A long day in the bus. The Thais drive on the left, just like we do in Oz, how sensible of them.
Our transport consisted of two absolutely luxurious minibuses. More importantly, they were driven by the nicest chauffeurs you could ever hope to meet. Tiang and June, as well as getting us efficiently around the place, twice a day they would set up a circle of chairs and provide us with our 11 am little lunch and afternoon tea. Served with a big smile, sometimes even with chocolate. Nice people.
We took a little detour back to the salt flats, the Nordmann’s Greenshank was unfinished business. It took two stops to find a flock of them. The Spoonbilled Sandpiper is a super sexy bird, I have even seen it featured on tee-shirts, I doubt that the greenshank will ever be so honoured. To be sure that you are looking at one, not a Common Greenshank, you need to observe its two tone bill, and note that its legs are slightly shorter. It has but one saving grace – it’s rare! Tick.
Next stop was a duck pond at Bangtaboom. Here we found a plain white stork and a few other water birds. Quite a drab stork really. If it wasn’t so hideously rare it would hardly be worth looking for. Milky Stork, tick.
We skirted Bangkok, stop start, stop start and continued eastwards. As dusk approached we made a very brief stop at Sabkaret Reseach Station to say hi to the Siamese Fireback. It’s a very attractive Pheasant. It could grace a tee-shirt, no trouble.
We arrived at our accommodation after dark.
The best birding is early morning. Breakfast was early, we would be on our way before dawn. It was a feature of the entire tour that we almost never saw our accommodation in daylight.
We saw the sunrise in Sab Sadao. This is an area of dry deciduous woodland a habitat that is uncommon in Thailand and more like parts of Cambodia which isn’t all that far away. And that explains why we were there, a different habitat brings a new suite of birds. Memorable among them was the Red-breasted Parakeet.
We also saw a couple of other sights that stick in the memory. A ute came past taking some kids to school. There were half a dozen girls in the tray. There was a canopy over that and half a dozen boys perched on top of that. And then there was this …
Cock fighting is legal in Thailand. Good fighting birds change hands for huge sums of money and fortunes are gambled on the outcomes of contests. These birds are merely training, the spurs on their legs are bandaged to prevent injury. In fact, the spurs are often covered in competition as well. In Thailand it is not the custom to fit blades on the feet.
Next stop was a wetland at Lam Pra Elerng. Whilst we were watching the water birds some Brown-backed Needletails swept through. I was commenting that in Oz, Needletails, in our case White-throated Needletails, generally travel with storm fronts when the rain started. Moments later I was wetter than the ducks in front of me.