Birding in Pattaya – Thailand part one

A Lizard

Although not concerning birds in Mongolia I take the liberty to blog about a recent visit to Thailand.

In January I went with my family from Mongolia to Thailand to participate in a conference. I was quite excited since I’ve never visited the country before – so plenty of new birds were expected.

For the first week of our stay we were at a hotel in Pattaya. I didn’t have much time birding, but I did do some urban birding in walking distance from the hotel.

As the country was new to me many of the birds were also new. From the hotel birds like Germain’s Swiftlets and Asian Palm Swifts were easily observed along with Barn swallows.

Asian PalmSwiftlet

The hotel garden offered birds like Common and White-vented Myna and the tiny Zebra Dove was very common.

Zebra Dove

There were good number of wintering migrants including Thick-billed, Two-barred, Yellow-browed and Arctic Warblers.

Thick-billed Warbler

Citting Zisticola

A rather charming species was the Oriental Magpie Robin. It was present in urban areas with tall trees.

Oriental Magpie Robin

I had one day, where I was able to use some more time away from the hotel. I had used google maps to locate potential good birding areas. Only eight km from the hotel the lake Huai Chak Nok is located. I couldn’t find a taxi willing to take me there, so I started walking.

Along the way I stopped at a few promising looking site, where I found birds like Little Cormorant, Yellow Bittern and Common Tailorbird.

Yellow Bittern

Little Cormorants

I also passed though some cultivated areas, where Paddyfield Pipits were common.

Paddyfield Pipit

I was a bit surprised to find both squirrels and plenty of Green Bee-eaters in the sparse urban vegetation.

An “urban” Squirrel

At one point I asked a lady for direction. Rather than pointing me in the right direction she fetched her scooter, gave me a spare helmet and of we drove to Huai Chak Nok.

Driving with a Thai

We reached the lake safely. The lady refused to accept any payment and told me to call her, if I needed any help. Overall the Thais are just really sweet and accommodating people.

The Huai Chak Nok lake was quite large, but fishery and cultivation had pretty much completely cleared the area of any untouched nature. But non the less birding was nice.

On the lake I found Little Grebes, a flock of Pygmy Cotton Geese and Pheasant-tailed Jacanas.

Pygmy Cotton Geese

A flock of more than 40 Asian Openbills gave good views as they were foraging and later flying over my head.

Asian Openbill

Asian Openbill

Raptors included a Peregrine and a few Brahminy Kites. Some distance sparrowhawks were impossible for me to identify. There were also plenty of Little and Great White Egrets and Java Pond Herons.

Java Pond Heron

After checking the lake I went to check some patches of trees in the vicinity. While walking there I flushed a large nightjar. Luckily I managed a blurred shot of the bird and it turned out to be a Large-tailed Nightjar.

Large-tailed Nightjar

There were good numbers of birds in the trees like Common Iora, phyllos, Green Bee-eaters, Oriental Magpie Robins, bulbuls, sunbirds and Pied Fantails.

Common Iora

One of the highlights were two Black Bazas. This is a very different-looking raptor with its black, white and rufus colours and long crest. It offered great views in the fading light.

Black Baza

As the sun went down I went to a small shop to ask for directions and in no time a guy on a scooter picked me up and drove me home. This guy happily received the arranged price for his service.

The latter part of our time in Thailand offered some more serious birding. More on that later.


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