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Sunday, 11 February 2018


I didn't think that I was goin to see 2 SPOON-BILLED SANDPIPER and get mega views at Pak Thale Salt Pans!!!

  I left Bangkok, in the wrong truck, heading on the highway. The truck did rock, in the hostel I left my sock, the truck was taking me to LA. That's enough of that but I did leave my socks back in the hostel. No I wasn't goin to LA, I was on my ways south to hopefully to see the critically endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper at Pak Thale Salt Pans. There maybe only 500-800 left in the world!!
I'm staying in another top notch hostel in a town at Wat Yai Suwannaram, Petchaburi and it closes at the end of this month as the lady who owns it, wants to travel.
  This morning I made my ways east on the highway 4021 on a hired scooter (recommend) and fifteen minutes later I was at the sandpiper site. First, I went and my breakfast at the information center before birding. The pans stretched as far as the eye could see and I had no idea where to start. It said in the Thaibirding that a scope was essential. I didn't bring mine with me for the simple reason, weight. It was 10.00 and the first birders were already leaving. One of the birders told me that they had no joy but had seen Long-toed, Red-necked Stint, Marsh sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Black-winged Stilt, Greater Sandplover and Malaysian Plover. I told him that I had just had all of them in the first pan I looked at where I parked the scooter as well as Redshank. He told me that he was with a tour leader and they will return and try again later.

The cook outside the information center

Red-necked Stint

Marsh Sandpiper

Black-winged Stilt

Greater Sandplover. All these photos were taken on the forst salt pan I looked at with other waders

Waders feeding on the salt farm

  When I first saw the two birders, they were scanning the pans on the north end and the tour leader was obviously searching that area for the spoon-billed Sandpiper. So that's where I made my ways to and after ten minutes of scanning with me bins I said out loud  'I've got one!!' It was distant and I waited for it to turn front on to show off that shovel. No mistake, it was one! I crouched down behind a low bank and quickly made my ways towards the sandpiper to get a better view. After trying to sort my back out from walking low like a crab, I relocated the sandpiper and then lay down low behind the bank and waited patiently for it to come towards me. It took it's time but for twenty minutes I had cracking views before it flew off. I had no idea where it went to but a look in the next pan, that was full of Red-necked Stint and plovers, and on my first scan, I relocated the Spoon-billed Sandpiper. 'It's a bloody different one!!) Made easy by it having flags on it's legs. Again I got down low and waited for it to come closer. It payed off but didn't show as good as the first one and when a Common Sandpiper alarmed, all the waders took flight.
  So I had only been here for an hour and I had already connected with 2 SPOON-BILLED SANDPIPER with some crippling views!!!

Searching through 1000s of waders for the mega prize payed off


2 Spoon-billed Sandpiper including an individual with the flags on it's legs

Note how low the banks are that I tried to hide behind

  I went to look at the rest of the waders that were on offer and there were 1000s of them. At the north end I found the large waders including, Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Spotted Redshank, Curlew, Great Knot, 2 Greenshank and my only Terek Sandpiper, Whimbrel and Ruff . Caspian Terns and Brown-headed Gull were overhead with good numbers of Whiskered Tern feeding over the pans. The sun was in the wrong direction and I found myself working the pans that I haven't scanned yet back on east side. I got a surprise when I came across 9 Red-necked Phalarope spinning on the water but everything got up when 2 Brahminy Kite flew over. The waders settled back down and there were 10 Pacific Golden Plover. There were also Broad-billed Sandpiper and Curlew Sandpiper that I had already seen earlier. A single Javan ond Heron was the only one I saw For the next hour I took my time walking along three salt pans before returning to the information center to have something to eat.

I only saw 5 Great Knot

Large numbers of Marsh Sandpiper

Small flocks of Brown-headed Gull were flying over with Caspian Tern

Whiskered Tern were actively feeding over the pans

Little Tern

Common Tern

The last Red-necked Phalarope I saw was the female that Dave Barnes found at Knighton Res, '95 I think.

Marsh Sandpiper

Black-winged Stilt are all over the shop

I only saw 10+Pacific Golden Plover

Small numbers of Long-toed Stint

Broad-billed Sandpiper was the only new species of wader for me with the Spoon-billed Sandpiper
Red-necked Stint

Kentish Plover

Greater Sandplover

Little Cormorant

Brahminy Kite

All the waders flushed by the kites

Lots of stray dogs also on the salt pans

Mangrove Kingfisher

With my belly full, at 16.00 I left the information center and heading south on the 4028 towards Laem Pak Bia taking dirt tracks to the direction of the sea to hopefully score with Pallas's Gull. No sign but I got 4 amazing looking Painted Stork and discovered that Mangrove Kingfisher are all over the shop and are superb to observe! Also Wood Sandpiper, Temmink's Stint, Bar-tailed Godwit and a single Red-wattled Plover. What away to end a day I will never forget after seeing the 2 Spoon-billed Sandpiper!!

I recommend hire a scooter if you visit this area at only £10 a day!

  It was yesterday mid-afternoon that I arrived at the hostel and the first thing I did was take advantage of the bikes that you can use for free! I cycled east and off the main road found paddy fields and flooded areas. Scanned the first one and got good numbers of Red-wattled and lots of Grey-headed Lapwing, Whiskered Tern, Wood Sandpiper, Little-ringed Plover and 2 Long-toed Stint. Cycling on I flushed no end of Cinnamon Bittern and a single Purple Heron. A few fields in from the track there was a large flooded area and there I found 6 Lesser Whisling Duck, Bronze winged Jacana, Ruddy-breasted Crake and just before dark 2 Eastern Marsh Harrier came through

Fork-tailed Drongo

2 Long-toed Stint with a single Little-ringed Plover

Black-winged Stint with straw coloured legs

Wood Sandpiper

Intermediate Egret

Cinnamon Bittern  

Baya Weaver

Pair of Asian Koal

100s of Whiskered Tern

Eastern Marsh Harrier

Red-wattled Plover

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