prachinburi) on 25 March (KMN) and at Rama 6 Camp, Cha-am (Phetchaburi) on 4 May (PS,WY). A single Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits and 50 Eurasian Curlew were recorded from Pak Phun (Nakhon Si Thammarat) on 1 April (CT). 60 Asian Dowitchers, 400 Black-tailed Godwits and 40 Bar-tailed Godwits were counted on mudflats at Kalong on 13 April. Other waders present included 1000 Common Redshank, 2000 Curlew Sandpipers, 400 Black-winged Stilts and 1,100 sand plovers (WS). Two Eastern Curlews were found on Krabi mudflats on 7 April (PC) and a single Nordmann's Greenshank was still present at this site on 28 April (DJF). Ten Nordmann's Greenshank -- an unprecedented number for the inner gulf -- were reported from Kalong (Samut Sakhon) on 1 May (KK,PK). At least 4 breeding plumage Little Stints were reported from salt-pans at Kalong among 350 Rufous-necked Stints on 10 April (WS). Only a single Little Stint was still present on 14 April, by which time the Rufous-necked Stints had also all disappeared (PDR,SS). A Eurasian Thick-knee was seen at Kaeng Krachan Country Club at 0230 h on 8 April (SP).

Three adult Heuglin's Gulls were the last stragglers still present at Laem Phak Bia on 31 March (PDR,PrS,RJT,ST). 12 Sanderling were also present on the same date.

There was no sign of any Pale-capped Pigeons in the mangrove site at Thung Kha (Chumphon) on the morning of 6 April (ST et al.). A single Black-headed Ibis flew over, however.

Blue-rumped Parrot was added to the list of birds for Khao Luang National Park (Nakhon Si Thammarat) when 4 or 5 were seen along the Khlong Krung Ching, on 8-9 April (PDR). This species is more or less strictly limited to lowland areas, and it is interesting to note that the Krung Ching flows across a flat plateau of ca. 9,000 rai (about 15 sq. km) in area. Although lying at 300 m elevation, it is clear that it possesses many attributes of true lowlands, and would doubtless repay further exploration. The first Chestnut-winged Cuckoos of the season were reported from dry dipterocarp woodlands and scrub at Wat U-Mong, Doi Suthep (Chiang Mai) on 9 April (two birds: SaS) with another elsewhere in a bamboo-filled ravine at 500 m elevation on the same mountain, on 17 April (DK). Three more were seen at Km 11, Doi Inthanon on 15 April (PaP), with a fourth bird at Tham Brichinda on the same mountain, 17 April (PaP). Common Cuckoo was again reported from Doi Ang Khang (Km 21) on 16 April (SoT) and three Rusty-breasted Cuckoos from the Bala Sector of Hala Bala (Narathiwat) on 20 March (SoT). Malaysian Honeyguide was seen at Krung Ching, Khao Luang on 7 April (PDR), though the Phaen Din Samur (Krabi/Trang) bird, known at the same site for nearly 15 years, seemed to have vanished by April 2001 (YM). Eight minutes of video footage of a male Giant Pitta was obtained at Bang Tieo (Krabi) during 5-8 April (YM).

A new species (and genus) record for Thailand was Long-tailed Wren Babbler: two pairs were found and another bird heard around the summit (2152 m) of the highest mountain in Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary (Tak) on 24-25 April (AP,PDR,SS). New populations of other expected high-elevation birds, already found on Doi Mokoju to the south, included Rusty-capped Fulvetta, Chestnut-tailed Minla, Burmese Yuhina, White-browed Shortwing, Yellow-bellied Fantail and Green-tailed Sunbird. Black-backed Forktail was seen on the lower slopes of doi Suthep on 9 April (SaS). A Scaly Thrush was watched eating the fruits of Myrica esculenta on Doi Chiang Dao on 1-2 April (WS).

Blyth's Leaf Warblers singing and showing wing-flicking behaviour indicating probable nesting, were observed at 2000 m in Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary during 24-25 April (PDR). An Eastern Crowned Warbler in a sedge-bed at Laem Phak Bia on 1 April was assumed to be an early northbound migrant (PDR, PrS, ST, RJT). It was in atypical habitat (sedge beds) and was very underweight. Grey-bellied Tesia was again reported from Doi Ang Khang (16 April SoT) but this time some vocalisations were apparently heard from the bird.

There was a Dark-sided Flycatcher at Khok Kham on 1 May (KK, PK) and a male Green-backed Flycatcher at Ban Nai Chong on 3 April (YM). 15 Purple-backed Starlings at Maharat Hospital grounds (Nakhon Si Thammarat) during 12-17 March (PA) were the only individuals of this spring passage migrant reported. Three White-vented Mynas were seen along with 30 Jungle Mynas at Pak Mae Nam Tapli (Surat Thani) on 17 April (PP). Perhaps the same Tristram's Bunting earlier reported from Km 21, Doi Ang Khang was still present on 21 March (MG) when said to be "a male moulting from winter into summer plumage."

