Thailand offers a rich splendour of wildlife and birding opportunities and Kaeng Krachan National Park (แก่งกระจาน) is one of its absolute greatest. Bird photographer and ex-bird guide Alex Vargas very kindly offered to take us out to Kaeng Krachan when we were recently in Thailand and instead of running around searching for birds, he took us out to a bird photography hide on the border of the park. Evidently, the hide is in a dry area with no permanent water, except for one little pool located conveniently right in front of the permanent hides. It is then just a waiting game to see what comes by.
So we set ourselves up for a day of inactivity but yet hopefully tons of activity. The first bird that blew my mind was a gorgeous Red-legged Crake (Rallina fasciata). I really had not expected to come across a beautiful, boldly coloured forest rail and for it to show off just a few meters in front of us was wonderful. During the day, we had Red-legged Crakes come by for baths 3 times. Let’s pretend they were 3 different birds so I can tell all my friends I saw tons of them.
I also got surprisingly excited about the Red Junglefowl – the ancestor of our farm chicken. So much like the hens I know, but yet still subtly different in so many ways. Really cool birds.
When we first got to the hide, a tiny Lesser Mouse-deer (aka Kanchil, Tragulus kanchil) scampered off in to the forest. The mouse-deer is evidently the smallest hoofed animal alive and the way it disappeared in the jungle reminded me very much of the tiny Blue Duiker (Philantomba monticola) I loved so much as a youngster. But after a few hours of sitting motionless, a strange creature appeared out of the forest. And we had no idea what it was. It looked like a giant mongoose. And that is kind of what it was: a Crab-eating Mongoose, a long way away from its normal aquatic habitat.
All the photos I took that day were with my straight scope – a Swarovski STM80 HD – and a Canon 5D mark II. A great combination with 800mm of focal length.
During the day, we had four bulbul species come by, including the beautiful Black-crested Bulbul. How great is this bird?
Tomorrow I will post a second post on A Bird Blind in Thailand on 10,000 Birds.