23rd February 2010
Before reaching Kaeng Krachan my impression of a National Park is that it is an designated area of conservation filled with pristine forest. That idea was thrown out when we saw the Visitor's Center. We were told to purchase the park entrance fee in advance as we would be entering the Park at about 7.00 am - well before the opening time of 9.00 am. Odd -We did. The next morning, we passed the visitor centre and continued our journey following the edge of the lake. Then an improper scene struck us, the terrain changed from forest to farm and then wasteland. After 15 kilometers later, we came to "T" junction, meeting a principal road. From there another 10 kilometers through farms and settlements, we reached a guard house. There we produced our tickets for entry. This time, after the gate, the terrain on both sides were hilly slopes of authentic jungle, very dry. There were elephant dungs and water holes on the road side. We could not get oursleves away from these birds.
It was then we understood that the Kaeng Krachan Park could be divided into 2 special zones.
The first zone, a scenic Lake with tourist and camping facilities. The Park office was one of the many facilities along its shores. Then there were jungle walks on the islands opposite the office. Beyond the shores, the land returned to that of waste lands and orchards.
That morning's ride was into the second zone, the conserved forest. In it, were the important Ban krang Campsite area on the 16th kilometers marker and the Thanon Thung Campsite on the 29th kilometers marker.
We had Pond-Heron on the ground, Flycatchers and Barbets on the tree.
Then this parent feeding this juvenile Blue-eared put up quite a show for us.
Though rather high and far away, the good weather and bright sunshine helped in getting fairly decent images.
There was this inescapable Asian-brown who was every where that we went.
On a tree across the valley, we caught one section of a tree that was filled with birds. Hill Mynas and Barbets. Reminding me of our trees that was with Starlings.
Bird life at the Ban Krang Campsite was interesting, but it was best that we spend most of our time at "the spot."
The famed birding zone is between the stretch of road labeled as 16.5-18 kilometers. A birding stretch marked by the crossing of 3 streams. In this stretch, the track paved, shaded by canopy and running parallel to a stream. Very conducive indeed. The common montane birds that we see back home.
The tall ficus tree over 100 feet with a crown wide enough to allow 4 Brown Hornbills and one Great Hornbill feeding simultaneously.
That was a good half hour of excitement for us.
Stephen who wandered away, on meeting up, we found out that he drawn there by the Babblers in the Bamboo bush after parting company at the Trogon shoot. Not sure whether we met the same Trogon but it was on 3 occasions along the stretch that we met up with the bird. Trogon normally glide away but cannot say that they went ahead of us to re-appear.
We grabbed a picture of Silver-breasted as souvenir confirming that we did encounter Broadbill.
Malkohas were often seen in many places. Rather longish bird, but this one we caught is a Green-billed.
Not our choice, the pair of mating birds stopped us in our track.
For Gilbert who was doing Video, he was rewarded with the courting dance sequel.
Many articles were written on the net about Kaeng Krachan Park filled with Butterflies in the month of February.
We were there just after mid-February. The meaning of the word "filled" lived up to expectation. I have never seen a whole stretch of road having so many Butterflies at the same time. On both sides of the road, on and on as we walked our birding pace.
Then near the river banks there groups of congregations. Not an expert on Butterlies but can tell of different species from their patterns.
The experiences of having bird in Ban Krang? A definite thumbs-up. Much better than many forest trails that we had been. Although many of the rare ground birds were not sighted, we were more interested in birding rather than seeking out rare birds.