Thursday, January 24, 2008

24th January, 2008: Huai Krong Krai Royal Forestry Project

I had half a day free today, so decided to make an early morning trip up toward Chiang Rai to a place where wild Green Peafowl are regularly seen. Getting up at 5.30am was easier than breaking out of the guest house (with motorbike), but I eventually managed it without setting off any alarms!

I underestimated the temperature pre-dawn on a bike, and by the time I arrived at the project area my teeth were chattering badly! Stopping to get some warmth back into my body, I found the roadside surprisingly full of birds - Jays, drongos, Puff-throated Babblers and Dusky Warblers all over the place.

As the first rays of sun hit the trees I came across a flock of Rosy Minivets - great to get a good look at this species after seeing that one in northern Malaysia last January.

My directions to the peafowls weren't terribly specific. I knew I had to find the small 'zoo' of animal cages, and with the help of a local person I eventually found it. I don't usually enjoy zoos but this one was rather fun. There was a large herd of wild boar, the adults of which were enclosed, but the piglets were running helter-skelter all over the place! The whole place is located within the forest, so the habitat for these and other animals looks surprisingly natural.

A cute wild boar piglet!

The wild Green Peafowl seem drawn to the caged ones, whether to gloat or get them out I'm not sure. Anyway, all around the forest where the zoo was there were several flocks of wild and wary peafowl.

Green Peafowl was high on my list of birds I really wanted to see, and I wasn't disappointed. Seeing the males perched high in the trees, looking like gigantic archeopterixes, was an unforgettable sight.

Nice bird - shame about the fence and background!

Seeing them fly, trailing their enormous tail behind, was just wild! These were so nearly good pictures!

A walk in the dry forest around the zoo produced a few birds, some more Rosy Minivets, a juv Violet Cuckoo and a small flock of Black-naped Monarchs were the highlights.

Before leaving at 11am I visited a small reservoir that had many hundreds of Lesser Tree Ducks roosting on it.

The lake edge was quite lively, with Stripe-throated Bulbuls, a Green-billed Malkoha, and this solitary Blue-bearded Bee-eater, croaking like a gecko!

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