Most birding is done from the roadsides but there are a few nice tracks and trails to explore.
1 The forest along the 3 km long paved entrance road consists of dry dipterocarp. Red-breasted Parakeets are very
common here, if you don’t see them while birding on the road, try the watchtower at km 1, which gives good views
into the canopy. Having seen the parakeets from the road, still go for the watchtower for better eye-level looks if
desired. As anywhere, dry dipterocarp is a good habitat for several woodpecker species so keep an eye for them.
A couple of dirt tracks veer off this stretch of road and are certainly worth a stroll for birding.
2 Beyond the HQ clearing another 2 km of paved road continues into the reserve but the setting is completely different
here with dry evergreen forest the habitat present. A walk along this road (vehicles not allowed) at dawn is likely to
produce a sighting of Siamese Fireback. To see a group of 10 birds isn’t unusual apparently and I’ve seen 17 birds
myself in one morning incl. a single group of 9 males + 6 females. Not sure if the wet season would also produce
Scaly-breasted Partridge is commonly heard along here while Siberian Blue Robin skulks in the undergrowth. White
throated Rock Thrush is another nice species I’ve seen here.
3 A steep descent of about 200m brings you to a small dam. While the water doesn’t attract any birds to note of, the
clearing here does provide nice views into the canopy and this is where you should keep an eye on the sky for raptors
incl.Mountain Hawk Eagle.
4 The forest alongside the track beyond the km 5 point (which looks as a small parking area) may produce similar birds
to those found along the paved stretch. A trail veers of at km 5,5, signposted to a watchtower 200m along here. The
tower is used for research and certainly isn’t for those with a fear of heights as its 35m high and will bring you up and
above the canopy. Pretty sure this is the only place in Thailand where a canopy tower brings you to these heights.
This said, I’ve not seen a single bird up there on my visit, leaving me with the question if the tower is any good for
birding at all.
-While there might be a few buses a day that ply route 304,
there is little chance you’ll get to the reserve early enough to
make the best chances of seeing the pheasants. Remember
that its a 3 km walk to get to Siamese Fireback habitat after
you’ve jumped off the bus passing the reserve entrance.
-With your own car, head south from Nakhon Ratchasima on
route 304 for 61 km. Keep watching the km markers as it’s
easy to go past the entrance, which is shortly after the km 80
-From Bangkok however it is probably best to approach from
the south. Head for Chachoengsao and then just keep
follow route 304 passing the town of Kabin Buri after which it
is another 115 km to the reserve, passing sections of both
Thap Lan and Khao Yai NPs.
-From the Khao Yai NP northern entrance, -which is the one
mostly used by birders with lots of accommodation nearby-,
it is possible to take a direct route on narrow back roads
which eventually joins route 304 in the village of San Chao Po
(Khao Yai NP is signposted here) approx. 30 km north of
Sakaerat. After exiting Khao Yai through this northern gate
take a right turn just 200m along. Then keep follow this road
and hope you take the right one of the many confusing turns,
tricky indeed with a start before dawn to get to Sakaerat early enough. This route takes about 1,5 hours at least and is
best driven with someone who knows the area.
Visit Sakaerat on a Birdtours2asia’s Thailand trip. See this tour report written by Bernard Burgess.
Accommodation & food
Rooms are available at HQ but have to be booked in advance; call 0844258642, the same applies for food.
Camping is not allowed in the reserve, ‘due to the presence of dangerous snakes’, they have told me at HQ…mmm
There’s a (local) restaurant just across the road from the entrance gate where basic Thai food is served. Fried rice and
noodles are tasty here.
A number of resort style accommodation and bungalows are signposted from the highway approx. 30 km towards Kabin
Buri. It might be possible to find some more ‘western’ style food at these places.
Notes & info
- There’s a gas station about 2 km towards Nakhon Ratchasima from the entrance gate if you have to fill up.
- No entrance fee to enter the reserve. The guard in the kiosk at the entrance gate is a friendly chap, just tell him you
want to go birding. Please remember that this reserve isn’t normally open for visiting by the average tourist which
means it is a privilege for you to be able to enter. Therefore, please try your best to be as friendly as possible when
speaking to any officials and do show your appreciation and thanks when the gate is opened for you.
- Do not drive beyond the HQ area where you should park and walk in. To find the gate ‘open’ does not change this.
- I’ve noticed mosquitoes to become a nuisance in the evergreen forest after about 10 am, while there’re not around in
the early morning. Another good reason to visit early.
There are about 230 species on the Sakaerat reserve list. Nice to know but it doesn’t give a realistic idea of what can be
seen on an average visit. This place is under-watched and certainly under-reported. I could only find very few species
being reported on the internet by hobby birders. Together with some species seen here by a friend and on my own 3 brief
visits this results in
a 53-birds list - to be updated soon!