Thailand Photography Tour Of The North & Central Regions

by nickupton

Thailand has many photographic opportunities as it is one of the most colorful countries I have ever visited; read about this photography tour of the country from early 2013.

In March 2013 I led a bird photography tour of Thailand for two avid bird photographers; Pieter Verheij and Roger Marchant. They were using expensive cameras and lenses to get the highest quality images of birds, but I was just using a simple compact digital camera that cost less than $250 and as such I took a wider range of photographs during the course of our Thailand tour.

Spending thirteen days traveling around Thailand gave me the opportunity to take many photographs of colorful scenes, birds and beautiful scenery and here I will display some of my photos and describe the trip as best I can.

I hope you enjoy reading this page and looking at the photographs as much as I enjoyed the tour and perhaps you this page might make you think about visiting Thailand yourself.

Thailand Map

These are the main places that we visited and stayed at during our tour.

  • Doi Lang
  • Doi Ang Kang
  • Chiang Mai
  • Doi Inthanon
  • Mae Wong National Park
  • Bueng Boraphet
  • Khao Yai National Park
  • Bangkok
  • Petchaburi Rice Fields
  • Pak Thale & Laem Pak Bia
  • Kaeng Krachan National Park
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Day 1: Chiang Mai To Thatorn

The first day of this trip really just involved getting to our first destination - the village of Thatorn where we would stay for two nights. I collected Pieter and Roger from Chiang Mai international airport and we made the three hour drive to Thatorn.

As I had been hoping, we managed to get there a little before sunset so we had the opportunity to take some test shots just so that I could see what sort of results could be obtained in what were fairly poor light conditions.

A few common birds were photographed but, of course, the late afternoon can produce some very nice light effects and although there was too much cloud cover to give us the best sunset we did take some nice scenery photographs in the rice fields close to where we would stay.

Rice Fields near Thatorn
Rice Fields near Thatorn

The brilliant green of the growing rice is always a beautiful scene but with these mountains in the background and pinkish hue to the late afternoon sky I think this makes quite a nice picture.

 

If you are planning a trip to Thailand this Lonely Planet travel guide is very useful. It is not the be all and end all of Thailand, in fact it focuses a bit too much on temples and obscure noodle shops, but it is great for getting an idea before you go of where you would like to visit and during your trip it is great for the maps of towns and advice on where to stay.

Days 2 & 3 (Morning): Doi Lang

Doi Lang is perhaps one of the wildest parts of Thailand. You will not really find Doi Lang marked on any map because it is just the name that locals and bird watchers have given to the back ridge of Doi Ph Hom Pok, Thailand's second highest mountain.

An old road, which had recently been repaired on our visit, makes a loop from the highway, going up into the mountains; for much of its length the road forms the boundary between Thailand and Myanmar. The journey up the road took about one hour from our accommodation in the lowlands (there are no facilities on the mountain) so we had early starts to be there for around 7am.

The vegetation varies a lot on this mountain with pine forest on some of the ridges and moist, mossy forest on other parts. Because of this the scenery is varied, the plant life is diverse and there are lots of beautiful birds - that is why we were there.

However, despite the fact that we had some heavy rain during our visit, there were lots of opportunities to take photos of the wonderful scenery, lots of birds coming to a feeding station and I found this orchid to be a nice subject for a photo.

White Orchid
White Orchid

There were lots of these parasitic orchids among the moss and ferns on tree trunks, but it was not until Roger spotted this one at head height that I was able to take a nice photo of them.

Our time on Doi Lang was very enjoyable with lots of space to ourselves, peace and quiet plus lots of birds. Our packed lunch, provided by our guesthouse, was excellent too and it was nice to eat it out in a beautiful location.

Thai-Myanmar Border at Doi Lang

Doi Lang Army CheckpointAlthough there are a couple of army checkpoints on the mountain there is no official border crossing point and it is never really clear where Thailand finishes and Myanmar begins. In fact on one occasion I wandered off into some farmland and spoke to a local in Thai only to be answered in an altogether different language - I had strayed over the border into Myanmar!

This time the Thai army, at one checkpoint, took our passports for safekeeping, which was strange as we thought we were still in Thailand! I have not been asked for my passport here before - never mind, they were returned, with a smile, on our way back.

