Pang Sida National Park

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2 months 4 days ago - 2 months 2 days ago #5081 by WT admin
Pang Sida National Park was created by WT admin
A new article by Paul T on his 5 day trip to a wet and windy northern section of Pang Sida National Park at the height of the rainy season. 

Full article and full size images at :

www.wildlifethailand.com/blog-posts/loca...g-sida-national-park


This is a description of a 5 day period spent at Huay Nam Yen campsite in Pang Sida National Park during September 2018, the height of the rainy season. The area gets very few visitors in the rainy season and is suitable for a getting away from it all experience.

Huay Nam Yen is also known as “sub-station 5” in Pang Sida National Park, it is the highest elevation camp site in the park at approximately 350 meters above sea level. It is located some 18 kilometers drive from the park entrance along a laterite road which is suitable for higher clearance vehicles (2 and 4 wheel drive), It is not suitable for saloon vehicles in the rainy season but they can navigate the route in the dry season once the road has been re-graded.

The trip was limited to the Huay Nam Yen/Chom View area of the park.

 pang sida national park

 Pang Sida National Park is part of the Dong Phaya Yen - Khao Yai World Heritage Site

 

Day 1 - The slow drive up to Huay Nam Yen, through the park, was uneventful and a couple of monitors were seen out the road taking advantage of a small respite in the weather. The weather had been bad the whole preceding week, so much so that the camp site’s photovoltaic system had not been able to generate power due to the lack of light so lots of torch batteries were going to be a must on this trip.


 

I set up my hammock and basic gear/provisions for the next 5 days in a Sala to ensure I had a dry stay as it would be wet in the forest in the day as well as I was expecting rain daily.

Once everything at camp was set I headed up the remaining 5 kilometers of road to the Chom View viewpoint to relax and admire the view this location gives you all the way over the Huay Samong valley to the Huay Makkha. Such views over an expanse of forest such as this are quite a rare sight and I always enjoy visiting the viewpoint especially very early in the morning, when there is also a good chance of seeing larger mammals such as gaur on the roadway.

No gaur this day as it was afternoon and the best chance of seeing them on to the road is early morning and the evening. I did see a troop of pig tailed macaques who had found a seeding tree, as well as the white morph of the Finlayson’s squirrel. I tried staking out the squirrel but the cunning little rodent was not taken in by my clumsy attempts.

 

white variable squirrel

White morph of the Finlayson's Squirrel

 

The weather was closing in again and it was obviously going to downpour so I headed back to the campsite where the heavens promptly opened so my plans for a night macro session were immediately dead in the water. The rain continued well into the night but at least it kept the temperature down and it was an excellent night’s sleep because of that. I was woken around 2 am by an elephant about 50 meters or so behind the campsite as he tracked through the forest.

Day 2 - Woke to a dull, leaden overcast sky. The area was blanketed in a fine mist but it had stopped raining at least. I headed back up to Chom View - saw nothing on road - the whole of the upper valley was in deep fog and there was no view to speak of with visibility being limited to about 20 meters but there was that refreshing cool air that goes with dense mist, so I made a coffee out of the back of the truck and enjoyed an hour’s relaxation in the beautiful solitude of the situation.

 

white lipped viper

Large-eyed Pit Viper (Trimeresurus macrops)

 

As the weather was not clearing I decided to head to a lower elevation where I knew there was a chance a clearer conditions. Once I had gotten to a place with better visibility I took one of the many animal tracks that criss-cross the road - any location with lots of gaur and elephant has many animal tracks but one needs to exercise caution as they quickly peter out and you can become disorientated and even lost. Conditions were very wet and there was running water and pooling all over the forest, to my surprise I came across a viper. I know nothing about snakes at all and whilst pushing my lens in the snake’s face it saw fit to have a lunge at me - I am many years and many waist sizes past being a sprightly young thing and luckily it did not make contact - note to self: “don’t mess with things I know nothing about”. 

I also came across a female Banded kingfisher (Lacedo pulchella) - she was just sat watching me but would not let me approach closer. As always I pushed my luck until I got too close and off she went.

