Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

June 19, 2012

Prachuap Khiri Khan

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — steve_happ @ 2:28 pm

Heading towards Bangkok.

This morning I got on the bus from Ranong to Prachuap Khiri Khan. It took nearly six hours to go about three hundred kilometers. We were going really slow, trolling for customers. Anyway, I made it to Prachuap Khiri Khan, which is on the eastern coast of the Thailand Isthmus and the wind is blowing off-shore now.

Khao Lommuak
Prachuap Khiri Khan beach looking towards Khao Lommuak

In the afternoon, I went walking with my 50mm lens. I thought I might do some scenery shots. This is from the fishing pier.

Fishing boat 1
A fishing boat

This is a fishing boat tied up at the fishing pier.

Fishing boats 2
More fishing boats

Some more fishing boats looking towards the west and inland. Burma should be over those hills somewhere.

Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus)

I am kicking myself now that I did not take my big lens. But this is not too bad considering I shot it on they 50mm. I will take that, thanks. Both sexes are the same and therefore have the similar tail extension length. There is a lot of brown on the throat and belly.

Fishing boats 3
Fishing boats in a creek

I walked along this river branch which went into a whole bunch of mangroves. There were oyster farms scattered throughout this estuary. I did also see a White-bellied Sea-eagle and a couple of Little Herons hanging around the oyster leases.

June 18, 2012

Koh Chang Day 2

Filed under: Birds — steve_happ @ 9:23 am

Koh Chang – South Thailand Birding

Day 2 of Koh Chang. I got up early and headed into the swamp, hoping to get a photo of that elusive hornbill – my nemesis bird. I saw a couple straight away at the edge of the swamp in the fir trees but they raced off before I could get a bead on them.

Oriental Pied Hornbill
Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris)

Finally I spotted one up in a tree the other side of the swamp and I managed to get some photos of it. I am not sure if this one is a male or female. The female Oriental Pied Hornbill has a “smaller casque with more extensive dark areas” (Robson).

Oriental Pied Hornbill
Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris)

This one took off but I just managed to get a shot of him or her in flight as it was heading into the trees. Later on, I met some Thai people, Mr Dam and his wife and they made me a cup of coffee. Mr Dam has a farm with coconuts, cashews and rubber.

Getting the Rubber
Getting the rubber

This is the rubber dripping from the tree into a bowl.

Rubber tree
Rubber trees milking.

They cut grooves around the rubber tree and the sap comes out and gets funneled into containers.

blue butterfly
Ceylon Blue Glassy Tiger (Ideopsis similis)

There were heaps of different butterflies around and I think a butterfly nerd would have a field day here. (What do you call people who go chasing butterflies? )

dark butterfly

This one was huge, almost as big as a lot of birds.

Eurasian Collared-Dove
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)

At first I thought this was just a Spotted Dove, but I had a second look and realised that it might be a type of collared dove. It seemed to be a Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) because it has yellow eyes and the collaring was that of the collared dove. Then I checked their range. It is a common resident throughout South-east Asia but the Red-collared Dove is vagrant to South Thailand. My assumption is that this is a Eurasian Collared-Dove. ha ha.

adult Brahminy Kite
Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus

This adult Brahminy Kite was roosting by a creek. Later on, three Brahminy Kites came in low over beach near my hut. Maybe their territory could be the beach up to end of paperbark swamp ? More assumptions.

Getting to Koh Chang

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — steve_happ @ 9:03 am

Koh Chang

Everybody Koh Chang tonight! Everybody have fun tonight! (That was a bit of an allusion for the eighties music fans.) Now, on with the story. To get to Koh Chang, I first caught a songthaew from the market and got dropped off at the Koh Chang/Koh Phayam pier, where I waited for more than an hour.

Loading the ice
Loading the boat with blocks of ice

A pickup came to the pier loaded with blocks of ice. So then the guy chopped them a bit to make them fit in the bags and then they put them on trolleys and loaded them into the boats.

Ranong Harbour
Careened in the harbour me hearties

These boats looked great all stuck together and waiting for high tide so they can get off this mud-flat. Finally our long-tail boat got under way but half-way out into the bay, the motor conks out, so it looks like they had to bleed the diesel fuel line because it was sucking in air. Luckily one of the crew managed to chuck an anchor over-board because we were drifting onto an island. Finally they got it going and off we went.

Koh Chang Pier
Arriving at Koh Chang

We finally arrived at the pier at Koh Chang and everyone formed a chain and unloaded the cargo of wood and rice and half-melted ice. I was glad to get off that tub, I tell you. I had visions of spending the night on some deserted island in Burma. doh!