The weather, when we were at Doi Lang, was unseasonally wet and we had a big thunderstorm on our first morning there, however, once it had cleared the mountain once again began a lovely place to be. In fact, experiencing the storm was something to remember too as it swept in and engulfed us in heavy rain and fog for about an hour.

Some of the Birds at Doi Lang
Scarlet-faced Liocichla
Scarlet-faced Lioci...
Siberian Rubythroat
Siberian Rubythroat
Grey Bushchat
Grey Bushchat
White-bellied Redstart
White-bellied Redstart

 

While Doi Lang has a lot to offer outdoor enthusiasts, we went there for the birds and it was fantastic for photographing them with quite a few species coming to feeding stations. The strategy was to put down a few meal worms in the right spot and wait; and we did not have to wait long for Silver-eared Laughingthrushes to come and eat them. In fact, often, these greedy birds did not leave until they were full but afterwards the other birds would arrive for their share of the free feast.

Have You Been On A Tour Of Thailand?

Day 3 (Afternoon): Doi Ang Kang To Chiang Mai

The journey from Doi Lang to Doi Ang Kang was a bit of an adventure as we used a road that very few people ever travel on and one that I had not been along for more than ten years. We had to go through two Thai army checkpoints and before going through the first one we were subjected to a lot of questions, as we were traveling at a time that it was clearly stated on the gate that the road was closed.

However, thankfully I speak Thai so a friendly chat with the soldiers, including the boss on a walkie-talkie, and we were allowed through. After a short but very steep drive we arrived at the hill tribe village of Ban Nor Lae, somewhere I am very familiar with.

Thai-Myanmar Border
Thai-Myanmar Border
Ban Nor Lae Army Camp

There is a Thai military camp at the village of Ban Nor Lae which overlooks two other army camps in Myanmar. The impression is one of a military standoff but in reality it is safe and peaceful - a tourist attraction in fact with visitors welcomed to the army camp.

The hill tribe villagers have set up some stalls to sell their wares to the tourists - their scarves make nice gifts at a price of about $3.

The photo shows the border road we traveled on and one of the army camps in Myanmar.

After eating our lunch at Ban Nor Lae we went to the King's Project at Doi Ang Kang, a beautiful place which used to be the domain of drug warlords until the King of Thailand ordered the army to clear them out and then he set up an agricultural project for the villagers to grow niche food products; I highly recommend the Ang Kang salad in the restaurant here with its "secret recipe" dressing.

We spent some time photographing some birds at another meal worm feeding station which gave us lovely shots of White-tailed Robin and a few other species.

Under normal circumstances we would have spent more time at this beautiful location, but we had visited it together on the previous year and were using our time elsewhere in 2013.

Tapae Gate area, Chiang Mai, at Night
Tapae Gate area, Chiang Mai, at Night

Our drive to Chiang Mai city took a couple of hours and when we checked in we were upgraded to the Presidential Suite of our hotel!

Chiang Mai at night is a lively place but we had dinner in a restaurant that is known for its northern Thai food and then had a beer to make for a relaxing evening, knowing that we had a very early start the next day to get to our next location, Doi Inthanon.

Day 4: Doi Inthanon

Doi Inthanon is Thailand's highest mountain at 2565 metres. Apart from one short stop at Watcharitan waterfall we drove straight from Chiang Mai to the summit of the mountain.

Now, don't start thinking of snowy and rocky vistas at the summit, this mountain is forested all the way up to the highest point, but what wonderful forest it is with gnarled, mossy trees thick with ferns and orchids, like something from a fantasy movie.

It was quite chilly at the top this early in the morning and we had some hot drinks (the hot chocolate is great but I had ginger tea this time) and took a walk around the summit gardens and boardwalk where we saw some attractive birds and this shrine with its colorful offerings.

Summit Shrine, Doi Inthanon
Summit Shrine, Doi Inthanon

Our whole morning was spent at Doi Inthanon's summit, taking our time to find and photograph some of the many species of birds that live up there. One of the most spectacular is Green-tailed Sunbird which likes to feed on the flowering rhododendrons that are common at this location. The Thai name translates as "thousand year-old rose", which I think is quite poetic, and we spent some time standing close to one of these watching the sunbirds flit in and out, feeding on the flower's nectar. It was not easy, given how fast they were, but eventually Pieter and Roger got the shots they were after.

