Birding on the spit at Laem Pak Bia
by Paul Lee
Mid morning saw us at the small quay at Laem Pak Bia, within a few minutes a boat had been arranged and we were headed out on to the nearby sand spit to look for White-faced Plover. Once landed on the spit, initial impressions were that there were very few waders present despite it being high tide, however after a few minutes we located a small group of Malaysian Plovers amongst roosting Kentish Plovers and Sanderling and eventually two White-faced Plovers. Several egrets were also present on nearby reefs including a Chinese Egret and several Pacific Reef Egrets. Good numbers of terns fed off shore including Caspian and Greater Crested Terns. As the heat started to build we left the spit and upon returning to the quay headed a little way back north to look for Nordmann's Greenshank roosting amongst the large numbers of Great Knot, though failing to find any Greenshanks we did find a Small Pratincole a species I normally associate with the sandbars along the Mekong River in Northern Thailand. Also present was a Dunlin a scarce but possibly overlooked winter visitor to Thailand. Here we also met Mark Andrews who had just seen a Nordmann's Greenshank amongst the Great Knot, but before we could locate it all birds were flushed and flew out onto the tidal mud, however whilst chatting to Mark he did locate our third Spoon-billed Sandpiper of the day.
Hot and hungry we headed back to Cha-am, after lunch and a rest we decided to check out some scrub around a reasonable sized lake on the edge of town, though we saw nothing exceptional a nice selection of wetland and open country species were seen. Upon arrival a Ballion's Crake scuttled into the reeds, many Ruddy-breasted Crakes and Purple Gallinules called from the within the reeds. Good numbers of Oriental and Black-browed Reed Warblers and Dusky Warblers where also present and several small groups of Yellow-vented Bulbuls were present in surrounding scrub. Whilst walking back to the car a Peregrine zipped over and a single male Plain-backed Sparrow was also seen, though a relatively common bird in Thailand the males must rate amongst one of the smartest sparrows of the world.