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Khao Yai NP Thailand May 2017

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Fabulous shots of the broadbill.

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When I got back to the resort at nearly 9 pm, I felt quite sore after my overloading myself in the forest and carrying around the lens and camera all day. But fortunately it was just fatigue (I think I was so grumpy about the night drive because of that too) and next morning I was fine. We left at the same time on beautiful sunny morning (we should have been out earlier in this weather I thought) and agreed our first target would be the Great Hornbill nest that we had not had luck with the day before.


We were either very lucky or a minute late, depending on your perspective. One of the hornbills was feeding the chick as we arrived. So we had a very quick look.






Now the hornbill was gone after a minute, we had to decide to stay and hope one or both came back, or to try for something else. We decided to stay when we saw the chick moving around and sticking its bill out. It didn't seem to be satisfied with its breakfast.


this is cropped and brightened very significantly so that you can see the nest action. It also shows what I hadn't noticed the first day - the nest has been repaired or partially created by hand of man. Since it is in a national park I am sure there is a good reason for this but I didn't ask at the time and then forgot to do so. :( It may be to do with the tree being beside the road or perhaps a branch came down in a storm and they decided to replace it. Maybe the BBC did it!!




Anyway chick and parents seemed content with the arrangement. Here is the tree by the way - the nest hidden by another branch from this angle, but is about half way up.





We waited and waited. Others came and went. In addition to a record of the tree I also tried to create some busy bokeh with a not very cooperative Black-breasted Bulbul. It's not bad at all. (This was more due to boredom than scientific rigour, I should confess).





After nearly an hour in the sun, in the shade of the car, or across the road in the cool forest (I could afford that as I was set up on a tripod so all I had to do was run across the road when we heard the birds and press the shutter) we started to hear the birds quite loud. they were coming. It still took another 10 minutes but eventually there they were.


Land on the branch, regurgitate there and then hop up was the first bird's method.







Then I ran up the road to get a better angle, as the light was no longer right from where we were - too much contrast. The new angle was closer too.






The male regurgitated on the perch and fed immediately. Nuts and a tiny lizard were on the menu.















The male left directly after feeding but the female stuck around to preen.





So a decent start to the day, albeit at the cost of a long wait. Now, with the bluer skies and stronger light, time to find some gibbons.


On the way, we passed the broadbill nest again. We stopped to have another look and take a couple of shots, although the birds were not cooperative.


The only reason I post this at all is that it emphasises the cartoonish appearance of the bird from certain angles - and the "helmet".








Unfortunately there were no gibbon sounds this morning. Not promising. However, we found a couple of the regular visitors Jay knows standing by the side of the road and they had heard some and were waiting to see if they could spot them. We all did, but at a significant distance and through gaps in the trees only. One decent look at a black one and then it was just moving branches.





Jay went off to check out some other spots, leaving me to wait to see if these ones would come closer. After an hour neither of us had had any luck, No gibbons this morning.


An Oriental Pied Hornbill came to feed on the tree we thought the gibbons might come to, but it was careful to keep plenty of branches between it and us.





So it was time for morning coffee at the visitor center and then try again before lunch. For the afternoon we had already planned to walk a path by a river than might deliver crocodile and water dragon. I again took my coffee for a walk and found some things to contemplate and shoot. The visitors center was much busier today and there was nothing on the grounds itself except for the butterflies... here with an ant.





However by looking across the river there were still things to see. A cormorant was fishing and then hopped up on a branch to bask and call.





And my monitor was back, although unable to fish as freely due to the number of people. I spied it making reconnaissance, but by the time I got down to the river via a route that would not alarm it, the hunt had been abandoned and it was heading back into the forest.








Still, although stalking the monitor was unsuccessful it got me in a much better position for a shot of another cormorant.






The Sambar Deer were there of course.





Jay met someone just coming in from looking for gibbons. Not a sound. So we changed plans and went to check out the grasslands and some areas that were reliable for nothing but gave a chance of Gaur and Wild Boar or something new. Long shot on a public holiday with traffic around, but worth a shot. Unfortunately about 10 minutes in it began to rain.


Nothing on the grasslands but people recreating and some macaques foraging - very wary too in the long grass.





To cut a long story short we drive for 90 minutes, heard a barking deer (Muntjac) and some wild boar running, but saw nothing at all. So, we headed to lunch near where we would be taking the walk that afternoon. As soon as we finished lunch the rain started to pour - really heavy stuff.


