Birding & bugging from Thanyaburi

15 Jun 2015 17:21 - 16 Jun 2015 14:59 #2870 by roblgs
roblgs created the topic: Birding & bugging from Thanyaburi
Hi,

I'm new to this forum, and to getting out and about in the Thai countryside with an interest in bird, reptile and bug photography, besides just watching the critters.

I'm based in the Thanyaburi area, northeast of Bangkok and half way out to Nakon Nayok and hence Khao Yai.

Was wondering if there are any recommendations as to locations either local to Thanyaburi, or locations within Khao Yai or other national parks easy to reach from here.

My wife is disabled, so opportunity to get out is fairly limited as she either has to come too, or I need to arrange care for her while I'm out. Thus far I've contented myself with photos around our small garden and over the garden wall into the derelict rice paddy adjacent, but would like to explore greater variety of location and log a few more species.

Also, what are the rules here regarding access to the countryside... I'm from the UK where such is real easy with public rights of way, but unclear what the reaction here might be even along the local canals, without venturing along less established 'trails'.

Thanks for whatever advice/suggestions you can offer.

Rob
P.S. My Thai is poor... I can maybe stumble by, but vocabulary is very limited

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16 Jun 2015 14:57 - 16 Jun 2015 17:18 #2873 by Paul TW
Paul TW replied the topic: Birding & bugging from Thanyaburi
Hi Rob

I don't know anywhere specific to Thanyaburi myself, but for insects (I will let other deal with birds as its not one of my strengths) anywhere with water should be OK in the dry season - and in the rainy season .....anywhere ;+)

Anywhere in Khao Yai or Pang Sida should be worthwhile. Insects like a lot of birds are often found in the margins were vegetation changes or type changes (i.e. from open area to forest, from road to forest, etc) so you don't have to stray too far from the car. If I am not going into the forest itself (off piste) I can usually be found within 100 meters of my car when I am bugging. I use my car as "base camp" and return to it regularly for rests and drinks and such.

Species types will generally change with elevation as well as forest type so its easy to make the most of a single location. In KY I particularly the Wang Jompee area as its a very damp piece of forest and you can park the car right next to the forest. In PS I like the upper elevations but there's masses of insect/butterfly photography going off down in the lower sections before the road to the upper sections.

Re land access and access rights. I originate from the UK myself, here the same does not apply. Most land seems in private ownership or tentanted BUT dogs aside, I dont think you will have many problems and people wont be bothered if it looks an open or agricultural area. Farangs are mad anyway :+) Saying that I, personally, just stick to the national parks.

Hope this helps with your venturing further.
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16 Jun 2015 16:11 #2876 by roblgs
roblgs replied the topic: Birding & bugging from Thanyaburi
Hi Trekker,

Thanks for the info... Wang Jumpee sounds interesting... While I've got to the old park HQ before I've not previously set off on foot in that direction. Will do so next time I go up there. I have done the forest loop over the river behind the bungalows from the old HQ carpark, and also the river walk up at Haew Suwat, but not with photography in mind at the time.

What do you do for leech protection?... and for lighting under the canopy?

Do you hand hold, or lug a tripod about with you as well?

Thanks again

Rob

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16 Jun 2015 17:28 #2878 by Paul TW
Paul TW replied the topic: Birding & bugging from Thanyaburi
Leeches - I think I have become immune to them mentally, I just let them do their thing. I think KY has more than anywhere else I have been though, esp around Wang Jumpee ;+)

I hand hold - my personal preference is to have a small camping stool that I sit on when taking photos, brace my elbows on my knees and steady the camera that way.

For lighting, I use flash all the time now. I also carry a handheld 1500 lumen torch that I shine on things like tree trunks to see stuff. My eyes are getting worse with age and I have my glasses on and off all the time. If anyone figures out a good system for glasses (long sighted) in the forest do let me know.

