Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Chumphon: Gateway to the South of Thailand

In recent years Chumphon has become well known in the birding world as an important observation point for migrating raptors. As a result of visiting the area during the watch I have to say I really like Chumphon and the surrounding area to the extent that I would say it is probably my favourite place in Thailand. Raptors apart Chumphon is a good birding place, very close to the sea for waders and with plenty of different habitats, there is an excellent variety of birds to be had in the area. Local facilities, in particular the food, are excellent and cheap. For me Chumphon represents the best of Thailand. So here we are again for a few days holiday before the new school year begins.

I haven't been bursting a gut on the birding front: it is very hot and I am feeling a bit tired and sluggish. In and around the seaside there has been an abundance of Pacific Golden Plovers looking quite magnificent in their breeding plumage. On the sea shore I have seen a  few Terek Sandpipers alongside Whimbrels, Pacific Golden, Kentish Plovers, Little Herons and Greater Sand Plovers. I have been birding at Laem Kho Kwang, a promontory on the coast and the most obvious bird there is the absorbing Lineated Barbet which is nesting there. I would say there must be at least 10 different birds.

In the same area I have seen a White-bellied Sea-eagle, Streak-earred bulbul, Indian Roller, Brown Shrike, Green-billed Malkoha, Pacific Reef Egret, (Dark Morph), Vinous-breasted Starling, Common Myna, White-vented Myna, Olive -backed Sunbird, White-rumped Shama, Stripe-throated Bulbul. There have also been many birds heard but not seen. I reckon I might have been able to add a few lifers if I had been able to get up early in the morning!

 I would love to have got a shot of the Shama, it's a really beautiful bird but its star attraction is the range of its various calls. I must investigate recording equipment. This bird is really expert at throwing and changing its call; it can range from melodic tune to harsh clicking. Good to get some of these birds on my year list. More to the point they serve to highlight what might be out there. I managed a poor shot of one unidentified raptor with which I'll need to get some help.
Probably my favourite bird of the trip is the Jungle Myna. I was desperately trying to get a shot of one perched on a water buffalo. In Thai a literal translation of its name นกเอี้ยงควาย, nok iiang kwai, is "Buffalo Myna". Alas not today, a few near misses. That's been a feature of my photography over the last few days: no sooner was I set up and ready to shoot than the bird flew off!

I will have to add shots at a later stage as blogger's photo uploader does not appear to be operational......maybe they are trying to stop me making my readers suffer! Tomorrow I am taking a day trip to Ko Tao in the Gulf so that should be a pleasant family day out and who knows, possibly some pelagic birds. However this is first and foremost a splash in the sea trip so my expectations are low!
Ah I managed to get some photos uploaded but there are more to come!

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