Birding Bob (also known Dr. Robert DeCandido) send a report from Thailand. Birding Bob is a biologist who leads popular tours in Central Park. Here’s where his pictures are posted.
Thailand (mostly raptor) photos: Surprise Surprise…near this national park (Kaeng Krachan in Thailand), there is a very slow (dial-up) internet service. I can now send and receive messages albeit very slowly.
So, do you want to know about the 10 foot King Cobra that was within about five feet of me (I did not move – more on this is a second); or do you want to know about the Red-legged Crakes, Orange-headed Thrushes; Great Pitta, Mouse Deer and some others that I was watching from a blind? Well, the two stories really are one – let me begin by writing that two of the folks I know here approached a few local poachers to set up water holes (well the poachers had the water holes already set up – about seven), and my two friend promised to bring tourists and charge them money and pay the poachers a fee.
So on Wednesday afternoon a few minutes after I arrived, I found myself walking into the forest – and then sitting down in a fairly comfortable hide (= blind; there are about six hides near this first water hole). Not much happened from 2-4pm but then as the light got a bit dimmer, all sorts of birds began to arrive. The absolute highlight were the Red-legged Crakes who chased one another in and out of the water hole (about 18 inches wide by 6 inches wide by three inches deep – so not too big). Red-legged Crakes were previously believed to be rare here, but this eco-tourism/anti-poaching effort is making some discoveries too.
OK anyway, I am watching all this and enjoying it – including the Giant Pitta (I have to look up the common name – but it was a Pitta) – and all the squirrels and tree-shrews eating the Papaya and other fruits. And they come and fetch me at 6pm because it is almost dark – but good enough to find my way out. So on the following afternoon (Thursday), after my very favorable report, I return at the same time or thereabouts…and this is now the second part of the story.
It is 2:30pm, I am sitting quietly in my hide minding my own business…when way down the trail coming at me slowly is a big snake. I mean big…(I had heard that King Cobras had been seen and the advice was to just sit still and let them pass by). Well, the Cobra keeps coming toward me and my heart is pounding; I pick up two stones and plan an escape out the front or side depending upon which entrance the Cobra might use to get into the dark shelter. I can say with all honesty – right about then I wish it was a Tiger that was coming at me…But wait a second – the Cobra stops at the water hole and proceeds to drink for what seemed an eternity. All the birds were going nuts (including Black-naped Monarchs and a lone Racket-tailed Treepie).. Then the Cobra finishes drinking and continues toward me…now it is rearing up (and I am almost panic attacked at this point)…I am watching it taste the air about ten feet from me with not much more than some canvass and mesh between me and it. And of course a couple of holes for my camera and me to see through…To make a long story short – the cobra decides to make a left turn off the trail and climbs up some vines and disappears somewhere over my head…for all I know that Cobra could have spent the entire afternoon watching me (or tasting me via the air) from above.
I eventually calmed down and got some Orange-headed Thrush photos and a crake shot or two. No elephants or tigers yet – thank goodness.
Photo from Wikipedia