From December 22:nd I went to Thailand with my family on a classic family holiday. We stayed 4 days in Bangkok (from where I went to Park Thale with a hired guide) and 8 nights in Ao Nang close to Krabi. We also spent 2 nights on the bus down and up this location. A 24 seater is a cheap and decent way to travel during night as the seats are quite comfortable. You also save the money for two hotel nights this way.
Going down to Krabi I had planned some biding of course. Down here you have Krabi river mouth, mangroves close up for some good birding. I hired a boat man for a couple of hours and took a walk to look for shore birds. I didn't´t come up close at this location and one of few birds that came close was this Common Greenshank. I´d hoped for Nordmann´s but lack of time and long distances made me go back without seeing it.
We also took a walk in a nearby villige where I saw this cattle and Cattle Egret together. It was a pretty nice walk and I also saw (among others) a few Brown Shirkes.
One hour from Krabi is KNC which is world wide known to be the only location for Gurney´s Pitta. I realized my chances were small as I had no guide and timing of the year not good. Tragically this spot is destroyed by all tourists that come for the Emerald Pool which also is located here. They have closed down all the trail and made it a tourist trap. This model of the Pitta is probably the closest any birder will come from now on.
Almost deserted from birds because of all screaming people I saw I few nice Golden Orb Spiders and this handsome Malayan Tree Nymph.
On the way back we stoped at Tiger Temple just north of Krabi town. Here I had a few hours of good birding and among others I saw this beautiful Blue Whistling Thrush and a group of 10 Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters and at the temple several families of Long-tailed Macaques.
As I had rented my own car we were quite free to make our own decisions. I booked one night up in Khao Sok National Park for just me and my daughter. We stayed at the very nice Tree tops just at the border to the park. Birding was quite slow in the jungle but around the headquarter I saw some birds like this Wallace´s Hawk Eagle and a pair of Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrikes.
Inside the park we met a family of Spectacled Langurs which are very cute indeed. One of them carried a new born baby which was light brown in color.
At the western side of Ao Nang is Hat Nopparat Thara. This is a river mouth and when the tide is low there usually are some shore birds. About 50 Lesser and Greater Sand Plovers were here and made a good time of study as these birds (especially in non-breeding plumage) can be quite tricky. I hope I made the right decision below. First 3 Lesser and then 3 Greater.
While taking these photos I saw a much brighter birds alone further away. Thinking it was Kentish Plover (nominate) made me later realize it was a White-faced Plover. This bird is still a race of the Kentish but is by some taxonomists regarded as a full species.
Just next to it was this Common Sandpiper and in the trees next to the beach these cute Collared Kingfishers.
Staying at Ao Nang means you have to take some boat trips to the nice islands further out. Out here you will probably have no problem seeing Brahminy Kite and perhaps Pied Imperial Pigeon.
If you ever go here I can recommend Green View Resort, where we stayed. A nice garden and some interesting habits close by. Among the more common was this Brown-throated Sunbird.
We went back to Bangkok for a few days. Long before I had booked a guide to take me to Pak Thale which is the only decent place to see the magic Spoon-billed Sandpiper. I have never been so nervous in my life for a birding trip as this morning. After a couple of hours driving we reached the location and had a very rustic breakfast in a tented shed where a local woman sold fish soup for 10 Swedish Crowns. Hong, my polite and kind guide brewed some coffee for me.
As the sun started to rise we made our way towards the small salt lakes where all the waders like to rest and feed. The morning was quite windy and the flocks of birds restless in their behavior. At one spot we found a flock of about 500 Red-necked Stints which we started to look through. At one momentI had a brief look at one Spoon-billed which was quite a relief, but of course I wanted a better look. Suddenly all the shore birds took off and we had to move to other spots. Hong´s local friend and expert Lang also came along for our mission to see it better. The wind became calmer and so did the birds and after some looking we found not only one but three Spoon-billed Sandpipers. The first was at rest and we were not sure if it was one because of the resemblance of the Red-necked Stint. But as it woke up it turned and I had a very good look at the magic bill, what a moment! I have probably dreamt about this bird for 25 years. The picture is not mine but Hong´s as our bird was a little bit to far out for a picture.
