For those with any knowledge of pittas, KNC is synonymous with one species: Gurney's Pitta. Believed to be extinct until it was rediscovered in a Bangkok bird market in 1986 and traced to this lowland forest remnant by Phil Round, the site has become a Mecca for birders on the Asian circuit ever since. Now, my turn had come, and on the flight south I got in the mood for seeing this amazing bird by reading the first chapter of The Jewel Hunter, in which Chris Gooddie begins his year-long quest to see all of the world's pittas at KNC.
Having breakfasted while it was still dark, we headed off to the forest and arrived before the sun had fully emerged. We were six in number, which was at least three too many for the viewing arrangements Yotin had in mind, so we split into two groups. By mutual consent the non-photographers went first, while those of us toting lenses figured that once they had had their fill, we'd take our time with the birds. It was a good plan on paper, especially for the first group - when they finally emerged a couple of hours later, they'd seen not only Gurney's Pitta, but also Banded and Blue-winged! Would they still be there for us?
|For such a dazzlingly beautiful bird, Gurney's Pitta can be surprisingly elusive in the shadows of the forest.|
|Orange-headed Thrush could be a show-stealer in its own right were it not for the jewel-like company it keeps.|
|No less captivating than the thrush, despite its diminutive size, was this male Orange-breasted Flowerpecker.|
|Pitta-finder general Yotin Meekaeo in action at Khao Nor Chuchi.|