Monday, 27 January 2014

Mekong River & Chiang Sain Lake

A very early departure saw us arrive on the banks of the Mekong River at around 7am and with the mist rising we stared in horror at the devastation that has been done, with a massive construction effort aimed at concreting the banks and removal of those pesky sandbars and islands so loved by birds! We did see Grey-throated Martin, a flock of Small Pratincoles flying over and a Peregrine. The fields had a flock of Scaly-breasted Munias, with a fine male Red Avadavat and a Racket-tailed Treepie as well. So we left here pronto and drove the short distance to Chiang Sain lake where we drove around the edge and found the long-staying pair of Long-tailed Ducks (what?!), a 2nd record for Thailand. There was also White-browed Crake, a flock of Lesser Whistling-ducks, our first Burmese Shrikes, and some others before returning to the HQ. As luck would have it a flock of Ferruginous Ducks flew in opposite us and unbelievably the drake Baer’s Pochard that had been reported a few days ago suddenly appeared amongst them. Wow! This is one of the rarest ducks in the world and is one of the rare occasions on one of my Thailand tours that the spoonie isn’t the rarest bird! Wow again!

Ruddy Shelducks

Long-tailed Ducks - the 2nd record for Thailand

Following lunch back up near the Golden Triangle we returned to the lake for a short boat ride, during which we had closer views of the Long-tailed Ducks, along with a bunch of commoner wildfowl including Pintail, Eurasian Wigeon, more Frudge Ducks, Garganey, Indian Spot-billed Ducks, and some Ruddy Shelducks. Leaving here we had a couple of Mallards, much to Mike’s delight, before heading to some marshes. The habitat here has been altered too but it still seemed ok and lots of Eastern Yellow Wagtails, a few Citrine Wagtails, Paddyfield Pipit, and an Eurasian Wryneck found it to their liking. We then spent the remainder of the late afternoon watching for a male Pied Harrier. Rather frustratingly  we only found females and immatures to begin with but at 5.45pm the first of four males flew to an area that they roost in and we had very good views. What a stunning bird. Also here was a Striated Grassbird singing from the top of a bush out in the marsh, and we had several brief views of at least 5 Pallas’s Grasshopper Warblers.

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