A superb image of a Spoon-billed Sandpiper taken by Michael McKee at Ban Pak Thale, Thailand.
A Blue Pitta, from one of the hides at Kaeng Krachan NP, Thailand, by Mark Harper.
A small, slim, sleek Racket-tailed Treepie at Kaeng Krachan by Lars Petersson.
Most of the birds listed are usually present during the northern winter. Three endemics; Siamese (Chestnut-headed) Partridge (far southeast), Turquoise-throated (Blue-throated) Barbet (southern peninsula) and Rufous (Limestone) Limestone-babbler (central-south), as well as Red Junglefowl, Bar-backed and Green-legged (Scaly-breasted) Partridges, Siamese Fireback, Christmas Island and Lesser Frigatebirds, Chinese Egret, Chinese and Javan Pond Herons, Cinnamon and Yellow Bitterns, Asian Openbill, Brahminy Kite, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Grey-headed and Lesser Fish Eagles, Black and Rufous-bellied Eagles, Black-thighed Falconet, Ruddy-breasted Crake, Grey-headed Lapwing, Malaysian and White-faced Plovers, Bronze-winged and Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Nordmann's Greenshank, Broad-billed, Marsh and Terek Sandpipers, Long-toed and Red-necked Stints, Black-naped, Bridled, Caspian and Great Crested Terns, Nicobar Pigeon, green pigeons, Green Imperial and Pied Imperial Pigeons, Red-breasted Parakeet, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Violet Cuckoo, malkohas, Short-toed Coucal, Asian Barred and Collared Owlets, Brown Hawk Owl, Great Eared Nightjar, Grey-rumped and Whiskered Treeswifts, Brown-backed and Silver-backed Needletails, Diard's, Orange-breasted and Scarlet-rumped Trogons, Banded, Black-capped, Blue-banded, Brown-winged, Collared, Ruddy, Rufous-collared and White-throated (Smyrna) Kingfishers, Blue-tailed, Chestnut-headed and Red-bearded Bee-eaters, Indochinese Roller, Dollarbird, (Eurasian) Hoopoe, many barbets, Bushy-crested, Great, Helmeted, Oriental Pied, White-crowned and Wreathed Hornbills, piculets, lots of woodpeckers, (Malayan) Banded (irena), Blue, Blue-winged, Hooded and Mangrove Pittas, Banded, Black-and-red, Black-and-yellow, Dusky, Green, Long-tailed and Silver-breasted Broadbills, Maroon-breasted and Rufous-winged Philentomas, Ashy Woodswallow, Rosy and Swinhoe’s (Brown-rumped) Minivets, Golden-bellied Gerygone (Flyeater), Mangrove Whistler, White-browed Shrike Babbler, orioles, Greater Racket-tailed and Lesser Racket-tailed Drongos, Pied Fantail, Black-naped Monarch, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Crested Jay, Common Green, Racket-tailed and Ratchet-tailed Magpies, bulbuls including Scaly-breasted, tailorbirds, leaf warblers, Siberian Blue Robin, flycatchers including Hainan Blue, White-rumped Shama, Chestnut-naped Forktail, Sultan Tit, leafbirds, Asian Fairy Bluebird, many laughingthrushes including White-crested, many babblers, scimitar babblers, wren babblers, White-shouldered Starling, flowerpeckers, sunbirds and Little, Grey-breasted and Thick-billed Spiderhunters.
Also a chance of Great Argus, Grey Peacock Pheasant, Kalij and Silver Pheasants, Painted and Storm's Storks, Blyth’s and Wallace’s Hawk Eagles, Slaty-legged Crake, Asian Dowitcher, Far Eastern Curlew, Pallas’s (Great Black-headed) Gull, Oriental Bay Owl, White-fronted Scops Owl, Barred Eagle Owl, Brown Wood and Spotted Wood Owls, Buffy Fish Owl, Gould’s and Javan Frogmouths, Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, Rhinoceros Hornbill, Malaysian Honeyguide, Eared Pitta, Orange-headed Thrush, Rail Babbler and Temminck's Sunbird, and an outside chance of Black-faced Spoonbill, Masked Finfoot, and Brown (Austin's and Tickell’s) and Plain-pouched Hornbills.
White-handed Gibbon, Dusky Langur, Long-tailed (Crab-eating) and Pig-tailed Macaques, Sunda Flying Lemur (Colugo), Irrawaddy Dolphin, Indian Giant Flying Squirrel, Black Giant Squirrel, (Common) Southern and Northern Tree Shrews, Sambar, Island and Lyle's Flying Foxes, and Wrinkle-lipped Bat. Also a chance of Asian Elephant, Asiatic Black and Sun Bears, Gaur, Pileated Gibbon, Banded Langur, Slow Loris, Malayan Porcupine, Leopard Cat, Lesser Mouse Deer, Yellow-throated Marten, Smooth-coated Otter, Red Giant Flying Squirrel and Finless Porpoise, and an outside chance of Clouded Leopard.
Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish
Big water Monitors, flying lizards, Tockay Gecko, a chance of Reticulated Python, and, offshore, numerous coral reef fish and a chance of flying fish, Whale Shark, Manta Ray, Blacktip Reef and Leopard Sharks, Sailfish, Black Marlin, and Green and Hawksbill Turtles.
A rich diversity of butterflies including Common and Golden Birdwings, swordtails and Paris Peacock.
The superb irena subspecies of Banded Pitta, photographed at Khao Nor Chuchi by Roger Wyatt ('in the old days').
December to February is usually the driest and coolest time of the year and the best time for birds which are winter visitors from northern Asia. During March to May some of these visitors are still present and some resident forest birds begin to call and sing at the start of their breeding seasons, including pittas and broadbills, but the majority of the resident forest birds, including many of the hardest to see, are at their most active during their breeding seasons which usually fall between June and August which is, unfortunately, during the rainy season.
Birds of South-East Asia by C Robson. Helm, 2018. (Second Edition)
Birds of South-East Asia Concise Edition by C Robson. Helm, 2015.
Guide to the Birds of Thailand by B Lekagul, P Round et al. Saha Karn Bhaet Co Ltd, Thailand, 1991.
A Field Guide to the Mammals of South-East Asia by C M Francis. New Holland Publishers, 2008.
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia by I Das. Bloomsbury, 2015.
Where to watch birds in Asia by N Wheatley. Helm, 1996.
Don’t know which country/countries/regions to visit in Asia? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.
Many trip reports, some for Southern Thailand, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Southern Thailand. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Southern Thailand' below.
The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.
There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.
While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.
Tour companies who are running organized tours to Southern Thailand in the next couple of years include the following. Many of these also offer custom tours.