While on an official trip to Bangkok, I managed to squeeze a little
time out of it on a saturday to go birding around Bangkok. It being
my first trip to Thailand and my previous birding experience closer
to Thailand being just Singapore and North-east India, I expected
to find a few lifers with ease by walking around the city. Alas
! Bangkok turned out to be a concrete jungle with little green cover
around - though, I found that there are a couple of open areas in
the city, it became clear that these species are not new for me.
A few mails to birdingpals (www.birdingpal.com)
and subsequent redirections (Jintana has been extremely helpful
in finding me a guide), I reached Panuwat Sasirat (Par in short)
who agreed to show
me around Phetchaburi province targetted mainly at seeing the elusive
which he termed it as "not difficult to find".
early from my hotel in Bangkok with Par and his eco-tour partner
and by seven we were in the field, watching birds around the mangrove
forests of Laem Pak Bia
King's Project, Par had a short talk with another friend whom I
later learnt was Mr.Wind (associated with Philip D. Round of Large-billed
Reed Warbler fame) and we were watching birds in the very place
which yielded the lost species a year ago. I already had my first
lifer en route a Zebra Dove, which I had missed in Singapore. The
next good species for me was a flock of Caspian Terns among Brown-headed
Gulls. I have missed this species in the west coast of India. Later
we moved to the mangrove reserve and from the vehicle we heard a
trilling whistle (of White-eye quality but notes similar to Brown-cheeked
Fulvetta) from the mangroves and I enquired about the presence of
Mangrove Whistler. Instead, this whistle seems to be made by Golden-bellied
Gergone, which we found after a small search. Later, I got my first
Collared Kingfisher (I dipped on it in Singapore) and then Pied
Fantail. Further down in the marshes we saw several Long-toed Stints
along with Marsh Sandpipers.
driving a little, we came across 200+ waders in a wetland and most
of them were Great Knots apart from a few Grey Plovers and some
Lesser Sand Plovers (& perhaps Greater too). Par was searching
for Nordmann's Greenshank which was seen here by Mr.Wind and he
had indicated to look carefully into the Great Knot flocks. We did
not find any Greenshanks, but we decided to walk further to check
out other flocks. A 100+ flock of Black-tailed Godwits landed and
there were also several Dunlins in it. Among the Great Knots, I
felt I saw a much paler bird which was sitting with its bill tucked
inside the wings. Soon when the bill was out, it was clear that
we were looking at a Nordmann's
Greenshank ! The bird was injured and was limping. Further searched
revealed another two of them. The species is considerably rare in
this region. While returning back, I saw a fews wiftlets and later
realised they were Germain's Swiftlet - different from Indian Swiftlet
which we are used to in India. My ninth lifer for the day in just
over two hours.
mission was the Spoon-billed Sandpiper at Pak Thale and Par knew
exactly where to look for them. By the time we parked the vehicle,
we had already seen a flock of waders a little further and an initial
look yielded several Rufous-necked Stints and a Broad-billed Sandpiper.
After more careful watching through the telescope, with a sly smile,
Par asked me have a go at the scope. There, right in the centre
of the field view, was what I was craving for all these days. A
diminutive Spoon-billed Sandpiper looking back. With much excitement,
we inched closer through the salt pans. Though the wader flock was
still around, we took sometime to resight the bird. But this time,
it was much fuller view and had an excellent look for sometime.
By the time Par tried digiscoping, the bird has gone down the bund.
Later we met a few Danish bird-watchers who also seems to have seen
the same bird earlier in the day - and the Nordmann's Greenshank
too a week back.
we have got most of the species which I wanted to see - the next
stop was at the Red-necked Phalarope site in Lame Pak Bia King Project
area. Within no time, we saw 5 birds swimming along with several
Spotted Redshanks. We then pushed towards the coast in the hope
of seeing Pacific Reef Egret - we could only see Little Egret there.
Later, we pushed into a different habitat from the brackish water
wetlands. A Green-billed Malkoha crossed our path offering a good
view in flight. The local Streak-eared Bulbul was a lifer for me.
We saw a largish raptor sitting on an open branch in a dried up
paddy field. It turned out to be a dark morph of a Tawny Eagle -
perhaps a local rarity in this region (Note: This species
was recently removed from the Thai
Checklist and there are no comfirmed sightings in Thailand).
Par has got several digiscoped photographs which hopefully shall
show the gape line and nostril shape properly. We could clearly
see these features through the scope for about 10minutes in very
good lighting. Two large raptors flew overhead, from the dark band
across the arm pits and broad whitish patch on wing and dark tail
band - I felt they were Bonelli's Eagle - another seemingly rare
bird in this part of the region - but looks were not good enough
to nail it down properly.
looking for Black-collared Starlings which seemingly was absent
that day though several Pied Starlings were
around. We reached Par Farm and there we got an Olive-backed Sunbird.
Our next route lead us through some countryside and took us near
several fresh water lakes near Wat Khao Takrow. The sun was becoming
hot and hence birding was getting tough. We expected Black-faced
Spoonbill or Yellow-bellied Prinia - but could not find either of
them. Only a single Osprey seen perched atop a branch on the lake
side. Further ahead we saw large flocks of Baya Weaver and Scaly-breasted
Munia and then came across a Cinnamon Bittern caught in a fishing
net. One of us waded across slushy vegetation to free the bird and
remove all the strings from its wings. The bird was not injured
but was in a state of shock and was quite aggressive. By then, it
was nearing 3PM and it was time for me to rush back to the airport
an excellent trip with a handful of lifers among the 63 species
we saw on that day with two very good birds - the Critically Endangered
Spoon-billed Sandpiper and the Endangered Nordmann's Greenshank.