Friday, 29 June 2012

Laem Pak Bia

Lam Pak Bia is one of the best places for wetland birds and waders in the Gulf of Thailand. Located in Petchaburi Province, it's only a 2-hour drive from Bangkok. Another major spot for waders, Ban Pak Thale, is located just about 15 kilometres away as well. These are the reasons why I always choose to visit Laem Pak Bia whenever I've got the chance to be in central Thailand during winter and spring. On my visit to Laem Pak Bia in early April, I stayed in a resort near Chao Samran Beach, not very far from Laem Pak Bia. The main area for birding is within the Laem Pak Bia Royal Project where large filtering ponds serve as a great habitat for wetland birds. Unfortunately, most of the ponds were drained up and some construction was going on during my visit. Only 2 small ponds next to the mangroves still had some water in it. There, the waders and all other wetland birds enjoyed feeding together in tight flocks.

Long-toed Stint in breeding plumage

Wood Sandpiper in breeding plumage

Little Cormorant in breeding plumage

In the 2 small ponds, there were lots of Black-winged Stilts, Little Cormorants and Red-wattled Lapwings, few Wood, Marsh and Common Sandpipers, Spotted Redshanks, a Long-toed Stint, Black-crowned Nigh-Heron and several Javan Pond Herons. Normally, when there's more water in the other ponds, there'd be Ruffs, Common and Pintail Snipes, Whiskered and White-winged Terns, Indian Cormorants, Common, Black-capped and White-throated Kingfishers, Red-necked and Temminck's Stints. Anyway, at least I got to enjoy taking photos of birds in the ponds at close range and just from the car window. It was nice seeing waders in their breeding plumage, as well as the pond herons and Little Cormorants. I especially like the Long-toed Stint which was feeding just by the roadside. It was so tiny yet very beautiful with those bright rufous fringes on upperwing coverts.

Common Greenshank in breeding plumage

Common Redshank moulting into breeding plumage

'Variant'? Black-winged Stilts

Another individual with unusual look

Little Cormorant in breeding plumage

Love the silvery streaks on its head

The Black-winged Stilt is a very common bird in central Thailand, yet there's myth about it that no one could really explain. Most of them have clean white head or with some black speckles/faint dark patch in female and non-breeding plumage, but some individuals also show clear black patch lining from crown down to the back of the neck, similar to that of the White-headed Stilt in Australia. It's still questionable if some of these birds might actually be White-headed Stilts. Definitely more research is needed for this much overlooked bird.

Some pond herons were still in unidentifiable non-breeding plumage.

Javan Pond Heron in full breeding plumage

Common yet pretty stunning in breeding plumage

A little birdscaping

Red-wattled Lapwing (Probably split as White-eared Lapwing)

Passing Water Monitor

Spotted Redshank beginning to moult into breeding plumage

Wood Sandpiper in non-breeding plumage

The party was slightly disturbed by the appearance of a Water Monitor which came swimming across the pond. They are quite numerous in this area, especially when there is water in other filtering ponds as there'd be lots of dead fishes for them to feed on. The Red-wattled Lapwing was the noisiest bird and it really got too excited when the Water Monitor came close. After the monitor landed on the bank and walked up the road, the feeding frenzy down in the pond began to resume. After visiting the Royal Project area, I went northward to Ban Pak Thale to look for waders in the salt pans. On my way, I stopped at a viewpoint near the Laem Pak Bia sand spit. There was a small flock of egrets wading along the distant shoreline. I secretly wished that there'd be Chinese Egret, a globally endangered bird which I still hadn't seen yet. Laem Pak Bia is one of the places where this rare species is regularly seen. To my surprise, there was really a single Chinese Egret walking among few other Little Egrets. Another lifer added!

Non-breeding Eastern Great Egret

Non-breeding Chinese Egret (left) with a Little Egret (right)

Brightly coloured male Red Collared Dove

Male bird calling

Female Red Collared Dove

One of the two juveniles

Common Mynas at the nest hole

Blooming Royal Poinciana

Male Black-naped Oriole

I only stayed at Chao Samran Beach for one night. The next morning I spent my time taking photos of common birds around the resort. Apparently, there were lots of Red Collared Doves pairing up and bringing back nesting materials. Even though it's an abundant bird throughout Thailand, I couldn't resist taking photos of them since they're so colourful and the light and setting were perfect. Other birds found around the resort include Common and White-vented Mynas, a circling Brahminy Kite, an Oriental Honey Buzzard and surprisingly a colourful Black-naped Oriole.


  1. I'm surprised that you can still see waders this time time of the year. We've more or less run out of wader a month ago. Great images Ayuwat.

  2. I love this post. Well done, Ayuwat.

  3. Thanks everyone!
    These photos were taken in April, Madi.

  4. Very interesting; thanks for the information and photos.