Khao Dinsor, Thailand
More than 200,000 raptor migrants
Chestnut headed Bee eater
By Bob DeCandido
ed center, thailand
Artist rendering of the future Raptor Education and Research Center.
Juvenile female Shikra by Chukiat Nualsri
thailand view 2
The view from the raptor count site.
Another view -- incredible scenery!
eastern marsh harrier
Adult female Eastern Marsh Harrier by Bob DeCandido
Adult male Chinese Sparrowhawk by Bob DeCandido
View from the Khao Dinsor, Thailand, raptor count site. Photo by Mark James Pearson
Visit the Chumphon Facebook Page for daily migration updates
In early September 2010, the volunteers at Khao Dinsor began preliminary research to determine the type and number of raptor and non-raptor species that pass. Estimates came in that year at more than 200,000 raptors representing 26 species, including five accipiters, the highest number of accipiter species at any watch site in the world.
On October 18, 2010, a Black Eagle also was photographed, possibly the first record on migration in Thailand (as yet unconfirmed), and other highlights included flocks of 30 to 40 White-throated Needletail, once thought to be a rarity in Thailand.
This site boasts a strong base for local support, and has been supported financially by the local community. Significant work has been done to support birders and to boost eco-tourism, and with logistical help from Dr. Robert DeCandidio of New York--who also is a Hawk Mountain intern graduate--a systematic count continues and daily reports are shared online using Facebook.
With the light at your back throughout the day, birds are not only easy to see but also to photograph in spectacular color. Other species that pass include three species of bee-eater, Black Drongo, flocks of Ashy Minivet, Dollarbird and, once, even a pair of Wreathed Hornbills.
The Hawk Mountain Connection
Hawk Mountain intern graduate Bob DeCandido with young birders
Hawk Mountain intern graduate Robert DeCandido, PhD, (1985) has worked extensively with raptors in Thailand and has been instrumental in connecting young conservationists with Hawk Mountain and its conservation science internship program. Bob is currently working on a flight guide to raptors of the Far East, and has worked with other Hawk Mountain intern graduates including Tulsi Subedi (2010) and Surya Gurung (2003) both of Nepal, and Gankhuyag Purev-Ochir (2011) and Bolormunkh Erdenekluuand (2012) both of Mongolia. We look forward to continuing to build this force for raptor conservation in southeast Asia.
The Thai Raptor Group is also working with Hawk Mountain to form research and educational partnerships, and as a first step, Hawk Mountain has offered to train Thai students and others. The group also is in discussions with our friends at BirdLife International to have Khao Dinsor declared an Important Bird Area, and is partnering with the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand to develop an educational program about birds and the environment for the people of Chumphon province.
Getting started: A brief history at Khao Dinsor
Photo from June 2012--the Raptor Center opened in late October 2012
It was more than 10 years ago that Chukiat Nualsri discovered an overlook that would be ideal to monitor the southbound migration of raptors. Locally this area is called Khao Dinsor or "Pencil Hill" and lies close to the city of Chumphon.
It quickly became apparent that migrating raptors could be observed at close range from many different locations at Khao Dinsor. On subsequent visits, Nualsri had the same experience—many raptors of different species migrating close to the ridge.
He took action. The follow year he engaged the Thai Raptor Group to visit and watch the migrants, and all agreed the location is absolutely one of the best places to observe raptors in Thailand, if not in all of Asia.
Once he realized the significance, Chukiat Nualsri approached his village elders to discuss developing the site for education, tourism and bird migration research. Together they developed a plan, and with major funding from Governor Karan Supakitvilekakarn of Chumphon Province, wooden shelters were built to offer protection from the rain and sun, and a paved road was constructed from the main road to a level area.
This is where the Chumphon Raptor Center (opened in 2012) now offers educational programs and provides a jumping point for guided group and eco-tourist stops at Khao Dinsor. This is the first raptor center in all of Asia and a significant accomplishment for raptor conservation. Read Keith Bildstein's blog about the opening.
Plan a Visit to Khao Dinsor
Bob DeCandidio has done a wonderful job providing the resources below to help interested birders who wish to visit this fledgling watch site:
Photos of Thai Raptors and Thailand (landscapes and people):
Weather at Khao Dinsor (near the city of Chumphon):
Getting to Chumphon from Bangkok, you can fly:
(service starts 1 October - about 2000 baht one way - a great deal!)
Exchange Rate (Thai Baht vs US Dollar):
Great lodge to see birds near Kaeng Krachan National Park:
Contact Bob DeCandidio: firstname.lastname@example.org or 718-828-8262
Birder, blogger and traveler Mark James Pearson has visited the site. Read his blog post from the trip.