Birding Khao Yai National Park Thailand
It was 43 ° C in Bangkok under the direct sun and 38 °C under the shade. Nomatter how you look at it, it was very HOT. It was time to escape the heat to the cooler 20 degree mountain air, Khao Yai National Park for birding.
The last time I stepped into Khao Yai National Park, Thailand for birding was 18 years ago. I was still using film camera. I vaguely recall where I went and where I stayed in Khao Yai National Park for birding. It was the leeches that had made the most unforgetable impression of the park then.
In April 2017, we booked the bungalow in Khao Yai National Park for 3 nights. We left Bangkok around 4 pm to reach the park Head Quarter only around 7:30 pm to pick up the keys. The park Head Quarter closed early but there were staff there till 8 pm. Fortunately we packed our dinner from Bangkok as most of the food outlets in the park closed early around 5 pm ( even ealier on rainy days and on weekdays). By the way, if you ever get stranded in Khao Yai without food, head up to the North gate outside the park for food and drink.
The park is famous for hornbills and mammals. We managed to photograph three out of the four hornbills;
- Great Horbills,
- Wreathed Hornbill and
- Pied Hornbill
- but missed the Brown Hornbill.
We also spotted the Banded Kingfisher and Longtailed Broadbill at KM 33 trail. The most usual lifer for me was the close uncounted with the elusive Serow at the view point. Not just one Serow but two (medium sized goat-like or antelope-like mammals of the genus Capricornis)
Day 1: Birding in Khao Yai National Park:
The cool 24 °C morning was a great start. However, we did not see many birds except the lapwings, pied hornbills, jungle fowls, and black crested bulbul at the open ground near the Bungalows. As we left the bungalow to the HQ, we spotted Chestnut-headed bee-eaters, wood swallows on the wires then we chanced upon a lone elephant at the grassland having breakfast.
At the 33 KM trail head and walked into the trail to explore the terrain inside. While the trail-head was well marked, it got difficult and confusing inside. I remember many years ago leeches were everywhere as soon as I stepped into the trail, you can see them crawling up your socks. However, there was no leech this time. We decided to explore other sites for birds until the afternoon rain poured in at around 1 pm.
Day 2 birding in Khao Yai National Park:
We went into the trail at KM 33 again early in the morning. Spotted Banded Kingfisher with food in the mouth. At the fruiting tree, we saw barbet and bulbul. Then the Longtailed Broadbill near the nest by the road side.
We got information of the nest of the great hornbill down the main road towards the north entrance but there was no bird. We only located the nest. As usual, by 1 pm. the afternoon shower poured in. After the rain, we managed to visit the view point and to our surprise, we photographed the two serows near the Khao Yai Viewpoint.
Day 3 birding in Khao Yai National Park:
Our plan was to see the pheasants first thing in the morning but none showed up. We then stationed at the Great Hornbill nest to see the parents feeding the chicks. They came at 9 am sharp. The bonus for the morning was the Wreathed Hornbill flying pass us while we were having a quick breakfast.
Planning a Birding Trip To Khao Yai National Park?
We got away from the intense heat in Bangkok, spent 3 nights in Birding in Khao Yai National Park. Enjoyed the good weather and bird watching. Do avoid visiting the park on weekends as there will be too many casual visitors. You can buy leech socks from the Park HQ for 70 Bhat. Rainy season starts in May till October during the southwest monsoon.