Some Flowers of Doi Inthanon
White Orchids
White Orchids

The flowers themselves, though, were much easier to photograph so we waited for the light to be at its best before spending some time getting some nice shots of the rhododendrons and orchids that grow on the trees.

The rain had hampered us a little so far on the trip but every cloud has its silver lining and the summit vegetation was much more luxuriant because of the rain that had fallen over the previous days.

There is a circular boardwalk at the top of the mountain and we walked slowly around it photographing a beautiful Yellow-bellied Fantail, Buff-barred Leaf Warbler and Rufous-winged Fulvettas along the way. Next I heard the "three blind mice" song of Pygmy Wren Babbler and we followed it until getting close up glimpses of it jumping around on the forest floor, hiding behind mossy rocks, behaving like a mouse.

White Rhododendron
White Rhododendron
Red Rhododendron
Red Rhododendron

We all had our cameras set for bright conditions, so when the Wren Babbler perched on a branch in a shady spot our camera setting were all wrong and we ended up with horribly blurred photos - such is photography and as annoying as it was we just laughed it off.

The rest of the morning was spent in similar fashion and we descended the mountain a little for lunch with time to view our photos so far, having already decided to return again after eating to try and photograph some birds that had so far eluded us.

Silver-eared Laughingthrush
Silver-eared Laughingthrush

One bird that we had no trouble getting shots of was Silver-eared Laughingthrush. At Doi Inthanon this colorful bird is really tame and it is amusing to watch as it feeds among the many tourists. Several of these birds were being videoed by tourists using their iPads and mobile phones as they were oblivious to people. I got this comical photograph as one of the Laughingthrushes descended into a bin to feed on scraps of food thrown away by visitors.

After enjoying much of the afternoon here and finding some more wonderful birds we headed downhill, back to Watcharitan waterfall, to see if we could find another special bird; Slaty-backed Forktail. We found it and got some photos but the waterfall really is one of the most photogenic that I know in Thailand so out came our cameras again.

Watcharitan Waterfall
Watcharitan Waterfall

Standing on the viewing platform was a bit wet and we had to put our cameras away and retreat a little to get this shot. With the light fading and some nasty biting insects making a nuisance of themselves we drove out of the national park to our accommodation where we had an excellent dinner.

Days 5, 6 & 7: Mae Wong

We had a bit of a lay-in and a leisurely breakfast at our accommodation before walking around the gardens a little. The walk was not very productive so we decided to go straight to Mae Wong national park where we knew there would be some more birds coming to feeding stations.

The journey took about 5 hours and after checking into our guesthouse we went straight into the park and met Ranger Annan who helped organize it so we could spend some time in blinds over the next few days photographing birds.

Photographing Grey Peacock Pheasant
Photographing Grey Peacock Pheasant

For anyone who has never done anything like this I will explain. Certain spots around the forest have been regularly baited with meal worms and split corn in the hope of attracting birds. Some of these feeding stations work out well but others, for some reason, do not. over the course of time certain species regularly come to feed at the same spot, including some species of birds that are almost impossible to see under normal circumstances. It is a bit weird as you can see in the photo above.

There were several places like this at Mae Wong and it involved quite a lot of uncomfortable  waiting. However, our best experience was on the second day when 3 Rufous-throated Partridges and a Grey Peacock Pheasant came out to feed and this was after we had given up on anything happening and were about to leave. 

Bird Trip Report

If you are a bird watcher or photographer a more bird-orientated version of this trip report can be see here: Bird Photography Tour of Thailand, March 2013.

Thailand Tours - Bird Watching & Photography

After our final morning at Mae Wong we decided to move on to our next destination; Bueng Boraphet, a large lake full of birds and beautiful lotus flowers.

Days 7 (Afternoon) & 8 (Morning): Bueng Boraphet

Nakorn Sawan is a large city in central Thailand and it is always very hot and humid there; 33-38C is normal so it was nice to relax for an hour or so, in our hotel, when we arrived there. After our break we went to Bueng Boraphet to arrange a boat trip for the next morning and take some photos in the late afternoon light.

Sunset at Bueng Boraphet
Sunset at Bueng Boraphet

Although it was the late afternoon it was still hot and sticky, even after sunset, so having got some nice shots of birds and the evening colors we went back for a shower, dinner and to check out what Thais do for night life in Nakorn Sawan.

