Two new species have been added to the Thai list in the last two weeks: Bay-backed Shrike and Collared Pratincole. My own view was that getting to see Baer’s Pochard was more important than either of these so when everyone was scurrying around Laem Pak Bia I went north. I went for the new birds today. In addition I had arranged to meet up with Mike Bruce who’s here from the US of A. I had a very enjoyable few days’ birding with Mike and his father, David, last year.
I think I was very lucky today because the Bay-backed Shrike was performing when I arrived and I had a brief five second dalliance with it before it went off. On three occasions during the day when we returned to the King’s Project it wasn’t to be seen. It was the call that drew me to the bird and there it was perched on a tree stump in the gardens adjacent to the main toilets in the King’s Project. A big tick. A very elegant shrike.
When Mike arrived soon after we went off in search of Collared Pratincole at Wat Komnoram, via the Laem Pak Bia salt pans; very few birds present there, except for some Richard’s Pipits on the road. Finding the Collared was a much more challenging proposition and in the end we had to accept the dip. Basically it looks very similar to Oriental. We thought we had it, certainly I did, as we got on a very light coloured Pratincole but as the day unfolded a comparison of Mike’s photographs with the accepted record shots showed two very obviously different birds. The Collared is in fact a pretty scruffy bird in comparison to the Oriental, but at a distance very hard to separate. We had a look again later in the day but there was no sign of it then.
From Wat Komnaram we headed to the big pond at Wat Khao Takrhao – it was rammed with birds including large flocks of Black-tailed Godwits and Garganey. It was inaccessible today as the road was under lock and key so really impossible to tell what was in the distance apart from saying there were lots of birds. There were about 10 Black-headed Ibis and 1 Osprey. It was also good to finally connect with Neil Lawton who was here with some friends. On the drive to the big pond, the umistakeable colours of a Stork-billed Kingfisher was our fourth kingfisher species of the day. Of these Black-capped was the most prevalent.
After lunch, during which we compared Pratincole images, we reached the sad, but necessary, conclusion that our claims were groundless. We then made a brief detour to Norng Blah Lai where other than a few Black Kites we were restricted to one distant Greater Spotted Eagle.
Back to Wat Komnaran for another go at Collared Pratincole but no joy. So down to the Abandoned Building. Lots of waders of which the highlights were a Ruff and a Red-necked Phalarope
Finally back into the King’s Project where we had a number of Ruddy-breasted Crakes and where a beautiful male Greater Painted Snipe posed and allowed me the best digiscoped image I have taken for ages. I have added a head on shot as some have enquired about exactly where the bird was coming from.Finally three White-shouldered Starlings flew in around dusk to round off a really excellent day.