I made use of the rain by taking my new raincover for a test drive on my camera (in full waterproofs this time). Seemed to work well once I got used to it. We were waiting for the rain to stop because in the rain there was no chance we were going to see any water reptiles and for everything after the rain would be best. Also, it would scare off the day trippers a bit and we'd have the forest more or less to ourselves.


Eventually it stopped and we took a 90 minute walk down a path to the river, along the bank and then back. It would have been a bit short usually, but with it being so slippery underfoot it was just about right. No crocodiles or water dragons, so in a way it was a failure again (we'd used up our luck with the hornbills maybe) but we did see a few things of interest. However, it was so humid in the forest after the rain. I think I actually ended up wetter than the day before, but this time from the inside.


It was dark in there but this is what we saw.


Two Blue-winged Lanternflies




A Golden Web Orb Spider weaving repairs after the rain.





A Many-lined Sun Skink





A green pit viper - I believe Vogels, but we didn't want to ask it to show its belly and anyway I am told pit vipers are very difficult to identify if they don't have pronounced coloured stripes.





Macaques feeding on mangos and drying off in the sun.








A bit of bullying and chasing going on too.





And a pill millipede of some kind.





After we got back and I got myself packed up it was nearly 5 and time to head back. We tried a couple of likely spots for something on the way, but no luck until we found about 20 macaques next to the road, probably hoping for handouts. We couldn't stop anyway as it was on a bend, so that goes unrecorded.


In the end I was very reluctant to leave, but I think 2 days is about right unless you get into some serious hiking. I'm keen to try again away from public holidays.

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Oops, the bulbul should be black-crested, not black-breasted. Also I should mention I think the pit viper was a youngster. One day I will proof-read properly before I post. One day. :)

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Nice variety and photos! I love the viper and the smaller critters, but I hope we'll get to see the monkeys and elephant(s). Plus some birds, of course :)

Glad to hear you think it's worth a visit, and then a repeat. Thanks for posting this.

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@@pault thanks so much for bringing an absolutely unknown piece of earth closer to me. The Great Hornbill pics are so nice. An amazing bird I only saw on times in a zoo. Safaritalk brings every day nature around the globe in my living room and give me ideas of new travel destinations. I hope we'll have a few more years to see a bit more from this wonderful world.

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Great shots of the Hornbills feeding the chicks - well worth the wait I would think. The skink isbeautiful.

A really enjoyable report with great photos from your new lens!

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  • 5 weeks later...

I just realised I forgot to add the last part of this (and to say thank you!). Since this was kind of a trip to try out the new lens, I meant to finish with a quick summary of final impressions. Not a review - just things I noted and others might find interseting or useful.


The 400/4 is great for this kind of walk-some/drive-some photography and is definitely light enough to take on long and diffciult hikes too, although it sin't featherweight together with a camer body. The picture quality seems almost on/ on a par with the other big white Canon primes (that's lens trests talking but I was also impressed, without being able to offer comparisons Canon shooters would accept) and it is a fast, smooth, silent operator with all the bells and whistles you would expect for the money. In addition to the weight thing, it is really well balanced for hand-holding, since much of the heavy glass is not right at the froint. On a body it  is still front heavu but less than I would expect. This means there is proportinately less strain on your left arm and wrist. I'd stress it is not so light that it can be handheld in all cirdcumsances - unless you have strong arms and very steady hands. As mnetioned minimum focus distance is an issue given it is only 400mm, but  you can get around that to some extent  by using a teleconvertor. (the II version works great on this with only a slight deterioration in performance). I haven't had any problems with the bokeh yet. There is weirdness in the bokeh balls if you look closely enough, but not enough to notice in most shots you would take.I should do more long grass shots to check though. Bird photographers might want to have a look at that more closely and make theror own judgment,since it can create a kind of ghosting of OOF branches, but for me it's fine.. Anyway, it is just what I wanted and I am very happy I decided to buy it rather than the 500/4.

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Edit: The III (3) version of the teleconvertor is what works very well. Oops (again).

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This lens really delivered for you, great pictures! And thanks for all the gear details.

I'll have to do with my 300 zoom w/out the extender, as they are not compatible. But hopefully that will be enough...

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