Thai Night Life

Food in Thailand is culturally very important so it is no surprise that a night out in Thailand always involves food. Typically friends will meet at a restaurant and order a variety of dishes to share over a chat and some drinks, usually beer or whisky.

Music is also big in Thailand with a huge music industry of its own and many western and Korean bands being popular, there is a wide variety to choose from in most Thai towns. From Karaoke bars to pubs with a band playing all the way to nightclubs with DJs or live music Nakorn Sawan has it all although we kept things rather low key in a pub with a live band playing Thai rock music.

This is one of those beautiful coffee-table books full of professional photos of the colorful scenes of Thailand. This is a wonderful way to reminisce for those who have been to this country.

We had breakfast in our hotel, the next morning, and met our boatman at 8am. We briefed him that we wanted to spend time photographing birds rather than rushing around to see every last species on the lake. Mr Phanom is used to these requests and did a great job of inching us nearer to birds and he is always very good at spotting them.

We spent a very enjoyable morning photographing many species of waterbirds; it is wonderful here because there are so many birds and the light is very nice in the morning. At the end of our boat ride we all agreed that if we had more time we would go out again the next day.

Bueng Boraphet - The Lake at Nakorn Sawan

Bueng Boraphet is a semi-natural lake and very large, requiring a motorized boat for sight-seeing and bird watching.

The water level of the lake fluctuates quite a lot and there can be severe flooding in the area as there was in late 2011 when almost the whole province was under water. 

The margins of the lake are rich in plant life with large areas of water lilies and lotus. When these are flowering it is a fantastic sight, although the flowers are open in the early morning and start to close as the heat builds up so do not leave your trip too late.

While the main attraction to the lake is for birds, one does not need to be a hardened bird watcher to enjoy these creatures here as there are such huge numbers of waterbirds that it is impossible not to see many of them up close; birds such as Asian Openbill Stork, Purple Swamphen, Great Egret and thousands of Lesser Whistling Ducks  are easy for all visitors to appreciate.

Unfortunately, like most wetlands in Asia, the lake is constantly under threat even with its status of "Non-hunting Area" and agricultural expansion around the edges of the lake increases every year and no doubt the water quality decreases with the runoff from the increased use of pesticides. Every now and then some clod of a politician suggests "improvements" to the lake and one idiotic government suggested filling it in to prevent flooding!!!!!

Photos From the Lake
Photographers on a Boat
Photographers on a Boat
Indian Cormorants
Indian Cormorants
Lillies and Lotus
Lillies and Lotus

Days 8 (Afternoon) & 9: Khao Yai National Park To Bangkok

After having lunch at Nakorn Sawan we began driving to Khao Yai national park. The route took us through some of Thailand's industrial areas and it is often a surprise to many visitors how much heavy industry there is and how well-developed the infrastructure of the country is.

Feeling a little tired on the drive I made a stop for a break and a drink; Thailand's roads are dangerous and there is no sense in taking risks just to go and see more birds. On one of our stops I noticed some chili peppers out to dry, a typical thing to see in colorful Thailand.

Chili Peppers
Chili Peppers

As we approached Khao Yai in the late afternoon we could see a large storm building. We could see that the weather in the forest was going to be poor so I stopped at a small government compound close to the national park gate where I knew we could see Red-breasted Parakeets.

One of the nice things about Thailand is that people are laid back and relaxed about things; I can't think of too many countries where you can just drive into some government offices and start walking around, bird watching, but it is no problem here; in the past the staff have even brought out cold drinks to me.

Pieter and Roger spent time taking their photos of parakeets but my camera was not powerful enough for that so instead I admired to cloud formations that had formed on the edge of the storm.

Cloud Formation
Cloud Formation

The storm eventually reached us but by the next morning it was dry so we entered the national park. Some of the forest at Khao Yai is wonderful, with huge, towering Strangler Fig trees, like something from a pre-historic landscape, providing food to mammals and birds.

Mammals at Khao Yai
Variable Squirrel
Variable Squirrel

 Khao Yai can be a very good place to see mammals. Generally, seeing mammals in South East Asia is exceptionally difficult but at Khao Yai some species are a just a bit easier to see than normal. We only spent a very short time in the park but still saw 2 species of squirrel, Pig-tailed Macaque, Sambar and Red Muntjac. I have frequently seen Asian Elephant and White-handed Gibbon here and on other occasions I have come across Dhole, Asiatic Black Bear, Sun Bear, Golden Jackal, Malayan Porcupine, Asian Smooth-clawed Otter and Serow.

