Thailand/Cambodia January 2015

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JAMAUGHN
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Thailand/Cambodia January 2015

Post by JAMAUGHN » February 2nd, 2015, 9:21 pm

My partner and I embarked on a long-planned trip to visit relatives in Thailand this January. This being my first trip to Asia, I was understandably excited about what I might see. Unfortunately, despite January being "the high season" it's a pretty low season for herps, and I was warned to expect only frogs, turtles, and lizards...which is basically how things panned out. Still, I was excited about even common things, since they were all new to me, and of course there was a lot of history, culture, and food to absorb as well. So, here's a post on what I experienced in SE Asia this past month. Fair warning to those familiar with the region...there's nothing much unusual here. I spent a lot more time in Bangkok than I'd have ordinarily wanted to, and my trips into more rural/wild terrain were short and hampered by the season. Fun was had despite these shortcomings, though.

The hotel we stayed in was near a small park, and several others were in easy walking distance. (Except for the whole crossing the street in Bangkok part.) So, that's where I headed most mornings, and a few evenings, to see what was around. Released turtles were plentiful:

ImageYellow-headed Temple Turtle, Hieremys annandalii by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageMalayan Snail-eating Turtle, Malayemys subtrijuga by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageSoutheast Asian Box Turtle, Cuora amboinensis by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageChinese Soft-shelled Turtle, Pelodiscus sinensis by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

...and, of course, there were Americans everywhere, basking in the warmth and sunlight:
ImageRed-eared Slider, Trachemys scripta elegans by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr


Various lizards were also common:

These first two were easy to find, but next to impossible to photograph. Sticking them in a jar for the few seconds it took to get a photo was the best solution I could come up with:

ImageBowring's Supple Skink, Lygosoma bowringii by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageShort-limbed Supple Skink, Lygosoma quadrupes by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageIndo-chinese Forest Lizard, Calotes mystaceus by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageOriental Garden Lizard, Calotes versicolor by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

One common species that I was very eager to see was the Water Monitor. They weren't hard to find, but they never got old, either. My first Monitor Lizards:

ImageImageImageCommon Water Monitor, Varanus salvator by J.J. Maughn, on Flickrr

Geckos were exceedingly common:

ImageFlat-tailed House Gecko, Hemidactylus patyurus by J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageCommon House Gecko, Hemidactylus frenatus by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

Frogs were found:

ImageChinese Edible Frog, Hoplobatrachus rugulosus by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageOrnate Narrowmouth Frog, Microhyla fissipes by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageCommon Indian Toad, Duttaphrynus melanostictus by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageAsian Grass Frog, Fejervarya limnocharis by J. Maughn, on Flickr

I even managed the one snake that I'd been told was a good bet in Bangkok in January:

ImageBrahminy Blind Snake, Ramphotyphlops braminus by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

This one seemed thicker than others I saw, and I briefly fantasized that it was a different Blind Snake:

ImageBrahminy Blind Snake, Ramphotyphlops braminus by J. Maughn, on Flickr

We did a few short trips out of the city. The first was to Ayutthaya. Not a lot of herps to be seen that day, but I did find a nice toad:

ImageCommon Indian Toad, Duttaphrynus melanostictus by J. Maughn, on Flickr

The next trip was to the Angkor temple complex, in Siem Riep, Cambodia. The herp gods were a bit kinder to me there.

I found a Snail-eating Turtle basking along the Siem Riep River:

ImageMalayan Snail-eating Turtle, Malayemys subtrijuga by J. Maughn, on Flickr

There were lots of Garden Lizards:

ImageOriental Garden Lizard, Calotes versicolor by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

...and Sun Skinks:
ImageMany-lined Sun-skink, Eutropis multifasciata by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

Some frogs found around a fountain at night:

ImageSapgreen Stream Frog, Hylarana nigrovittata by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageGreen Paddy Frog, Hylarana erythraea by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

Another Grass Frog found during the day:

ImageAsian Grass Frog, Fejervarya limnocharis by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

I found my first Tokay Geckos around the place we were staying. I was ecstatic to see these, which I think the hotel staff found hilarious.

ImageTokay Geckos, Gekko gecko by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageTokay Geckos, Gekko gecko by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageTokay Gecko, Gekko gecko by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

One morning as I wandered around one of the temple pools, I spotted a flash in the grass. A tour group came by immediately after, and whatever it was was gone once they'd passed. I sat down on a nearby rock, and waited. After about twenty minutes, I saw this emerge out of the rock wall:

ImageGolden Tree Snake, Chrysopelea ornata by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

Then another tour group, and it was gone. Not an uncommon snake, perhaps, but not a Blind Snake, either.