Late additions: Jambu Fruit Dove female, Thung Tieo (Krabi), 26 February to 1 March (YM); Scaly Thrush, at a fruiting tree, Thung Tieo 18-28 February (YM)

Breeding Records: fledgling Collared Owlet, Umphang 22-23 April (AP, PDR, SS); nest and two eggs of Short-tailed Babbler at Krung Ching on 7 April (PDR); adult Golden Babbler feeding three tiny, short-tailed fledglings, Umphang, 21 April (AP, PDR, SS); Chestnut-crowned Warbler carrying food, Umphang, 22 April (AP, PDR, SS).

The following are all from Wachara Sanguansombat, on Doi Chiang Dao: Mountain Imperial Pigeon (nest building, 30 March); Short-billed Minivet (occupied nest, 30 March); Black-crested Bulbul (carrying food, 3 April); Red-whiskered Bulbul (carrying food, 28 April); Puff-throated Bulbul (carrying food 3 April); White-browed Scimitar-Babbler (incubating 2 eggs, 24 March); Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler (carrying food, 24 March); Grey-throated Babbler (incubating 3 eggs, 3 April); Brown-cheeked Fulvetta nest and eggs 3 April) Grey-headed Parrotbill (carrying food, 28 March and adult accompanying newly fledged young, 29 March); White-crowned Forktail (nest and three eggs, 3 April); White-tailed Leaf Warbler (feeding fledged young, 24 March; nest-building 29 March); Great Tit (feeding nestlings, 24 March); Common Tailorbird (nest-building, 23 March); Hill Prinia (incubating 4 eggs, 27 March and another incubating at a nest on 29 March); Black-naped Monarch (incubating, 23 March); Burmese Shrike (nest, 2 April).

From Sopitcha Tantitadapitak: in the Bala Sector of Hala Bala Wildlife Sanctuary: Bushy-crested Hornbill (occupied nest, 20 March); Orange-backed Woodpecker (recently fledged young, 24 March); Black-and-red Broadbill (nest-building, 25 March). From Kaeng Krachan, Oriental Pied Hornbill (nest and young, 5 April); Orange-bellied Leafbird (adults accompanying fledgling, 5 April); Dusky, Banded and Silver-breasted Broadbills all nest-building on 6 April; Ratchet-tailed Treepie nest and young (7 April). From Doi Ang Khang, 19 April: White-browed Shrike Babbler feeding fledged young, and Lesser Shortwing feeding three fledged young.

Contributors: Dr. Panom Archarit, Peter Clement, David. J. Fisher, Martin Gottschling, Kamol Komolphalin, Patcharee Komolphalin, David Kuehn, Yotin Meekaeo, Kurt M. Nielsen, Dr. Anak Pattanavibool, Parinya Padungthin (PaP), Pongpratch Puapatanakul, Saowalak Puapatanakul, Steve Rooke, Philip D. Round, Wachara Sanguansombat, Pinit Saengkaew, Pramote Sithanomai (PrS), Saravuth Sawkhamkhet (SaS), Siriya Sriphanomyom, Chirdphong Termtanan, Rob J. Tizard, Sopitcha Tantitadapitak (SoT), Sukanya Thanomphut, Sarthip Thongnakcokegruad (SarT), Wachara Yusawat.

Compiled by Philip D. Round and Roongroj Jugmongkol


"New" Waterbird colony at Nakhon Si Thammarat

On 10 April, as I was returning from Khao Luang National Park, Dr. Panom Archarit kindly led me to Thung Tha Laad, also known as Suan Somdej Srinagarind, on the outskirts of the town of Nakhon Si Thammarat. To say I was amazed would be an understatement. I was confronted by one of the most significant wetlands, and waterbird sites anywhere in the peninsula, if not Thailand as a whole. Furthermore, it was a site I had never even realised existed, even though it was well known to birders in Nakhon Si Thammarat. Part of the area is developed as a very pleasant public park and part is a landfill. However, much of what remains is a very nice swamp, with extensive beds of sedges and other aquatic vegetation. On view on the water were about 90 Cotton Pygmy Geese, 20 Lesser Whistling Duck, 25 Pheasant-tailed and 45 Bronze-winged Jacanas, and about 20 Common Moorhens. But what really stunned me were the numbers of nesting larger waterbirds, including at least 40 nests of Purple Heron, several with well-grown young, and several hundred nests of Cattle Egrets visible with ease from the road on which we were standing. There were also several hundred Little Egrets (none seen at the nest, though copulation was observed) and up to a hundred each of Black-crowned Night Herons and Little Cormorant. Not all of these species nest: Dr. Phanom mentioned that the Little Cormorants in particular were only present for part of the year. It was the Purple Herons that captured my attention, however. Previously, so far as we knew, breeding was confirmed only from Thalae Noi Swamp in Phatthalung, and from Khao Sam Roi Yot in Prachuap Khiri Khan. Now, in just the past few months, and thanks to the expertise of local provincial birding groups, we have been alerted to the existence of two more colonies of Purple Herons: in Sa Kaeo, along with Oriental Darters at the same site; and now at Thung Tha Laad.

