With the clock ticking for my time in Thailand I have been trying to make sure that I go out at least 2-3 times per week despite work being quite busy. This usually involves some walks around local patches of rainforest, reservoirs and waterfalls.
The rainy season has truly arrived now, with stormy weather at some point most days. This usually gets a lot of amphibian and reptile species moving around a lot more as I have had more luck than usual at some of my local sites recently. Rainy weather is especially good for nocturnal snakes, whereas for diurnal species it makes them less active until the rain stops of course! On Friday evening I had a short hike at one of the waterfalls, (it was actually dry at that point) and aside from the common amphibians and a few Oriental vine snakes (Ahaetulla prasina), I didn’t see much else. But then my favourite non-reptile showed up, an Oriental bay owl (Phodilus badius) perched sideways on a vine staring at me intriguingly less than a few metres away. I like these owls so much that I have added a new page on the photo galleries named ‘Owls of Thailand’ which contains all of my best images of this fascinating species. It is often the main target for any birders who come to Phuket, and I am glad to say that I have found them at quite a number of places on the island, indicating that they are at least quite common. Usually when a Bay owl is perched so low it is because it has seen a prey item (usually rodents) on the ground. Although this one was interested in my torch light, it continued to watch the leaf litter carefully.
On Saturday evening I revisited the place where I found the Mangrove cat snake last weekend and the stormy weather was very much in full force. I had to retreat to the car several times when the gale force wind and heavy rain descended! There are lots of juvenile Sunda scops owls (Otus lempiji) around the moment, at least several clutches worth in this area. Their hunger calls can be heard constantly. In terms of snakes, a smallish Reticulated python (Python reticulatus) was seen but not photographed as the rain was too heavy. Shortly afterwards a beautiful female Wagler’s pit viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri) was found climbing down a bamboo near to the ground. I recognised this individual by the scales around the upper lip as an individual I last saw at this spot in August 2020. Although still raining, it was not quite so heavy so I was able to take some photos of her.
Owls of Thailand gallery: https://mwilsonherps.com/photo-galleries/owls-of-thailand/
Wagler’s pit vipers: https://mwilsonherps.com/photo-galleries/waglers-pit-vipers/