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16 Jun 2015 20:37 #2884 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Birding & bugging from Thanyaburi
In the post you also mention reptiles as being part of your interest.
Khao Yai has a great variety, though it takes time and practise to get to see it all.
There are at least 45 species of snakes. But most are rarely seen. Usually you do not have to go deep in the forest to see all these critters.
Just around Haew Suwat parking area you could explore the forest edge, quite often Vogel's Pit Vipers are seen there (though they seem to be everywhere in the park above let's say 600m elevation).
Around the Haew Narok Area you can find Large-eyed Pit Viper, and in the wet season also Chinese Water Dragon..
This season is the best. Just returned from Kaeng Krachan and did not have to put much effort in it to find a several pit vipers. Lots of juveniles around, this time of year. Though most were found at night, which is much easier than in daytime.

The trail between Pa Kluay Mai camp and Haew Suwat is great for herpetofauna. Espececially the first kilometre in, starting from Haew Suwat. Apart from the lonely resident Siamese Crocodile, this area has a lot of Chinese Water Dragons, usually hanging out on the branches over the water.
Again Pit vipers are common here, and I've seen quite a few other species of snakes in the area.

The road sides are great for Oriental Vine snakes. Orange and silver-white morphs often hang in the bush along the road. Usually best visible in the first few hours in the morning before it gets too hot. And the late afternoon.
Night drives can be successful especially after or even during heavy rain. But you're a bit limited about night activities in the park.
Night walks are often successful, but not allowed :(

You can not really go wrong. Reptiles like forest edge habitats, usually with dense growth to hide, but also areas to bask.
And anywhere near water ways, chances increase. Also outside the parks a lot can be seen. Just a week or two ago I did a night walk on the Northern side in Pak Chong area and found some Large-eyed Pit Vipers, Oriental Vine Snake, Butterfly Bent-toed Gecko's and various otehr creatures like tarantulas, frogs, scorpions, and other lizard species. Humid areas with enough variation in vegetation will be a great place to start.

Enjoy your time!
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19 Jun 2015 09:32 #2902 by roblgs
roblgs replied the topic: Birding & bugging from Thanyaburi
Thanks for the info...

Alarmed in one way that on my visits to Khao Yai I will have been surrounded by pit-vipers and not seen one of them.

On the one hand that suggests they are well concealed and non-aggressive, on the other that, although I've not been looking for them, my powers of detection are sadly inadequate as far as these critters are concerned, probably that I'm not habituated to looking for them. A skill I really should learn.

With pit vipers being so abundant then, what should I be looking for, and how careful would I need to be? How easily approached are they, and what would be the critical strike range?

Experience around snakes is very limited, and largely restricted to less dangerous species that turn up in the garden... e.g. Golden Tree Snake and some non-venomous species... my wife confined me to the house on those rare times we were visited by cobra, and in the past when she was more mobile than now it was she who handled any snake situation, again confining me to indoors!

Sounds like, for me, the best time of day would be end of afternoon, because getting up to KY for early morning isn't an option due to my wife's mobility and care needs.

Cheers

Rob

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19 Jun 2015 18:38 #2906 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Birding & bugging from Thanyaburi
My experience is that the green pit vipers are far from aggressive. I can't recall any event of one even trying to bite, even when handled with a snake hook . Surely if you really grab them, it will likely be a different story. I only use a hook, usually to move them off the road at night.
Pit vipers rarely flee when approached in daytime. Some individuals do try to move away if you really push the lens in their face. But seems like you won't try to get that close ;)

Common does not mean easily seen. It's the reason I love looking for snakes. I get most enjoyment from spotting animals. It's basically nothing different than the game hide-and-seek. The first second your eye spots it, gives a moment of joy and adrenaline. And the enjoyment is at its best when it is a well-camouflaged creature blending in their surroundings. Snakes are often well camouflaged and perfectly blending in, so that makes it extra special when you manage to spot them. Especially the pit vipers are always fun. They blend in so well, and because they don't move they are hard to see, at least in daytime. This season when there is more rain they often choose to wait in ambush sometimes just inches above the ground, head pointing down, waiting for frogs. But I have seen them up to 10 m high up in trees.
Surely you need to get habituated to know where to look, but even then, it can be very hard. They like humid conditions, generally rather dense undergrowth, and shaded areas. It's rare to see one in the sun, except in the winter months when I have seen them at the tips of branches hanging over the river, where they get sun through the little leaves above them and even sun from reflection on the water level. And they stay on their spot for weeks sometimes couple of months. In the rain season it's usually just a couple days that they stick to one spot and then move on.

