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Day 3

           Cat Tien


First port of call for the morning was a feeding station not too distant from the first of the day before. In fact it seemed very close to the track through the park headquarters, although at this time of the morning not much human activity could be detected from it. The 2 hours we spent there were probably the quietest of our hide work so far, with much of the time watching regular Abbott’s Babbler and some warring White-rumped Shamas, with the female taking time off outside of the battles to collect nesting material. Pre-recorded call of Blue-winged Pitta was played, since at least 3 were calling in the area. They weren’t too bothered to approach our hideout, with the closest calls one seen through the gaps in the plastic sheeting above and one landing and hiding in one of the trees to our front. Things sparked up somewhat just before we were leaving when a Purple-naped Sunbird was alongside a couple of Little Spiderhunters. Perhaps one of the highlights again was the chorus of Buff-cheeked Gibbons which seemed to start at bang on 7am. One other mammal of note – a Northern Smooth-tailed Treeshrew fidgeting around to the rear of the feeding area, just behind some of the vegetation.

After breakfast the same pattern as yesterday was repeated. Wander a short way along the main track in the opposite direction to the morning, and veer off right this time to another feeding station with hide. It didn’t seem quite as hot as yesterday morning, and also without the high humidity, which made the stay relatively more comfortable. Corn dispatched to the open area of the hide, we settled on the rather hard plastic seats again to stare out of the slits in the plastic sheeting. The 3 hours this time were quite good, interspersed with times where there was little activity. However, amongst the first birds to appear were a pair of Buff-breasted Babblers, looking for all the world initially like the Abbott’s from earlier. They also seemed to have the grey supercilium, but a closer look found a slimmer, darker bill, and longer tail. As usual, White-rumped Shamas were regular here, and even had a nest under construction in a hollow stump just outside of the hide entrance. Improving on the poorish views of the previous evening, a pair of Puff-throated Babblers became regulars, always sticking close together. In addition to the pair of Indochinese Striped Squirrels, a Northern Smooth-tailed Treeshrew was much more showy than the one seen earlier. Common Tailorbirds were regularly heard and also very active, but one was pinned down later on. Half way through the session, and the hoped for Germain’s Peacock-Pheasant made an appearance, along with a female Red Junglefowl and chick. A few skittish passers through were Racket-tailed Treepie, Green-billed Malkoha, Greater Coucal and White-breasted Kingfisher, with a Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher preferring to stay behind the hide. An Orange-breasted Trogon was calling tantalisingly close by, but stayed out of sight as it moved around. Another occurrence which repeated itself was a very good bird as we left the hide for lunch. After a brief Large Woodshrike, a Rufous Woodpecker was seen in high trees along the main road to headquarters.

Abbott's Babbler Buff-breasted Babbler Common Tailorbird
Abbott's Babbler Buff-breasted Babbler Common Tailorbird
Germain's Peacock-Pheasant Large Woodshrike
Germain's Peacock-Pheasant Large Woodshrike
Puff-throated Babbler Oriental Magpie-Robin Siberian Blue Robin
Puff-throated Babbler Oriental Magpie-Robin Siberian Blue Robin female
Smooth-tailed Treeshrew White-rumped Shama
Smooth-tailed Treeshrew White-rumped Shama

Post lunch we again declined the kind thought of a midday siesta, and instead headed back to the same feeding station as this time yesterday. Quang had already popped out to unlock it and put out some corn, so everything was all go when we arrived. We didn’t have to wait until later in the session for things to kick off this time, since today there seemed to be a constant presence of birds to feast on. A trio of White-crested Laughingthrushes followed us in, to join the usual Stripe-throated Bulbuls and White-rumped Shamas. Not long after the Siberian Blue Robin appeared, but strangely this was the only time it was to be seen today. Stars of the show was a pair of Siamese Firebacks which deigned to show a few times. The male seemed more reluctant than the female, who stayed longer each time. The pair of Green-legged Partridges had added one to the clan to be a trio. While Puff-throated Babbler weren’t to be seen here yesterday, they were much more regular today. A Greater Racket-tailed Drongo and Racket-tailed Treepie were occasionals. A couple of the now known species proved a little puzzling at first. 3 Streak-eared Bulbuls had all the credentials apart from the streak ears, although very close inspection saw a hint of this. They were of course juvenile Streak-eared. 3 Babblers were much more difficult. All 3 had the shape and jizz of Buff-breasted, but were all different colours. The darker one had been bathing so looked even darker, but was fairly well nailed on. Another was a more washed out version, while the third looked almost ghostly in comparison, which accentuated the long legs to almost Siberian Blue Robin standards. It turned out that our guess was correct – all Buff-breasted Babblers, with the lighter coloured ones juveniles. Another newbie for the site was Lesser Yellownape, which unfortunately kept towards the back of the clearing.

Plan for the late afternoon and early evening was to walk the main track towards Elephant Hills slowly, birding along the way, and double back for nocturnals. It was good to finally leave the leach socks behind for once – they’re not particularly comfortable in high heat and humidity. The first section of the walk, just beyond the ferry dock, was very productive. Golden-fronted Leafbirds and Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker complimented the more usual fare of Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Bronzed Drongo, and Greater Coucal, with Common Flameback thrown in for good measure. Once we hit the denser forest, the birding became more difficult. We walked a few miles there and a few miles back, and what would have been a bit of a fruitless effort was partly saved by half decent views of one of 4 calling Blue-winged Pittas, a couple of Ochraceous Bulbuls, and the almost constant curtain calls of White-rumped Shamas. As dusk fell, various owl and nightjar calls were played, mainly without success, but the walk was well and truly elevated by not one but two Great-eared Nightjars flying around above us.

Greater Racket-tailed drongo
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike Black-hooded Oriole Greater Coucal
Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike Black-hooded Oriole Greater Coucal
Siamese Fireback Lesser Yellownape
Siamese Fireback Lesser Yellownape

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Content Introduction Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Day 8 Species List Text only