You can see how happy I was on the next photo.
The rest of the day we spent driving around and looking for other species I hadn't on my list, like Three-toed Stint which was quite plentiful. We saw 2 Asian Dowitchers as well but too far away for decent photos.
As a shore bird entusiast, this is heaven. I could easily spend several days looking at these and learn more about plumages and behavior. Many species are
known from my home but still nice to see in this incredible mix. As follows; Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover, Wood Sandpiper and Common Greenshank. The last is showing a Spotted Redshank and a Ruff.
The next bird confused me as I´m not very familiar to see a Broad-billed Sandpiper in this plumage.
Birds possible in Sweden but seldom seen was March Sandpiper and Red-necked Stint (the 2nd picture together with a Curlew Sandpiper).
Only once before I have seen the Pacific Golden Plover so this one was a nice pick.
At one salt pond I saw this flock of Black-naped Terns, which had a behavior I hadn't seen before. They were hovering almost like a hummingbird and just picking at the surface for food.
This Slender-billed Gull was the only one we saw and is quite uncommon here.
One of the most common bird here was the Black-winged Stilt but still an awesome beauty.
A few hundred meters inland there is some more marcy areas were I saw this Pond Heron, which I don´t dare to say which species it is in this plumage.
My last picture from this trip is on a pair of dancing Little Egrets saying bye for now!
Birds list by location
Green View resort
Whie-browed Waterhen 4, Chinese Pond-heron 1, Asian Palm Swift 5-6, Brown Shrike 2, Blue Whistling Thrush 1, Streak-eared Bulbul 2-4, Common Tailorbird 2-3, Olive-backed Sunbird 5-7, Brown-throated Sunbird 2-3, Red-backed Flowerpecker, Oriental Magpie-robin 2-3, Swallow about 10
4-islands, Poda: Blue Rock-thrush 1, Blue and White Flycatcher 1, Yellow-browed warbler 1, Dark-sided Flycatcher 1, White-bellied Sea eagle 3, Brahminy Kite7-8, Pied Imperial Pigeon 4.
Krabi River including local village: Brown-winged Kingfisher 1, Collared Kingfisher 1, Common Snipe 3-4, Pintail Snipe 1-2, Wood sandpiper 1, Asian Koel 1, Green-billed Malkoha 1, Dollarbird 1, Indian Roller 2, Richard´s Pipit 1, Oriental reed Warbler 1.
River mouth: Great Knot 10, Godwit, L sand Plover 150, Gr sand Plover 20, C Greenshank 10, Sanderling 1, Ruddy Turnstone 2, Terek Sandpiper 20, Eu curlew 40.
Mangrove Walk: Common tailorbird 1, Ashy tailorbird 1, Oriental White-eye 1, Arctic Warbler 1, Yellow-browed warbler 1.
Tiger cave: Mountain Hawk-Eagle 1, Black-capped Kingfisher 1, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater 10, Blue Whistling Thrush 3, Crimson Sunbird 1 male, Vernal hanging Parrot 2, Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike 2, Grey Wagtail 1, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker 2, Olive-backed Sunbird 6, Coppersmith Barbet 1, House Swift 3,
Hat Nopara Thara: Gr Sand Plover 10, L Sand Plover 35, White-faced Plover 1, Common Sandpiper 1, Collared Kingfisher 2, White-throated Kingfisher 1.
Khao Sok N.P: Blyth´s Hawk Eagle 1, Grey-eyed Bulbul, Streak-eared Bulbul, Arctic Warbler 2, Pale-legged Warbler 2, Yellow-breasted Warbler 2, Asian Brown Flycatcher 1, Brown-streaked Flycatcher 2, Grey Wagtail 1, Moustashed Babbler 1, Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike 2, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker 2, Orange-breasted Flowerpecker 2.
