Laem Pak Bia, Phetchaburi
I joined up with Tom and Gary through www.birdforum.net for what turned out to be an excellent day's birding in Laem Pak Bia, yesterday. Tom, a native of Finland, lives in Hua Hin and Gary is here on holiday form England so it was really good to have company. On our approach to the deserted building we sighted a number of aerial species including Painted Stork and Black-crowned Night Heron. There were about 6 painted stork hanging out in the saltpans but not much else so we didn't really hang around for long here.
Next stop at the King's Project Tom spotted 5 aerial spot-billed pelicans and found a further seven in the fish ponds. What amazing birds, looking utterly out of place in these ponds, absolutely massive and completely out of proportion. These were lifers for Tom and Gary, and very much on Tom's "wanted" list. I had some very happy experiences with these pelicans this time last year with a sighting of about 80 in the Khao Yoi area, a great birding moment for me and several other sightings of smaller numbers. I was delighted to be able to add them to my list for this year as they don't hang around for long and are therefore easily missed. Today the were scared off by the approach of a brahminy kite and were gone before I could get my camera on them....damn! They would have made some great shots!
We managed to see Thailand's three species of cormorant here: little, indian and great. In the excitement of seeing the great cormorant I somehow managed to lose the screw which attaches the camera to my scope so at this point the photgraphs end. I overlooked the Indian cormorant until checking my photographs this morning and you can see the diagnostic blue eye and "the white tuft on rear side of head", (Robson: Field Guide to Birds of Thailand). Likewise with the great cormorant the photograph shows what Robson describes as "...the yellow facial and gular skin". (Gular:pertaining to the throat!)
Indian cormorant, (right)
Laem Pak Bia, Phetchaburi
Next, thanks to Tom I then got a lifer, a ruff, and I must say I might have overlooked this bird as a redshank, except of course its plumage is very scaly. There were three of them in shallow ponds with some redshanks. Tom then caught a brief glimpse of a ruddy-breasted crake in the reed beds which he attempted to flush to no avail.
We them headed up to Pak Thale where there wasn't much to see as the tide was far out. We were hoping to see a tattler. What we did see is the construction of a concrete walkway from the road to the mudflats, where people normally park their cars; I have heard they plan to include a viewing platform and bird centre here so I can report they are well on their way to completion.
We then headed back to Laem Pak Bia for lunch and then off to the sand spit by boat. Here we saw an abundance of common and little terns, two Malaysian plovers, both banded with a yellow and orange tag on their left legs and three rudy turnstones.
We then went back to Pak Thale but approached it form the village to the creek. Sadly nothing to report but we saw a huge flock of curlews nearby taking to the air so decided to head back to the main site and here we really had a field day. In excess of 300 curlews, 100 whimbrels, any number of lesser sandplovers and more common waders spread over three or four salt pans. In the midst of these birds I caught sight of a grey bird that was significantly bigger than the other birds around it. However it was resting and all its features were not visible. What we could see were shortish yellow legs but as it began to move it revealed a prominent white supercilium and then it flew a little and its upperside was all grey: a grey-tailed tattler, another lifer for my companions and a great bird as these fellows are passage migrants. We had a good scan and Gary produced a ruddy turnstone and then a broad-billed sandpiper.
So as 5:00 pm approached and storm clouds gathered angrily nearby, serving notice of a major deluge, we decided to call it a day. My list shows 73 species for the day. Not bad for August and some excellent birds, most importantly some species that you would expect to see at this time of the year.
It was great to have company and in fact to have such expert company. Both Tom and Gary have been at this for a lot of years. I have no doubt I will go birding with Tom in the near future and great to have made a local connection. I suspect Gary might be telling Mrs Gary that they will be coming back soon!