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