Tour of Thailand, 11-29th January 2007
Pat’s first (but hopefully not last) birding trip to Thailand
and general impressions
Birding in Thailand was very difficult in the south and easiest in the north. Raptors are overall fairly rare and Woodpeckers seemed far less common than I had hoped. Barbets were pretty common, shorebirding outstanding, Phylloscopus Warblers everywhere and very tough to ID, but most other birds readily identifiable. Many birds were fairly wary probably from a fair degree of direct persecution and there is quite a bit of pressure upon natural resources and bird habitat. Nevertheless, there are lots of “protected” areas and National Parks many of which are readily accessible. I was also happy to see that Thailand has a fair sized birding community; met several local birders as well as locals on the verge of becoming birders. I used no local guides but would have at Khao Nor Chuchi (KNC) if I could have afforded it- if you can, it pays to use a guide at this place in particular. KNC was hands down the most difficult birding I have ever experienced throughout the 20 years of birding I have done in much of North and South America.
Other than a few internal flights I used public transportation and hired taxis with drivers a few times. Next time, I would prefer to rent a car as in my opinion having ones own transportation greatly facilitates birding in Thailand. The Thai people lived up to their reputation of being very friendly and despite language barriers I was able to communicate most of what was necessary. Food was legendary as expected! And cheap! And also found at most birding sites I visited! Nothing like watching Coral-Billed Ground Cuckoos accompanied by a plate of delicious Pad Thai that cost about a dollar!
musings and tips
1/11-12 : I arrived late on the 12th in Bangkok, exchanged money and got a taxi to Soi Kasem One off of Sukhumvit. Best deal for taxis is to pay for the fare at the airport- follow the signs to the taxi service (named that or something along those lines) instead of bargaining with individual drivers in the airport. There are several guest houses and small hotels on this quiet street strategically located near the skytrain (nice public rail transport good for avoiding quite bad Bangkok traffic). Here as elsewhere during this trip, most hotels were full!- especially those mentioned in the Lonely Planet guide. If you can, I strongly recommend making reservations in advance. Nevertheless I found a room here at a sizable hotel on the corner for $18. Room was acceptable but nothing to speak of. The hotel did have a 24 restaurant though- nice to be able to eat breakfast at 4:30 AM before birding at dawn.
1/13 : Muang Boran fish ponds-see map with directions at Muang Boran Fishponds. I arranged a ride to the Muang Boran fishponds with a taxi at 5AM. With little traffic, we got there in about an hour. Make sure the taxi takes you to the first cement bridge over the canal on the left after the Chinese wharehouse- this is an obvious, large Chinese structure located after the entrance to the Muang Boran park- you don’t want to go to the park itself!
At the bridge, there are mototaxis that can take you to the second mototaxi stop (perhaps show them the map from Thaibirding.com). If walking (or driving) from the bridge, continue straight past several food stalls with large apartment buildings on the left. Take a left where the large apartment buildings end. Stay on this road, following it when it makes a 90 degree turn to the right. At this point it passes an empty lot on the right with a marshy area behind a fence on the left. Follow this until a mototaxi stop is reached- several guys with motorcycles should be hanging out here. Take a right here! Go to end of road, there is a small wooden plank or bridge on the left. Cross this and you will be on the main track into the fishponds. There are small stores along this road where drinks, etc. can be bought. Be careful of the sun and bring water while birding the fishponds.
The fishponds were pretty good for marsh birds, Reed Warblers and open country stuff. This was a great place for my first morning birding in Asia and many of these species I saw only at this site. Common Koels were calling all over the place. At dawn, many birds became active and they were all new! This place was especially good for Rails and skulking marsh birds- I saw several White-browed Crakes, one Ruddy-breasted Crake, a few Watercocks, White-breasted Waterhen, Cinnamon and Yellow Bitterns, and more. I saw no Kingfishers here. Be aware that locals still hunt birds here as well. I heard some shooting and ran into two guys who were trapping Waterhens.
After a morning of very satisfying birding, I got a taxi to the closest skytrain terminal (On Nut), got back to my hotel, had lunch and was off to Lumphini Park. Despite it being 1PM, the birding was pretty good for common stuff and the park very pleasant. Good spot to hit for a few hours- would be especially nice in the morning. This place was especially good for seeing Coppersmith Barbet.