The final side trip was a short couple of days in Khao Yai National Park. This turned out to be a little disappointing in terms of herps. It was quite chilly, esp. at night, and aside from a few Monitors, geckos, and Garden Lizards, herps were confined to these two turtles in the river:

ImageAsian Giant Pond Turtle (Heosemys grandis) and Asian Leaf Turtle (Cyclemys dentata) by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

Khao Yai didn't disappoint, though, as I'll get to later.

That was it for herps. If you only care to see herps, tune out now. I did see lots of other things, though, so here's some of that.

Bangkok:

ImageGiant Vinegarroon, Mastigoproctus giganteus by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageCommon Rose, Pachliopta aristolochiae by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageCommon Parasol, Neurothemis fluctuans by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageIndian Roller, Coracias benghalensis ( Indochinese Roller, Coracias affinis) by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageOlive-backed Sunbird, Cinnyris jugularis by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageCoppersmith Barbet, Megalaima haemacephala by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageNorthern Tree Shrew, Tupaia belangeri by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

This photo's kind of stupid, but I like it anyway:
ImageBat in Motion by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

Ayutthaya:

ImageAsian Openbill Stork, Anastomus oscitans by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

Cambodia:

ImageGrey Pansy, Junonia atlites by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImagePeacock Pansy, Junonia almana by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageDiard's Heavy Jumping Spider, Hyllus diardi by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageAlexandrine Parakeets, Psittacula eupatria by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageTheobald's Tomb Bat, Taphozous theobaldi by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageLyle's Flying Fox, Pteropus lylei by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageLong-tailed Macaques, Macaca fascicularis by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageRhesus Macaque, Macaca mulatta by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

Khao Yai:

ImageChinese Swimming Scorpion, Lychas mucronatus by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageCave Centipede, Scutigera sp. by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageThai Bark Mantis, Gonypeta sp. (Male) by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageHandmaiden Tiger Moth, Syntomine sp. by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageBlack-headed Bulbul, Pycnonotus atriceps by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageWhite-rumped Shama, Copsychus malabaricus by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageGreater Racket-tailed Drongo, Dicrurus paradiseus by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageVernal Hanging Parrot, Loriculus vernalis by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageGreat Hornbill, Buceros bicornis by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageBlack Giant Squirrel, Ratufa bicolor by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageVesper Bat, Family Vespertilionidae by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageLeast Horseshoe Bat, Rhinolophus pusillus by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageWrinkle-lipped Bats, Chaerephon plicata by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageNorthern Pig-tailed Macaque, Macaca leonina by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

Finally, a small group of us were walking a riverside trail in the park, looking for the crocodile that lives along there. We didn't get to see the crocodile, but instead had this emerge from the undergrowth about fifty yards from us, across the river:

ImageAsian Elephant, Elephas maximus by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

That was the absolute highlight of the trip. Khao Yai is famous for its population of wild Asian Elephants, and I'd hoped we'd see one. I figured if it happened, though, it would be from a vehicle. To see an animal like this on foot in the jungle is an experience I will find difficult to top.

To close this already long post, here are a few landscape and habitat shots:

ImageBangkok Canal by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageBenjasiri Park at Night by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageAyutthaya Temple Complex by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

One is not allowed to visit Ayutthaya without taking this photo:
ImageAyutthaya Temple Complex by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageAngkor Wat Complex by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageThe Angkor Thom Complex by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageKhao Yai National Park by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

ImageKhao Yai National Park by J.J. Maughn, on Flickr

Before I conclude, I have to thank Jonathan, for his advice and help, and for his fantastic website, The Reptiles and Amphibians of Bangkok.

Thanks for looking!
JimM

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Re: Thailand/Cambodia January 2015

Post by VICtort » February 2nd, 2015, 10:11 pm

Nice work, what a pleasure to see some Asian mammals (not caged in the Bangkok markets). I loved the photo of the flying bats, and others as well. Seeing a wild Asian elephant is indeed a privilege, thanks for sharing it. That hornbill is spectacular.

Vic

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Re: Thailand/Cambodia January 2015

Post by LouB747 » February 2nd, 2015, 10:50 pm

Looks like it was a fun trip Jim. Did you try searching any trees at night? That crazy pic (blurred) of the bird (bat?,) is really cool.

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Re: Thailand/Cambodia January 2015

Post by JAMAUGHN » February 2nd, 2015, 10:56 pm

Thanks! And yes, not a tree went unchecked. Sigh.

