Beth and I went separate ways on our last day in Thailand.  Jim Thompson was a world renowned silk aficionado who disappeared in Malaysia in 1967.  Silk in his name still sells for more than their weight in gold however.  Beth planned to go to the Jim Thompson Museum, the Jim Thompson Factory and Outlet Store and the Jim Thompson Retail Store.  Not me!  I lined up a guide firm to go birding and elected to go to Kaeng Kratchan National Park, 125 miles south of Bangkok on the Myanmar border.

Peng, my guide, arrived at 5:15 AM, a quarter hour early, with a first class van – both good signs.  No bird list – bad sign.  We were on the road by 5:17 and were soon on a fast-moving 6-lane divided highway.  We stopped about 6:30 for the driver and guide to eat.  I was the only one to bird – bad sign. We were soon back on the road and then I found that again I was the only one birding.  Me: “Was that a Glossy Ibis flying?”  Peng: “Aye?”  Bad sign.

We arrived at the park about 7:30 and started birding in spades.  Peng was an ace!  Shortly inside the park was a large pond.  Peng found a shorebird, a kingfisher, herons, swallows, mynas and lapwings for me plus a Yellow-throated Marten.  We drove on and after a few kilometers we began to walk.  We walked about 4 kilometers though dry forest habitat.  Again, we saw birds – leafbirds, flowerpeckers, drongos, malkoha, barbets, bulbuls, hornbills and many more.  By the time we encountered Panuwat Sasirat, the company manager and his client, about 11:00, we had thirty-five species.

We birded together to the central camp and restaurant area.  There Peng took me for a walk around the near-vacant campground.  We first saw a troop of Dusty Langur (monkeys), then saw woodpeckers, treepie, bee-eaters and a Sultan Tit.  We ended the stroll seeing a Black Giant Squirrel, 30 inches long with a head bigger than a cat’s.  Scary guy!

I ate a different but tasty lunch at the local eatery.  While eating I discovered a number of butterflies feeding on clay near my table.  I don’t know the species but they were beautiful.

After lunch we birded with the other pair until I realized that we were wasting a lot of time looking for hornbills for the other client.  Finally, I said “There is a lake in the park.  I want to go there.”  Immediately three birders were angry but it was agreed Peng and I could go off by ourselves.

Off we went and 45 minutes later were at the lake and a whole new batch of birds – stilts, egrets, plover, flycatchers, fantails and several more.  A great change from walking through hot, barren, dry forest.

We finally left the park about 5:30 and were home by 8:00.  Count for the day was 61 species, 32 new Southeast Asia birds and 30 lifers.  A good day considering the ups and downs.