We caught a bus from Hua Hin to Trat and then the following morning a ferry to Ko Chang. While having a breakfast in Trat we witnessed a bit of a natural spectacle when a Large-billed crow raided the nest of Common mynas Despite the desperate cries of the parents the crow took off with an egg in his beak.
Ko Chang is considered to be one of Thailand’s most beautiful islands. Most of the island is protected as part of a larger Mu Ko Chang Marine national park that’s comprised of more than 52 islands. Unfortunately for us, the protected part of the island was virtually inaccessible, while the unprotected part was quite heavily developed for tourism and wildlife sightings were quite uncommon. The only mammal that we saw during our few days on the island was a Variable squirrel.
Birdlife was considerably easier to observe, with all-time favorites being White-bellied sea eagle and Brahmini Kite. Other birds we saw were: Pacific swallow, Pacific swift, Scally-breasted munia, Dark-necked tailorbird, Ferruginous flycatcher, White rumped shama, Ashy Drongo, Hill myna, Black crested bulbul, Yellow vented bulbul and Black-headed bulbul, plus a few others that were harder to identify.
There was a good population of Rock monitors living in the palm trees of the resort we were staying at. And at night I found a Painted Bull frog and a Four-lined tree frog.
We took a day to ride all around the island with a plan of trekking to one of the waterfalls. The ride was beautiful – Ko Chang offers spectacular scenery. But the trek to the waterfall was quite uninteresting and the waterfall itself was completely dried out, which we should probably have expected given that it was the end of the dry season.
The real wildlife hotspot of Ko Chang, however is located below the surface of the water. Mu Ko Chang national park is famed for being one of the world’s top diving and snorkeling destinations. To investigate we booked a full day snorkeling trip that took us to a number of islands some of which were surrounded by beautiful coral reefs. The underworld was indeed spectacular. I am not particularly familiar with different fish species, but some I did recognize: Bluestreak claener wrasse, Pink amemonefish, Long-nose butterflyfish, Coral grouper, Moon wrasse and a few different Clown fish species. Some creatures could be seen from the boat, such as Tramperfish and massive schools of Sergeant major fish.
On the way back from the snorkeling trip the weather started to change. But before the sky darkened we saw a small waterspout touch down on the water near one of the small islands. After which the tropical storm moved in and we were happy to climb out of the boat to the safety of dry land.