JimM

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Re: Thailand/Cambodia January 2015

Post by BeMoreAssertive » February 3rd, 2015, 6:17 am

Woah, snail-eating turtles! That's quite the treat, would you say they were common? Cool post, nice to see some birds and other non-reptile/amphibian fauna in there as well.

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Re: Thailand/Cambodia January 2015

Post by Calfirecap » February 3rd, 2015, 8:18 am

Great post Jim, that Cave Centipede was Bad-Ass!

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Re: Thailand/Cambodia January 2015

Post by JAMAUGHN » February 3rd, 2015, 8:22 am

You have no idea...that thing was longer than my hand...it will haunt my dreams. :crazyeyes:
JimM

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Re: Thailand/Cambodia January 2015

Post by Roki » February 3rd, 2015, 8:58 am

Nice post with plenty of variety. Seems like you had plenty of luck finding things there. I think you did pretty darn well considering you were doing things other than herping most of the time. Also, very nice assortment of birds and mammals. Seeing the elephants in the wild is always an amazing experience. Nice going on the hornbill too.

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Re: Thailand/Cambodia January 2015

Post by yoloherper » February 3rd, 2015, 10:11 am

Great stuff Jim,
Love the tree snake shot/story and the elephant is incredible! Must have been a wild experience in the jungle to have that pop out in front of you.
-Elliot

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Re: Thailand/Cambodia January 2015

Post by Keeper » February 3rd, 2015, 3:01 pm

Great stuffs! Love those turtles!
:thumb:

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Re: Thailand/Cambodia January 2015

Post by Hans Breuer (twoton) » February 4th, 2015, 4:52 am

Whooooo!! Electrifying stuff!

Love that roller (unlike these guys)

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Re: Thailand/Cambodia January 2015

Post by rafiqos » February 5th, 2015, 12:28 am

Nice post Jim. The scorpion is actually a Chinese Swimming Scorpion (Lychas mucronatus).

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Re: Thailand/Cambodia January 2015

Post by Ribbit » February 5th, 2015, 7:01 am

I don't care if they're common, Tokay Geckos are awesome. Lots of great stuff here! I particularly liked the swarm of bats.

John

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Re: Thailand/Cambodia January 2015

Post by JAMAUGHN » February 5th, 2015, 9:17 am

Thanks, everyone. Hans, I will now imagine they're singing about birds every time I hear that song. Rafiquos, Thank you! I really struggled to ID that scorpion, and suspected I was totally off. Do they actually swim? That would be something to see.
John, I couldn't agree more. The Tokays were absolutely jaw-dropping. Once I got her to come out and see them with me, even Jessica wanted to visit them every evening.

JimM

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Re: Thailand/Cambodia January 2015

Post by walk-about » February 5th, 2015, 6:19 pm

Jim - Fantastic adventure and post! Love the Ornate Narrowmouth Frog. And I must say that is one pretty 'American' RES. Crazy huh, no matter where you go...there you are...and they are too. LoL. I am curious about that big Softshell. I am guessing that is a 'chicken on the softshell' over there. From what I hear anyways, turtles are pretty popular on the menu in Thailand. Great post!

Dave

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Re: Thailand/Cambodia January 2015

Post by jonathan » February 12th, 2015, 10:23 pm

Great post Jim! You did a great job knocking off pretty much everything you can see in Bangkok in January in a very short amount of time.

The Ornate Narrowmouth is an especially pretty example of that species. Like I told you before, it's cool that you got a Chinese Softshell when I didn't see one the whole year I was there (just one Asian Softshell). And your Tree Shrew photo is great - I'm really happy you found one. I'll probably be asking you for a few photos for my website - the Chinese Softshell and the Indo-Chinese Forest Lizard for sure, perhaps the Ornate Narrowmouth, the Snail-eating Turtle, the Golden Tree Snake, the Brahminy Blind Snake, the Bowring's Supple Skink, the Red-eared Slider, the Tokays, and the Giant Asian Pond Turtle as well. Your pics are simply better than mine!

Your birds are wonderful. Lots of species that I've never seen myself.

Of course, the Elephant is a fantastic highlight. I'm still yet to see a wild elephant anywhere in Asia.

How do you manage all those bird, bat, and invert IDs? I don't have a clue when I'm dealing with them.

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Re: Thailand/Cambodia January 2015

Post by JEDDLV » February 13th, 2015, 2:26 pm

Nice post, good read

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Re: Thailand/Cambodia January 2015

Post by mfb » February 15th, 2015, 6:06 am

Awesome trip report!

Did you hear the Tokays making any noise?

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Re: Thailand/Cambodia January 2015

Post by Kfen » February 15th, 2015, 12:31 pm

Very cool post. All those turtles are awesome! I would call that a pretty successful trip!

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