Waterfowl at Wat Khao Takrao

Gadwall
Gadwall

A few days ago Dave Gandy asked if I knew whether anybody was covering Wat Khao Takrao during the Asian Waterbird Census [“AWC”];I don’t know and I was oblivious to the fact that it is AWC time. This nudged me into action. Today, Wednesday, is Teachers Day in Thailand and for once we were given the day off. So I forced myself out of bed and headed south to Phetchburi province  just after 06:30h. It’s about a 45 minute drive to the big pond at Wat Khao Takrao: I hasten to add that it is several kilometres from the pretty temple perched on the rock that is called Wat Khao Takrhao. I am glad I made the effort.

Northern Shoveler
Northern Shovelers

The highlight was two Gadwall, comparatively rare ducks this far south in Thailand. Of course the real story is finding them in amongst everything else. I would estimate there were in the region of 2,500 Northern Pintail and an estimated 1,500 Garganey; add in the fact that they were at least 500m away. So I was pleased to get a couple of images for the record, as it were, and indeed to enable me to get the ID confirmed. Dave Gandy has confirmed they are Gadwall and Phil Round has also done so and now Tom Backlund has too – thanks. The key feature that stands out in these ducks is the smallish white patch that can be seen towards their tails; this is in fact on the wing and is much more visible when the bird is in flight. As I scoped the two of them dabbling away I also thought the bills were different from everything else nearby, just a sense as opposed to a specific detail. If anything I thought the bill tip was a little rounder and that overall it was quite slender. Fortunately I was able to get a shot.

Black-headed Ibis
Black-headed Ibis

In additon there were 3 Eurasian Wigeon and 2 Northern Shovelers with their diagnostic huge,”shovel” bills; the wigeon are lovely ducks with a reddish brown head and a yellow centre.

Zitting Cisticola
Zitting Cisticola

I had a good scan but couldn’t pick out anything else. However the ducks were a distance away and I would not be surprised if there were some other rarities in there. There is considerable concern in birding circles about the fate of Baers Pochard; its numbers appear to have declined dramatically in recent years. The odd vagrant often appears in Thailand usually in the north but they have been recorded historically in the central area too.

IndianCormorants2
Indian Comorants

Waterfowl apart the bird of the day was Black-headed Ibis of which I counted 32. This must be the most I have ever seen in Thailand apart from Bueng Boraphet. I also saw four species of Kingfisher: Collared,White-throated, Black-capped and Common. There were two Pied Harriers and also one Osprey. In among the hundreds of egrets, herons and ibis a solitary Painted Stork really stood out! I also noted 22 Indian Cormorants today. I don’t usually pay much attention to cormorants as here they are usually Little. This Indian species is much more exotic: note the aqua-marine coloured eye and the long slim bill with its downward-pointing tip. Beautiful birds. On the approach road I counted one Pink-necked Green Pigeon.

Osprey
Osprey

A lovely way to spend a couple of hours in the morning and there was a little surprise for me when I returned to Ratchaburi. I was driving through the Muang Torng market area when I saw a rather skittish wagtail on the cement surface. I managed to stop and it was a White Wagtail, the first I’ve seen in these parts. Unfortunately there was a bit of traffic passing through so it flew off rather too quickly. I’ll need to check out this bird’s range.

Collared Kingfisher
Collared Kingfisher

3 thoughts on “Waterfowl at Wat Khao Takrao”

  1. Hi
    I will be going to the Laem pak Bia area early January and would like to include Wat Khao Takroa, I know where the temple is but not the ‘big pond’ any chance of getting directions.

    Robby

    1. Hi Robby

      My advice is to proceed north from Laem Pak Bia on the usual road, just keep going straight until you reach the junction at the southern end of Ban Laem; proceed over and after 1 km or so bear round to the left with a large temple on your left and cross the bridge to the next major junction; turn left here onto road 3176 which takes you into Phetchburi; after several kms take a right onto the 1004; there should be a ceremonial arch to drive through as this road leads to a temple; drive on until you reach the temple which is perched on a rock; at the temple take the right turn and proceed along that road for about 4 kms or so – there are various ponds ( all worth looking at) along this road but the one you are looking for is on the right side and is pretty unmistakable – in the middle you should see some cement blocks which normally have some cormorants, storks and sometimes pelicans sitting on them; there is a double track at the entrance and if you keep to the right track you can usually get as far as a couple of buildings and then a barrier blocks the road. I haven’t been there in a couple of years or so as I am now living in China but there should be a lot of wild fowl there right now and sometimes there are some surprises to be seen in among them – my mate Tom got a pair of Knob-billed ducks in there a few years ago. Good luck.

      1. Tank you for your prompt reply

        I have been to the temple but only read about the big pond, should be no problem to find it with your great description.

        Robby

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