If you want to see wild Asian Elephants, come here in the wet season and a sighting is likely.

This is an excellent book that details all the mammals known to occur in South East Asia. Whether you are visiting the area in search of mammals or just like browsing interesting books at home this is a good field guide that contains illustrations and text on some of the world's least-known and most seldom-seen mammals. 

This book also uses a taxonomic system that splits and renames a lot of mammals, so there is something to be learned for mammal enthusiasts.

Despite getting some nice photos of birds such as Thick-billed Green Pigeon and Great Hornbill something was not right for us with this location; finding birds was too hard with very little activity and somehow we just were not enjoying our time here. As this was a holiday to be enjoyed and not a quest for every last bird in Thailand the decision was made to move along ahead of schedule and go to Bangkok a day early. Making the appropriate changes to our hotel bookings was not a problem at this time of year so off we went.

Day 10 (Morning): Sri Nakorn Kuan Kan Park

We left Bangkok via Sri Nakorn Kuan Kan park and our main aim here was to get photographs of the very beautiful Pink-necked Green Pigeon which is common there. As you can see from my photo, we were successful in that, thanks to being able to get up into the canopy on a special bird watching tower which is in the park.

Pink-necked Green Pigeon
Pink-necked Green Pigeon

The humidity here was quite something after another storm the previous evening but it was worth putting up with it as there were lots of birds including Collared Kingfisher which after much teasing allowed us to get some shots.

Bang Krajao

Sri Nakorn Kuan Kan park is quite unusual as it is tucked away in a huge green segment in the middle of Bangkok. If you look at a map of Thailand's capital you will see this big green bit, caught up in a loop of the Chao Praya river (see right). This area is known as Bang Krajao and is actually in Samut Prakarn province; it has been set aside as a green area and contains a few places of interest to go, including the park, a "floating market" and the Siamese Fighting Fish Gallery. Many tour operators take people for bicycle tours of this area too which would be a good way to see a bit of typical Thai life during your stay in the busy capital.

Day 10 (Afternoon): Petchaburi Rice Fields

The heat at the park sapped our energy in the end so we made the drive to the province of Petchaburi. Once again we checked into our hotel, had lunch and took a rest in our rooms before heading to the nearby rice fields.

The rice fields in this part of Thailand are quite interesting as they are farmed only semi-intensively and most of the fields are fairly small with a habitat patchwork that encourages a lot of birds to come and feed. Apart from that the mixed farming makes for interesting scenes with buffaloes, simple tractors and armies of ducks used to eat parasitic snail eggs; I often bring people here who are fascinated with the scenes of daily life in Thailand that are so exotic to visitors from western countries.

Working in a Rice Field
Working in a Rice Field

The rice fields proved to be a great place for bird photography and we were able to use our mini van as a mobile hide to get close to the birds. The highlight were several colonies of weaver birds making their elaborate nests and squabbling over who had the best creation.

Baya Weaver Nests
Baya Weaver Nests
Baya Weaver Nests

Baya Weavers are colonial nesters and make these elaborate gourd-shaped nests that they weave using pieces of grass. The nests in the photo are not quite finished; the complete nests have a long spout to gain access which contains a false entrance to divert predators away from the nest chamber and the females will only choose the most expertly constructed nests.

Our day was completed with yet another great dinner and an English Premier League match which was being shown on a big screen in a bar opposite our hotel; it was a pretty uninspiring game though.

Day 11 & 12 (Morning): Pak Thale & Laem Pak Bia

The two adjoining areas of Pak Thale and Laem Pak Bia are the host to tens of thousands of wading birds between the months of October and April every year and the big excitement for bird watchers is the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper. This area is known all around the world as the easiest place to see this rare species.

For those that are not looking for birds the area is of interest for the salt farming that occupies extensive areas here. 

Flattening the Salt Pans
Flattening the Salt Pans
Inspecting the Salt Piles
Inspecting the Salt Piles
Collecting the Salt
Collecting the Salt
A Quick Lesson In Salt Farming

1. Salt pans are rolled flat using the "Fred Flintstone" vehicles you can see above. This is to create a flat base to make scraping up the salt easier at the end.