Mr. Chirdphong Termtanan who recently visited the site reported no fewer than 243 nests of Purple Herons at Thung Tha Laad. This is fantastic news. Apparently, the herons used to nest in reeds in the middle of the swamp, and have only in the past year or two chosen to nest in trees in the park. But they must present a vital and fascinating site for the many recreational users of the park who congregate there each morning and evening.

Let us hope that the Nakhon Si Thammarat municipality recognises the value of this wetland on their doorstep, and acts to conserve it and its waterbird inhabitants for the future. And, we must ask? How many more nationally or internationally important IBAs -- Important Bird Areas -- are waiting to be discovered by local and regional birding groups in the provinces? Keep up the good work!

(Contributed by Philip Round)


National Parks - in safe hands or not?

In an overlooked footnote to a 9 March Bangkok Post article about Forestry Director-General Plodprasop's promise to take swift action against prawn farmers who have encroached on mangroves in Thalang District Phuket, it was also mentioned that, according to Plodprasop, "extra roads and lodging would be built in national parks all over Thailand to accommodate the increasing flow of local tourists." Given RFD's previous record in resource management, this is a prospect which should certainly alarm us.

One way of looking at tourism is that it is an extractive industry, no less than logging. But whereas in logging the value extracted is the timber from the trees, with tourism the resource to be mined is the uniqueness of a site in terms of its diversity, whether it be cultural, biological or otherwise. When timber resources provided the main source of income from RFD, the forest cover under RFD custodianship spectacularly declined, from 60-70% of the country to less than 20% in less than three decades. Prevented from exploiting timber, RFD now looks to tourism in national parks to provide its chief source of revenue. Hence, we have already seen DG Plodprasop raise national park entry fees to Bht. 200 for non-Thais, while Prime Minister Thaksin is placing a totally unrealistic emphasis on tourism as a means to make up for declining foreign exchange on exports. This is a very dangerous situation, especially since there is no established mechanism to exert checks or balances on RFD's activities inside the areas over which it exerts more or less exclusive control. There is a danger that, in an effort to maximise income from tourism, the very attributes of national parks which render them desirable destinations could be badly compromised. If the RFD pattern of unsustainable exploitation proves true, we may now expect the biodiversity values, sanctity, tranquility and uniqueness of Thailand's national parks to suffer as RFD "mines" these areas for ever larger tourism revenues.

When, a few years ago, a previous government announced its intention to privatise the operation of tourism facilities in Khao Yai National Park, there was a massive demonstration of public opposition to this. Thousands of young people, motorcyclists, rock musicians and others converged on the park in an impromptu two or three day festival, celebrating their love for and commitment to, the conservation of Thailand's oldest and best-known park. The Prime Minister's office was forced to back down, and exclusive control of park facilities remained in the hands of RFD. Yet when it comes to RFD itself, we seem to be too trusting altogether, and do not demand similar public accountability. This is perhaps because we recognise all too well that the many conscientious park and sanctuary staff are doing the best they can for wildlife under the present system, and we don't wish to do anything to make their life more difficult than it already is. But the selfless efforts of a few heroic figures don't necessarily justify all the many shortcomings of the present system, or mean that we shouldn't struggle to make it a better system.

We certainly do not need more destructive, high-disturbance, high-volume, high-litter, high-motor vehicle use, mass-tourism of the sort for which Thailand is famous, regardless of how much money this might generate for RFD or the government.

But let's get this straight: tourist use of the right kind, spread at low density throughout protected areas, and subject to appropriate safeguards, could be a useful boon for conservation. At the present time, the only users of the more remote parts of parks and sanctuaries are the poachers and forest product collectors who roam throughout, hunting wildlife, with virtually zero risk of ever encountering forest guards on patrol. A system of long-distance hiking trails, along which hikers, and campers, with appropriate supervision, could walk, with minimal disturbance to wildlife and forest, could be a useful means of improving coverage and patrolling, and preventing or reducing illegal and damaging use of parks by poachers. In addition, tourist revenues, channeled judiciously to local communities around park margins, could do much to provide financial incentives for conservation among rural villagers and generate further support for national parks. These ideas are not new and have been promoted by conservationists for decades, but so far without much success in Thailand, where they receive virtually no support from RFD.

