This year's trip was to be different from previous ones as half of the team were newcomers who'd never been out camping, trekking or birding before. All in all there were 10 kids, between 10-15 years of age, plus 2 overseers, whereof one had never been camping before. With so many kids to care for it naturally affects the amount of birding to be done.
We also were well into the rainy season and most breeding had already taken place.
Since I already covered the make up of the park in last year's report I will stick to some birding highlights.
About three kilometers along the road to Poo Koom Kao there is an area with stands of broadleaf trees on both sides of the road. Here it seems to be quite productive for birding. My attention was drawn to a piercing whistle much like the one from Hill Myna, but no matter how much I search for it, it couldn't be seen. Instead, a Black-hooded Oriole with bright orange beak came foraging through the tree crown. I later discovered (listened to Birds of Tropical Asia by Bird Songs International, a very useful CD given to me) that this bird has a very similar whistle to the Hill Myna. Right next to the Black-hooded Oriole another Oriole showed up looking much like the Black-naped. Being so early in August I figured it couldn't be, so it would have to be a Slender-billed Oriole even though the field guide states that this species is only resident in the Northern or Northwest parts of the country. A lifebird.
I also had a very close encounter with a Rufous Woodpecker who seemed even more surprised to see me than me seeing him. I had never seen one at such close range, and seeing this warmly brown bird was a cheer joy.
One of my goals was to find the Great Slaty Woodpecker. This has been commonly reported from the entrance road towards the headquarters. I only managed to catch a fleeting glimpse not worthy to qualify for a 'tick', not too far from headquarters.
Rusty-naped Pitta was high on my priority since I now have seen Blue-winged, Blue and Eared already. While walking along the nature trail that winds its way along the stream towards the viewpoint, a bird flew up from the trail side only to settle in some thickets from where it sounded of its call very similar to Laced Woodpecker or Lesser Yellownape. I understood this to be a young bird, as the mature bird sounds very different. Just a little further down the trail a mature bird kept calling from in-between a thick bamboo stand but never came out for full view. 2nd lifer. While waiting, a pleasant surprise in the form of a birdwave came by. Most interesting birds being White-hooded Babbler and Large Scimitar-Babbler.
I kept walking further down this trail searching for Silver Pheasants known to be here. After about 3 kilometers I was getting very close to the spot when some leaf monkeys started hollering and making all kinds of racket. This must have scared the birds away, as all I could see were their footprints in the wet ground by the waters.
Another noteworthy sighting was a pair of Yellow-eyed Babblers in grasslands by Dong Baat. A fluty song and distinct colors made it a beautiful bird although common. I don't do much birding in grasslands so haven't seen much of this bird.
Each evening a Mountain Scops-Owl kept calling with its fluty, bell-like, two-tonal, whistles. Very pretty.
As usual the staff at the park were helpful and friendly, accommodations clean and home-cooked food delicious. Long walks, fresh air and closeness to the wonder of Creation all helped in keeping everyone inspired and happy.
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