Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Spoon-billed Sandpiper and Spot-billed Pelican

Spot-billed Pelican Laem Pak Bia

Just after first light I arrived at Pak Thale, many of the saltpans were either dry or full of water, though there were many waders roosting on the bunds it was quite a time before I found any pans that were shallow enough to hold any feeding birds. One dry pan held around 120 Red-necked Stint and amongst them a winter plumage adult Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Also in the area were at least 700 Great Knot and good numbers of Lesser Sandplover and Kentish Plover, but numbers of Marsh, Curlew and Broad-billed Sandpipers and Red-necked Stints were poor. On pools close to the sea a group of 128 Whimbrel, 100 Grey Plover, 59 Bar-tailed Godwit and 46 Greenshank were roosting until a large female Peregrine caused chaos, taking a Great Knot out of the air. Large numbers of Terns were also present here including 155 Gull-billed Terns and several hundred Whiskered, Little and Common. As the sun began to warm the air and burn away the mist an immature Greater Spotted Eagle lifted out of nearby mangroves, flushing everything within a kilometer radius. Scarcer waders at Pak Thale included several Common Redshank, two Ruff and a Dunlin.Good numbers of Sand Martin's were present in the area with at least 400 feeding over one large area of open water.

Slowly driving south along the coast with frequent stops, it wasn't very long before I located 13 distant Painted Storks and a flock of 650 Eurasian Curlew, which held at least one Far Eastern Curlew. Two Heuglin's Gulls were present amongst 500 Brown-headed Gulls and nearly back at Laem Pak Bia several thousand terns were present, mostly Whiskered and Common and smaller numbers of Caspian, Little and Gull-billed. Numbers of waders were generally poor compared to later in the winter, presumably many have yet to arrive.

Paddyfield Pipit Laem Pak Bia

Spot-billed Pelican Laem Pak Bia

Water Monitor Lizard Laem Pak Bia

The rest of the morning was spent in the research station at Laem Pak Bia, star bird here was a Spot-billed Pelican briefly on one of the pools. As usual many of the birds around the pools were very obliging with excellent views of Pacific Golden Plovers, Marsh, Wood, Common and Green Sandpipers. Around fifty Whiskered Terns fed over the pools along with 13 White-winged Black Terns. Good numbers of Red-collared Doves, Paddyfield Pipits and Eastern Yellow Wagtails were feeding along the grassy margins and a number of huge Water Monitor Lizards ambled across the tracks.

Mangrove Boardwalk Laem Pak Bia

The boardwalk through the mangroves produced two Racket-tailed Treepies, several Collared Kingfishers, at least a dozen Golden-bellied Gerygone, an obliging Mangrove Whistler and many entertaining mud skippers. Off the end of the boardwalk two Greater Crested Terns flew past and a flock of 19 Grey Heron flew south.

Golden-bellied Gerygone Laem Pak Bia

Throughout the time spent at the research station good numbers of Blue-tailed Bee-eaters were overhead and in trees on the way out a dozen White-shouldered Starling were present.

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