After the park, I had to get back out to the airport for my evening flight to Krabi in the south. Flew One Two Go! Airways- bought my ticket online before leaving the States. Arrived Krabi 9:30P.M. Either bats or nightjars were catching bugs by the lights of the airport. Shared a taxi into town and met up with Gail Schacter with whom I had previously communicated with about birding together. After some delicious curried noodles at the waterfront, I slept soundly until 5:30AM.
1/14 : Thanks to Gail for booking a mangrove boat trip with Mr. Dai through the Chan Phen travel agency, we were off around 7AM into the nearby mangroves. I think we paid $35 for a 4-5 hour boat ride. Despite Mr. Dai’s concerted efforts to whistle in Mangrove Pitta and Mangrove Blue Fly, we dipped on those and saw few birds overall. This may have been due to it being low tide. Mr Dai said Feb. was better for these as well as Ruddy Kingfisher. Nevertheless, we saw some cool birds and the scenery was beautiful. This was especially good for Kingfishers with good looks at several Brown-winged, Black-capped, Collared and Common Kingfishers. Our best bird was probably Oriental Hobby - pair at the limestone outcropping. Chan Phen travel Agency was very helpful for this trip and other things-. Ask for Mr. Dong- he speaks English and was very good to us.
After lunch we taxied it to the Morakot resort located just outside of KNC. Trip takes about an hour and few birds are seen in the landscape converted to rubber tree and oil palm plantations. Most birders visiting KNC stay at the Morakot and with good reason. KNC is only 800 meters up the road, birding at the Morakot is not bad (especially around riparian growth in back that sometimes has Red and Black Broadbill), and the women who run the place are very sweet and accommodating. They usually know where some birds are and can take you to the entrance to a track leading to a Spotted Wood Owl roost. Bungalows are also clean and comfortable with two bottles of drinking water provided daily. Their restaurant is also good with breakfast available at 5:30AM. Check their birdlog for latest Gurney’s Pitta sightings.
Upon arrival, we birded the pond in the back for the rest of the afternoon seeing several Bulbuls, Flowerpeckers, Sunbirds and beautiful Blue-eared Kingfisher as our best species. The grounds were especially good for Purple-throated Sunbird and the tiny Orange-bellied Flowerpecker. We tried a bit of owling down the road getting close to but not seeing Collared Scops Owl.
1/15 : Breakfast at 5:30AM and our first bird was Great-eared Nightjar flying around above the trees and calling. We had these every morning here- they are really big! At dawn we waited at the entrance to KNC to see birds at the edge of the forest which ended up being in vain for there was almost nothing! We then made our way into the reserve, found a gulley off of B detailed in the logbook and waited and watched for the star of KNC; Gurney’s Pitta. Interesting sounding birds called here and there nearby, nothing came in to imitations, and no Gurney’s was heard nor seen after two hours. Birding along the B trail, I managed to get a few species out of a quickly moving mixed flock that was mostly hidden by the foliage. Further up B is excellent primary forest. By the time we got there, things were pretty quiet and we saw nothing. After lunch at the restaurant just outside of the KNC entrance, we walked the boardwalk through peat forest to the crystal pool along with several other non-birding visitors. Once again almost no birds. Walking back along the A trail/road we had Yellow-bellied Warbler in the bamboo. We tried the U trail later on in the afternoon, waiting at gulleys there but no sign of Gurney’s. I did manage to whistle in a Moustached Hawk Cuckoo though. Thank goodness! A bird and a good one at that responding and showing well! We heard a few of these during our stay at KNC along the B trail as well.
1/16 : Another 5:30AM breakfast and we were off to the U trail. Lots of gulley waiting to no avail but a few other birds here and there. Pretty sure I heard Red-bearded Bee-eater near the start of the U trail but could not find them. We walked back along the n(?) and q(?) trails to the main road. There was some bird activity along here but birds were very tough to see in the secondary forest. Best sp. was probably Puff-backed Bulbul of which we saw several. Walking back along the road I also had Raffles Malkoha with a mixed flock.
After lunch, we birded the main road past the U trail, hitting the intersection with the H trail. There was some nice forest here with a few birds- best was Whiskered Treeswift. Would probably be good in the morning.
1/17 : We heard that on the previous day, another guy had seen Gurney’s at the first gulley on B just after dawn. So, along with a German birder named Benedict, we quietly watched the gulley for an hour after dawn without luck, then spent some time over at the gulley off the B trail from our first day. No Gurney’s but did get Red-billed Malkoha here. After lunch we headed back to Krabi for some estuary birding.
So, no Gurney’s this time- not even heard and not so much else seen either. I would visit here again to get Gurney’s probably hiring Yothin for the day, but would visit Malaysia for the other Sundaic species possible here.