RFD bosses show no sign of understanding that RFD is merely the custodian of national parks and sanctuaries on behalf of the nation. Instead, they act as if RFD was the exclusive legal "owner" of remaining forest lands, able to dispose of them as it sees fit, and entirely unaccountable to the nation for its behaviour. RFD regards legitimate park users as dupes, who are not permitted to have any say in how parks are managed, but yet must continue to pay entry fees to feed RFD's hunger for cash.

It is high time that the Thai wildlife conservation NGOs asked RFD where the huge revenues from tourism in national parks go. We already know that these do not go into improved protection against poaching, or in providing better support and facilities for hard-pressed forest guards, most of whom are employed as day-labourers with little or no prospect of advancement. So how much money do national parks generate, and just where does it all end up?



RECENT REPORTS February - March 2001

The nesting colony of Oriental Darters and other waterbirds near Wat Khlong Malakaw, Muang District (Sa Kaeo) was deserted when visited on 24 March. However, a single Oriental Darter was present on the Phu Ngern reservoir, about 20 km to the south on that date together with 2 Pheasant-tailed Jacanas and 10 Cotton Pygmy-Geese (JND,PDR,SS,STh). Single Black Bitterns at Rangsit on 7 March and 19 March; at Khao Sam Roi Yot on 9 March at Wat Phai Lom on 13 March (PDR) suggests the presence of either wintering birds, or at least, early spring migrants. Most records from the Central Plain are otherwise from the wet season proper, late April to October.

A minimum of 5–6 Lesser Adjutants were seen in flight over marshy fields, where they had been feeding, at Ko Pratong, Kura Buri (Phang-nga) on 3 and 4 March (WK, DP, WS). There was a male Mallard at Nong Bong Khai (Chiang Rai) on 9 February (ST) and 10 Ferruginous Pochard on Bung Boraphet (Nakhon Sawan) on 10 February (KS, WS). A male Pallid Harrier was reported over Khuan Khisian, Thale Noi (Phatthalung) on 24 February (STh,TY). Details supplied appear to provide adequate confirmation to justify adding this species to the Thai list. There was a male Pied Harrier at Ban Khlong Rat, Sri Mahaphot District (Prachinburi) on 24 March (JND,PDR,SS,STh) and three Eurasian Kestrels over marshy areas between Chachoengsao and Phanom Sarakham on 24 March (JND,PDR,SS,STh).

The long-staying Common Crane at Chiang Saen (Chiang Rai) was still present on 7 March (ST). The Khok Kham Spoon-billed Sandpiper was still present on 13 March (PDR, DB), when a few stints and Broad-billed Sandpipers were crowded on the only two salt pans which remained unflooded following the unseasonal heavy rain; and was again seen on 23 March (per RJ).

A flock of roughly 40 Pin-tailed Pigeons were seen in mixed deciduous woodland at 500 m, Mae Wong National Park (Nakhon Sawan) on 15 and again on 17 February (KS, WS). A grey morph Oriental Cuckoo was reported from Chong Yen, Mae Wong on 21 February (KS,WS) and a female Asian Emerald Cuckoo at Thung Song Hong (Bangkok) on 14 March (BM). A pair of Whiskered Treeswifts was on show at Km 17, and a Banded Woodpecker at Km 30, Phanoen Thung Road, Kaeng Krachan (Phetchaburi) on 25 February (CG).

Rufous-necked Hornbill was seen at Chong Yen, Mae Wong on 20 Feb (KS,WS). A Crested Kingfisher on the Huai Mae Ki in Mae Wong on 14 February (KS,WS) was possibly feeding young as it made many trips up and down the same length of river. Another was seen on the Khlong Mae Wong on 18 February (KS, WS)

A gathering of 1,500 Red-rumped Swallows (or possibly Striated Swallows??) was seen near the Srinakarin Dam (Kanchanaburi) on 15 March (RA). Many Rusty-capped Fulvettas were again seen at high elevation (1600–1950 m) in Mae Wong National Park on 16 February (KS,WS). The Black Redstart at Mae Taeng (Chiang Mai) was still present on 7 March (ST). A Tiger Shrike in juvenile or non-breeding plumage on Khao Phanoen Thung, Kaeng Krachan during 26-27 February (WS) was one of very few midwinter records. There were two Manchurian Reed-Warblers and 4 Blunt-winged Warblers among the Black-browed Reed Warblers, in the cat-tail swamp at Rangsit on 19 March (PDR, DY) and at least 16 Manchurian Reed-Warblers in one site in the edge of the flooded Phragmites reed bed at Khao Sam Roi Yot during 16–17 March (PDR,STm).

A male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher at the Visitor Center, Kaeng Krachan National Park on 24 February (AW) was an unusual, but not unprecedented, midwinter record of a bird which is a fairly common spring and autumn passage migrant. Male and female Slaty-backed Flycatcher were seen in Mae Wong on 16 February (KS,WS); There were 5 Spot-winged Grosbeaks at Fang Hot Springs on 13 March (JND) and a flock of 300 Chestnut Buntings on the Huai Mae Ki in Mae Wong on 14 February (KS,WS).