At night they are a lot easier to see, because their bodies seem to really standout, almost fluorescent green, when you point a flashlight at them. A snake nearly invisible in daytime, can be hard to miss at night.
And then you learn how many you walked by in daytime without noticing ;)

But there is little to worry about snakes. The only snakes that worry me a bit are the Malayan Pit Viper and the Siamese Viper, they lay between leaf litter on the forest floor, blending in extremely well.
The good news is, that at least in the accessible part of Khao Yai you won't see these species.
If wearing proper boots, you don't have much to worry. My shoes are not so protective, but if I go to an area where I know these species are present I change to boots.
The other snakes like e.g. the Cobras are very fast, and will usually move away. They don't lie around waiting for you to step on them ;)

Anyway, next time you are in the park, keep an eye out for the vipers, they are beautiful !
Most of the time seen between eye-level and just inches off the ground.

Enjoy your time in the forest!

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20 Jun 2015 08:07 #2910 by roblgs
roblgs replied the topic: Birding & bugging from Thanyaburi
You earlier mentioned the Haew Narok area... along that walk is a bridge over the river that flows on to the head of the falls, and below that bridge is an area that, in dry season at least, is dry with a lot of scrub, bushes and a shaded area under trees on the bank nearest the carpark.

I've previously ventured down onto this area and poked around. It's somewhere I would expect to have a lot of potential and is easily accessible, yet sufficiently off the main path to be quite 'productive'. I'd expect, because of the bushes, rocks, tree cover and the river, that it would be good for lizards and perhaps other reptiles, as well as for insects and birds (kingfisher perhaps). I've heard large lizards (monitors probably) crashing over the ground, seen dragon and damsel flies, but rarely seen any birds there, and produced few 'results'.

Admittedly I've been walking with non-photographer company, so its been a place of transit, not somewhere I've ever settled down and waited...

Is this an area you are familiar with, and is it, despite my lack of results there, a good place to settle down and nose around in?

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20 Jun 2015 10:43 #2912 by onflipflops
onflipflops replied the topic: Birding & bugging from Thanyaburi
I haven't ventured in that river bed particularly. I have seen Large-eyed pit vipers along the concrete trail. In the river / on the banks, I have seen otters and occasionally Dholes that killed Sambar deer, but well, those things you don't see every week ;).
Well, otters maybe... Black-capped kingfisher might be around, but from the bridge on the main road bit North of Haew Narok you have a much better chance to see this species.

Birdlife is common around the concrete trail, so no doubt also along the river bed. Bee-eaters, broadbills, barbets, leafbirds, green magpie, Wreathed and Pied Hornbill, are some of the birds i have seen around there. Around the parking I have seen Violet Cuckoo. Everywhere in the area you have a good chance to see Flying Dragons. You could also take the trail that starts right behind the shelter ( the one right before the stairs down to the first viewpoint on the falls). That trails leads to the second and most spectacular viewpoint on the falls that most people never get to see.
Along that trail I have seen lot of birdlife like the list mentioned just before, but also trogons, and Siamese Fireback.
And again Pit vipers, haha, but also some other snake species. And I have seen Acanthosaura cardamomensis there, as well. But most of the time it is the Calotes emma that you see in this area.

Enjoy!

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21 Oct 2015 11:48 #3182 by NN
NN replied the topic: Birding & bugging from Thanyaburi
I live in Nakhon Nayok and regularly travel to Bkk, so I am familiar with Thanyaburi. There is a klong that runs parallel with hwy 305, there you can find birds, especially if you go past the Ongcharak intersection.

