Sunday, 15 April 2012

Chumphon: Some Waders

Chumphon is not best known for waders but it is by the sea and that sea is the Gulf of Thailand and birders the world over know the Inner Gulf is a major wader hotspot. So we are a couple of hundred kilometres south of the main action areas. I myself did a bit of wading this afternoon at low tide from the bridge that marks the boundary between Ta Yang and Na Tang districts in Chumphon. Barefooted, like the locals! I started out with flip-flops but they became more of a hindrance as I approached sandflats via some mudflats.

It didn't look too promising. There were a few waders, a handful of Whimbrel, some small flocks of Greater Sandplovers, a few Red-necked Stints, some Pacific Golden Plover in breeding plumage, a couple of Little Herons, lots of Little Egrets and then a Grey-tailed Tattler, nope, it's a redshank, can't be a tattler, the bill is wrong. The photo shows it is a Grey-tailed Tattler and it is in breeding plumage too. This is a passage migrant which  I have seen at Pak Thale, Phetchburi, as early as  August on its way south and also in May as it moves north. I don't know anything about its status here in Chumphon.

Next up came a Bar-tailed Godwit. I was surprised this bird let me encroach but as I looked the reason why became obvious. It had a gammy leg. I guess birds really need everything to be in perfect working order. I could see it wasn't finding the search for food so easy, although it was bravely trying. It could fly too. I wonder what chances of survival this fellow has. I moved on quickly as I didn't want it to expend energy needlessly in trying to get away from me.

A very industrious and fast moving wader next caught my attention. Terek Sandpiper, I thought, and I got it in my bins and sure enough the orange legs and slightly up-turned bill confirmed this. This triggered a laugh -  a recent Birdforum poster described Nordmann's Greenshank as a "Terek Sandpiper on steroids"! I've seen this species here before.

Of course in terms of appearance the winner has to be the male Pacific Golden Plover - its breeding plumage is truly sublime. I had to work hard for this shot! Understandably he was rather wary of me and kept on the move, just moving when I had my focus correct. Some of the sandplovers were also sporting breeding plumage too.  

I doubt whether I saw more than 100 different waders in the course of a few hours this afternoon whereas at Pak Thale/Laem Pak Bia the numbers are usually tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands. So I am delighted with a Grey-tailed Tattler, a Terek Sandpiper and a Bar-winged Godwit and I would have been happy if this had been the takings from a visit to Pak Thale/Laem Pak Bia.

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