Sunday, December 18, 2011

Khao Dinsor, Thailand - late Oct & early Nov 2011 (pt 1)

juvenile Crested Serpent Eagle

As mentioned in previous posts, our planning ahead for upcoming stages of our trip remained (and remains) necessarily adaptable, and nowhere was this more valuable than in Thailand and Malaysia. Making the decision to head south from Bangkok first turned out to be a very good call, as the now infamous flooding worsened by the day in the northern half of the country, while we weathered nothing but steadily decreasing monsoon downpours increasingly replaced by sunshine and blue skies.

(older) Crested Serpent Eagle

Beyond there, and while kicking back in Malaysia, it became steadily evident that Bangkok - after weeks of emergency protection measures, often at the direct and tragic expense of communities beyond the city limits - was itself under serious threat of flooding. Hence, a domino effect on our schedule and a total rethink required.

Oriental Honey-buzzard

We monitored the situation further north as best we could; not easy when the Thai media contradicted itself on a daily (and sometimes more regular) basis regarding the potential and actual extent and severity of the flood, leaving its citizens as confused as more distant observers.

Black Kite - conversely a rare bird amongst the thousands of migrating raptors

We'd made various plans to spend time at reserves and national parks outside and (mostly) north of Bangkok during the latter part of October and early November, but as the days passed the plans went from possible, to unlikely, to snowball in hell.

Grey-faced Buzzard 

Far be it from us to mope, with our problems - confined to missing out on several special places and their birds - unmentionable alongside the tragedies playing out amidst the floods. With our time in Malaysia drawing to a close, it was back to the drawing board, and how best to utilise our remaining three weeks or so back over the border to the north.

Osprey - conversely another relative scarcity

Word from our Bangkok-based-but-recently-evacuated friends Neil and Eunice took care of any immediate decision-making troubles. They'd decamped to a small seaside village on the East (Gulf) coast, had found an extremely cheap and comfortable guest house a couple of minutes from the beach, and were planning on spending the next few days experiencing the epic raptor migration atop the nearby peak of Khao Dinsor; would we care to join them?

Black Baza - one of many thousands most mornings

A question that required asking just the once, and we'd soon made plans to reach the nearby town of Chumpon within 48 hours - involving a flight from Penang to Phuket, overnight in Phuket town, and then a marathon 12 hour bus journey north-east the following day.

(much more from Khao Dinsor to follow...)