The park is the third largest in Thailand. It covers an area of 300 square kilometers, including tropical seasonal forests and grasslands. Its altitude mostly ranges from 400–1,000 m above sea level. There are 3,000 species of plants, 320 species of birds, and 67 species of mammals, recording in this, Thailand's most famous National Park.
Approached from Nakhon Nayok and left the same way so did not go any farther north than the 33km trail.
Well what did I learn from my first time in this park?
First off the same thing as many places I have been to, “It’s the wrong time of the year you should come in…………….”
Ok but I go places when I have the time and right now is it. Next 450b to get in and even foreigners with Thai residency must pay, a lot of good info on this park but bird density was not what I had hoped for and most are quite flighty meaning I got few photos but still 4 new species. Plenty of deer about as well as the tame ones in the camp grounds I saw both wild Sambar and Muntjac, no evidence of recent Elephants either on the roads or grasslands, only saw one set of Gaur prints so they are elsewhere at present.
The grasslands are mostly between waist and head high with very little being eaten down.
I stayed off most of the trails because of the leeches and the Phu Kluai Mai waterfall being closed. I did do the 33km trail and found the first 200 or 300 meters to be a bit confusing because of all the side tracks after that it was no problem to follow right to the watchtower grassland. Best bird sightings were between the 700 and 800 meter marks where there is an opening in the canopy that give a view of some trees that the birds were using, then close to the grassland where a pair of Green-eared Barbets had a nest hole in a dead tree. I turned round and walked back from there but later walked up from the watchtower to the forest edge.
House Swift on nest under the watchtower
I went to some places not mentioned on sites giving info on the place the first was Phu Diew Dai cliff viewpoint on the road to the top of Khao Khiew hill. This consists of a fairly new boardwalk down to the cliff lookout and back, a lot of work has gone into making this boardwalk and it proved to be an interesting place for the first thing I heard on the way down was the calls of 3 Eared Pitta but unfortunately no sighting. I went back for a second time on the way home and saw Black-throated Laughingthrush and Large Scimitar Babbler and an animal, I have no idea what it was, it was close to a meter long overall, dark brown with a thin tail and ran very low to the ground presumably having short legs.
Off track places where I had an explore were the grassland on the right on the way to the youth camp there are 4 new (almost complete) toilet blocks built there as well as another building close to the road, they may be planning another camp ground there. On the other side of the road there is a new toiled block and caravan bays like at Doi Inthanon and Mae Moei NP’s. I thought that would be a good place to camp for the night but got woken at about 10 pm and told I had to go to one of the camp grounds.
Other tracks I explored were a road about halfway between the checkpoint and Lum Ta Khong camp site this leads to a new pond that has been dug at a clearing where a Muntjac was feeding the first time I went there. I first started to drive along this road until a pair of Simese Fireback ran along the road in front of me from there I parked and walked past 2 camera traps (DSLR) one of which I triggered being to lazy to find a way round it.
Is this yours?
I walked this road again in the hope of the Fireback making another show but no such luck, there was however a flock of Pied Hornbill roosting in the trees along the track.
Another is a track that goes from a parking place about 1.2km up the road from Lum Ta Khong camp to grassland and to a road that has a barrier across, lots of deer sign on this one, both Sambar and Muntjac and another quite large flock of Pied Hornbill roosting in the trees. This is where I put my trail cam mentioned elsewhere.
Track up from the parking place
The third is a track that branches off the 33km track where it comes down through the grass, this goes to the Klong-e-Tao ranger station and a ‘don’t go’ sign after it passes grassland and enters the forest. I got a glimpse of a Blue Pitta by the pond on this track as it hopped out in front of me when I was trying to get photos of White-eye bouncing around in a tree, unfortunately it left as quick as it arrived so no photo.
New bird species for me are House Swifts nesting under the watchtower, Rufefcent Prinia and Bright-headed Cisticola in the grassland and a Black-and-Buff Woodpecker along the 33km trail. An interesting trip even though it didn’t produce photos of any of the sought after species.
I think those camera traps are from 'Trap Tour Thai' which is a group of Thai photographers that are using camera traps to document elusive species. I saw they got a Clouded Leopard in Khao Yai. Maybe the same individual as yours ;-)
Are you sure that the pittas at Pa Dieo Die were not Blue Pittas? I have only seen Blue Pitta there.
I read that you wrote that the Pa Kluay Mai trail was closed, and I actually just thought you had mistaken the signs that used to be there. But I now hear it is indeed really closed because some high ranking DNP figures walked the trail and saw the crocodile....
Just heard this from one of the guides in the park. And I am sitting here shaking my head in disbelief in front of a computer screen....
Why, despite the fact that Thailand is not known to be a country where people get sued over issues that should be people's own responsibility, are they always thinking they need to be 'responsible' for totally unnecessary matters?
And Pa Dieo Die viewpoint is now also closed at the start of the road, so another big part of the park became inaccessible for a couple months. The least they could do is cut the entrance fee in half for the reduced activity possibilities...