Marine National Park, in
SaTun province, is actually a complex of mountains
which consists of evergreen forest with a little deciduous
forest, mangrove forest and an offshore island; it has been
a National Park since 1980. There has occasionally been trouble
with Islamic seperatists in the past and I can remember seeing
photos in the Bangkok Post in around 1999 of the restaurant
here which had been blown up.
around park HQ is the most frequently visited and is very
picturesque with a beautiful lake nestled in between lush
forest, but there is the possibility of getting into an area
of grassland and also of taking a boat trip into the mangroves
which could be rewarding.
birders seem to visit this National Park, but with some effort
I'm sure a lot of very exciting birds could be found given
the quality of the habitat here. If nothing else, this is
a relaxing spot which, during the week at least, receives
very few visitors.
the ongoing violence in the southernmost provinces it is questionable
how safe it is to visit Thalebun at the present. It is probably best
to err on the side of caution and avoid it until the situation improves.
(Photo by Suppalak
there are very few bird watching records from this location
it is difficult to identify many known highlights. This in
itself makes the Park an exciting place to visit with the
high possibility of finding good birds in a "new"
location. The quality of the habitat is such that there is
no reason why most of the southern specialities should not
be found here by those ready to follow gulleys and unexplored
at headquarters is itself a highlight with Blue-eared Kingfisher
and White-bellied Sea Eagle both present. There is a good
selection of Woodpackers occurring here as well as Hornbills
which are most easily seen as they fly between the hills.
appear numerous in this National Park and virtually all the
southern species of Bulbul can be easily found. Thalebun could
prove very rewarding for birders wishing to get off the beaten
track and makes a good stopover if coming from Malaysia.
here for a checklist of the birds of Thalebun
Tours : Check the suggested itineraries for
ideas on creating a tailor-made birdwatching trip to Thailand:
to Thalebun National Park by public transport should not be
too tricky. The easiest way would be to take a bus to the
provincial capital SaTun (pronounced Sar Toon; short "oo").
From here take a songtaew going to the Malaysian border which
is about 2.5 Km beyond the park headquarters.
from Krabi it is possible to get off at Chalung, take a songtaew
to the road which heads to the park (it is signposted) and
take a motorcycle taxi for about 20 Kms to the HQ.
from Had Yai one can get off at the junction to the access
road and then take a motorcycle taxi.
with the luxury of a vehicle of their own finding this national
park is easy, simply follow the signpost on the Had Yai-SaTun
road (Route 406).
from Malaysia I would imagine that Alor Setar is the place
to travel from or it is quite likely that Padang Besar is
geared up enough for backpackers to have transport to the
Thai border near Thalebun National Park.
staying in Thailand it is a simple affair to jump on a songtaew
on its way to SaTun from the Malaysian border. One can ask
the National Park staff for details of these; when I visited
there were staff who could speak English at HQ.
birds at Thalebun can be a little frustrating due to the lack of
good trails into the forest, however with some effort there are
plenty of exciting birds to see here and the possibility of some
birds never before seen in Thailand due to the proximity to Malaysia.
The lake is
good for Kingfishers and wonderful views of White-bellied Sea Eagle
were in evidence around the HQ area on my visit, including Ferruginous,
Brown-streaked and Tickell's Blue Flycatcher.
Yoo Cave :
can hire a boat at Tammalang to go to Poo Yoo cave, a journey which
goes through some good quality mangroves which must contain some
excellent birds such as Mangrove Pitta, Brown-winged Kingfisher
and possibly Mangrove Blue Flycatcher and Masked Finfoot.
Pra Grassland : This grassland
area can be reached by driving along 9 kilometres of dirt road.
I have not been to this area and have not heard of anyone who has
been there, but the staff at the National Park seemed to think it
was an excellent area for wildlife, particularly mammals.
Roi Waterfall : A short trail
to the waterfall has the potential for forest species and the waterfall
itself holds Chestnut-naped Forktail; get here before it is crowded
Road : Due to the lack of
decent trails some of the best birding is along the road which can
be quite productive. Plenty of the southern Bulbuls can be easily
seen along here and this is one of the best places to get views
of Hornbills as they fly across the valley; Great, Bushy-crested
and Helmeted have been seen and others should occur. It does not
take long to walk to the Malaysian border where visas can be quickly
renewed if this is required.
(Photo by Alister
Lake : This
is definitely one of the highlights here, the lake is an extremely
beautiful spot to just sit and relax. Given the lack of trails
it is quite probably worth finding a comfortable spot to sit
by the lake and wait to see what turns up. When I was there
in March 2003 Blue-eared Kingfisher was very obliging and
Silver-rumped Needletail (Silver -rumped Swift) was cruising
around over the lake every day.
trees just behind the boardwalk were very productive when
I visited Thalebun with Brown-streaked Flycatcher appearing
unusually common and Golden-whiskered Barbet providing a colourful
fantastic spectacle was provided by a pair of White-bellied
Sea Eagles which use the lake as a larder and can be watched
whilst hunting. One morning I came out of the bungalow and
saw one snatching a fish from the water at very close range.
In addition, the National Park leaflet suggests that masked
Finfoot has occured in this lake; I suppose it is a posibility.
trail : Despite
the name of this trail I did not find it particularly good for finding
birds as it is quite overgrown. The potential for finding Babblers
and perhaps Pittas along here is good with Black-capped Babbler
appearing quite common. I encountered very few other birds on this
trail with the notable exception of Moustached Hawk Cuckoo which
provided excellent views.
trail : This trail is in poor
condition but allows one to follow the course of a small stream
to the top of the small waterfall where it seems to disappear. The
stream could be followed further into the forest as long as care
was taken to stick close to the water in order not to get lost.
There are lots of nice shady patches along here where I saw Ferruginous
and Dark-sided Flycatchers and numerous other small birds. The most
interesting thing seen along here was a very handsome Crimson-winged
in this park are reasonably good, with accomodation in a better
state of repair than in many National Parks in Thailand. There are
bungalows for rent here which can be booked in advance by contacting
the visitor centre on 0747292023, althought this could prove frustrating
given the scope for language problems if you do not speak Thai.
If not arriving at a weekend it should be simple to just turn up
and sort out a bungalow as I did in 2003. There is also a camp ground
in a convenient place.
There is a small
resataurant where simple food and drink is available, but the opening
hours are not particularly convenient; 8 am to 4.30 pm. The lady
in the restaurant will cook food to take away to be eaten at a later
time if asked, but it is perhaps a good idea to bring something
to cook with and food to prepare at leisure: SaTun is a decent sized
town where just about anything can be found in preparation. The
restaurant lady was also amenable to selling us some of her ingredients
for us to cook on our gas stove. Alternatively, there are food stalls
at the border which are open in the evenings; however, this is 2.5
kilometres away which would involve a walk in the dark so remember
a flashlight if not driving.
entrance fee for foreigners is now 200
baht when I visited the staff were lenient about letting
me in for the same price as Thais (I did have a work permit and
could speak Thai to help me with this though).
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Southern Thailand Birding Locations
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