Pra Non-hunting Area
Pra Non-hunting Area, in
Chonburi province, consists of a semi-natural lake surrounded
by grassland and woodland. The reservoir is one used to hold
water for irrigation and drinking and as a fishery rather
than for hydro-electric purposes, meaning that it is shallow
and abundant in birdlife. Local people are permitted to fish,
gather plants and graze cattle but hunting birds and mammals
is a fantastic place to see a good range of birds in a short
space of time, including a number of species that are not
often recorded on birding holidays to Thailand, and an ideal
location for a day trip from Bangkok or, indeed, Pattaya where
many people stay on package holidays. The grassland is probably
the most productive and valuable habitat here, but unfortunately
in recent years the water has been maintained at a very high
level meaning that this habitat has been severely reduced
in size and rather degraded in places by people in four-wheel
drive vehicles. However, on a good day, I still think it would
be possible to find over 100 species in a day at Bang Pra.
(Photo by Suppalak
close proximity of open water, scrub grassland and dry forest
mean that a wide variety of birds can be found in this single
location, and virtually anything can turn up during migratory
periods. The main attraction at Bang Pra, however, is the
abundance of open-country birds. Both Thai species of Bushlark
can be found here, as can four species of Prinia.
large number of Quail that are present will be a reason for
making a special trip to this area for some birders, but,
unfortunately, habitat degradation has made these birds much
scarcer than in the past. Barred Buttonquail and Yellow-legged
Buttonquail are the most abundant but Rain Quail are also
findable with effort. Chinese Francolin is a bird which can
frequently found due to its loud call, but getting a good
view is not so easy even though it often calls from high in
a tree. Blue-breasted Quail are also present but are less
frequently seen even than most of the others and Small Buttonquail
is theoretically in the area too.
Pelcians and Painted Storks used to be commonly seen at Bang Pra,
but less frequently now, although Lesser Adjutant storks can also
be found in the reedy areas or seen circling in the thermals and
Asian Openbills are common. Unfortunately the provenance of the
Painted Storks, Adjutants and Pelcians doesn't hold up to the strictest
scrutiny as they are the result of feral or introduced, but self-sustaining,
populations from the nearby Khao Khieo open zoo; the birds remain
none the less spectacular because of this.
woodland has something to offer birders to, and this is one of the
easiest places to see Rufous Treepie and White-crested Laughingthrush
that I know. Add to this Laced Woodpecker, Asian Barred Owlet and,
in winter, some commoner forest birds that are altitudinal migrants,
and there is quite a variety of species for birders to see.
here for a checklist of the birds of Bang
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 advice: Thailand
to Bang Pra is not too difficult if traveling by car. One
needs to head towards Chonburi from Bangkok; there are a number
of routes. The overhead expressway along BangNa-Trad road
is the quickest route and is worth paying the toll for. From
the expressway the Bang Wua exit should be taken - keep left
and head out to the motorway to Chonburi and Pattaya. After
about 2 kilometres from the expressway follow the signs for
Chonburi and join the motorway. Simply continue along this
road (there is a toll to be paid), ignore the signs for Chonburi
and continue towards Pattaya. After a while a sign for Khao
Khieo zoo will be seen; this is the turn-off to take. From
the centre of Bangkok to this turn-off will take about 1.5
hours in the early morning before the traffic builds up; leave
at 6am at the latest to arrive at Bang Pra well before the
heat gets too intense for birdwatching.
get you to the right place, but there are many alternative
routes from Bangkok to this region. The good news is that
the zoo is signposted frequently.
turned off for Khao Khieo zoo, immediately do a U-turn and
cross the bridge over the motorway. A few hundred metres further
on turn left at a T-junction. Turn right after 1-2 kms on
this pot-holed road. This turning is pretty obvious with a
sign indicating that this is a wildlife site and an open area
with some wooden buildings. One can drive down this track
to the car park or simply park anywhere it is safe to do so.
is possible to get to Bang Pra by public transport, but it
is not easy. Go to the Eastern bus terminal at Ekamai, on
Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok and take any bus to Pattaya, but
get off before that. It is best to tell the bus conductor
that you want to go to Khao Khieo zoo (Suan Sat Khao Khieo,
click here for Thai
script) and the bus will stop at the right place.
the difficult part; at this dropping off point one must find
the songtaew to the zoo which is hidden up a small road on
the opposite side of the road. Ask around for the songtaew
to the zoo and hope it can be found. The journey passes along
the lakeside of Bang Pra, but do not get off when you see
it, wait until the junction where the songtaew turns left
and get off just before it crosses the motorway, then walk.
Most of you will have probably stopped reading by now and
with good reason, this method will get you to Bang Pra in
the midday sun - useless for birdwatching!
option would be to stay in Pattaya and hire a motorcycle to
drive to Bang Pra. This would be an easy option, although
I have never personally tried it.
around Bang Pra will serve up a good helping of birds and
most of the same species can be found all around. However,
I regularly see certain species in particular spots.
Treepie can nearly always be found in the open woodland immediately
to the right as one drives along the entrance dirt track,
along with Laced Woodpecker and Greater Racket-tailed Drongo.
and Whiskered Tern can often be seen fishing over the open
water of the lake and sometimes White-bellied Sea Eagle puts
in an appearance.
holds Prinias, Bushlarks, Quail and Cisticolas.
In the early morning it is worth a stop on the road just before
turning into the site. Groups of birds often sit on the roadside
wires here and are active in roadside trees and the few trees in
the fields opposite. This spot is where I most often see Vinous-breasted
Starling and Lineated Barbet, Hoopoe, Rufous Treepie, Greater Racket-tailed
Drongo, Indian Roller, Ashy Woodswallow as well as White-crested
Laughingthrush can often be seen sat on a wire in the first light
This small lake has fairly deep water which attracts White-throated,
Common and Black-capped Kingfishers, Little Cormorants and, sometimes,
Oriental Darter. The island in the middle is also a favourite roosting
spot for Cattle Egrets and Black-crowned Night Heron; Malayan Night
Heron has been seen here occasionally.
water here is inundated with vegetation and frequented by many Yellow
Bitterns and a few Cinnamon Bitterns. Some bare trees on the island
are an excellent place for watching Drongos, Black-naped Oriole,
Lineated Barbet, Racket-tailed Treepie and others in the early morning
when the birds seem to enjoy sitting on exposed perches and enjoying
the morning sun.
Park : In
the early morning the car park can turn up some nice species.
Rufous and Racket-tailed Treepies often pass through and a
flock of White-crested Laughingthrushes are never far away.
Greater Racket-tailed Drongos are always obvious and at the
right time of year Hoopoe and Black-naped Oriole will easily
be seen. In the treetops, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Brown-throated
Sunbird and Common Iora are all common.
those with mobility problems a shelter overlooking egret lake
provides the possiblity of viewing quite a variety of nice
A small selection of woodland birds are relatively easily
found here; White-crested Laughingthrush, Lineated Barbet,
Asian Barred Owlet, Rufous Treepie, Black-naped Oriole and
Laced Woodpecker are all regulars here and I have seen a pair
of Black-throated Laughingthrushes on a few occasions - perhaps
they are feral but they may have found their way here from
nearby Khao Khieo. Outside of the breeding season a number
of other woodland species occur as migrants including Ashy
Minivet, Asian Paradise Flycatcher and Black-winged Cuckooshrike.
This area always used to be good for grassland birds - unfortunately
it is often inundated with water these days. If there is any
habitat available Chinese Francolin will often be heard calling
and it may be possible to track it down; if it is on the ground
you might flush it but if it is in a tree you will have a
chance to spot it. Rain Quail used to be quite numerous here,
but I haven't seen them for some time - there is much more
disturbance than in the past. Yellow-legged and Barred Buttonquails
can sometimes be found with the possibility of Blue-breasted
Quail. Chestnut-capped Babbler is another bird which is sometimes
found in the long grass too and a few patches of Phragmites
hold some Asian Golden Weavers.
area, used to be particularly good for finding Indochinese
Bushlark. Australasian Bushlark can also be found but is scarce.
can approach the water's edge here too and it is usually quite
easy, in winter months, to see Oriental Reed Warbler and Black-browed
Reed Warbler in what little emergent vegetation remains.
Trips To Bang Pra Reservoir:
If you have only a day or two
for birding from Bangkok, Bang Pra is an
excellent location, coupled with a visit to Muang
Boran Fishponds. At any time of year a good selection
of colourful birds are present and in the dry
season a whole range of migrants visit this location.
me to arrange a trip and/or to discuss the best
birdwatching options for you: firstname.lastname@example.org
This where I always turn around; I am always hot and tired by this
point. This area is a great place for locating Bright-headed Cisticola
(Golden-capped, Bright-capped or whatever combination of terms it
is currently masquerading under); it will be easy to find in the breeding
season when it doesn't stop calling (it sounds like an ecaggerated
kiss, followed by a bell). Chinese Francolin also seems abundant in
this spot, but spotting one is difficult, however, I frequently get
lucky with this species here. During passage migration, Blue-throated
Bee-eater is regular in the tall trees in this area, but Green Bee-eater
will be seen here at any time of the year and Lesser Coucal and Yellow-eyed
Babblers are always in the area - keep your eyes and ears peeled!
(Photo by Peter
This area always seems to have some grassland habitat no
matter how high the water levels are and it can be reached
by walking off of the paved trail which goes around the
back of "egret lake".
interesting birds can be found in the scruffy vegetation
here with both Yellow-eyed and Chestnut-capped Babblers
being fairly common - both very attractive birds. Other
grassland species include Bright-headed Cisticola, Rufescent
Prinia, Yellow-bellied Prinia and in the winter Oriental
Reed Warbler, Dusky Warbler and Black-browed Reed Warbler.
Those who have time to spend can track down skulking birds
such as Siberian Rubythroat here, but the vegetation can
be thick so a little call playback may be needed!
emergent vegetation here holds Yellow Bittern, Cinnamon
Bittern, Painted Snipe and many others. At the right time
of year you may also be lucky enough to see Black Bittern
simply, there aren't any facilities here! If
one has somehow arrived by public transport (it is possible
but not a good idea) then it would be advisable to ensure
that you have enough food, water and sun lotion for the day;
it can get exceptionally hot and humid at this site so lots
of water is required. If arrival is by private vehicle then
within a short drive to various villages there are a few small
shops selling cold drinks and snacks. On one visit my wife
managed to get the people in a nearby shack to cook us some
food to take away, so if you get really desperate I'm sure
someone in one of the few houses nearby will take pity upon
a private car it is possible to drive towards Khao Khieo open
zoo where a number of small food selling places will be seen
as one travels.
option for car drivers is to take a packed lunch for birding
and then at the end of the day drive to Bang Saen on the coast,
where you can eat seafood on the beach, enjoy a beer and have
change from 1000 baht! There are a number of places to stay
at Bang Saen, but most people will probably opt for a hotel
in Bangkok: Bangkok
Hotel Reservations, or Pattaya: Pattaya
is not a National Park and there is no entry fee.
Southeastern Thailand Birding Locations
Shorebirds in the Inner Gulf of Thailand
on the thumbnail photos to see larger images.
Bang Pra is a good place to visit if
you have limited time in Thailand, but it is also a
great place to see some species that are infrequently
seen on longer birding trips and as such is worth considering
building into extended itineraries.
at some suggested itineraries, Thailand
bird tours, or contact me for more
Bulbul - posted 14/09/08
Pra in the Morning - posted 16/07/08
Visit to Bang Pra - posted 09/06/08
Day, 3 Sites, Lots of Birds - posted
Afternoon at Bang Pra
- posted 11/04/08
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