Monday, 25 October 2010

Khao Sam Roi Yot, Prachuap Khiri Khan Province

Common kingfisher
alcedo atthis bengalensis
Khao Sam Roi Yot

I have to say I felt tired this morning when I finally got out of bed and I didn't find the prospect of a climb up Khao Dinsor so attractive either! So we decided to check out and head north to Radar Hill which is on the way home, about 75 km north of Chumphon; and you can drive up straight to the top of the hill! Last year's count was based entirely there but this year looks as if we have two counts: a Thai count at Radar Hill and an "international" count at Khao Dinsor. Anyhow we made it to Radar Hill to meet a large party of Bird Conservation Society of Thailand members having a weekend trip and just in time for the rain to arrive. One solitary shikra flashed by.

So with the rain on us we decided to push north homeward bound and we stopped instead at Khao Sam Rao Yot (meaning the mountain with three hundred peaks), a National Park, an Important Bird Area and a Ramsar site. The main birding area is just off the Phetkasem Highway and it is the largest freshwater marsh in Thailand; it is not brilliantly signed so my smattering of Thai was a help in getting us there. I am glad we made it as we bumped into some nice birds, all fairly common but it provided a good photographic opportunity and the results, I think, show further improvement on my part. 

The common kingfisher is by no means the most common of Thailand's kingfishers; the Thais themselves prize the Common. So it was very decent of this fellow to fall on top of me though I would be the first to admit the picture is by no means perfect: difficult in strong end of day directional sunlight, honest guv! I remember the thrill of being here almost 18 months ago when I had just taken delivery of my 'scope and I saw pied kingfisher for the first time. Sad to say I haven't been back since so I need to remember this is a great site for bird photography and make sure I return sooner as opposed to later. It is wide open and has the afternoon sun coming in uninterrupted and direct plus it has shelters and walkways onto parts of the marsh which facilitate photography later in the day as the sun is directly behind. 

A couple of grey and purple herons refused to oblige for the cameras as did an unidentified reed warbler. The latter is not a species I am really genned up on which is a pity as it may have been something a little uncommon. 

The most common bird in the marsh is the purple swamphen which can be seen and heard just about everywhere.

Purple swamphen
Porphyrio porphyrio
Khao Sam Roi Yot

Common moorhen
Gallinula chloroplus
Khao Sam Roi Yot

Elsewhere a small group of common moorhens kept me clicking and I feel I should have produced a better image. A beautiful group of birds. I decided that I was going to photograph and that if there was a bird in sight I was going to try to capture it. So below a Chinese pond heron and one of my better shots to date. In this spirit I add in the black drongo who was very confiding but again there are difficulties photographing all black and all white birds. I think I better read up on exposure and compensation as there are a lot of black and white birds out there and sand, sea and stuff like that might start to feature prominently in places I am likely to be birding! Pan told me yesterday that the Thai name for a black drongo means it has a tail shaped like a fish....well I can recognise "bla" in there at the end and that means "fish"!

Chinese Pond Heron
Ardeola bacchus
Khao Sam Roi Yot

Black drongo
Dicrurus macrocercus
Khao Sam Roi Yot

I think I learned a lot today: first I must decide if I am going to photograph or bird and then do it! If I am going to photograph then I must photograph everything. It seems quite clear to me the more common birds will teach me how to photograph the rarer birds.  Clearly Khao Sam Roi Yot is an ideal place for photgraphy as well as birds so I need to make sure I come back some time soon.

Khao Sam Roi Yot as the days draws to a close

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