Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Ban Pak Thale

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


  1. Wow! So many birds all beautifully photographed. Very quiet here in Niigata in comparison. The Brown-headed Gull is very striking but they're all pretty nice to see.

  2. Wonderful images. I would really like to spend some quality time with your Spotted Redshank as it is quite uncommon here in Malaysia.

  3. That's a great list of waders to see all together, Marsh Sand too, long time since i saw one of those. Despite lying on the ground I think your shots are brilliant, especially the colourful Greater Sand Plover and Spotted Redshanks, the latter is so shy over here.

  4. Lovely wader shots, I have still never seen a Greater Sand Plover........

  5. Thanks a lot everyone!
    Never aware that Spotted Redshank can be difficult in so many parts of the world