After driving around in the Laem Pak Bia Royal Project, I moved to another well known place for waders called Ban Pak Thale, which is a bit further north of Laem Pak Bia. I haven't been here for so many years, even since before I went to Japan. It took me and my father quite some time before we could bring ourselves to the area where we normally birded. I was delighted to see beautiful signs and information boards about waders, especially the Spoon-billed Sandpiper, being set up in the area. After a quick scan, I located a flock of small waders in a salt pan not very far from where we parked the car. The flock mostly consisted of Lesser and Greater Sand Plovers, Kentish Plovers, Red-necked Stints and Curlew Sandpiper.
|Greater Sand Plover in breeding plumage|
|Male Kentish Plover in breeding plumage|
|Greater Sand Plover in striking breeding plumage|
Birds were much shyer than the ones I photographed at Khok Kham. Didn't know why. Even when I crawled so slowly on my knees and completely lied down on the burning muddy ground, the birds still flew away even before I could get into a good distance. At least, there were few individuals that were generous enough not to fly away so soon, so I could get some pretty nice shots of them like the handsome Greater Sand Plover in the photos above. I really like sand plovers in breeding plumage. Their colours are so striking.
|Lesser Sand Plover moulting into breeding plumage|
|A rather long-billed Lesser or a small-billed Greater?|
|Another photo of the Greater Sand Plover|
|Lesser Sand Plover (front) and Greater Sand Plover (back)|
|Loud and noisy female Black-winged Stilt|
|Marsh Sandpiper moulting into breeding plumage|
|Little Tern in breeding plumage|
|Common Tern in non-breeding plumage|
|Whiskered Tern in breeding plumage|
|Brown-headed Gull in breeding plumage|
Talking about diversity, birds at Ban Pak Thale seemed to be more diverse than at Khok Kham. I enjoyed scanning through large flocks of Eurasian Curlews (I'm pretty sure there were some hidden Far Easterns), Greater and Lesser Sand Plovers, small waders like stints and sandpipers, and Brown-headed Gulls. I was also happy to see a flock of large Caspian Terns mixing in a larger flock of Brown-headed Gulls. Most of them were also in their striking breeding plumage, sporting the smart black cap with bright red bill. The much more common and smaller relatives, Little and Whiskered Terns, were also in their beautiful breeding plumage. They occasionally flew over my head while I was lying down taking photos of waders. But I was a bit disappointed to find that none of the flyover Common Terns has moulted into breeding plumage.
|Brown-headed Gull in striking breeding plumage|
|Showing off its webbed foot|
|Caspian Terns among Brown-headed Gulls|
|Long-toed Stint moulting into breeding plumage|
|Red-necked Stint in non-breeding plumage|
|Another individual in breeding plumage|
Even though I didn't find any rare species of waders, I really had a great time taking photos of the common ones in their beautiful plumage. Even the abundant Brown-headed Gulls looked stunning with their blackish-brown hoods and bright red lips. It's been a long time since I last saw this species in breeding plumage. I've only been seeing the smaller Black-headed Gulls instead for the last 4 years in Japan. Other birds that were kind enough to let me get quite close and take some photos of them include Red-necked and Long-toed Stints, Whiskered Terns, Marsh Sandpipers and Spotted Redshanks. The latter ended up being surprisingly tame!
|Spotted Redshank moulting into breeding plumage|
|An even tamer non-breeding bird|
|Juvenile Indian Cormorant (left) with Little Cormorant (right)|
|Eastern Great Egret in breeding plumage|