Nesting records were received as follows:

Golden-throated Barbet (excavating hole, Doi Pha Hom Pok, 19 February, ST); Coppersmith Barbet (full grown fledged young, 19 March, Wat Phai Lom, PDR,DY). From Mae Wong, (all KS,WS, 21 February) White-browed Piculet excavating nest hole in branch; Flavescent Bulbul (young fledged from nest; Bronzed Drongo bird on nest; Grey-throated Babbler (nest and 2-3 chicks; Striated Yuhina. (2 nests, including one with small chicks).

Dark-backed Sibia (carrying nest material, Doi Pha Hom Pok, 18 February, ST); Rufous-winged Fulvetta (carrying lichen, Doi Pha Hom Pok 19 February, and Doi Inthanon 4 March, ST); White-tailed Leaf-Warbler, Doi Pha Hom Pok 19 February, ST); Ashy-throated Leaf-Warbler, Snowy-browed Flycatcher (nest material, Doi Inthanon, 4 March, ST). From the Bangkok area (all BM), Greater Coucal, occupied nest, mid-March; Pied Fantail occupied nest, apparently incubating, 16–20 March; fledged juvenile Olive-backed Sunbird being fed by parents, 16 March; fledged juvenile Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, 16 March.

Contributors:

Rattana Atthakorn, Coppersmith Group (Field Leaders Saruyaporn Pomankul and Kant Ratanajun); Darrin O' Brien, J.N. Dymond, Weerapong Kortwat, B. Mountfield, Dome Prathumthong, Philip D. Round, Wachara Sanguansombat, Kunlapat Sornrarum, Siriya Sriphanomtham, Sopitcha Tantitadapitak, Sukanya Thanomphut (STh), Siam Thukmoh (STm), Anawat Wattanawongsawang, David Yee, Thadda Yusawat.

Compiled by Philip D. Round and Roongroj Jugmongkol


Expeditions

Khao Luang: A list of birds was received from Khao Luang National Park Nakhon Si Thammarat, from Panom Archarit and Rachit Lekvanich. They ascended to the summit of the mountain from Ban Khiriwong, Lansaka District during 22–25 February. They found many of the expected montane birds, most of which are of races endemic to southern Thailand, including the Green-tailed Sunbird, from 1450 m upwards to the summit; Blue-winged Minla (1270 m to the summit), Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush (at 1600 m); Chestnut-crowned Warbler (1270 m) and Mountain Tailorbird (1835 m).

Ko Surin. During a trip to Ko Surin, 3–5 February, Wachara Sanguansombat reoported a pair of Beach Thick-knees; a pair of Large Green Pigeons; 2 Black Bazas, 5 Oriental Honey-buzzards, a Japanese Sparrowhawk and an Orange-headed Thrush.


Riviera Beach Dead in the Water!

Those who have followed the long-running Riviera Beach encroachment at Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park will be interested to know that the episode appears to be finally closed (predictably, though, through force of circumstances rather than through any action taken by our civil service “custodians of the environment”).

The Riviera Beach site office, built on the scenic Hat Khao Daeng foreshore in front of the national park headquarters, is now totally derelict and, undermined by erosion of the beach, is tipping over and falling into the sea. The oil palms planted for ornamentation (ugh!) are similarly now lying in the sea. So that appears to be the end of that!

When developers encroached on the scenic foreshore, which is a Malaysian Plover nesting beach, in mid-1996, it was the wildlife conservation NGOs (specifically BCST, Seub Nakhasathien Foundation and Wildlife Fund Thailand) who raised the alarm. The story was commendably given prominence by the national press, and Royal Forest Department and Prachuap Khiri Khan Province were forced to investigate. RFD's mapping unit subsequently found that part of the development was indeed located inside the national park, and the other part on public land, and that therefore the development was totally illegal.

However, there is scant cause for self-congratulation by any of those government agencies involved. Legal action against the developers was never taken by RFD or Prachuap Provincial Administration, probably because to do so would have revealed serious irregularities among their own people (high-ranking civil servants, including one former DG of Royal Forest Department had apparently given the go-ahead for the development.) In the end, the single most significant obstacle to the Riviera Beach development was the “Thaitanic” financial meltdown in July 1997 which swiftly put a damper on land speculation as several financial institutions were bankrupted.

A postscript: although Hat Khao Daeng is, at least for the time being, safe from desecration by development, all may not be well with the nesting population of Malaysian Plovers there. The same coastal erosion which has undermined Riviera Beach's site-office has also swept away much of the sandbar on which the Malaysian Plovers used to nest. The plovers are additionally being squeezed on the inland side by the proliferation of new prawn ponds on the previously little-developed coastal flats. So it remains unclear whether any Malaysian Plovers and Little Terns will be able to nest there in the current breeding season. Some monitoring of the Malaysian Plovers and nesting Little Terns during the 2001 nesting season is certainly needed.


