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Bang Pra Non-hunting Area, 11th Jan 2003
 
  Bird Watching Trips:
If you need help organizing a bird watching trip to Thailand, take a look at the suggested itineraries for ideas on creating a tailor-made trip and contact me for advice: Thailand bird tours.
Introduction
Although it is necessary to be out very early for the best birding in Thailand, my girlfriend Srasri and I couldn't drag ourselves out of bed until about 7.30 am after a long week dealing with rowdy students.

Not wanting to stay in I suggested a trip to Bang Pra Non-hunting area, easily reached in a little over an hour from our home in Bang Na. Srasri needed a little convincing, but was persuaded with the promise of a seafood lunch at nearby Bang Saen beach.
Transport
We made this trip in our own car, a Honda Civic saloon. The highway from Bangkok to Pattaya is a very good road and Bang Pra is just a few kilometres from this and any vehicle is suitable and can be parked at various places around the reservoir.

Notes on Finding Birds
We arrived far too late for any serious birding as Bang Pra is one of the hottest and most humid locations I know, meaning that if one wants to find a lot of species, including some of the harder to find ones, arriving early is essential. However, we were just enjoying a few hours of casual birding and Bang Pra is a good site for doing this as spotting birds in open country is easy.

Field Guides
1. A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand by Craig Robson
2. Guide to the Birds of Thailand by Philip D. Round & Boonsong Lekagul
 

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Birding Highlights
Chestnut-capped Babbler, Indochinese Bushlark, Spot-billed Pelican, Temminck's Stint, Osprey
Notes
On arrival, at about 9am, we parked at the small lake at the South Eastern end of the reservoir, where the usual Little Cormorants sat perched in a tree with a few Cattle Egrets for company and two Brown-backed Needletails swooped past. However, we noticed that the water level of the main reservoir was very low, and headed towards the water's edge to see what could be found there. On our way through the dry grassland a number of colourful birds revealed themselves; Green Bee-eaters hunting from their perches; an Indian Roller on a telegraph pole and one of my favourite species- a Hoopoe feeding on the ground. All common species but spectacular when one gets good views like this.
As we got closer to the water, Srasri pointed to some large birds soaring overhead; a pair of Spot-billed Pelicans. These birds are always a fantastic sight, even when one knows that they originate from the nearby Khao Khieo open zoo. Another bird originating from the zoo was a single Painted Stork amongst the numerous Little, Great and Intermediate Egrets. It is worth remembering that although the storks here originate from the zoo, they do breed outside of the zoo's bounds.

In the shallows of the main lake a number of waders were feeding. I was hoping to find something unusual (northern Lapwing has been seen here in the past), but only small numbers of common species were present; Kentish Plover and Little Ringed Plovers Common Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper, Temminck's Stint and a lone Long-toed Stint amongst the ever present Red-wattled Lapwings and Black-winged Stilts.

Some emergent vegetation in some wet areas contained a calling Yellow-bellied Prinia, which is a really nice little bird, and an Oriental Reed Warbler.

The late morning sun was taking its toll on us so we decided to walk back to the car. Searching the grassy areas as we went, numerous Indochinese Bushlarks revealed themselves, their wide rufous wings were obvious as they flew away. Also of interest were a small party of Chestnut Capped Babblers in reeds, a species less often seen than one might expect, but this is always a good place to look for them. Other small birds in this grassy habitat included Zitting Cisticolas, which never really gave us a good view as they were busy "zitting" in flight, Eastern Stonechat, Paddyfield Pipit, Richard's Pipit and Plain Prinia.

Although I had more or less decided that we would go back to the car and leave, being a birder I could not walk past anything that looked interesting and we began to boil as I took time to look at a Lesser Coucal, a bird that I often see here, and some Red-rumped Swallows hunting with large numbers of Barn Swallows and Asian Palm Swifts.

I was also keen to scan through the mynas that were feeding on the ground and flying past at all times to see if I could spot Vinous-breasted Starling, a species that should occur here (I have seen it on subsequent trips) but only came up with Common Myna, White-vented Myna and a couple of Black-collared Starlings.
 
  Birdwatching Trips to Bang Pra Reservoir:
If you have only a short time for birding from Bangkok, Bang Pra is an excellent day trip location,
particularly when combined with a visit to Muang Boran Fishponds. At all times of the year a good selection of interesting species can be found.

Contact me to arrange a trip and/or to discuss the best birdwatching options for you: nickupton@thaibirding.com

 
 
Read More About Bang Pra
Back at the car the air-conditioning was a life-saver, but a splendid Greater Racket-tailed Drongo complete with tail plumes excited Srasri enough to get her out of the car again. Having been revitalised by the car's cool air I was ready to take a look around some of the wooded areas, however, Srasri reminded me of my seafood obligations, so we left for nearby Bang Saen.

There was time, though, for one more bird; a fish-catching Osprey at the dam, observed at close quarters after a screeching halt. A great spectacle to prepare us for barbecued prawns and crab!
Nick Upton (nickupton@thaibirding.com)
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 Birds seen at Bang Pra
1. Little Cormorant
2. Grey Heron
3. Chinese Pond Heron
4. Cattle Egret
5. Eastern Great Egret
6. Intermediate Egret
7. Little Egret
8. Painted Stork
9. Spot-billed Pelican
10. Osprey
11. Black-shouldered Kite
12. White-breasted Waterhen
13. Red-watttled Lapwing
14. Kentish Plover
15. Little Ringed Plover
16. Common Greenshank
17. Marsh Sandpiper
18. Wood Sandpiper
19. Common Sandpiper
20. Temminck's Stint
21. Long-toed Stint
22. Black-winged Stilt
23. Feral Pigeon
24. Spotted Dove
25. Peaceful Dove
26. Green-billed Malkoha
27. Lesser Coucal
28. White-throated Kingfisher
29. Black-capped Kingfisher
30. Green Bee-eater
31. Blue-tailed Bee-eater
32. Hoopoe
33. Indian Roller
34. Asian Palm Swift
35. Brown-backed Needletail
36. Barn Swallow
37. Red-rumped Swallow
38. Indochinese Bushlark
39. Paddyfield Pipit
40. Richard's Pipit
41. White Wagtail
42. Eastern Yellow Wagtail
43. Sooty-headed Bulbul
44. Yellow-vented Bulbul
45. Streak-eared Bulbul
46. Black Drongo
47. Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
48. Eastern Jungle Crow
49. Chestnut-capped Babbler
50. Zitting Cisticola
51. Yellow-browed Warbler
52. Oriental Reed Warbler
53. Yellow-bellied Prinia
54. Plain Prinia
55. Common Tailorbird
56. Oriental Magpie Robin
57. Eastern Stonechat
58. Taiga Flycatcher
59. Ashy Woodswallow
60. Asian Pied Starling
61. Black-collared Starling
62. Common Myna
63. White-vented Myna
64. Olive-backed Sunbird
I can be contacted at nickupton@thaibirding.com
More information on Bang Pra  
If you are interested in arranging a bird watching tour you can see some suggested itineraries here - Birdwatching Trips - and you can contact me at the above email address to discuss the best options.

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