 

banded kingfisher

Female Banded kingfisher (Lacedo pulchella)  

 

Back to Huay Nam Yen for a bite to eat and then to do some afternoon macro as the sun had made a showing by now and what with the weather lately I thought I better make hay while the sun shines. My primary focus for this trip was supposed to be macro critters as I already knew the weather would not be good. 

I had a few failed attempts whilst I got my eye in and slowly got into the macro rhythm of stealthily approaching my subjects. I managed an enjoyable hour of macro fun before the skies grew dark and we had another bout of heavy rain - time to return to my Sala and hope that the rain cleared and the forest had a chance to dry out a bit before dark came as I was hankering for a chance to do some night macro photography.

And it did clear and dry out somewhat, there were a good number of night critters including arachnids, orthoptera (esp. katydids) and moths but nothing out the ordinary to really entice me, my real passion is Hemiptera (true bugs) and their nymphs but I drew a blank. The respite in the weather was short lived and by 9 o’clock the rains were back and heavy, making for another comfortable nights sleep blanketed in cold air and soothed by the sound of the rain.

Day 3 - I woke to the usual morning’s mist and solid cloud cover so had a potter around the camp site. This mornings weather was different, patches of blue kept peaking through the grey above. By 8:00 a.m. the mist and cloud cover was gone and a scorcher of a day had started, blue skies and hot sun. The forest looked stunning with mist rising off the trees into the heating air - the downside was it was to make for an extremely humid day. I got the tripod and 500 mm ready and headed off to spend the morning staking out the tree that I had seen the banded kingfisher in. The kingfisher was a no show but I did see more of the white morphs of Finlayson’s squirrel so they must be common up here.

The afternoon was looking good for arthropods, sun after the rain and high humidity, potentially great conditions to bring out some diurnals so it was off to the Huai Nam Yen waterfall. But “animals and children” - no one had told the arthropods of my excitement nor anticipation. It was a tough day of sweating and searching and sweating some more, turning up very little for my activities. The Huai Nam Yen trail was a battle with all the new growth and fallen trees obliterating lots of the track. Apart from a sighting of a velvet ant (only my second time seeing one of these) it was a lack lustre afternoon. The velvet ant is a wasp of the family Mutillidae whose wingless females resemble large, hairy ants. Their bright colors serve as aposematic signals. They are known for their extremely painful stings, hence the common name cow killer or cow ant. After that rain stopped play again at 3 p.m. so I returned to the camp site to get some water and salts into me in an attempt to rehydrate. As I get older I find rehydration so much more crucial to my nightly well being in the forest. 

 

Mutillidae Velvet Ant 360

Mutillidae wingless female wasp AKA a Velvet Ant

 

I set my alarm for midnight and upon rising I was relieved to see there was no rain. A night time drive of the road would normally reveal some night time mammal activity and I was particularly hoping to see gaur but after an hour out on the road going north and south I had seen nothing and decied to return to the cosy comfort of my hammock. But there was a surpise in store for me yet as I turned off the car lights - I could see something glowing in the dark. A closer look revealed bioluminescent mushrooms fruiting on a fallen tree. This mysterious glow I subsequenlty discovered has a cool name: foxfire. Scientists have hypothesized that the bright bluish-green light is meant to attract insects. It was a good find for me to finish the night on before bedding down.

 

Foxfire from bioluminescent mushrooms

 

Day 4 - It had remained dry all night so I headed out onto the laterite again to search for mammal sign from the preceding dry night. Except for one set of solitary male gaur tracks there was absolutely nothing, which was a surprise. Normally one would see more. Disappointed I decided to head up to the top of the road. Just before reaching the top I noticed a large group of puddling butterflies. On closer inspection they were congregated on fresh small mammal droppings that had a wisp, resembling dhole scat.

The sun was now up but struggling to penetrate the low cloud and mist cover. It was looking doubtful whether the sun would be able to burn off today’s cloud cover like yesterday. I headed back to the Samong Valley and immediately saw the Finlayson’s squirrel again, and also a lone male pig-tailed macaque. Down below in the Samong two groups of pileated gibbons were having their morning call fest. I find the rising pitch of the pileated gibbons call which ends with a wattle so much more “exotic” than the more common white-handed gibbon’s call (sans wattle). I was in my little corner of nirvana sat listening to the calls when I heard another sound, a buzzing over my right ear. The horse flies (Diptera: Tabanidae : Haematopota sp) were out and about. If you have never had the experience of tropical horseflies you are indeed lucky. They are a terrible pain, and enough to turn a city dweller such as myself into a gibbering mess with flapping arms. They stick with you, annoying you constantly. But its not the annoyance that’s the pain - its the bite. They land delicately on your neck, hands, or the back of your shirt and you are unaware of their presence until they take their bite of flesh. Its painful! Like someone sticking a pin in you, and they will not stop at one bite they come back for more as do their brethren. 