My Bungalow at Koh Chang
My bungalow by the beach

Well all’s well that ends well I suppose. Here is my bungalow about 20 meters from the beach. There is hardly anyone here and there is a nice breeze blowing to cool things down. It is pretty great, actually.

female Brown-throated Sunbird
female Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis)

In the afternoon I wandered up past the monastery and through this amazing paperbark swamp. I missed getting a photo of a hornbill, but see next installment of this adventure to see how that turns out.

 juvenile Brahminy Kite
juvenile Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus)

At first I thought this was a Black-eared Kite and I got all excited but after looking at the book, I thought it might be some kind of swamp harrier, but I realised no – it has a rounded tail. It is a juvenile Brahminy Kite. doh! – sucked in. There were four of them, two adults and a pair of juveniles. One of them looks older than the other because the typical brown and white belly is more developed on it. This one is much younger and has the brownish striated belly and the white patches under the wings. I also happened to spot an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) in the same area of the swamp.

Ranong Day 2

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — steve_happ @ 8:12 am

Ranong, South Thailand Birding.


In the afternoon, I walked upstream along the river towards the food market. I spotted an Asian Koel, Zebra Dove, Common Myna and Yellow-vented Bulbul. Nothing much of any significance. I kept following the river upstream until I came to the hot springs.


The next morning I went up the hill towards the palace. In a flowering tree I spotted Brown-throated Sunbirds and Asian Glossy Starlings.

 Lineated Barbet
Lineated Barbet (Megalaima lineata)

The Lineated Barbet (Megalaima lineata) has a “thick pale bill, dark brown head and breast with broad whitish streaks, yellow orbital skin.” (Robson).

Green-billed Malkoha
Green-billed Malkoha (Rhopodytes tristis)

The Green-billed Malkoha (Rhopodytes tristis) has a much longer tail than other malkohas with red facial skin and a green bill. On the hill I spotted White-throated Kingfisher and Large-billed Crow.

Yellow-vented Bulbul
Yellow-vented Bulbul

As usual, the Yellow-vented Bulbuls pulled off something exciting to get their name up in lights, again.

Zebra Doves
Zebra Doves

A couple of Zebra Doves on the hill with the old reservoir on it. We call them Peaceful Doves in Australia 😉

blue-arsed butterfly
blue-arsed butterfly

And a butterfly with a distinctive rear blue end. I have mis-named him for my own puerile amusement.

Bird list for Ranong

Asian Koel
Common Myna
Lineated Barbet (Megalaima lineata)
Brown-throated Sunbird
Asian Glossy Starling
Green-billed Malkoha (Rhopodytes tristis)
White-throated Kingfisher
Large-billed Crow
Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata)
Scaly-breasted Munia

June 14, 2012

Brown-throated Sunbird

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — steve_happ @ 6:34 am

Ranong, South Thailand.

I caught the bus this morning from Phang Nga and arrived at Ranong a bit after three in the afternoon. I jumped on a songthae into town and hopped off at the market, where there was supposed to be a couple of cheap hotels. Luckily I bumped into a Spanish girl and she showed me the way to the hotel.

Brown-throated Sunbird
Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis)

Late in the afternoon I walked along the river and the first thing I saw was this Brown-throated Sunbid perched on a wire near the river having a scratch.

Brown-throated Sunbird
Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis)

This is Definitely a male Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis). He has the brownish head-sides and throat with yellow from lower breast to vent. They are common in coastal Southern Thailand. The Red-throated Sunbird is out of range. They are the two most likely suspects for this bird. They both have a red eye and yellow breast.

Brown-throated Sunbird
Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis)

He stayed there for ages and I was able to take heaps of fantastic shots. I have been trying to get some decent shots of these birds for weeks but have failed miserably until today.

Brown-throated Sunbird
Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis)

I cannnot help myself. Here is another one.

eclipse male Brown-throated Sunbird
Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis)

Last one I promise you. This one is definitely an eclipse male as the colours are starting to go a bit ratty and all over the place.

Scaly-breasted Munia
Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata)

I have been seeing these birds since I first started my South-East Asia Birding Odyssey in Bali. I am pretty sure they were the first birds I photographed after I stepped off the plane in sweltering Denpasar. I am pretty sure this is the nominate species because it does not have the yellowish-olive rump and tail, chestnut-tinged head-sides of race topela. Also it does not have the bolder blacker scaling of race subundulata.

Scaly-breasted Munia
Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata)

The Scaly-breasted Munia prefers a habitat of cultivated land, scrub and secondary growth up to 1900 meters. They usually group in flocks. They are common throughout South-East Asia. They breed all year and their nest is a ball with slightly spouted side-entrance. I always see them eating grass seeds.

June 12, 2012

Phang Nga Birding

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — steve_happ @ 5:29 am

South Thailand Bird Photography.

