Quest for Pied Cuckoo

A week ago I was going through all the bird observations for Thailand on iNaturalist. In the past month there had been records of Pied Cuckoo in Chiang Rai, I stumbled upon an observation of this species from its historical breeding ground at Bueng Boraphet, Nakhon Sawan from May 11th. It’s a rare bird that can be recorded in the mid-year months here. In India it’s a sign that the rains have arrived and I think, in Thailand, it also shares the same breeding time when rains arrive. I contacted a few people asking if they wanted to check it out. Eventually we made plans and we went to look on the 19th and 20th of May.

Streaked Weaver

I went on Friday, mainly because I woke up and felt it would better to go a day early. This worked out well as 2 of my friends came Saturday morning and I could drive them back via Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary in Uthai Thani province. The first day was fun and my favourite sighting were my first Savanna Nightjars. I heard the unfamiliar sound and searched up the sound of Savanna Nightjar and it matched well. Numerous were calling from the fields, eventually a pair flew over my head and settled on top of the electricity pole for a minute!

It was already well after sunset, I was surprised I managed an okay photo!

For Pied Cuckoo, I couldn’t find any sign of it in the afternoon but there were plenty of other birds. The next day I was joined with 4 more friends but it was more of the same, no Pied Cuckoo just Pied Kingfisher and other birds.

Oriental Darter
Indian Cormorant
Pied Kingfisher

The weather recently has been unbearably hot with heat indexes reaching 50c, so I was very quick to give up on the search. In the afternoon we headed to Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary before driving back to Bangkok. It took about 2 hours to reach from Nakhon Sawan town. The first bird first I spotted was Rufous Woodpecker, there were many woodpeckers, the next we saw were a flock of Black-headed Woodpeckers.

Rufous Woodpecker
Black-headed Woodpecker

The sanctuary is an exciting place as its home to largest population of Tigers, alongside Leopards and others. I saw a herd of Banteng running across the gravel road and also a Wild Boat feeding near the guard post. We arrived at around 3pm and unfortunately, the trail at the end closes around 4:30pm, so we spend majority of the time on the gravel road.

Wild Boat (Sus scrofa), I photographed one of the Banteng but it wasn’t focused.

After three more species of Woodpecker at the end of the road: Common flameback, Greater flameback & Greater Yellownape, we returned down the gravel road. We came across a large flock of Yellow-footed Green-Pigeons and some Thick-billed Green-Pigeons.

Greater Flameback female.
Greater Yellownape female.

The Yellow-footed Green-Pigeons were my favourite sighting of the day, Green Pigeons (Treron) are all stunning birds and it was nice to see one of the species I perceived as more ‘exotic’ in Thailand.

Thick-billed Green-Pigeon
Yellow-footed Green-Pigeon.
We came across 2 flock of Yellow-footed Green-Pigeons when heading out.

We crossed paths with Green Peafowl two or three times in our short visit. Another much anticipated bird that I had yet to see showed itself briefly, perching in the trees and being mobbed by Shikra. It was a Changeable Hawk-Eagle!

Green Peafowl
Changeable Hawk-Eagle in the densely foliated trees.
Shikra soaring earlier on in the afternoon.

Reaching the exit at around 6pm we came across a Rufous Treepie flock. Marking the last species of my Thai Treepie collection. Upon leaving the sanctuary we also found a few Red-billed Blue-magpies. It was a fun afternoon at the wildlife sanctuary and hope to visit again. The trip report for these 2 days can be seen: here.

Rufous Treepie
Red-billed Blue-Magpie

The drive back wasn’t too bad, I think it was around 4 hours but the roads, overall, were good allowing for a decent average speed. Nakhon Sawan from Bangkok is easy and now I know the best place to stay, I will be sure to be back if the Pied Cuckoo is seen again. Until then, see you later Nakhon Sawan. It will be either for the Cuckoo in the next few weeks or Ducks next winter.

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