Thursday, 23 February 2012

Central Thailand 23rd Jan 2012

We left Bangkok early and headed to the world famous wader hotspot of Pak Thale, home of what is probably the most wanted bird in the world right now – Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Upon arrival it was apparent the main congregation of waders was located in a different area of salt pans than on our previous visit a few weeks ago. But a quick scan from beside the minibus revealed a ‘spoonie’ almost immediately which promptly flew off, although another two birds were located just a few minutes later.  Over the next 20 minutes we enjoyed amazing scope views as they fed in company with numerous Red-necked Stints and Curlew Sandpipers. The duller bodies and more dumpy size was often the most apparent feature when scanning through the stint flock, especially when the ‘spoonie’ was side on or facing away from us. A decision was then made to leave here and search for the next ‘most wanted’ wader, Nordmann’s Greenshank. And after driving down the road a few kilometres we found a large flock of Great Knot and then there they were, 20+ Nordmann’s Greenshank. By now we had also located Greater Sandplover, Red-necked Phalarope and Long-toed Stint as well, so we decided to return for a second helping of the ‘spoonie’. Along the way we followed up on a hot tip-off and promptly scored with the major sighting of a pair of Black-faced Spoonbills. They were a little distant so we walked out across the saltpans towards them and halved the distance which produced nice views. A good selection of waders were also here including side-by-side comparisons of Common Greenshank and Marsh Sandpiper, loads of Black-winged Stilts, Lesser Sandplover, Spotted Redshank and lots more stints. Back at Pak Thale the Spoon-billed Sandpiper was still present and we also nailed a Broad-billed Sandpiper as well before heading to some different pools and salt pans which produced much the same assortment of waders. Lunch was taken at the riverside where we later boarded a boat and headed out to Laem Pak Bia sandspit. A few Malaysian Plovers were quickly located, followed by a pair of White-faced Plovers, which according to recent DNA analysis should now be lumped with Kentish Plover. A flock of Greater Crested Terns held a few Lesser Crested Terns and we also saw Pacific Reef Egret and Striated Heron as well. Unfortunately no Chinese Egrets were on show like on our last visit a few weeks ago. On our return to the minibus we drove across the road and found a few Indochinese Bushlarks that required a bit of effort to see and in doing so flushed 3 Indian Nightjars from the scrub. We ended the day at the Royal Project where a Watercock was a surprising find. Ruddy-breasted Crake, Yellow Bittern and Pintail Snipe were more to be expected, whilst a couple pools full of waders held Pacific Golden Plover, Wood Sandpiper and loads of stilts. We finished with thousands of Lyle’s Flying Foxes heading out across a beautiful red sunset to end proceedings nicely.

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