If you travel to NN there's plenty of areas around the edge of the park.lots of birds, snakes and insects, but no mammals. If you plan to head up this way and need more precise info, pls let me know and I may have some suggestions.
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21 Oct 2015 12:45 #3185 by roblgs
roblgs replied the topic: Birding & bugging from Thanyaburi
Hi NN,

Thanks for the suggestions... is the canal you refer to 'Khlong Rangsit' by any chance? Runs parallel to the main road from the Ongarak junction to Rangsit... The area near the Srinakarin Hospital/university looks promising, though I've not had a chance to explore.

Will for sure be heading up towards KY at some point, just don't know when. Will be sure to drop you a message once a timeframe is known. Thanks for the offer!

Cheers


Rob

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21 Oct 2015 13:02 #3187 by NN
NN replied the topic: Birding & bugging from Thanyaburi
Yes, that's it, Klong Rangsit. There's lots of open billed stork around there. If you were to make it to NN, there are resorts that are reasonably priced through the week. Maybe you could bring your wife and stay there? Sida resort is right on the park boundary.

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21 Oct 2015 18:48 #3189 by roblgs
roblgs replied the topic: Birding & bugging from Thanyaburi
Separate reply on related matter via SMS, but this is more general...

Which way do you thing is better... From the Ongkarak junction towards Cakon Nayok (more rural), or from Ongkarak towards Rangsit (more roadside constructuion)

I know that it's not necessary to head too far away from the main road to get into paddy fields, but the Rangsit direction does seem to show more of a human footprint than heading towards Nakon Nayok.

Cheers

Rob

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22 Oct 2015 12:32 #3190 by NN
NN replied the topic: Birding & bugging from Thanyaburi
I would suggest between Ongnarak and NN, there's a lot more trees and growth to hide in.

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22 Oct 2015 14:00 #3193 by roblgs
roblgs replied the topic: Birding & bugging from Thanyaburi
That's what I expected... Do you have any favourite locations?

My interests are birds, reptiles and insect macro.

For reptiles I'd be interested in exploring snakes, though from a safe distance until I'm tuned into their behaviour... Non-venomous are idea,, though some of the vipers are spectacular... should be OK if shooting from about a metre distance or so!

There are some example shots on 500px ... The egrets and herons are taken at the big temple on Khlong 15, but would love to get kingfishers which I have not seen there. This place is an easy half-hour drive from home, so convenient for a couple of hours mid-late afternoon. Lizard and the Golden Tree snake are from the garden.

I need to look at the map... normally I follow the rangsit-NN main highway, but if going via Ongkarak is more direct to the park, and with other possibilities, I could explore the alternative route.

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23 Oct 2015 13:55 #3201 by NN
NN replied the topic: Birding & bugging from Thanyaburi
Actually I've never visited there, but have considered shooting some storks in flight as they are very common there. If you can make your way to Nakhon Nayotk I can show some nice spots on the edge of the park.

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23 Oct 2015 14:11 #3202 by roblgs
roblgs replied the topic: Birding & bugging from Thanyaburi
I've visited the Klong 15 temple a few times, during the dry season the water in the 'lily pond' area parallel to the river/khlong was at a very low level, allowing much closer approach to the birds than on a visit after it finally started raining... water then was very high and nothing like as many birds or photo opportunities. Asian Open Bill Storks were not very numerous on either occasion, easily outnumbered by greater and lesser egrets... Night heron numbers fluctuate, and the odd bittern could be heard, but not seen somewhere in the reed beds.

It feel a bit 'cheating' because the birds are there largely because of all the fish and frog offerings

Thanks for the offer of guidance... would love to take you up on it, just not quite sure when... may be a slim possibility this Sunday if you are free... I should be able to confirm by tomorrow morning at the latest if that is a possible for you.

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