Alas a long weekend, including a Friday and Monday holiday, comes along and I was stricken with the consequences of food poisoning, in fact the worst bout of it ever. In consequence I only managed a little birding and spent most of Sunday, Monday and Tuesday in a horizontal position near the loo! I am happy to report that I appear to be on the mend.
On Friday 15th July I met up with Tom Backlund for an early start in Khao Yoi, Phetchaburi province. We saw Painted Storks and Spot-billed Pelicans but in nothing like the numbers we had seen the week before. We saw a large number of Painted Storks in distant treetops but our efforts to get close resulted in Tom's truck getting stuck in the mud so we did not pursue them any further. Plenty of birds including a Black Bittern and three Racket-tailed Treepies, plus thousands upon thousands of egrets. I have to acknowledge gratitude to Tom for pointing out the treepies and their distinctive flight: I would have disregarded them as drongos.
I must confess to having felt a little frustrated on account of not being able to get any decent shots. I guess this is part of wider malaise about not getting any real stand-out shots for a while. I lay the blame for this entirely on myself due to inexperience and impatience. However Tom made the observation that Thailand is generally not very good for getting close to birds in order to photograph them. He bemoaned the general absence of hides and screens. He said that it would be difficult to market Thailand as a bird photography destination on account of this. I have been thinking about this and he's completely spot on, as usual! Take Tokyo where most of the principal birding sites have simple screens with a range of small viewing windows at different heights, ideal for getting close to the birds. The solution in Thailand is either telephoto lenses, digiscoping or a portable hide.
I drove over to Huay Mai Teng Reservoir after getting towed out of the mud and sad to say nothing to report. I took some shots of a green bee-eater but really very few birds, adding to my sense of malaise.
Sunday 17th July I made a quick early morning visit to Huay Mai Teng and saw three River Lapwing. There were also a few Cinnamon Bitterns hiding in long rushes but they didn't allow me to get a shot and flew off. In the same area there is a very large bees' nest in a tree which I will endeavour to photograph on my next visit: the shots I managed were blown at both ends of the scale, shadows and highlights, so not really very informative.
Then as a dutiful husband I went home and took my wife and son out and we had some lunch in a new restaurant in the local shopping mall and well..........let's say we won't be going back there!
STOP PRESS! I have just received a message from Phil Round to say a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was observed this morning (Wednesday 20th July 2011) just outside Bangkok at Kok Kham.