Monday, 20 February 2017

Thailand - 3

When we were preparing for our trip to Thailand we were made aware by Neil Lawton of some photographic hides near Keang Krachan National Park that might be included in our itinerary.

The story was that during the dry season poachers had been attracting wildlife, (mainly birds and mammals) to a series of small water holes that they had created along dry stream beds. Species such as Green-legged Partridge, Chinese Francolin and Lesser Mouse Deer were being shot and taken for eating; White-rumped Shamas, Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrushes and others were being trapped and sold in the markets as song birds.  The poachers also left food such as papaya and bananas by the water and simply returned each day to replenish the water and food as necessary.  They could then sit in a makeshift hide nearby and harvest whatever species they could attract.

 Lesser Mouse Deer (ISO-6400 f/5.6 1/250 sec)

White-rumped Shama (ISO-6400 f/5.6 1/200 sec)

Thankfully, with the help of the Thai military on whose land this activity was taking place, these poachers were eventually persuaded that there might be more money to be made from their water holes if the killing and trapping stopped and if the hides were instead rented out to photographers. This all happened several years ago and we were told that poaching in the area has been brought to an end as the hides have now become very popular and have to be booked in advance.  Not only that but the water holes were attracting a surprising variety of species including some difficult to see birds, such as Red-legged Crake, which as a result have been found to be more common than previously thought.  All in all it's been quite a success story and one that might be repeated elsewhere.

 Streaked-eared Bulbul (ISO-6400 f/5.6 1/400 sec)

 Black-naped Monarch - male (ISO-6400 f/5.6 1/250 sec)

 Black-naped Monarch - female (ISO-16000 f/5.6 1/400 sec)

Jungle Fowl (ISO-16000 f/5 1/400 sec)

Our trip to Thailand was supposed to be more about seeing birds than photographing them but a few hours in a hide at the water holes was an attractive prospect.  There was just the one problem: although this was indeed the dry season, we had been greeted on arrival in Thailand by three days of almost continuous rain.  As a result, when we reached the so-called 'dry' stream bed where the water holes were located we found it running with water.  This shouldn't really have been a surprise as wherever we had been at that stage in the trip we had found water lying.  It was obvious that in these conditions the water holes wouldn't really be especially attractive.  Not only that but it didn't seem as though the food supply had been stocked up in recent days.  Undeterred, we settled down in the two small hides to see what might come.

Green-legged Partridge (ISO-16000 f/5 1/400 sec)

Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush (ISO-5000 f/6.3 1/200 sec)

It was immediately obvious that photography was going to be something of a challenge.  Simply, it was an extremely dull, cloudy day and there was very little light reaching the area where any birds might be within range.  However, it wasn't long before birds arrived and in the next hour or so we had a variety of species at least in view if not within camera range. Particularly notable were Jungle Fowl, Black-naped Monarchs, Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrushes, Puff-throated Babblers, Brown-cheeked Fulvettas, Tickell's Blue Flycatcher, White-rumped Shama, Pied Fantail and Pale-legged Leaf Warbler.  And there were mammals, too: Lesser Mouse Deer, Grey-bellied Squirrel and Northern Tree Shrew.

Grey-bellied Squirrel (ISO-6400 f/5.6 1/200 sec)

Pied Fantail (ISO-5000 f/5.6 1/200 sec)

The photographs here were all taken with a recently purchased Canon EOS 7D Mk II.  It was at least an opportunity to try out this new camera's performance in low light conditions!  Camera settings have been included in the captions.

If (when?) we manage another visit to Thailand, it would be nice to have another session in one of these hides but only if it really is the dry season and the sun is shining!

No comments: