Once again I have been very fortunate to be able to got to Thailand on holiday for a few days at the end of October, my plans were as usual really - go with the flow and go where my wife and I fancied at the time plus try to sneak in a little birding if possible.
This visit was going to be different with the recent death of the Thai's much loved and respected King dying a few weeks before we arrived. Bangkok was full of two colours black and white, which is the colours Thia's wear during the year long mourning process.
We did think it would affect our trip a little but in all honesty it didn't you just had to be respectful to the situation at all times and all was fine.
Our Bangkok hotel was the one we always stay at The Anantara Riverside Hotel, right on the huge Chao Phraya river that runs through Bangkok. Although the grounds of the hotel are not the largest they do get a few interesting birds in and around the small managed areas and tall trees in the grounds. Common birds seen were Common Myna, Peaceful Dove, Tree Sparrow and Spotted Dove.
In the managed areas of garden like this below were other birds were seen occasionally.
Birds like Pied Fantail, Common Tailorbird, Olive Backed Sunbird and Oriental Magpie Robin.
The female Oriental Magpie Robins in particular were being hassled all the time by up to 4 males per female and the loud call of the males challenging one another could be heard all the time. Up in the trees around the hotel grounds were Streak Eared Bulbul and Black Naped Oriole.
The real treat on this visit to the Anantara from a birding perspective was the sight of two lovely looking Ashy Drongo that hung around a while one day, long enough for me to get a decent image of one, result!
I was watching the Oriental Magpie Robin activity on a lot bridge on the way back to our hotel when some movement in a tree caught my eye, it was a pair of Red Collared Dove - only the second time I had seen these lovely birds.
Due to the death of the King a lot of the main Bangkok tourist attractions like the Grand Palace were close to tourists and so this allowed us to go for a walk around a large park in Bangkok called Suan Rot Fai, we got there via the Skytrain and when walking to the skytrain station at Saphan Taksin from our hotel river taxi pier we called into a small bit of park where more Common Myna, Spotted Dove and a pair of Scarlet Backed Flowerpecker were seen; well onto Suan Rot Fai we go. During the hotel river taxi ride I saw this Pond Heron perched on an old pier support - I think it is a Chinese Pond Heron, it is virtually impossible to spilt the Javan and Chinese Pond Herons apart when in non-breeding plumage.
From a little previous research I had hoped to tick off a few lifers as thus far is had not been the case. I was not disappointed as soon two species of Starling were seen mixed in with the Feral Pigeons, those new species being Pied and Black Collared Starlings.
Walking further an Asian Brown Flycatcher caught my eye with its rapid movement in the tree above us and I managed this image.
More walking in the 30+ degree heat was split with the odd sit down in the shade looking at views like these below.
Pond Herons, Little Egret, Large Billed Crow and Indian Roller were seen here in a matter of 5 minutes resting on a bench.
More walking around Suan Rot Fai gave up more Pied and Collared Starlings , Pied Fantails were skulking in the dark areas hiding from the heat of the sun I am guessing - not a bad idea that one!
A brief view of a single Cattle Egret was seen through the trees before if flew off to be with a small group of the same species, 6 birds in all.
A little more walking lead us to the end of a large long lake where a lone Asian Openbill was at the waters edge, has seen on high above Bangkok a few years back so to get so close to this bird was a real bonus.
Around the same area was what I think this time is a Javan Pond Heron (saw the bird fly and it had all white wings which I have read is an indicator when not in breeding plumage. - please correct me if I am wrong here)
More walking around this vast oasis of calm in a city of 14 million people brought you to new areas all the time like this below, look closely and you will see something on the left lying on green track in the distance, it is a sleeping Buddhist Monk that I had to quietly walk by!
Olive backed Sunbirds were heard and seen all over the park flitting around the trees usual high above our heads but this female below was seen briefly feeding on the flowers.
All the walking in the heat lead to a lot of drinking of water and hence a toilet break was needed, the gents loo I used had a glass window allowing you to look into a dark area of vegetation whilst busy, if you get my drift! Here I saw a settled female Oriental Magpie Robin that remained in the same place long enough to get this photo, after ablutions finished I might add!
Habitats were different and varied as you can see below and I am sure as Karen and I were only really walking around ad hoc so to speak we missed a lot of areas with good potential to see more different birds, never mind it was still an enjoyable 3 hours around the park area. In the photo of habitat below I thought and hoped that something interesting and different would appear but no only a few Common Myna were seen.
We had 3 days in Bangkok and I saw 28 species in total, my largest number of species in 4 separate visits; out of the 28 species recorded 3 species if the Javan Pond Heron is correct were lifers. So not a bad start to the holiday. Part 2 of this holiday will follow soon ....