Friday, 28 November 2014

28th November 2014 Pak Thale & Lam Pak Bia

We arrived at Pak Thale at dawn and spent an hour scanning the huge number of waders present before picking out a Spoon-billed Sandpiper that we then spent most of the morning watching. We returned to our accommodation where we attempted to photograph the Swiftlets. We spent the afternoon visiting the salt pans at the abandoned building and then just north of the King's Project where good numbers of Nordmann's Greenshank were present before finding the second prize of the day in the form of an Asiatic Dowitcher that was accompanying a flock of Black-tailed Godwits that was worthy of our attention for most of the afternoon. An evening visit to the nearby King's Project produced a good selection of obliging birds and a large roost of Cormorants, Drongos and Starlings gathered as dusk fell. Having seen Spoon-billed Sandpiper it felt the trip was a success!
Lesser Whistling Duck c.400
Little Grebe 2
Painted Stork 30
Asian Openbill Stork 30
Night Heron 3
Pond Heron sp. c.100
Cattle Egret 2
Grey Heron 5
Purple Heron 2
Great Egret 30
Little Egret 15
Little Cormorant 150
Cormorant 1
White-breasted Waterhen 2
Black-winged Stilt c.500
Red-wattled Lapwing 12
Pacific Golden Plover 15
Grey Plover 30
Little Ringed Plover 6
Lesser Sand Plover 500
Pintail Snipe 1
Snipe sp. 3
Black-tailed Godwit 250
Curlew 100
Spotted Redshank 6
Redshank 6
Marsh Sandpiper c.400
Greenshank 30
Nordmann's Greenshank 25
Wood Sandpiper 8
Common Sandpiper 6
Great Knot c.2,000
Knot 6
Sanderling 5
Red-necked Stint c.250
Temminck's Stint 5
Long-toed Stint 5
Curlew Sandpiper c.500
Broad-billed Sandpiper c.30
Ruff 2
Brown-headed Gull c.300
Gull-billed Tern 50
Caspian Tern 150
Little Tern 300
Common Tern 2
Whiskered Tern c.750
Red Turtle Dove 20
Spotted Dove 20
Peaceful Dove 15
Asian Koel h
Germain's Swiftlet 100
Asian Palm Swift 1
White-throated Kingfisher 1
Collared Kingfisher 2
Common Kingfisher 3
Green Bee-eater 2
Ashy Woodswallow 6
Luzon Brown Shrike 1
Black Drongo 500
Barn Swallow 25
Dusky Warbler 1
White-vented Myna c.1,000
Common Myna 4
Asian Pied Starling 20
White-shouldered Starling 200
Magpie Robin 4
Asian Brown Flycatcher 1
Taiga Flycatcher 1
Plain-backed Sparrow 6
Tree Sparrow 2
Eastern Yellow Wagtail 8
Richard's Pipit 20
Paddyfield Pipit 1
 Pak Thale at dawn
Matt had told us to arrive at Pak Thale early as the waders were often then alongside the entrance track and he was correct
Salt pan along the entrance track at Pak Thale that was proving attractive to Red-necked Stints
Salt pans at Pak Thale and so many in a nice condition to attract waders

 Another salt pan at Pak Thale this one playing host to a huge flock of Great Knot and good numbers of Broad-billed Sandpipers

More waders arriving at Pak Thale
Salt worker at Pak Thale
We had been told that birders had previously upset the salt workers by trespassing across the salt pans but we saw no sign of that with all the workers we met being incredibly friendly, helpful and interested in whether we had seen Spoon-billed Sandpiper - and even toasting our success!

Second pan on the right and bingo - Spoon-billed Sandpiper!

Non-breeding Spoon-billed Sandpiper at Pak Thale
With its spatulate bill it is one of the World's most enigmatic Waders that is currently undergoing a worrying decline in numbers being considered critically endangered. The main threats to its survival are habitat loss on its breeding grounds and loss of tidal flats through its migratory and wintering range. The population was estimated at only 120–200 pairs in 2009–2010, perhaps indicating an 88% decline since 2002 equating to an annual rate of decline of 26%. An operation to save the species is underway:

Non-breeding Broad-billed Sandpiper at Pak Thale
Being considered a fairly common winter visitor and seeing plenty on this day I felt sure I would obtain better images when less distracted but unfortunately we never subsequently encountered such obliging individuals.
Germain's Swiftlet at Hat Chao Samran
Being attracted to playback of this species call played from dawn to dusk as its white nest is edible (as bird's nest soup)consisting wholly of hardened saliva.
Asian Palm Swift at Hat Chao Samran
Salt pans just north of the King's Project ...

... also playing host to huge numbers of waders
Non-breeding Long-toed Stint just north of the King's Project
A common winter visitor but based on our observations it is a species that much prefers freshwater marshes than salt pans.
Non-breeding Temminck's Stint just north of the King's Project

Non-breeding Asiatic Dowitcher at just north of the King's Project at Lam Pak Bia
This species is classified as Near Threatened because, although it is quite widespread, it has a moderately small population overall and this is thought to be in decline, owing primarily to destruction of its wintering grounds. In Thailand they are typically found with flocks of Black-tailed Godwits being considered an uncommon passage migrant with perhaps a few overwintering on the Peninsula.

Painted Storks on the salt pans just north of the King's Project
This species was formerly much more common and widespread in Thailand being now considered a very rare breeding visitor, passage migrant and probably winter visitor. The increasing impacts of habitat loss, disturbance, pollution, wetland drainage and the hunting of adults and collection of eggs and nestlings from colonies are cause for concern and it is considered near-threatened.

First-winter Richard's Pipit at the salt pans just north of the King's Project
There are two generations of median coverts with the diffuse pointed dark centres to the buff-fringed adult feathers eliminating the remote possibility of it being a Blyth's Pipit. 

Adult Paddyfield Pipit at the King's Project
In contrast to the Richard's Pipits seen at the salt pans just to the north this Pipit appeared to be neater-proportioned being smaller and thinner-billed and both shorter-legged and shorter-tailed. It also showed the requisite plumage characters being a faint thin dark-line across its lores, finer-streaking to its breast and poorly streaked upperparts, so almost akin to a Tawny Pipit in some respects.
Plenty of Pond Heron sp. to ponder over at the King's Project

White-breasted Waterhen at the King's Project

Asian Pied Starling at the King's Project

White-throated and Common Kingfishers at the King's Project

Common Sandpiper at the King's Project

Wood Sandpiper at the King's Project
Pintail Snipe at the King's Project
We inadvertently flushed this individual and were confident it was a Pintail Snipe. Supportive of that identification it does appear very short-billed in the above images. Thanks are due to JFC for also pointing out that its supercilium nicely bulges in front of its eye, there is little or no contrast between its supercilium and cheeks and its eyestripe is narrow in front of its eye and poorly defined behind all being published characters for the species. 

Red-wattled Lapwing at the King's Project

 Non-breeding Whiskered Tern at the King's Project

 Non-breeding Whiskered Tern at the King's Project
At first glance this would appear a more difficult individual to identify in that it has a dark spot on its ear-coverts almost recalling the head pattern of a White-winged Black Tern. However, as JFC quickly pointed out, note its rather stout bill and grey rump and uppertail-coverts that quickly eliminates that possibility.

Little Cormorant at the King's Project
Lizard at the King's Project 

Water Monitor at the King's Project