2. Seawater is pumped into the salt pans to a depth of a few inches and allowed to evaporate in the sun; believe me, it is VERY sunny here.

3. Seawater is repeatedly pumped in as the water evaporates to increase the salt concentration.

4. Eventually the salt crystallizes and the water completely evaporates leaving a coating of salt in on the flattened and hardened mud.

5. The salt is scraped into little piles using a hand operated salt scraper; sort of like a giant windscreen scraper.

6. The salt is shoveled into baskets and carried onto the back of a truck.

Over the course of a day and a half we were able to take many hundreds, if not thousands, of photographs of shorebirds, terns, egrets and other species. Once again we used the van as a mobile hide and often got extremely close to the birds. At one point we sat with the doors of the van open and waited next to some mud and several small wading birds came closer and closer, seemingly oblivious to our presence. 

This location was a real highlight of our trip because of the high number of excellent photos we were able to get of a very large number of species.

A few months before this trip I bought a new camera - Canon Powershot SX 160; a compact digital camera that cost less than $200. I was attracted to this camera because of the combination of 16.1 Megapixels and 16x optical zoom lens all at a reasonable price.

This camera can be used to take decent pictures in seconds; just turn it on and set it to "Auto" and press the button! However, I set the camera to "Manual" and was able to set the ISO, shutter speed and aperture according to the light conditions.

Using the camera in this way was surprisingly simple and fast, and after a little practice I started to get better at getting high quality photos using the camera. This is not to say that you can work miracles with this camera, but it is at the higher end of the compact digital camera range (for the moment) and some of the bird photos I got were a real surprise.

However, if you are looking for something even better, I have got my eye on the Nikon Coolpix P510, which I have seen people using and it is superb!

Days 12 (Afternoon), 13 & 14 (Morning): Kaeng Krachan National Park

When the heat became too much, on our second day at laem Pak Bia, we began our drive to our next destination, Kaeng Krachan National Park, where we would have lunch at our guesthouse there, a very pleasant place called Ban Maka.

Spirit Houses
Spirit Houses

On the way we needed to stop for fuel and as we were filling up with diesel I snapped these golden spirit houses, demonstrating once again what a colorful country Thailand is.

These spirit houses are ubiquitous in Thailand and are supposed to attract passing good spirits as well as lure bad spirits away from your home.

After about one hour's driving we arrived at Ban Maka where we had a very delicious lunch in the restaurant which overlooks a large log which is used as a bird feeding station; on this occasion it was more of a squirrel cafe.

Our first afternoon at Kaeng Krachan ended up with a lot of rain; yet another storm in what is supposed to be the dry season. However, we looked around a few places and found several nice species to take pictures of - it was nice to make the most of what could have been a bad afternoon.

Our final two mornings were spent inside Kaeng Krachan national park. This national park has a profusion of wildlife within it including tiger, elephant, leopard, tapir, gibbons and hundreds of species of birds.

Bird photography in the forest is very difficult but we were patient and using our bird watching skills we were able to get close to some very beautiful birds including Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, Banded Broadbill, Sultan Tit and Black-and-red Broadbill to name a few.

White-handed Gibbon
White-handed Gibbon

We also had a funny meeting with a White-handed Gibbon that has been released back into the wild, although it seems to think it has a career in photography judging by its reaction to Roger's tripod.

Gibbons are apes, not monkeys, and it is sad to know that many of them are taken from the wild to be kept as pets or to pose to have their photos taken with stupid tourists who do not realize that to obtain these gibbons the animal was taken from the wild as a baby by shooting its parents. Luckily for this one, it was rescued and released into the wild with friendly rangers to keep an eye on it.

On the afternoon of day thirteen we had saved ourselves a real treat; a session at Uncle Sin's Waterhole. We had visited this location the year before, together, and it had been one of the highlights of the trip. Uncle Sin is an ex poacher who, with encouragement, has turned his water hole from a trap to a wildlife-watcher's paradise. He charges 200 baht for each person to sit in the hide and watch or take photos of the birds and animals that arrive to drink and eat the food he puts out.

On the day that we visited we had a wonderful performance to watch with constant action for more than 4.5 hours! Dozens of species of birds came, including an amazing Slaty-legged Crake and several cute Lesser Mouse Deer, which came to gulp down Jambu fruits whole.

