Birding & bugging from Thanyaburi

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3 years 4 months ago - 3 years 4 months ago #2870 by roblgs
Birding & bugging from Thanyaburi was created by roblgs
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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3 years 4 months ago - 3 years 4 months ago #2873 by Paul T
Replied by Paul T on 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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3 years 4 months ago #2876 by roblgs
Replied by roblgs on 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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3 years 4 months ago #2878 by Paul T
Replied by Paul T on 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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3 years 4 months ago #2884 by onflipflops
Replied by onflipflops on 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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3 years 4 months ago #2902 by roblgs
Replied by roblgs on 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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3 years 4 months ago #2906 by onflipflops
Replied by onflipflops on 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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3 years 3 months ago #2910 by roblgs
Replied by roblgs on 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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