 

horse fly

Haematopota sp Horse Fly AKA Cleg Fly


They seem particularly prevalent at the higher elevations in the rainy season, near waterlogged ground and were large mammals such as gaur are found. My pet theory is that the bite is painful because their mouthparts are evolutionarily developed for wild cattle hide rather than our soft skin and thin clothes - which they will bite you through. I could probably look it up but its more interesting/fun to formulate your own ideas based on your own experiences.

The Haematopota flies forced me to lower elevations were I walked some old trails and resumed my hunt for arthropods - its strange how some locations can show a massive abundance of species one week and nothing the week after even though the weather has not significantly changed, I guess I will have to keep pondering that one. There were more than the previous days but still not a lot to be seen.

Day 5 - on the last day I was joined by Ed Zhiemer and a support ranger so we headed deeper into the forest to search for mammal sign and routes. Its was good day being back in the deeper forest and they had kindly brought a package from outside the park for my last night's stay …. BBQ chicken, som tam and sticky rice, heaven!

 

Huai Nam Yen waterfall

Forest around Huay Nam Yen Waterfall

 

Day 6 - the sad realization of a 4 hour drive back to the concrete jungle.

 

I should probably mention that I have a knowledge of Pang Sida National Park going back a number of years from personal projects. Its a park that intrigues me but she does not give up her secrets easily and that is probably why its not a regular location for many wildlife enthusiasts. 

The dictionary definition for a jungle is “… an area of land overgrown with dense forest and tangled vegetation …” an apt description of the largely impenetrable forest Pang Sida hosts. Its a forest area very rich with abundant wildlife but she, the forest, makes you work long and hard to glimpse her secrets and failure is more common than success as my trip highlights. But at the right time and in the right conditions Pang Sida can reveal some great sights and experiences.

In past years Pang Sida was famed for its overnight forest trekking to locations such as Namtok Khangkhao and the Huai Makkha with its 70 meter waterfall but the arrival of armed poaching gangs from Cambodia targeting valuable tree stock has made the forest a dangerous place for rangers and visitors alike so all of these former attractions are now closed to the public. Indeed whilst I was there a ranger patrol was sent into Samong after a shot was heard by both myself and the Nuay Pitak 6 ranger at 7 a.m. on day 3 of my stay.

Namtok Pha Takian and the Lan Hin Dad locations in the southern section of the park are still open to tourists but only if escorted by a ranger. Ranger escorts can to be arranged at the headquarters but are only on an as available basis.

 

Paul Thompson



Full article and images at :

www.wildlifethailand.com/blog-posts/loca...g-sida-national-park

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2 months 3 days ago #5083 by onflipflops
Replied by onflipflops on topic Pang Sida National Park
Even though I have had some good sightings in Pangsida, I totally agree that it is certainly not a park where you have success easily. And indeed spending a couple days could be quite disappointing at times.
I do like a challenge, and for me it definitely beats going to a place where success is guaranteed.
Only the presence of armed loggers is something that scares me.
Anyhow, hope to return someday.

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2 months 3 days ago #5084 by Paul T
Replied by Paul T on topic Pang Sida National Park
Any idea what the snake is Ton?

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2 months 3 days ago - 2 months 2 days ago #5085 by BKKBen
Replied by BKKBen on topic Pang Sida National Park
Thanks for the write-up. Sounds like an interesting, if not challenging, place to visit. The isolation sounds very appealing!
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1 month 3 weeks ago #5088 by onflipflops
Replied by onflipflops on topic Pang Sida National Park
Ah yes, I intended to give the ID, but somehow forgot in my comment.

It's a Large-eyed Pit Viper, Trimeresurus macrops.
The following user(s) said Thank You: WT admin, Paul T

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