Sunday, 29 January 2012

Duck Bonanza at Wat Khao Takhroa

This afternoon I felt unusually listless as I headed out birding. The plan was to check out a new site in Samut Songkhram province and then head on to Norng Blah Lai. I never found the new site and as I was in the area I ended up driving to the Wat Khao Takhrao area in Phetchburi province. What a piece of good fortune because the large pond was once more full of waterfowl. An even better result was that I was able to drive along a recently reclaimed track, that previously could only be accessed by foot. The bad news - the ducks were too far away to photograph and my cause was not helped by  an Eastern Marsh Harrier who was buzzing them.

I managed a few shots and I was in pole position with the sun behind me; unfortunately the birds wouldn't come any nearer. Most of these shots are between 400 - 800 m away, in hot weather over water. I think they more than suffice as record shots but a real shame I couldn't get in close to get detail. Anyhow the ducks made a fantastic if somewhat noisy spectacle. They were widely scattered and well mixed up so it would be impossible to provide anything other than a very rough estimate - 700+ Northern Pintail, 400 + Garganey and between 2,000 and 3,000 Lesser Whistling Duck. I am quite surprised that there were more Northern Pintail than Garganey - I would expect it to be the other way around.

During a conversation with Tom Backlund during the day he said there is a view that the high number of eagles in the Norng Blah Lai area this year may be attributable to the serious flooding in the Chao Phaya/central plains area last year. I wonder if the presence of such big numbers of ducks here this year is also similarily attributable.

The male Northern Pintail is a truly elegant bird with his chocolate head and the white,vertical line which starts behind the ear and broadens into the neck. Three Cotton Pygmy-Geese in an adjacent pool looked decidedly ordinary. Of note, one Black-headed Ibis but among the ducks nothing particularly groovy or unusual that I could see. I believe this area warrants further investigation in the near future.

I hung out and simply watched the show for an hour or so. A Booted Eagle drifted over languorously; a few Caspian and Whiskered Terns too. I have to say I have a charmed existence.

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