There are a lot more birds here in Phang Nga. I took the mini-van from Ao Nang but had to go back into Krabi and wait there for an hour. I could have organised it all myself. It would have been quicker and cheaper. In the afternoon I went to the Tapan Heaven and Hell Cave.

Barn Swallow
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica tyleri)

This Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica tyleri) is an Adult non-breeding. You can tell by the pale rufous below, and it is seasonally lacking tail-streamers. I also spotted some Yellow-vented Bulbul, Spotted Dove, Common Myna and Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) being quite common in town.

Scaly-breasted Munia
Scraly-breasted Munia

There were a flock of about 10-20 Scaly-breasted Munia on the football field feeding on the grass seeds. In the trees near the cave i saw a female Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum) which are a common resident throughout South-east Asia. I also spotted a sunbird which I could not identify and a Scarlet Minivet (Pericrocotus speciosus).

Mystery, ID needed.
Mystery bird

This bird is a mystery, possibly something like a shrike-thrush? It has hook on the bill and is very young.


Dark-necked Tailorbird
Dark-necked Tailorbird (Orthotomus atrogularis)

The next morning I headed back to the cave and luckily got this shot of a Dark-necked Tailorbird (Orthotomus atrogularis).

Red-throated Barbet
Red-throated Barbet (Megalaima mystacophanos)

The Red-throated Barbet (Megalaima mystacophanos) is a Common resident in South Thailand. This is the male. The red under the chin is diagnostic.

Red-throated Barbet
female Red-throated Barbet (Megalaima mystacophanos)

The barbets were feeding on the fruit on these trees. They looked like there was plenty of food for them.

The Chook and the Statue
A chook

I could not resist this photo of a chicken/rooster perched on a branch and looking straight at one of the statues. I think this might be the heaven section.

Squirrel eating

The squirrels were feeding on the fruit in the trees as well.

red faced monkey
red-faced monkey

I think he was a bit embarassed. He also had a red arse and balls. Very weird.

Spotted Dove
Spotted Dove

I was mainly interested in the tail feathers of this Spotted Dove. They stand out really well in this photo.

Bird list for Phang Nga

Yellow-vented Bulbul
Spotted Dove
Common Myna
Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)
Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum)
Scarlet Minivet (Pericrocotus speciosus)
Oriental Magpie-robin (Copsychus saularis)
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica tyleri)
Dark-necked Tailorbird (Orthotomus atrogularis)
Red-throated Barbet (Megalaima mystacophanos)
Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensis)

June 10, 2012

Krabi to Ao Nang

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — steve_happ @ 4:17 am

South Thailand Birding.

Yesterday afternoon I was able to get out and go for a walk between rain showers. I headed off towards the Krabi river-mouth and ended up at Thara Park. I spotted a few Paddyfield Pipit (Anthus rufulus) on the soccer field but they were too far away for decent shots. Once I approached them, they would just fly away from me. doh!

Striated Swallow
Striated Swallow (Cecropis striolata)

I took a photo of this Striated Swallow (Cecropis striolata) on the wires going over the road near the park. I also took some really bad photos of a Pied Fantail (Rhipidura javanica), none of which are any good. He kept hopping behind branches and would not let me get a clear shot.

Long-tail boat in deluge
Long-tail boat caught in torrential rain

On the way back, a big black rain cloud came over and it bucketed down, catching all the long-tail ferries out in the pouring rain, taking their passengers over to the island.

Ao Nang

This morning I jumped on a songthae, which is like a bemo in Indonesia, and stopped at Ao Nang, further north up the coast.

Andaman Islands
Andaman Islands

It is heaps more expensive here than Krabi. Almost double the price for nearly everything, even food. I will probably only stay here a night. I think one of the above islands is the James Bond island. Not sure which movie.

Karst Headland
Limestone cliffs

There are heaps of what I think are called Karsts sticking up from the surrounding countryside. I am pretty sure they are limestone.

Aonang Beach
Beach at Ao Nang

This is what all the tourists come for. I do not have the heart to tell them the beaches at home are heaps better.

View From My Window
View from my hotel room

This is the view from my hotel room. It cost me a whole $10 a night! This is looking eastwards, away from the coast.

female Brown-throated Sunbird
female Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis)

This afternoon I went birding to see what I could find. I did not see much at all and it was very ordinary to say the least. All I got to see was this female Brown-throated Sunbird behind the massage village and some type of bulbul which I cannot identify.

Birds List for Krabi and Aonang

Paddyfield Pipit (Anthus rufulus)
Pied Fantail (Rhipidura javanica)
Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus)
Striated Swallow (Cecropis striolata)
female Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis)

South Thailand Birding Resources

Brown-throated Sunbird Photos

Krabi birds checklist

June 8, 2012

Krabi Birding

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — steve_happ @ 8:23 am

First Day Birding in Thailand.