Bird Trappers operating at Ransgit

Further to the item in the previous issue about commercial bird-trappers operating at Rangsit, Mr. Thanit Palasuwan of the Wildlife Enforcement Division and his staff, together with BCST representatives, visited Rangsit Marsh on 7 March. Predictably, a full month having elapsed since the original report of the trappers had been phoned in, the trappers had vanished, having dismantled their camp. However, evidence of their former presence was provided by the piles of Yellow-breasted Bunting feathers remaining at the side of the track.

According to local people, the bird trappers came from Suphanburi and are a highly organised team of criminals, who follow the bunting roosting flock to harry it wherever it goes in the lower Central Plain. They had disappeared from Rangsit in order to follow the roost and were said to be operating around Khlong 5. However, searches of this area have failed to reveal anything amiss up to now.

After being extracted from mist-nets and killed, the birds are plucked on the spot and placed on ice. What happens from then on is only conjecture. Certainly up until at least 1982 and 1983, dead, frozen Yellow-breasted Buntings and other small birds were being exported to Japan in large numbers as food items (yakitori). This export trade in wild birds has long been illegal, but that does not enable us to say it has ceased. Such large numbers of birds were caught at Rangsit, as indicated by the large piles of plucked feathers, that it seems highly likely that these were being bought by a merchant, probably for export.

We appeal to all members to look out for signs of illegal bird trapping. Illegal sale or capture of birds should immediately be reported to Mr. Thanit Palasuwan, Wildlife Enforcement Section (telephone no. 579-5266).



From a report by Chris Goodie posted on 1 March on the OrientalBirding Yahoo Group: Khao Yai - Highlight was a brief view of 1 Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo in the stream on the 1st section of Trail 6 which runs alongside said stream. Single birds had been seen by at least 2 others in the same area (ie Trail 6 between the 1st and 2nd river crossings) Sat 1630 Hrs and Sun 12 noon over the same weekend.



RECENT REPORTS
November 2000 – February 2001

A female Hume's Pheasant was seen on Doi Ang Khang on 17 November (RP) and both a male and a female were seen on 21 December (ST).

Thailand's third sighting of Bar-headed Goose was on 8 February, with two birds on a sandbar of the Mekong River at Chiang Saen (Chiang Rai; STh). There was a pair of Comb Duck at Sanambin Non-Hunting Area (Buriram) on 16 January (ST); two Gadwall, a female Tufted Duck and 2 Ferruginous Pochard at Nong Bong Khai (Chiang Rai) on 19 December (ST) and a non-breeding plumage male Tufted and 44 Ferruginous Pochard at the same site during 21–24 December (WS). Nong Bong Khai also held 61 Spot-billed Duck, with another 17 on the Mekong River during 21–24 December (WS). Three Spot-billed Duck, one male and two female Tufted Duck were reported from Sanambin Non Hunting Area (Buriram) on 7 January (WS). Male and female Rufous-necked Hornbill were found near the Thinuey Guard Station of Thung Yai Wildlife Sanctuary (Kanchanaburi) on 6 February (ST).

A presumed migrant male Violet Cuckoo was present in Lumphini Park (Bangkok) on 14 January (KR), with another (sex not mentioned) reported from Phutthamonthol (Nakhon Pathom) on 24 December (D,J,P,S). A further male Violet Cuckoo at Pha Kluay Mai, Khao Yai on 10 February (W) could be either resident or migrant (though residents are scarce at the elevation of the Khao Yai HQ area, ca. 700m). Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo was seen along the Khao Khieo road, Khao Yai National Park on 28 December (PE), with another reportedly showing frequently on the Mawsingto trail. Otherwise, however, ground-cuckoos were less in evidence than last year, and the huge amount of road construction work going on in Khao Yai cannot have assisted!

At least 170 Pale-capped Pigeons were counted flying into roost in mangroves at Thung Kha (Chumphon) on 18 December (RD). The observer commented that he left with roughly 30 minutes of daylight remaining, leading him to suppose that the true number was in excess of 200 birds!

The Common Crane at Nong Bong Khai was still present until at least 3 January (BK). There were two Water Rails at the same site during 21–23 December (WS).

Waders included 2 Sanderling at Khok Kham on 13 January (K); 65 Great Knot at Laem Phak Bia (Phetchaburi) on 1 February (K); a single Grey-tailed Tattler at Krabi River Mouth on 12 and 13 December (RD) and ten Nordmann's Greenshank there on 25 January (K).. 20 Spotted Redshank were present at Nong Sanoh (Buriram) on 7 January (WS), though many fewer were seen in the inner gulf at Samut Sakhon and Phetchaburi than in the previous winter. At least one of the Spoon-billed Sandpipers at Khok Kham since last October was still present on 25 February (SD). A record of Wood Snipe from Mae Puh, Doi Ang Khang on 31 December (ST) was supplied without any supporting details.

