Huay Mai Teng Reservoir: Habitat Meltdown

I was genuinely excited by the prospect of going to the reservoir this afternoon and on arrival it was wonderful to drive into four Small Pratincoles at the launch area. The water level is very high so there wasn’t much of the launch area available. Furthermore we’ve had a bit of rain here this week in Ratchaburi so it is now in the balance if there will be a significant reduction in the water level , especially if it continues to rain.

My excitement and happiness soon turned into frustration. More habitat is in the process of being turned into farmed land. Most of the western side of this extensive site has been reclaimed in the last couple of years and a large industrial pig rearing facility has been built in this area; the latter stinks to such an extent that my son even commented on the smell.

The real story is the decline of Rain Quail in this area. Over the last couple of years I’ve directed people to this sought after species with simple directions or GPS done so in the finest traditions of drive-in birding. There was one patch where 20 – 30 Rain Quail were feeding two years ago: not a sign or sound of them there today or in the last year. There was another patch where 5-6 Rain Quail could be seen – now it has been cultivated. In the course of the afternoon I heard three distant calls. Good to know there are still some present and for all I know there may be a lot more but I am concerned about the impact of the high water level and continuing reclamation of habitat.

There were good numbers of Richard’s Pipits still present. An Osprey perched up in the outlying western pond – here too huge development going on and the burners have also been out in force setting fire to the scrub. A fair few Indochinese Bushlarks. On the east side in an area I had ear marked as a likely spot for warblers and flycatchers, the scrub has been cleared and an irrigation system installed. 

The highlight came at dusk – three Savanna Nightjars announced their appearance with their amazing call and as we drove out we put up two Indian Nightjars that were parked on the road.

Great to get to the reservoir but sad to see such extensive human intervention.

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