Friday, 10 February 2017

Thailand - 2

One of the highlights of our recent trip to Thailand was the three-hour boat trip we enjoyed at Bueng Boraphet, one of the country’s largest wetlands, located near the city of Nakhon Sawan, about 240km north of Bangkok.

We always like boat trips but especially ones that are on flat calm fresh water lakes like this one and on a stable boat with comfortable seating.  Add hundreds of birds, good light for photography and a boatman who could spot birds and identify them and we had a near-perfect morning.  As well as the birds, a fine array of water lilies and lotus flowers were quite a sight in themselves and made a very nice setting for many bird photos.

Most of the birds we saw were, of course, wetland species and several of them were familiar to us from Europe.  There were many Great & Little Egrets, Grey & Purple Herons, Black-crowned Night Herons, Glossy Ibises and Little Grebes.  However, lots were new including Bronze-winged & Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Little & Indian Cormorants, Oriental Darters, Grey-headed Swamp-hens, White-browed Crakes and most numerous of all, Asian Openbills.  The Pond Herons we saw here were presumed to be Chinese Pond Herons but separating this species from Javan Pond Heron is nigh impossible unless they are in breeding plumage.

 Pheasant-tailed Jacana

 Grey-headed Swamp-hen

 Indian Cormorant

 Purple Heron

 presumed Chinese Pond Heron

 Oriental Darter

 Cotton Pygmy-goose

Asian Openbill

There were a few passerines such as Bluethroat, Zitting Cisticola and Striated Grassbird and raptors, too with Peregrine Falcon, Eastern Marsh Harrier, Black-winged & Black-eared Kites all seen well.

Black-winged Kite

Bueng Boraphet will forever be associated with the enigmatic White-eyed River Martin, a species that presents one of the most puzzling mysteries of Asian ornithology.  Although quite distinctive in appearance it had been completely overlooked until it was discovered during a ringing expedition there in 1968.  It was recorded again at the lake during several subsequent winters but it hasn’t been seen with certainty anywhere since 1980.  As a result very little known about it but it’s an interesting story that you can find here.

White-eyed River Martin remembered

We returned to Bueng Boraphet at the end of our tour for a walk around the Waterbird Park on the south side of the lake.  This area of wetland with reedbeds and scrub proved to be quite productive and it was here that at last we saw Siberian Rubythroat.  Other highlights of the morning were Burmese Shrike, two Indian Nightjars, Blue-tailed & Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, Freckle-breasted Woodpecker, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker and Brown-throated Sunbird.

Blue-tailed Bee-eater

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