In Krabi we got a boat guy to take us to the river mouth for a few hours. I think we paid about $20. It was low tide so shorebirds were scattered and thus not ideal conditions but was still good. Although we couldn’t find Nordmann’s Greenshank, we got Chinese Egret and saw lots of other shorebirds including lots of Terek Sandpiper, both Sand Plovers (mostly Lessers), and several Bar-tailed Godwits. Also got one Greater crested Tern and saw several Brahminy Kites.
Flew back to Bangkok that evening and stayed at a youth hostel in Sukhumvit. It was somewhat loud and not so great.
Managed to communicate with a taxi driver that we wanted to hire him for
the morning to take us to the salt pans near Samut
Sakhorn for about $35. Following the directions from Thaibirding.com,
despite feeling lost, we were on track and made it to Mr. Tiis birding
Center. Although he wasn’t there, the salt pans were close by and
we didn’t have far to drive before we found some birds. Shorebirding
here was great! We were very lucky to get on Spoon-billed
Sandpiper almost right away! It was just about the first bird we
saw with excellent looks at the bill. After momentarily scanning through
some of the other birds present, we tried to find the Spoon-billed again
to no avail and never saw one again for the rest of the day! Considering
ourselves very fortunate, Gail and I enjoyed watching a good variety of
other palearctic shorebirds with Marsh Sandpiper
being especially common. There were also lots of Black-winged
Stilts, Common Greenshank, Red-necked
and Temminck’s Stint and a few Curlew
Sandpipers! I was very pleased to get this one as I had always
missed it as a vagrant in North America. We also had loads of Yellow
Wagtails here and several Herons flying overheard amongst other
birds. Before we left, flocks of hundreds of Shorebirds were flying by,
most of them Plover species.
Gail got off at the Green Leaf guest house and I continued on to the entrance of the park. Although it’s best to have ones own transport for this big park, if you like to walk a lot and hitch rides, you can do it on your own. I hitched a couple of rides to get to the Pha Kluay Mai campground picking up Oriental Pied Hornbill along the way from the back of a pickup. Although I brought my own tent, you can rent tents here as well as ground mats and sleeping bags. It’s nice during the week but during the weekend, it gets very crowded with barely room to set up a tent. Rental might cost $10 while camping costs $1-$2. There is also a restaurant here serving tasty, cheap food and also offers up views of good birds and animals out back. It’s amazing. One can sit at a table sipping a cold soda while watching a Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo, Orange-headed Thrush or other nice bird. The first bird I saw here was the Ground Cuckoo. Nothing like starting and ending the day with two excellent species; Spoon-billed Sand and Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo. Over the next few days, I repeatedly saw two Ground Cuckoos here, Orange-headed Thrush, Siberian Blue Robin, and Red Jungle Fowl as well as macaques, Sambar deer and a huge 2 meter long Water Monitor. It pays to keep checking into the forest here with bins as the birds can often be hidden back in the shade of the understory.
1/19 : Like most of my mornings at Khao Yai, I started birding pre dawn hearing 4 species of Owls. These were Collared Owlet, Collared and Mountain Scops Owls and Brown Hawk Owl. I had these every morning along the road that heads from the campground towards the HQ. Collared Scop I had in trees at the campground, especially near the start of the waterfall trail. Despite many attempts I never saw any of these Owls! At least Great Eared Nightjar was easy to see as it flew over the campground every night.
My first morning was particularly good with many lifers. I started at the top of the incline along the road towards the HQ, birding towards the campground with much of my time spent watching a couple of fruiting figs. I had good looks at 3 sp. of Barbets, several Oriental Pied Hornbills, Thick-billed Pigeons, several Asian Fairy Bluebirds, a few Bulbul species, Blue-winged Leafbirds, Scarlet Minivets, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, and more. One of my best birds was a female Banded Kingfisher whistled in at the top of the incline. In voice, looks and behavior, it reminded me somewhat of Barred Puffbird from the Choco bioregion.
After a productive couple of hours at the fig trees, I ate a quick breakfast at the restaurant, seeing two Ground Cuckoos in the process then headed up the waterfall trail. Birding was somewhat slow but fine with the type of mixed flock I became very familiar with at Khao Yai containing Swinhoes, Rosy and Scarlet Minivets, Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrikes, many White-bellied Yuhinas and Phylloscopus species, Chestnut-flanked White eye, Gray-headed Canary Flycatcher, Ashy Drongo, Black-winged Cuckooshrike, and several noisy and ever present Puff-throated and Black-crested Bulbuls. Along the stream, Gray Wagtails were more regular than Slaty backed Forktails which were very shy. Also had a few Great Hornbills in flight along this trail and eventually made it to the waterfall (kind of a long walk while birding). During lunch at the waterfall restaurant, I met a local guide with a client from Philadelphia. They were very helpful with bird gen. and gave me a ride back to the visitors center. The prize at the visitors center was seeding bamboo near the river that held at least four Pin-tailed Parrotfinches amongst the many White-rumped Munias. There was also a snag near the bamboo used by Greater Flamebacks! Along the river I had my first of many Taiga Flycatchers; once I learned the short dry trilling sound they made, I realized how common they were just about everywhere I went. That afternoon, I walked a bit of the B trail hoping for Pheasants. The B trail (as it is named on Thaibirding.com, the trail to Wang Jumpee at Khao Yai) is steep in some spots but not too bad. Had Red-headed Trogon near the start of the trail, Abbott’s Babbler, and good mixed flocks before turning back to hitch back to the campground.
1/20 : Birded some of the waterfall trail from the campsite this morning, best birds being Large Scimitar Babbler in bamboo, Red-headed Trogon, Hodgson’s Hawk Cuckoo, Great Hornbill and Shikra from the top of the waterfall- one can walk out onto nearly the top of the waterfall (be careful!) in the dry season to scan the canopy of the surrounding forest. Things were fairly quiet by the time I did this- it might be pretty good in the morning. On the way back, a guy named Gordon showed me a Blue-bearded Bee-eater. Ended up being my only one for the trip- thanks Gordon!
For the afternoon,
I hit the B trail again but was foiled in my attempt at Pheasants and
Pittas by a huge group of loud Thai students.
After an iced coffee and lunch, I walked along the main road towards the watchtower, taking my time in the midday heat. Saw some good stuff along the way such as Emerald Dove, Yellow-vented Flowerpecker, then several Red-whiskered Bulbuls in a flowering tree at the parking area for the watchtower. Heading to the watchtower paid off with looks at a pair of Wreathed Hornbills but not much else although it’s probably really good early in the morning. The watchtower is located in an open grassy area with views of a pond and nearby forest- a scope is necessary here.
On my way back, I picked up Scaly-breasted Partridge at the Wang Jumpee trail.
1/22 : For my last morning at Khao Yai, I decided to give the Pheasants and Pittas along trail B another try. Once again I started predawn on the road near the campground hearing but not seeing 4 Owl species. In the mist of dawn, though, I saw a huge (what other size do they come in) bull Asian Elephant exit the forest about 70 meters up the road. No longer feeling like walking to the second campground, I quickly walked back to my campground and hitched a ride to the HQ which is about 3 ks from the reservoir. My luck was especially good for mammals this morning with good looks at Asian Golden Cat at this spot and White-handed Gibbon in forest along the road (heard many of these daily). Birding along the road was pretty good- managed to spish up Bright-headed Cisticola and my only Siberian Rubythroat of the trip along the way. Birding the B trail from the reservoir was good with much activity but no new birds. At the visitors center an early lunch was heightened by adult Rufous-bellied Eagle and Crested Goshawk soaring overhead.
Checked out the waterfall trail behind the visitors center for a bit without much success in the heat of the afternoon, then hitched back to my campground.
Managed to then eventually catch a ride to Prachin Buri. This is a city on the south side of Khao Yai definitely located off the tourist trail. The road through Khao Yai to Prachin Buri passes through a lot of wild habitat with no one although a fair bit of the forest looked secondary in nature.
I spent the rest of the afternoon travelling from P.B. to Bangkok then on to Chiang Mai by overnight bus. The bus was fairly comfortable and cost probably about $16.
I arrived Chiang Mai about 6AM, meeting with Gail for breakfast then we
were off to the Huay Krong Krai royal project for Green
Peafowl. This is located within an hours drive north of Chiang
Mai on the road to Chiang Rai- the entrance is well signed and on the
right side of the road. The Peafowl are located in the “zoo”
which is composed of several outdoor cages holding a small variety of
native birds and mammals. We saw a few wild Green Peafowl hanging out
near the caged ones and had some other good birds too. I would have liked
to have birded this site early in the morning as there was a lot of deciduous
forest here (not sure at what time the place opens, it is also possible
to camp). The dam provided a good vantage point for looking into the canopy
as well as for scanning the skies; we had good looks at soaring Rufous-winged
Buzzard, Black Baza, and Crested
Serpent Eagle here. Along a nature trail here we had Asian
barred Owlet, Hainan Blue and Tickell’s
Blue Flycatchers, H. Hawk Cuckoo,
White-runped Shama and other birds. Overall
a really cool spot with many visiting Thai tourists. I would love to spend
the whole day or camp out here sometime.
