Hunt for Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Thailand)

(Mid-December 2009) Our hotel was situated on the bank of the river and had well wooded gardens so my expectations were immediately raised. The number of species was lower than expected but still worthwhile for getting used to the Thai birds. The most common were the Eurasian Tree Sparrows and the constantly seen Zebra and Spotted Doves. Streak-eared Bulbuls also put in an appearance on a regular basis with a special appearance twice by the Oriental Magpie Robin.

A visit to house museum of Jim Thompson produced amongst others, Purple-throated Sunbird and Large-billed Crow. I do think early morning the garden here would be a hive of avian activity before all the staff and tourists arrive.

My day birding was out with Wild Bird Eco-Tour to the Phetchaburi area located on the coast south-west of Bangkok. Our first stop was the Pak Thale area with salt pans to look for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper. The 1st hour did not deliver although we filled the list with a host of waders of which the Black-winged Stilt was the most numerous – personally I’ve never seen so many in the same immediate area of each other ever. The waders included Red-necked and Temminck’s Stints, Marsh, Terek and Curlew Sandpipers, and Common Redshank. There was also my first Thai kingfisher – Collared Kingfisher. The great moment – our 1st Spoon-billed Sandpiper! The guide and myself were bouncing about with glee. What a wonderful and extremely energetic little bird filtering away at a speed that would make your eyes water. Cruising away after this – another two Spoon-billed Sandpipers! (Unfortunately too far away for photos) What a great start to our day!

Pond Heron (non-breeding Plumage)

From here we went on to Laem Pak Bia - King’s Project for some more birding between the different reservoirs, we didn’t venture off into the mangroves though. This proved productive with Common Snipe, Golden Plover, Red-wattled Lapwing , Ruff, Bar-tailed Godwit and a host of Pond Herons. We didn’t venture an ID on the latter in their non-breeding plumage although this didn’t detract from how obliging they were to us getting close and getting some good photos. I was treated to another two new kingfishers – White-throated and Black-capped Kingfisher. A Brahminy Kite was also perched near us at one stage until I touched my camera and flew off.

White-throated Kingfisher

The rest of the day was relaxing driving around through agricultural and wetland areas and looking what was about. Common Kingfisher was the 4th in the family for the day after which the species just continued to roll (or was it us rolling) in; Bronze-winged and Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Purple Swamphen, Common Greenshank, Indian Roller (Photo),

Blue-tailed and Green Bee-eaters, the constantly calling Asian Koel, Long-tailed Shrike, and a jaw-dropping (for me anyway) by the Greater Racket-tailed Drongo!

A most enjoyable and highly recommended day out birding where you can work as hard or as little as you want for the species you’re looking for.


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