traditional site for Spoon-billed Sandpiper
in Thailand has up till now been Khok
Kham at Samut Sakorn. Though the birds are still present
there, this season a 'new' site for the same species has emerged
Pak Bia in the province of Petburi. This site is a
little more then an hour away from Khok Kham but holds so much more
to see for the avid birdwatcher.
Drive to the
town of Petburi. Don't drive into town at the fork in the road but
continue on the highway going south. Only two traffic lights further
on, take a left and follow signs towards Chao Samran beach. Right
before the beach take a left and begin your birding. From here on
and back on northward bound you will find an endless amount of salt
pans. Stands of mangrove and scrub are also part of the landscape
and from time to time you will catch a glimpse of the sea.
A few kilometers
after the turn at Chao Samran beach (at the beach there are nice
restaurants with shelter, sea breeze and delicious Thai cuisine)
you will pass LamPakBia Mangrove research center. A little after
that there is a little gathering of fishing boats. Here you can
enquire about having someone take you out to the sandbars of LamPakBia.
The ride takes about 20 minutes and sure beats the 5 kilometer long
walk in the heat of the day through mucky mangroves. Price is 350
Baht. Along the mangroves you will find Black-capped
and Collared Kingfishers along with
other regular mangrove dwelling birds such as Golden-bellied
Gerygone and Black-crowned Night Herons.
Out on the bars
is the best place for Malaysian Plovers.
These birds are resident and breed on the bars. On one trip there
I counted 8 birds in a group. Easy to see but not to be confused
with the Kentish Plovers present. Sanderlings
run up and down the beach.
Crested Terns with a few Lesser Crested
Terns feed out here and often rest on the bars. Good numbers
of Palla's Gulls and Heuglin's
Gulls. Chinese Egret was photographed
a couple of months back. Other Terns easy to see are Little
Tern, Common Tern and from time
to time Gull-billed Tern.
On the way out
you can also spot the Greater Sand Plover
more easily then on the salt pans on the hinterlands. Ospreys
and Brahimy Kites look for prey overhead.
The sandbar is tranquil and has a nice breeze. I often did my birding
there midday after a nice spread of Thai food at the restaurant
Samran beach and the village of Bahn Pak Tale there are gatherings
of waders all over. Most common species are Black-winged
Stilts, Marsh Sandpiper, Curlew
Sandpiper and Mongolian Plovers.
Other common birds are Broad-billed Sandpipers,
Red-necked Stints, Black-tailed
Godwits, Common Greenshank,
Long-toed Stints, Temminck's
Stint, Wood Sandpipers, Common
and Spotted Redshanks. Eurasian
Curlews, Ruddy Turnstone, Whimbrel
and Terek Sandpipers are not uncommon
the little village of Bahn Pak Taley there is an asphalt road (small)
to the right. Follow this road and work the pans closer to the sea.
The Broad-billed Sandpipers have been
very regular in here this year. They seem to prefer muddy pans with
Some rarer birds
for this site are Red-necked Phalarope,
Black-faced Spoonbills, Painted
Storks, Ruff, Little
Stint, Pied Avocet and Far
Eastern Curlews. The crown of the rarities besides Spoon-billed
Sandpiper and Black-faced Spoonbills
must be Nordmann's Greenshank. Up to
14 of these birds was seen at one gathering! All Egrets
and many Grey Herons abound. Little
Cormorants and Little Heron
are not hard.
such as Black-tailed and Mongolian
Herring Gull have been seen. The birds are often seen in
the larger ponds resting at midday along with groups of waders.
To top off last
season there was only the 3rd record of an Indian
Skimmer that stayed for a whole week in April, attracting
a great number of local birders and photographers alike. How it
got here, I guess, God only knows.
In the scrub,
fields and woodlands a bit further inland there are many other birds
to be seen such as Black Drongo, Long-tailed
Shrike, Brown Shrike, Oriental
Pratincole, Common and Pintailed
Snipe, Red-wattled Lapwings,
Pied and Black-collared Starlings,
Plain-backed Sparrow, Indian
Roller, Black-shouldered Kite,
Black Kite, Ashy
Wood Swallows, Zitting Cisticola,
Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Dusky
Warbler, Rusty-rumped Warbler,
Yellow-rumped Flycatcher (on passage),
Other good birds
in the more marshy situations are Slaty-breasted
Rail and Ruddy-breasted Crake.
And even some Ruddy Shelducks visited
for a few weeks this year.
As this site
gets more attention I am positive more will be revealed of what
lies within the boundaries of this great area.