1/24 : Hired a taxi predawn to take me to the K13 area of Doi Inthanon (DI from now on) for deciduous forest birding. Things were fairly quiet at dawn but picked up some good birds such as Blue Whistling Thrush, Blue-throated Fly, Red-billed Blue Magpie, a mixed flock of G.R. tailed Drongo, Green Magpie, and Laughingthrushes. Also managed to get Black-headed Woodpecker (Yes!) but missed White-rumped Falconet. While scanning for the Falconet, picked up my only Collared Falconets of the trip, saw Rufous-winged Buzzard, and also a nice flock of Chestnut-tailed Starlings.
Eventually hitched a ride uphill with a friendly Hmong guy. He taught me how to say hello in Hmong. It’s something like “Ngyaow Jhong”. He dropped me near the famous birding center of Mr. Daeng who did thankfully have accommodation. He has two rooms; one for each Cochoa found in Thailand. I stayed in the Purple which did not, however, give me any luck finding it. He has special rates for birders- take note that these are very basic rooms. Mr. Daeng was friendly and helpful with birding info. and also showed me Dark-sided Thrush that visited the outflow from his kitchen. Also had good looks at Sib. Blue Robin here. Collared and Mountain Scops Owls called each night- managed to get a fleeting glimpse at Collared Scops Owl.
I spent the afternoon walking uphill, then hitching a ride to checkpoint two for excellent birding along the main road. It was especially good at two ravines maybe 500 meters after the checkpoint. There was a quite a bit of mixed flock activity even though it was the afternoon and I saw quite a few of the expected mountain specialties. Best or at least favorite bird was probably Silver-eared Mesia.
1/25 : Gail and I had arranged for a car with driver today. We started our birding at the summit boardwalk. Things were pretty quiet with Ashy-throated Warblers, Rufous-winged Fulvettas and Chestnut-tailed Minlas providing most of the activity. We managed to see Green-tailed and beautiful Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird and Rufous-throated Partridge, but no Shortwings, nor Snowy-browed Fly.
Picked up Ashy Wood Pigeon perched in a roadside tree on our way down to the food stalls next to the nature trail entrance. Only bird behind the kitchen was Blue Whistling Thrush.
Birding the 37k Jeep
track, we had Golden-throated Barbet on a
snag and Spectacled Barwing at the start,
and some mixed flock activity inside with best bird being Golden
Babbler amongst the many Gray-cheeked Fulvettas.
A stop at Siriphum falls got us White-capped and Plumbeous Redstarts with many Chestnut-flanked White-eyes in the trees. A brief stop at the campground (which looked very nice) yielded lots of Common Rosefinches and Great Tits but not much else. Black-tailed Crake hasn’t been seen a couple of years here.
Got in a bit of birding across the road from Mr. Daeng’s before dark seeing Pied Bushchat, Olive-backed Pipit and Gray-backed Shrike amongst others.
1/26 : My last morning at DI was mostly spent at the 37k jeep track (located just after 2nd checkpoint, entrance not so obvious). Although there were many intriguing birds calling and the forest beautiful, I didn’t see much that was new. Best birds were Red-headed Trogon, Slaty-bellied Tesia, Gray-throated Babbler and Maroon Oriole high up in the canopy.
A walk down the 34.5 k track got me Long-tailed Minivet in a nice mixed flock where the pines started.
I spent the afternoon travelling back to Chiang Mai where I spent the night hearing Asian Barred Owlet in the Taipae gate area.
1/27 : I bussed it to Chiang Dao (first bus leaves 5:30AM), hiring a mototaxi to take me the rest of the 5ks to Mallee’s Nature Lovers bungalows. I arrived here about 7AM and promptly began birding the surrounding area from the rooftop. It was great birding with lots of birds easier to see than other places in Thailand. Of the places I visited, I would spend more time in the Doi Chiang Dao area as this was probably my best birding overall. While seated on the roof I got good looks at Great, Blue-throated and Coppersmith Barbets, many Himalayan Swiflets, Orange-fronted Leafbirds, Asian Fairy Bluebirds, a few Bulbuls, Purple, Crimson, Olive-backed and Black-throated Sunbirds, and many other species. Malee’s roof provided good digiscoping opps as well.
