birding-aus Gurney's Pitta - A recent visit

Subject: birding-aus Gurney's Pitta - A recent visit
From: palliser <>
Date: Mon, 07 Jun 1999 11:59:11 +1000
Dion Hobcroft, 
Has kindly provided a written account of his recent sightings of Gurney's
Pitta in Thailand.  And as this is such a hot topic at the moment he has
given me permission to forward this to those of you that might be
interested (see below).  Warning it is most gripping read! 
Tony Palliser  
Please Note my new home address and telephone number below: 
Ph wk..... 02-99001678 fx..... 02-99001669  
Ph mb..... 0416 095875 
Ph hm..... 02-94115272   
Address... Unit 3D, 16 Broughton Rd, Artarmon, NSW 2064 
Email..... Hm   
Dear Tony/Nigel 
Gerry Richards and I spent from 3-8.5.99 at Khao Nor Chuchi staying at the
Riverside Lodge and walking into the reserve daily. We hired Yothin on the
4 and 6.5.99 for $120US per day. It was money well spent as both Gerry and
I were able to get a couple of good brief views of a male Gurney's Pitta on
the morning of the 4.5.99 on the Boundary trail which runs parallel to
Track U. It is in this area that at least three possibly four pairs were
detected by call.  The species was quite vocal during our stay heard
vocalising regularly from 7-10.00 and 16.00-18.00. In true form though the
birds were highly elusive, being expert in skulking around you or confining
their activity to the densest palm gullies were sneaking in was impossible.
Sitting and waiting was the only option and most people visiting in April
had met with some success according to the Logbook kept at the Riverside.
Many had enjoyed excellent prolonged views of both sexes on Track U in the
second gully viewing to the right. 
Despite much waiting and patient stalking, further views of Gurney's Pitta
remained elusive until the final morning of the 8.5.99 when I was fortunate
to have an incredible five minute plus view of a calling male from a small
tree on an exposed perch on the edge of the forest at close range. This
bird was continuously calling for over half an hour (7.30-8.00) when it
moved along without seemingly being aware of my presence. It flew to at
least three calling sites all perched about 2 metres off the ground between
the Boundary Trail and Track U over a 100 metre radius. This area was the
only place in the reserve we detected the presence of Gurney's Pitta and it
seems to be the currently known stronghold of this critically threatened
taxa. There was a report of a pair in April near the Malaysian Honey guide
site about 7 kilometres away on the other side of the range at an altitude
of approximately 300 metres above sea level which is encouraging. Ask
Yothin for details. 
We saw no evidence of hunting (trapping or shooting ) inside the reserve,
in fact we did not bump into anyone in the forest at all during the entire
week.  We also saw no recent evidence of land clearance. They seem to be
building another lodge closer to the reserve. 
Gerry and I recorded over 100 species in the reserve during our stay and
found the birding to be of a high standard a lot of the time although it
was often along narrow trails and could be typically frustrating getting on
to birds.  Best species we recorded were Wallace's Hawk-eagle, Moustached
and Hodgson's Hawk-cuckoo, Buffy Fish Owl; Brown Wood Owl, Gould's
Frogmouth (excellent views), Cinnamon-rumped Trogon, Banded, Gurney's,
Hooded and Blue-winged Pitta, Banded Broadbill, Rufous-collared Kingfisher,
Malaysian Honeyguide and Large Wren-babbler. 
In Krabi on the 3.5.99 with Mr.Dai we were lucky to get a good brief view
of a male Masked Finfoot and watch a Mangrove Pitta hammer a crab on the
exposed low tide mud margins. We also had excellent views of Ruddy and
Kingfisher, Mangrove Blue Flycatcher and White-chested Babbler. 
No luck at Ban Nai Chong Kilometre 121 for Malaysian Rail Babbler. Two
attempts but low density birding. Heard White-handed Gibbon calling here
both mornings. Best birds were a cracking male Green Broadbill and tame
Raffle's Malkoha.  
Dion Hobcroft 

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