Sunday, 31 July 2016

Koh Samui !

We enjoyed last years Thailand holiday so much we thought we would go back, this time visiting the island of Koh Samui in the gulf of Thailand, a relatively small island, just under ninety square miles. not renowned for its abundance of wildlife, but there's always something new to see, just a matter of finding it.

This was to be a chill out holiday, to relax and enjoy the sunshine,  hence most of my wildlife searching was carried out discreetly around the hotel gardens, the beach and a few trips out exploring the island and a brief trip to Ang Thong National Marine Park  a pristine archipelago of 42 islands in the Gulf of Thailand complete with towering limestone mountains, thick jungle, white-sand beaches, fertile mangroves, waterfalls and hidden coves and lakes to explore.

Our stay in a lovely hotel complex on a steep hillside was called the Nora Buri, comfortable apartment and beautiful gardens, these were the wildlife encounters I had while there.

The most common bird around the gardens appeared to be the Yellow Vented Bulbul, very active bird always appeared to be searching for a meal, often seen in pairs occasionally displaying on the apartment roofs by holding its wings out from its body and shaking them whilst uttering a gentle warbling.

Yellow vented Bulbuls

Another Bulbul seen around the waterfalls was the Striped Throat Bulbul , couldn't get a clear view of this one always remained high up in the trees, very noisy, and hard to pick out in the thick foliage

Stripe-Throated Bulbul
The Common Mynah bird, as anyone who has visited this area will know, is very common and reminiscent of  the Starlings in our country, very watchable though. found almost anywhere.

Common Mynah

Back to the hotel gardens and one particular flowering shrub over the man-made stream was very attractive to some Sunbirds, unfortunately the very attentive gardeners found the shrub not to there liking and promptly removed them, I managed to get some nice photographs of this sunbird which I believe is a female Olive-Backed Sunbird. my forth Sunbird species. 

Olive-Backed Sunbird

Sunbirds, Flowerpeckers and Spiderhunters a family of birds I do not see very often, I have now seen four different species of Sunbird, and this holiday provided me with my first ever Flowerpecker,
the Scarlet-Backed Flowerpecker to be precise, not a particularly rare bird for this part of the world, but a new bird for me all the same.

male Scarlet-Backed Flowerpecker

Another family of birds you do not see very often , especially here in England are the Munia's, a type of estrildid finch. A few of these lovely looking birds were collecting nesting material from a large tree opposite our balcony and provided some very nice photo opportunities,incidentally another first sighting for me. The Scaly-Breasted Munia

Scaly-Breasted Munia

A few sightings of another asian bird was this Common Tailorbird, although not common for me. these were quite skulking little birds, here on the hotel grounds.

Common Tailorbird

Late afternoons as the sun started to set, and the temperatures cooled down appeared to be the best time for the birds and they suddenly started to appear in the surrounding trees.
Some bird watching from the apartment balcony with a cooling drink was often productive, we were fortunate in having a sea-view, so when this large raptor flew into view over the bay I could not believe my luck, it then circled directly overhead allowing a few photographs, its identity was a mystery to me, I was hoping for something new and unseen before. My Thailand bird guide identified it as a juvenile White-Bellied Sea Eagle, a bird I have seen before in its adult grey and white plumage.

 Juv White-Bellied Sea Eagle

Compare these with the adult Sea Eagle we found below being kept in captivity in one of the Buddhist temple complexes, to be fair, this may have been an injured bird.

adult White-Bellied sea eagle
A large tree on the hillside with the hotel grounds provided a late afternoon roosting site for a small group of  Orange-breasted Green Pigeons, the most seen were seven. just about managed a couple of record shots.heavily cropped.

Orange-Breasted Green pigeon. male

female or juvenile Orange-Breasted Green Pigeons
Plenty of Spotted Doves around the hotel roofs and a couple of Zebra doves seen at the airport.

Spotted Doves
The hotel grounds ran down to the beach to a small rocky cove, not too many birds seen,

This  Oriental Magpie Robin was very active in the hotel gardens next to the beach., another was seen hawking for insects around the apartment roofs in the hotel.

The fishing was obviously good in this little cove, a local fisherman turned up each day deploying differing fishing techniques, sometimes with a rod, mostly with a long net, sometimes thrashing the water with a long cane chasing the fish into his net.

I was fascinated by this fisherman,  his many techniques and patience, never seemed to catch much, but he always came out of the water with a big smile on his face.

He was not the only fisher here in the bay, a few Little Cormorants visited each day always distant, usally seen drying their wings on the rocks.

Little Cormorant

The only other fisher was this Pacific Reef Egret who appeared most mornings chasing small fish in the shallows.

Pacific Reef Egret

Total bird list seen :- Black Winged Stilt, Great White Egret, Little Egret, Pacific Reef Egret, Little Cormorant, Common Mynah, Tree Sparrow, Olive Backed Sunbird, Yellow vented Bulbul, Striped throated Bulbul, Oriental Magpie Robin, White Bellied Sea Eagle (Juv), Bridled Tern , Common Tailor Bird, Orange Breasted Green Pigeon, Scaly Breasted Munia, Scarlet backed Flowerpecker, Spotted Dove, Zebra Dove, Lesser Adjutant (7)

An interesting troop of monkeys were seen on a visit to 'Ko Wua Ta Lap' within the Ang Thong National marine park, our main focus had been the corals and marine fish. But this troop of Dusky leaf monkeys  that had been sleeping in a large shady tree next to the beach, unseen until they started foraging for food.

 These were much friendlier  than the usual Macaques we have encountered before in Thailand.

Sleepy Dusky Leaf Monkeys

Lots of Butterflies on this little island, nearly all of which I could not identify, I could only manage a few closed wing shots, the butterflies always seem to be on the move, never resting for long in one place, always with wings closed.

Cycad Blue or Plains Cupid Butterfly
Common Leopard butterfly (Phalanta phalantha) 

unidentified as yet

Spotted Black Crow

 possible Common Grass Yellow

The water features around the hotel grounds provided plenty of photo opportunities for those interested in the natural world. These tiny Green Paddy frogs were very vocal, and a very common sighting much to my wife's dismay.

Green Paddy Frog

I wish we could grow these in our garden fish ponds always looks spectacular.

Not sure whether this is a frog or a toad, have not been able to identify this one.

This last amphibian looks like a Toad of some sorts, seen in the Buddhist temple ponds.

A few Dragonflies seen around the pools in the hotel, this one looks very much like the Black tailed Skimmer we get in our country, I believe this is called a Blue Marsh Hawk, possibly a male, the photograph below is the female Blue Marsh Hawk.

male Blue  Marsh Hawk

female Blue Marsh Hawk

This red Dragonfly was the only other dragonfly seen around the pools.

possibly a Scarlet Marsh Hawk 
A walk along the beach revealed this female type dragonfly in huge numbers. possibly the Scarlet Marsh Hawk.

The last Dragonfly seen, near a woodland stream was reminiscent of our Banded Demoiselle in its flight behaviour

Red Grasshawk or Common Parasol

Only two Bees seen on this trip, both species of Carpenter Bee, the large black Carpenter bee seen last year was seen on two occasions, this was a new species of Carpenter Bee for me

This Hornet species was pointed out to me by one of the Thai Hotel staff, doesn't look to friendly.  two possibilities either Greater or Lesser Banded Hornet not sure which.

My last insect siting was this Praying Mantis which I rescued from the swimming pool, it certainly didn't  look too healthy although there was still some movement as I placed it on some poolside vegetation.

Praying Mantis species
Always nice to see some different wildlife, and Thailand certainly has a wide and varied selection.