Lesser Mouse Deer
Lesser Mouse Deer

As we expected, Uncle Sin's Waterhole was one of the highlights of our tour but dinner at Ban Maka was certainly not far behind either.

Thai Food

I have mentioned, frequently, that we had very good food everywhere that we went on this tour. For me a real highlight of Thailand is the food; the country has a very rich food culture with lots of different dishes to suit all tastes.

A lot of Thai food is very spicy indeed but there are lots of dishes where chili peppers are not used and many of the dishes that do use them can be cooked without them.

Fried fish with garlic was one of the favorites on this trip as was Tom Yum (a spicy and sour soup) with shrimp, at least judging by the frequency that they were ordered.

Our meals for lunch were usually fairly simple, such as this squid with basil and chili on the right, but in the evenings we had more elaborate meals. Thais usually order a variety of dishes to share and eat them as they are brought from the kitchen, but western tourists who want all their meals to arrive at the same time can be left waiting as the kitchen usually has just one cook and one wok in which everything is cooked.

Squid with Basil & Chilis on Rice
Squid with Basil & Chilis on Rice

Day 14 (Afternoon): Petchaburi Rice Fields (Again)

One might ask why we made a second visit to the rice fields. Well, for one it makes a sensible stop to break up the journey back to Bangkok. Secondly, I have been running these trips for a while now and it is always good to finish on a high note, so with this in mind I had "saved" some birds that I knew I could show Pieter and Roger for this last afternoon. 

Gathering Food
Gathering Food

Some of the birds that I had "saved" included Yellow-bellied Prinia, Eastern Marsh Harrier and Blue-tailed Bee-eater, nice birds for our last day but it was also fun to photograph this funny character collecting plants and fish for dinner.

Our last bird was Streaked Weaver, busy making its nest but he was so fast that it took some waiting to finally get nice shots of him; it was a good bird to end with.

Our drive back to Bangkok was timed so that we should miss the worst of the traffic and we did. There were just a few short hold-ups on the expressway as we entered Bangkok which gave me the opportunity to take this one last photo for the trip.

Expressway Toll Booth
Expressway Toll Booth

In fact ,as we drove along the elevated roads into the city centre, Roger was able to take some nice photos of the city skyline at sunset. I missed these, unfortunately, as I was driving!

Once in our hotel we had a final diner together before saying our goodbyes and reflecting on a wonderful, and very enjoyable, photography tour of Thailand

Finally, Some More Photographs Of The Birds

I have tried to talk about our tour of Thailand in more general terms and most of the photographs I have used have been selected to illustrate what a great place Thailand is for photography of all sorts of things. However, our trip was primarily to photograph bird, so I will finish this account with a selection of my photographs of birds from this trip.

After the bird photographs please vote for your favorite.

Silver-eared Mesia
Silver-eared Mesia
Yellow Bittern
Yellow Bittern
Red-necked Stint
Red-necked Stint
Barn Swallow
Barn Swallow
White-rumped Shama
White-rumped Shama
Racket-tailed Treepie
Racket-tailed Treepie
Common Greenshank
Common Greenshank
Oriental Pratincoles
Oriental Pratincoles
Purple Swamphen
Purple Swamphen
Which of these bird photos is your favorite?
A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand

If you are thinking of going to Thailand to watch birds then you will need this book to help you when you are there.

It is far from perfect but this is still the most up-to-date guide to Thailand's birds available in English, even though many species have been added to the Thai list since its first publication.

This older print is far better than the newer Princeton Press edition (which had no updates, it was just a new print run) which is littered with confusing printing errors.

Updated: 06/08/2013, nickupton
 
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blackspanielgallery on 07/24/2015

Great images

Seelyon on 06/21/2015

I've been to Thailand several times now and just love it, such a beautiful country and a mixture of things to photo (nature, city and temples). Love the photos here.

nickupton on 05/03/2013

Thanks Belinda. I meant to include a section about the camera and forgot!!!!!! Thanks for reminding me, I will add it.

belinda342 on 05/03/2013

What an incredible tour! And your $250 digital camera most definitely did you proud. Awesome pictures! Thank you so much for sharing this. By the way, I would be very interested in learning more about your camera. A lot of people might just be in the market for a good, reasonably priced camera. And the pictures truly do speak a 1000 words...or more.

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