It has been ages since I posted some bird photos. It has been raining for the past three days and this morning was the first sun-shine I had seen for ages. To celebrate, I walked along the river at Krabi and took some photos.

Mudskipper vs Crab
Mudskipper vs Crab

This monumental battle to rival Alien vs Predator was taking place right in the mud beneath the floating restaurant. I do not know who triumphed because I rushed off to take some photos of a Collared Kingfisher and some Zebra Doves.

Large-billed Crow
Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos)

I had not seen a Large-billed Crow since Hokkaido in Japan. This one flew along the side of the river screeching at the Pacific Swallows who were flying too close to him. I know how he feels. I have days like that too.

Mud digger
Raking for sea-shells

Further on up the river, there were a couple of guys raking the mud flats for what I assumed were some kind of sea-shells like cockles. But I don’t rightly know for sure.

White-bellied Sea-eagle statue
White-bellied Sea-eagle statue

There was a big statue of a Mud Crab and a White-bellied Sea-eagle by the side of the river. I thought they were great. The White-bellied Sea-eagle (Nok Awk) breeds in Krabi in the cold season. Their territory is around the Kanaab Nam cliff. For the people of Krabi, the White-bellied Sea-eagle symbolises comprehensive knowledge, self-sufficiency and consideration for others. “Fly High, Look Far and Reach out Goal”. Worthy ideals, indeed.

Common Tailorbird
Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius)

There is a board-walk up the river a bit. I walked along it and took this photo of what I thought might be an Ashy Tailorbird (Orthotomus ruficeps). But no, on further investigation it turned out to be a Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius). The Common Tailorbird only has a red crown and is olive on the upperparts and pale below. The Common Tailorbird has a long tail which the Ashy Tailorbird lacks.

Common Myna
Common Myna

After the river, I walked around the grounds of a Buddhist temple, which might be called Wat Kao. I took some photos of a White-Throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) and got harassed by the hordes of dogs that guard the monks. I included the photo above because it has all the features described by Robson. “Brown with greyish-black hood, whitish vent and yellow bill and facial skin; large white patch on primary coverts and bases of primaries, white underwing-coverts.

black butterfly
Great Mormon (Papilio memnon)

Bird List for Krabi

Oriental Magpie-robin
Common Myna
Eurasian Tree-sparrow
Rock Dove
Peaceful Dove (Geopelia striata)
Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris)
White-Throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)
Pacific Swallow
Large-billed Crow
Black-crowned Night-heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius)

June 3, 2012


Filed under: Birds — steve_happ @ 2:44 pm

Bee-eaters – Merops Genus

Merops is a large genus of bee-eaters, which are characterised by richly coloured plumage, slender bodies and usually elongated central tail feathers. They predominantly eat insects, especially bees, wasps and hornets, which are caught in the air. Most species are found in Africa and Asia but others occur in southern Europe, Australia, and New Guinea. There are more than twenty species of bee-eaters. So far I have photographed three. 🙂

Rainbow Bee-eater
male Rainbow Bee-eater

This photo of a male Rainbow Bee-eater (Merops ornatus) is from Flat Rock, Ballina. NSW. The male has the long tail, whilst the female has not. Rainbow Bee-eaters are common throughout southern Australia during summer and migrate north during the winter as far as New Guinea and the southern islands of Indonesia.

Chestnut-headed Bee-eater
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater

This Chestnut-headed Bee-eater (Merops leschenaulti ) was taken at Gilimanuk, Bali, Indonesia. The Chestnut-headed Bee-eater does not have the elongated tail feathers of its relatives. The Javan sub-species, M. l. quinticolor, differs in having the whole space from the bill down to the black pectoral band pure yellow without any chestnut, and in having the tail blue. I have a feeling that this one is that sub-species.

Blue-throated Bee-eater
Blue-throated Bee-eater

This photo of the Blue-throated Bee-eater is from Batu 4, Port Dickson, Malaysia. Bee-eaters are gregarious. They form colonies by nesting in burrows tunnelled into the side of sandy banks, such as those that have collapsed on the edges of rivers. Going into Taman Negara in Malaysia, I saw many of these holes in the sides of the river. I have also seen bee-eaters in Australia in the Hunter Valley with nests in the creek banks near Wallabadah Cemetery.

Little Green Bee-eater
Little Green Bee-eater ( (Merops orientalis) .

This Little Green Bee-eater was from Mui Ne, Vietnam. I did see another one in Stung Treng, Cambodia.

Blue-tailed Bee-eater
Blue-tailed Bee-eater ( Merops philippinus )
I saw these ones in Thailand.

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