Birding & Diving Kho Tao, Thailand

Post image for Birding & Diving Kho Tao, Thailand

by DaleForbes on October 2, 2011 · 5 comments

in Birding Asia, Digiscoping & Bird Photography

We spent the last week of our summer holidays on the beautiful island of Koh Tao off the east coast of Thailand (in the Gulf of Thailand near Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan) to spend time with one of our other great passions – the underwater world.

But it wasn’t just the underwater world that drew us – we are also both great fans of laid-back tropical island life. And Chalok Baan Kao – the southern-most cove on Koh Tao – did not disappoint. A beautiful bouldery shoreline; warm, turquoise water; white-sand coves; and friendly people made for a wonderful time.

yup, that will do. the mai thais were just as good

The thing about tropical islands is that – unless they are large enough to hold endemics or in a vagrant trap – they are typically pretty dull for birding. But the stunning Bridled Terns (Onychoprion anaethetus aka Sterna anaethetus) kept me entertained and drew my breathe every time one flew by. And there was one boulder just a little ways into the water that a few Bridled Terns would visit and hang out on in the early mornings right in front of our bungalow.

the boulder in the front had Bridled Terns on it every morning except the one I went to photograph them

So on our last morning on the island, I whipped out my great big telescope and camera to try get a photo of the Bridled Terns only to be left dry. But a wonderful Western Reef Heron (Egretta gularis) kept me entertained with its antics in fishing.

Pacific Reef Heron (Egretta sacra). Digiscoped with a Swarovski STM80 & Canon 5DmarkII

I was also blessed with two fly-bys of the graceful pied form of the White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) – fast becoming one of my favorite eagles.

White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)

Digiscoped with a Swarovski STM80 & Canon 5DmarkII

The mean twist to the tale was that four Bridled Terns came and sat on the boulder right in front of where I was just 5 minutes after I had had to leave and pack up to leave the island… Oh well, gotta leave something for next time.

Pink Skunk Clownfish aka Pink Anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion)

One of the star corals - probably Astreopora gracilis - forming huge 4m high domes.


late afternoon clouds...


Great diving, wonderful island life and a few interesting birds to keep my birder heart happy.

Happy birding,







Subscribe Now

If you enjoyed this post, you will definitely enjoy our others. Subscribe to the feed to get instantly updated for those awesome posts soon to come. gives you top birding content every day!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard Dunn October 2, 2011 at 11:00 am

your Western Reef Heron is a more than likely Pacific Reef Egret


DaleForbes October 2, 2011 at 5:32 pm

yup, thanks for that Richard, lazy proofreading and a wandering mind can create silly IDs


Richard Dunn October 2, 2011 at 11:00 am

your Western Reef Heron is a more than likely Pacific Reef Egret


AlexVargas October 2, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Nice tale and site, Dale… pretty cool!
What gear do you use for the underwater photo?… it is very nice!


DaleForbes October 3, 2011 at 5:45 am

Hi Alex, it is my little compact Canon Ixus 300 with an Ikelite housing. Does a decent job of it (especially video) for a relatively inexpensive combination.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: