Khao Yoi & Wat Kha Takrhao

Spot-billed Pelican 14.09.13

We’re experiencing a lot of rain at the moment as the “south-west monsoon” becomes the dominant feature in “peninsular” Thailand’s weather. Migration is also in full swing. So the opportunist in me decided to take a spin round the north of Petchburi province, the Khao Yoi and Wat Khao Takrao areas on Saturday afternoon…….you never know what birds this weather might bring down. It was this time of the year that Tom Backlund and I ran into a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at Khok Kham a few years ago.

I feel almost embarrassed about not blogging since the end of July. Basically there’s been very little birdwatching as I haven’t been doing very much other than work. In my free time I’ve been resting my foot in an attempt to promote recuperation. I think I have been successful in this respect because as I write, Sunday morning, I am very aware of the fact that yesterday’s exertions have not had a negative effect on the wound site.

First up I was sad to notice that a favourite pond site, a few kilometers to the east of the Khao Yoi crags, is now under cultivation meaning that a reliable site for Purple Swamphen and Bronze-winged and Pheasant Tailed Jacana has been lost. Further eastwards, towards the sea, huge aquaculture developments are under way just after the point where the road crosses the railway line; the recently excavated muddy pond bottoms provided a feeding opportunity for Wood Sandpipers and Black-winged Stilts. Then the big water birds started to appear – Painted Stork. A truly elegant bird, and a species that really appears to have established itself in this area in significant numbers; then, as I drove along the road, a couple of Spot-billed Pelicans appeared, looking ridiculously oversized in a small pool. A noisy Oriental Pratincole flew over announcing itself by its flickering flight pattern and white rump.

Then I picked out a kingfisher at a distance, perched on a bare branch; the binoculars showed it to be a Stork-billed. I managed to get reasonably close to it and had wonderful views of it but I knew the movement involved in setting up the digiscope rig would disturb it so I simply enjoyed the spectacle; a rather bland White-throated Kingfisher was perched elsewhere on the same tree. Soon after I saw a number of Collared Kingfisher and later in the day saw two Common Kingfishers. The Common is a winter visitor so their presence is testimony to the fact that migration is well under way. I was very excited as I don’t usually get to see four species of kingfisher in a day and I was aware there were possibilities of seeing Black-capped, another winter visitor and the resident Pied. Sadly neither obliged.

Further evidence of migration was provided by the presence of at least six Brown Shrikes.

Painted Stork 14.09.13Next, as I progressed to Wat Khao Takrhao, I bumped into three juvenile Brahminy Kites who were involved in a bit of argy-bargy with some Jungle Crows. The Brahminys had me confused because initially I thought they were Black Kites – however their tails were wrong, their size was wrong, smallish, their movement was wrong, and one of them scooped up a dead fish off the ground. Nearby I saw an adult Brahminy with its very distinctive white head. QED.

On the road to the big pond at Wat Khao Takrhao I managed to sight another Stork-billed Kingfisher in exactly the same location as my last trip here. Looks like this species is in the process of establishing itself in the area. The big pond itself had lots of Milky Stork scattered around, two Spot-billed Pelicans, lots of Lesser Whistling Ducks, a few Black-tailed Godwits, one Long-toed Stint, two Marsh Sandpipers, a handful of Pacific Golden Plovers in different stages of plumage, some Common Sandpipers, and a solitary Sand-plover with a trace of breeding plumage, suggesting a Greater; but a surprise here as sand-plovers usually keep to the coast in this area.

I decided to drive back the same way. Along the way I picked out a Black Bittern flying just above the trees and a little bit later a solitary Darter flew over. Nearby a small flock of about 40 Spot-billed Pelicans were hovering in the sky before settling down in their roost. More than happy with my lot, I decided to head home and, en route,  to check out if there was any action at the Khao Yoi Black Kite roost. Yes, there was: lots of Open-bills were in the trees – watch out, guys, your days are numbered! Not a sign of a Black Kite yet, but they’ll start arriving soon. However I had a grandstand view of a Black-shouldered Kite hovering and then swooping down in two stages to successfully grab a rat or shrew; it was actually on the ground, in a ditch to be precise, for about 20-30 seconds, before it finally flew off with its prey to a tree top.

A fantastic afternoon’s birding. When I got home there was a bit of swelling and inflammation in my foot; this is normal. But twenty-fours later it has all gone; again this is normal. There is no pain or discomfort. I think I’ll be out birding again in the very near future!

5 thoughts on “Khao Yoi & Wat Kha Takrhao”

  1. Sounds like a great day my friend…. I had a walk around Putthamonton park yesterday and turned up nothing really.. funny old game!!! I know where Khao Yoi is, but could you tell me where the birding spots are around there… I really want a nice pic of a stork bill this year Cheers .. Brian

  2. Thanks Brian I love Phutthamonton but haven’t been for some time. I remember being thrilled at seeing a Coppersmith Barbet there a few years ago.I always found the rough area over by the dog place to be good and then the north-east corner which is near there.

    For Khao Yoi come off the Phetchkasem Road immediately before the crags; there are some shops including a Seven on the south bound; turn left and keep on that road; ultimately it makes a huge U and will take you back to the Petchkasem just after the Makro store near Phetchburi. There are a few kinks in it – when you near the railway it goes sharp left and then right: the main action areas are after crossing the railway line. It’s all fish farms after the railway line so you’ll start to see more and more birds.

    The road is passable and drivable but lots of potholes so be careful. ANd if you head that way let us know how you get on.

  3. Cheers for that.. I shall try to check it out next weekend.. A nice shot of a Puttamonton Coppersmith on my blog earlier this year.. have a look.. Thanks again Brian

  4. Brian if you have GPS/satnav you can work your way through this area to Wat Khao Takrhao and then down to Pak Thale/Laem Pak Bia; basically turn left where the road starts to straighten, as if it were the end of the bend in the U; if you proceed down that road you’ll come to Wat Khao Takrhao which you will see perched on a rock, very picturesque; just outside the car park, turn left and drive up that road and after about 10(?) km the big pond comes up on the right just after a bridge; it opens out to the right; this road is a dead end a few km later; back to the Wat and turn left on that road until you reach the T junction; turn left and proceed until you come to the traffic lights; turn right and keep going…..follow the road round various bends, straight on at traffic lights and simply keep to the main drag – you’ll eventually reach Pak Thale. Good luck!

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