Eurasian Thick-knee was heard calling in the grounds of Kaeng Krachan Country Club (Phetchaburi) on the night of 31 January-1 February (K), with another seen at night on the track leading to Chat Phet Resort on 9 February (NT). No fewer than 60 Malaysian Plovers were counted at Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park (Prachuap Khiri Khan) on 30 December: 40 on Khao Daeng Beach and another 20 on Sam Phraya Beach (CRP,PDR). There were also 13 Malaysian Plovers at Laem Phak Bia (Phetchaburi) on 1 February (K). The birds were in flocks with no indication of breeding as yet.Two Northern Lapwings were reported from Bang Phra (Chon Buri) on 6 February (PS). The long-staying River Lapwing, of perhaps dubious origin, was still present at Phutthamonthol on 24 December (D,J,P,S).

A pale morph jaeger photographed at Khok Kham (Samut Sakhon) on 28 January was thought to be Pomarine rather than Arctic Jaeger (SD). There were 31 Heuglin's Gulls and a single Pallas's Gull at Laem Phak Bia on 1 February (K).

Northern Goshawk was reported from Doi Pha Hom Pok on 1 January (WS). Another report of a ring-tailed Hen Harrier, at Nong Bong Khai on 19 December, was received, along with a male and female on 2 January (ST). Since none of the many reports of this species have ever been documented by photographic evidence, or even a written description, the possibility of confusion with the highly variable Eastern Marsh Harrier cannot be conclusively ruled out. An Oriental Hobby was showing at the viewpoint, Khao Yai National Park during 8–12 January (K).

There were 4 Chinese Egrets at Krabi River Mouth on 25 January (K). Two Black-headed Ibises were seen on a marshy patch at Nong Khae (Saraburi) on 6 January (WS) and five more at Ban Thasadet (Suphanburi) on 23 January (WS). Roughly 100 Asian Openbills at Bung Boraphet on 20 December (BA, PK) included, for the first time, some nesting birds.

Three Crow-billed Drongos at 1445 m, Doi Khun Nam Pun, Mae Jarim National Park (Nan) on 26 January (ST) were outside the usual habitat and season for either migrant birds or breeders. There were two Fire-capped Tits on Doi Suthep on 15 January (K). A male White-throated Rock Thrush was seen in scrub at Hua Hin (Prachuap Khiri Khan) on 13 January (SP). Wintering thrushes generally seemed to be in short supply, apart from both male and female Black-breasted Thrush near the weir at Mae Puh, Doi Ang Khang on 30 December (ST); another, a male, said to have been seen on Doi Pha Hom Pok over the New Year (per WS) and a male atrogularis Dark-throated Thrush on Doi Inthanon in January and February (PSae: no date or details yet submitted).

A female or immature male Black Redstart at Mae Taeng Irrigation Project (Chiang Mai) on 17 February (W) was the first record for Thailand. It is hoped that photographs acquired by the expert bird photographers in Chiang Mai will, when compared with specimens, show sufficient details to distinguish for certain whether the bird is indeed a Black Redstart or the rather similar female or immature Hodgson's Redstart. Single male Daurian Redstarts were seen at the Royal Project, Doi Ang Khang on 18 November (JB, RP,JS); Mae Sao Watershed Station, Doi Pha Hom Pok on 30 December (WS) and at Km 42.5 Doi Inthanon, on 14 February (W).

Have Orange-flanked Bush Robins become scarcer in recent years? There was only a single bird (female/immature) in or around the summit bog on Doi Inthanon during January and February (many observers), though several birds, both sexes, were seen on Doi Pha Hom Pok at 1600–2,200 m during 30 December to 2 January (WS).

A Mugimaki Flycatcher was seen at Kaeng Krachan on 31 January (K); a Sapphire Flycatcher at Doi Khun Nam Pun on 30 January (ST,C) and an apparent glaucicomansChineseBlue Flycatcher in wooded temple grounds near Chiang Mai on 22 November (RD).

A female Purple Cochoa was seen along the Km 38 Jeep track on Doi Inthanon in mid February (JND) and a male was apparently reported from Doi Pha Hom Pok over new year (per WS), though the actual observer did not submit details.

There were “several hundred” Spot-winged Starlings at both the Thinuey and Mae Kasat Guard stations of Thung Yai Wildlife Sanctuary on 1 February (ST). A roost of ca. 400 White-shouldered Starlings was seen in mangroves near Khao Chong Krajok, Muang District (Prachuap Khiri Khan) on 21 December (PT). Two Brown Dippers were reported from Hup Massa Jan on Doi Ang Khang on 30–31 December and again on 10 February (ST).

In spite of the recent new inroads made by prawn-farmers, the habitat along the access road to Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park from Kui Buri still looks quite good, with abundant mature Phragmites close to the road. This held at least 6 Manchurian Reed Warblers and 2 Blunt-winged Warblers during 30–31 December (CRP,PDR). Yellow-vented Warblers were reported from Mae Puh, Doi Ang Khang on 31 December and Doi Khun Nam Pun, Mae Jarim on 28 January (ST). Grey-cheeked Warbler was reported from Doi Khun Nam Pun on 29 January (ST). A report of Grey-bellied Tesia from Mae Puh, Doi Ang Khang on 31 December (ST, SS) may be open to question since no other observer has yet recorded the species here. In particular, the highly distinctive song of this species has never been heard there. Two Manchurian Bush Warblers were seen in scrub near Chiang Mai on 23 November and one on 25 November (RD).

Six Red-tailed Laughingthrushes were found at 2,200 m on Doi Pha Hom Pok on 1 January (WS) and 3 Rufous-throated Fulvettas at 530 m, near the Nam Wao Guard Station of Doi Pha Chang Wildlife Sanctuary on 14 January (ST). 18 Chestnut-eared Buntings, a bird which has declined in recent years due both to trapping and reduction in the areas of paddy stubble, were seen at Nong Bong Khai on 23 December (WS) while a huge roost of several thousand Yellow Wagtails and Yellow-breasted Buntings was found behind Future Park at Rangsit (Pathumthani) on 7 February (W). A Tristam's Bunting was seen on 9 January (ST). Predictably, however, there were villagers working at the site, catching the birds for sale as food and the path by the villagers' camp was 30 cm deep in plucked feathers. This was immediately reported to the wildlife legislation enforcement authorities in RFD, but it is not yet known whether any action was taken.

Contributors: Bubphar Amget, John J. Borg, Suchart Daengphayon, Raf Drijvers, J.N. Dymond, Peter Ericsson, Bruce Kekule, KingBird Tours (K), Phanom Khraojanteuk, Runratchanee Phimathai, Siriporn Phumakaan, Chawatee Ratanadilok na Phuket, Kant Ratanajun, Philip D. Round, Wachara Sanguansombat, Dr. Samaisuk Sophasan, Papoj Sukathorn, Pinit Saengkaew (PSae), Joe Sultana, Sopitcha Tantitadapitak, Sukanya Thanomphut (STh), Pongthep Thongtapao, Nature Trails, Wings Tour (W).

[Chatsuda, Duangnapa, Jaladsri, Prapas and Suvit – five persons with no surname supplied.]

Compiled by Philip D. Round and Roongroj Jugmongkol


MID-WINTER WATERFOWL COUNTS

BCST has received midwinter waterfowl count results from Mr. Phayao Saidee, The Superintendent of iHuai Talat and Huai Chorakhe Mak Non-Hunting Areas, and from Mr. Suwan Kleepsattabut, Superintendent of Sanambin NHA. We are very grateful to receive this data which will be passed on to Wetlands International. It is highly encouraging that the staff of these important wetland reserves have, on their own initiative, maintained the tradition of midwinter counts since the programme began in Asia in the mid-1980s.


DECLINING STANDARDS AND SPURIOUS BIRD RECORDS

Long-legged Buzzard reported and documented by a photograph posted in the pages of Nature Explorer Magazine (Vol 13 No 1) is only the latest example of a spurious bird record. The bird can be seen to be a rather typical example of a Common Buzzard Buteo buteo japonicus. I suppose we should be happy that the photograph is there so that the record can be evaluated. But why on earth did the magazine editor not attempt to check with one of the many competent ornithologists in Bangkok before going into print?

On the one hand, BCST is delighted by the amount of public interest in birds and wildlife in Thailand, and the amount of space allotted to birds and birdwatchers by newspaper and magazine editors. This can ultimately only bode well for conservation. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that the recent proliferation of publications and web-pages dealing with birds and nature has led to a general lowering of standards. No attempt is made to check the validity of records, with all the emphasis being placed on the sensational. Last year a semi-albino White-vented Myna was promoted as a Black-winged Myna by people who should have known better, even though it looked nothing whatsoever like that species. A Black-billed Magpie living happily in a park next door to the bird market at Suan Chatuchak was happily ticked off as a genuinely wild bird by many novice birders. It's as if ornithology has been reduced to mere stamp collecting!

Commercial pressure may provide part of the impetus for publicizing many of these supposed finds of rare birds, since magazine publishers want to sell as many copies of possible. A little-known photograph of a White-eyed River Martin (leading to unfounded rumours of the bird's rediscovery, but actually dating from 1968) was placed on the web by a bird tour company (touting for business, perhaps?).

We shall all suffer if this sensationalization of birding is allowed to proceed unchecked, as it will bring field ornithology into disrepute. BCST will be examining the situation and try to suggest measures for improving standards of recording and reporting.


Worldtwitch Thailand


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