For those who have relocated to Phuket from other tropical regions, the sounds of nature may simply remind them of home. For others, they might think they’ve landed in Jurassic Park. While the island’s wildlife population and variety pales in comparison to what it once was, Phuket has many creatures which contribute to the chorus of sounds emanating from nearly every unpaved corner of the island.
Myna bird Cr: ไทยรัฐออนไลน์
Probably the first and most common sound heard in Phuket is that of the myna bird. A member of the starling family, these clever yellow-beaked birds can be quite brave and may even steal bites off your plate while dining outside. They are loud and are constantly producing a cacophony of strange chirps, gurgles, and whistles. It’s been described as a parrot impersonating R2D2 from Star Wars. They are found all over Thailand and are probably the most common bird spotted on a daily basis. Have a cat or dog that you feed outside? Those are myna’s that are constantly raiding it.
Red-eyed greater coucal Cr: Greater coucal Wikipedia
Another bird with a distinct sound is the red-eyed greater coucal. Socially they are the opposite of the myna bird, but they are somewhat easily spotted on the fringes of jungled and tall grassy areas. They are big black crow-like birds with rust-colored wings and creepy red eyes. They are comically bad fliers and can be seen flailing about and falling off branches. They have an extremely loud whooping call that can be heard echoing through the early morning. It starts off already loud and increases in volume until it is nearly screeching and distorted.
If there is a frog version of the coucal, it is the Asian-banded bullfrog. These little fatties can be found near water in huge numbers around Phuket. While you might hear the random one here and there, the real concert begins at night during or after a rain. They are quite loud and make a repetitive descending honking sound. It’s one of those sounds you either love or hate, but either way, they are a fact of life in Phuket.
Another sound you may hear in the evenings or at night is a high-pitch squeaking. While many may shirk in disgust assuming there are rats scurrying about, the sound can often be attributed to shrews. One of the more common species found in Phuket is the Asian gray shrew. They have terrible vision and get around by echolocation, hence the constant squeaking, sounds which they also use for mating, communicating, and fighting. Some may find relief if they spot one as they are on the cuter side of the rodent spectrum.
Gibbon Cr: pixabay
While you are unlikely to hear it unless you live in the northeast of the island, the sounds that gibbons make are quite unique and exotic. There is a small reintroduced population that lives in the forest near Bang Pae waterfall (the original population was killed off many decades ago). They call out to each other from high up the treetops with a very loud ascending whooping sound. Oftentimes they start quieter and at a lower tone, gradually building in volume and tone resulting in high-pitch squeal. They will also sometimes make trilling sounds that resemble that of a whimpering dog. You can see/hear gibbons up close at the Gibbon Rehabilitation Center in Phaklok, or in the wild in Khao Sok National Park just north of Phuket.