I spent most of the rest of this day birding the nature trail, the temple steps and briefly checked out the gulley trail. The nature trail was pretty steep in spots, passing through broadleaved forest, eventually reaching an area with lots of bamboo. No Pittas but did see Gray-throated Babbler in the first gulley, then had Greater Yellownape and Green Magpies with Greater-necklaced Laughingthrush along the trail. Also managed to take care of my permit for the following day.
1/28 : Through Malee I hired a pickup and driver for about $50 to take me up to the Den Ya kat substation on Doi Chiang Dao. You get the car and driver from 5AM until 5PM and have to arrange this at least a day in advance. You also have to get the permit at least a day in advance- get in from the forestry office (open until 4PM)- from Malee’s up the road towards the temple taking a right on an uphill road. It costs 250 baht.
We made it to the Giant Nuthatch site at dawn; a fairly cold dawn it was too so be prepared- cold enough for a sweater and light jacket or fleece. The driver knew some of the spots for the Nuthatch and the Pheasant and was at times a bit over eager to point out birds but was friendly. The spot we tried for the Nuthatch was past the checkpoint at a spot along the road where there were tall pines including some tall snags. First bird seen was the Giant Nuthatch!- one calling to another from the top of a snag. It gave an abrupt piping call. Predawn, we heard Collared Owlet, Mountain Scops Owl and probably Hodgson’s Frogmouth here. Birding was very good along this road in excellent pine and broadleaved forest with grassy understory. Dipped on the Pheasant but great birding nonetheless highlights being Long-tailed and Silver-breasted Broadbills in broadleaved forest. In a gulley between the Nuthatch site and the checkpoint, I saw Rufous-bellied Niltava, Large Cuckooshrike, and got excellent looks at a Blue Pitta!- was especially pleased with this as I had given up on Pittas this trip. I saw it because I scanned the gulley with my bins. Never would have seen it otherwise as it was quiet and inactive.
In the understory, had a good look at Rusty-cheeked and White-browed S-Babblers. These were travelling with White-hooded Babblers,G.R-t Drongo and Eur. Jays. Also had brief looks at Russet Bush Warbler and mixed flocks with many Gray-headed Parrotbills.
The area around the DYK substation had flocks of Olive-backed Pipits, Chestnut Buntings, Gray-backed Shrike, Gray Bushchat, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, and Slaty-backed Flycatcher at the start of the trail. Along the trail, there was good mixed flock activity- one huge flock had at least 15 species (including pair of Giant Nuthatch) and must have held 70 birds at least. All flocks of small birds in the mountains appeared to be led by Lesser R-T Drongo,Velvet-fronted Nuthatch was very common here.
The road below the checkpoint also goes through good habitat- had good mixed flocks near the village as well with loads of birds in flowering trees- lots of Bulbuls and Drongos, especially Black Bulbul. Heard a Few Forktails along the stream but didn’t get looks at them. In a level area of the road that passed through nice Dipterocarp forest with bamboo understory, had Pin-tailed Parrotfinches in seeding bamboo. Also had Silver-breasted Broadbill and Pin-tailed Green Pigeon here. Would probably be worth it to bird the lower part of the road for a morning as well.
As has been mentioned in other reports, the road definitely requires four-wheel drive (or dirtbike would be fine).
1/29 : For my last morning birding in Thailand, I did the gulley trail and temple steps. Gulley was slow but got good looks at Asian Stubtail, White-crowned Forktail and Buff-throated Babbler. Had good mixed flocks on the steps with many Brown-cheeked Fulvettas and eventually wonderful Speckled Piculet! Area behind the monk’s kitchen had Black-throated Laughingthrush and nice male Sib. Blue Robin hanging out near the outflow from the kitchen (building just before steps start). This spot probably attracts other good birds too- maybe even Pittas. Also got Streaked Wren Babbler at the first shelter going up the steps and Bay Woodpecker perched atop a distant snag, calling in the morning. A great last day of birding in Thailand- can’t wait to go back!
Species list with sites and notes
Muang Boran fishponds:
Partridge: 2 seen summit boardwalk DI.
Phylloscopus Warblers: lots everywhere and very tough to ID because its often too difficult to get the looks you need at the bird in question: learn calls before trip! I have only listed those identified with some certainty; most went unidentified!
Warbler: several seen KY, DI and CD