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10 Most Wanted Birds in Thailand
Number 2: Spoon-billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus pygmeus

Spoon-billed Sandpiper
(Photo by Johan Svensson

With its unique appearance and increasingly endangered status, it is easy to see why this species is such a popular target bird. With the isolated location of its breeding grounds in northeast Russia, Thailand, along with Saemangeum in South Korea, offers birdwatchers the best chance of finding Spoon-billed Sandpiper with not one, but two reliable wintering locations: Khok Kham regularly holds one or two birds and Pak Thale regularly holds higher numbers. This species has also been observed at Khao Sam Roi Yot and other salt pans in Samut Songkram province, indicating that it could be found in a number of other locations in the Gulf of Thailand, or perhaps other parts of the country.

With now perhaps less than 400 breeding pairs remaining, the sighting of up to 16 birds at Pak Thale in 2004 was significant, although below the 31 seen at Simpo, South Korea on 26th May 2007.

Birders are usually surprised to find that this species' defining feature, its bill shape, is not always obvious in the field until viewed head on. However, it is reasonably easy to pick out of a flock of wintering Rufous-necked Stints due to its surprisingly white appearance (in winter) making it possible to locate even with just binoculars at fairly long range; although, of course, such a bird needs to be viewed through a telescope to fully appreciate it.

It is believed that drainage and reclaimation of wetlands for agriculture, industry and urban expansion along the species' migratory flyways is a significant factor in the decline of Spoon-billed Sandpiper. With the ongoing destruction of Saemangeum, the Inner Gulf of Thailand may become even more important than it already is for Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper
(Photo by Peter Ericsson)
Top Ten Most Wanted Birds of Thailand: 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
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Other Related Pages: Khok Kham , Laem Pak Bia - Pak Thale
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More information on Spoon-billed Sandpiper:

BirdLife International, Species factsheet: Eurynorynchus pygmeus

Red Data Book, Threatened Birds of Asia: Spoon-billed Sandpiper

Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Eurynorhynchus pygmeus - Probable Population Crash by: Pavel Tomkovich, Christoph Zockler et al

Unique wader faces extinction, Birdlife International

More photographs of Spoon-billed Sandpiper:

Oriental Bird Images: Spoon-billed Sandpiper newsletter -
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