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Waterbird Count at Muang Boran Fishponds
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On the morning of 7th June 2008 Muang Boran Fishponds was visited between 6am and 10.30 am, with the purpose of making an accurate count of resident waterbirds. With reference to the information in Phil Round's The Bird's of the Bangkok Area, it appears that Muang Boran Fishponds may contain significant numbers of some breeding wetland species, despite the serious conservation issues occurring there, and so a count of these species was made in a way that can be easily reproduced and compared to future counts.

Cattle Egrets at Muang Boran Fishponds
(Photo by Nick Upton)

Counting Method
Muang Boran Fishponds consists of a fairly large area of pools of varying size. Some pools are only an acre or two, whereas the largest pools are in the region of 8-10 acres. The same counting method was used for all pools visited; spot counts at a point from which the whole pool could be seen. Counting was done using a pair of 10x 42 binoculars and only the most accessible pools were visited and counts made: the reason for this was that the undergrowth makes the trails to parts of the site very difficult at some times of the year and the pools selected for counting can be accessed all year round so that follow up visits can be made and waterbird numbers compared fairly. Approximately two thirds of the total site area was covered.

The Counts
Twenty species of what would usually be regarded as "waterbirds" were recorded, 1 raptor species was seen and 4 other species that depend on wetland habitats were also noted. Two species that would normally be regarded as winter visitors were also recorded.

1. Cotton Pygmy Goose
2. Little Grebe
3. White-breasted Waterhen
4. White-browed Crake
5. Watercock
6. Common Moorhen
7. Pheasant-tailed Jacana
8. Bronze-winged Jacana
9. Black-winged Stilt
10. Red-wattled Lapwing
11. Little Cormorant
12. Indian Cormorant
13. Little Egret
14. Great Egret
15. Cattle Egret
16. Javan Pond Heron
17. Black-crowned Night Heron
18. Yellow Bittern
19. Cinnamon Bittern
20. Black Bittern

1. Brahminy Kite

Other Birds Dependent on Wetlands
1. Oriental Pratincole
2. Striated Grassbird
3. Asian Golden Weaver
4. Chestnut Munia

Other Birds of Note 
1. Oriental Reed Warbler
2. Barn Swallow

1m 1f
14 adults, 2j


6m 3f


The numbers recorded were actually rather lower than expected. This could be due to the fact that on the day of the visit, human disturbance was quite high as a result of fishpond maintenance and vegetation cutting.

The numbers of White-browed Crake and Pheasant-tailed Jacana appear to be quite significant. The White-browed Crake seems to be becoming more common and expanding its range, so these numbers may be indicative of its increasing abundance throughout wetland areas in Thailand. Pheasant-tailed Jacana is a fairly uncommon breeding bird in Thailand and the numbers at this site could be significant. At least 7 nests were seen and virtually all birds were paired up and acting extremely territorially, being particularly aggressive towards Bronze-winged Jacanas.

Due to the dense undergrowth restricting access, one large pool which is known to regularly hold good numbers of waterbirds could not be included in the count. 10 -20 individuals of each Jacana species could have been expected to be recorded there and good numbers of other species.

With one third of the site not included in this count it is possible that over 100 Pheasant-tailed Jacanas are resident at this site and certainly winter counts approaching 200 have been made.

The counts for Black-crowned Night Heron are not particularly meaningful as only a few birds were active at the time of day the visit was made.

Further visits are required and will be made to acquire more data so that more meaningful conclusions on the significance of the site for waterbirds can be made.

Nick Upton, 6th June 2008

About the Adverts
Related Pages: Muang Boran Fishponds, Muang Boran Fishponds Checklist, Large Numbers of Dead Birds at Muang Boran Fishponds, Birds Dying and Dead at Muang Boran Fishponds newsletter -
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