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Mahachai Mangrove Research Station
 Introduction

Mangroves & Mudflats
(Photos by Nick Upton)
 

Mahachai Mangrove Research Station is a small remnant of mature and regenerating mangroves on the western side of the River Tachin's estuary, in Samut Sakorn province and is home to a surprising number of species.

This area is virtually all that remains of formerly extensive mangrove forests along the coastline of Bangkok, Samut Prakarn and Samut Sakorn provinces and their loss has resulted in serious coastal erosion and loss of species making this small patch quite interesting as a half day trip from Bangkok or, more logically, combined with a morning at Khok Kham.

Spending some time birding the mudflats and mangroves as well as the surrounding pools, scrubland and other scrappy areas could quite easily reveal a large number of species.

 Birding Highlights

Mangrove Whistler
(Photo by Suppalak Klabdee)
 

Two species occurring at the Mangrove Research Station stand out as real highlights; Mangrove Whistler and Asian Dowitcher. Mangrove Whistler is resident in the mangrove remnants which contain some surprisingly mature stands, whilst the Dowitcher is a passage migrant and winter visitor.

Other species that are resident in the mangroves include Collared Kingfisher, Golden-bellied Gerygone and Oriental White-eye whilst passage migrants such as Yellow-rumped Flycatcher and Siberian Blue Robin can be found in September and October.

The mudflats host large numbers of shorebirds, egrets, terns and pond herons. Waders such as Marsh Sandpiper, Lesser Sand Plover, Whimbrel, Kentish Plover and Pacific Golden Plover are all common winter visitors while it is always worth scanning the mudflats for something unusual.

A checklist of the birds of this location can be found here - Mahachai Mangrove Research Station

  Birdwatching Trips:
if you need help organising a birdwatching trip to Thailand, take a look at the suggested itineraries for ideas on creating a tailor-made birdwatching trip and contact me for advise: Thailand bird tours.
 Travel Information
Mangrove Research Station  

Mahachai Mangrove Research Station is a useful spot to go birdwatching if there is not time to go further afield or as an add on to a day at Khok Kham. If driving, simply get on Rama 2 Road which is the main road towards the south and head for Samut Sakorn. In the early morning this is quite a quick journey, taking well under an hour from Bangkok. However, later in the day the traffic can get quite bad and the journey to Samut Sakorn can take up to one and a half hours.

After passing Samut Sakorn one needs to keep in the left hand lane and after passing over the Tachin River (quite obvious as one goes over a bridge) take the first turning on the left, immediately before a Caltex petrol station. Follow this road for a few kilometres until crossing a railway and passing under an elaborate temple arch. Turn right just after the arch. Continue on this road and when it comes to a very small roundabout, with a large temple in front of you, turn left. After a couple of kilometres along here the sign in Thai for the mangrove centre will be seen. Shortly after this turning on the left the road finishes. There is a car park at the research station.

The route described above is highlighted by the thick yellow line on the map to the right.

Getting to the town of Samut Sakorn by public transport is fairly easy by bus but getting from there to the mangrove research centre would be difficult; it may be possible to find a taxi or a motorcycle taxi, but really the only sensible option is to go in ones own vehicle, particuarly as getting out of the site would require arranging for a taxi driver to return at a later time.

On my last visit in March 2009 the road was being extended beyond the mangrove research station so it is possible that some form of public transport will run along here in the future.

  Mangrove Research Station
If you should make it here by public transport and cannot find a way out, speak to the staff who seem friendly and they will probably call a taxi for you.
 Finding Birds

Viewing Platform Boardwalk

 

This area is fairly small so finding the birds here is a relatively simple affair with limited options for walking.

Viewing Platform : This is the only platform out of three that was accessible in March 2009 due to the poor state of the boardwalk. However, it is quite sufficient for viewing the large numbers of shorebirds that feed on the mudflats as the tide recedes. Timing is essential here as at low tide the birds will be far away and difficult to view even with a telescope. The key species on the mudflats is Asian Dowitcher which can be present in quite large numbers, particularly during migratory periods. A good selection of the more common shorebirds can usually be found too with species including Marsh Sandpiper, Lesser Sand Plover, Kentish Plover, Eurasian Curlew, Whiskered Tern and Brown-headed Gull.

Boardwalk: The boardwalk was in a terrible state of repair in March 2009 and it was impossible to go more than 50 metres or so along it. However, it does go just about far enough to get into some reasonable mangroves and birds such as Mangrove Whistler, Oriental White-eye, Collared Kingfisher and Golden-bellied Gerygone can be found. I have visited this site on only two occasions (September 2008 and March 2009) and both times I have found Mangrove Whistler reasonably quickly so I suppose it can be regarded as a reliable site for this species.

Outside The Site: Although I haven't spent any time investigating the ponds and scrubland outside of the mangrove research station, the habitat is right for some of the commoner waders and open-country birds. Waders such as Red-necked Stint, Broad-billed Sandpiper and Marsh Sandpiper should all be present and there is the possibility of Spoon-billed Sandpiper if you can find the right habitat.

Birds such as Black-capped Kingfisher, Brown Shrike and Oriental Reed Warbler should be easy enough to find in surrounding areas in the dry season and Oriental Pratincole should be present from April to September.

 Facilities


Car park and HQ
(Photo by Nick Upton)

 

Facilites here are limited to a small car park and toilet block only although it seems that snacks and drinks may be sold at weekends. This means bringing ones own refreshments is essential but with a host of petrol stations and small food stalls being passed on the way to the site, this should not be much of a problem.

The staff seem to be quite knowledgeable here and are used to showing visiting schoolchildren and dignitaries the wildlife; they have copies of bird books should you forget to bring your own.

Whilst it does get really hot here, the mangroves and viewing platform do offer shade, so whilst bringing some water is a good idea, one is able to get out of the direct sunlight fairly easily.

This location is not a National Park and you will not be charged to go birding here.

 Some Useful Books

 Other Related Pages

Birdwatching Day Tours

Other Central Thailand Birding Locations

Shorebirds in the Inner Gulf of Thailand

Slaty-backed Gull; A New Bird for the Thai Checklist

The Birds of the Bangkok Area

Shorebirds in the Hand

Leg-flagged Shorebirds in the Inner Gulf of Thailand

Sixth Shorebirds Festival at Khok Kham

Requests for sightings of wing-tagged Mongolian Gulls

 Related Blog Entries
Mangroves at Samut Sakorn - posted 04/09/08
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