Pak Thale: Spoon-billed Sandpiper 3, Red-necked Stint 500, Long-toed Stint 30, Curlew Sandpiper 10, Broad-billed Sandpiper 10, Eu. Curlew 300, Black-tailed Godwit 200, C. Greenshank 40, Asian Dowitcher 2, L Sand Plover 200, Gr Sand Plover 25, Marsh Sandpiper 30, Wood Sandpiper 30, Pacific Golden Plover 3, Little Ringed Plover 20, Ruddy Turnstone 3, Black-winged Stilt 300, Black-naped Tern 40, Brown-headed Gull 200, Slender-billed Gull 1, Little-Intermediate and Great Egret (all common), Purple Heron 1, Red-collared Dove 2, Oriental Sky Lark 3-4, Brown Shrike 2,
The last week in November I went to Los Osos, California to see my friend Jim who lives there. The main reason was actually because my son should do some internship there for a couple of weeks and needed my assistance to get there. As Jim had a normal working week, we didn't bird together more than a few days. My first day was a Sunday though, so this day we birded around Los Osos. The day was quite windy and at Morro Rock we did some sea watching and saw many Loons, Ducks and Shorebirds. Here Jim scanning the sea and below a juvenile Black Oystercatcher.
In the bay we saw some Gulls chasing a Sea Otter which had a clam on its breast, which was quite an amazing event.
We then continued to the wetlands further in where we had good views of Bushtits and Am. Pipits, Cooper´s Hawk and also a wintering Hermit Thrush.
This area is full of birds and even if I have seem them all before it´s still very nice making acquaintance with all these birds. Here both Say´s and Black Phoebe, House Finches and a Northern Flicker.
I also spent some time for myself which was great. The places I visited was almost deserted and I really enjoyed it. The first time I met Jim he took me to the Carrizo Plain which is a plateau a couple of hours drive from his home. Up here the landscape is steril but still holds lots of stunning birds. One of the first birds that showed up was the awesome Mountain Bluebird.
While taking photos of the Bluebird I realized the fields were full of birds. Hundred of Horned Larks were present and also different sparrows showed up. Here Savannah and the cute Lark Sparrow.
Also some raptors showed up and this Red-tailed Hawk seemed especially interested in me.
As you drive up here you will soon reach the salt lake (completely dry) where a specialty lives in the low brushes, the Sage Sparrow of which I was fortunate to see a family.
I searched in vain for Mountain Plover, which I saw last time here but many other birds showed well as this Ferruginous Hawk which together with the feeling of chosen loneliness ended a fantastic day
Next day I planned to walk the spit all the way to the jetty at Morro Rock. From the parking this is a very strenuous walk (I didn't´t understand how far it was until I reached the jetty). However, knowing I had good chance of seeing a Black Scooter (which has been observed earlier) in good light together with the knowledge of hundreds and hundreds of shore birds made it an easy choice. As you can see on the first photos they were plentiful and I had 7km of beach all for myself (talk about being privileged). You see the silhouette of Morro Rock at the horizons.
As shore birds are one of the groups of birds you like the most, this is just paradise. Long-billed Curlews and Marbled Godwits were plentiful and here I have two photos with their "faces" straight towards me, which makes it a little bit confusing which one is which. The third picture showing some Godwits at "take of".
Not so plentiful but easy to see was Grey Plovers and Western Sandpipers.
Even though the sanderling is more beautiful in breeding plumage they are very handsome in winter plumage looking almost as snow balls at the beach, here one alone sleeping.
Next picture shows a Dunlin, Sanderling and a Western Sandpiper which in a way is educational.
Also present in small number was the Samipalmated Plover which resembles the Common Ringed Plover we have here in Europe.
One of my absolute favorites is the Snowy Plover. The combination of the look and its peculiar behavior of running and "hiding" in small potholes when you approach is funny.
Turning my face towards the sea I saw many ducks and scooters and the Turkey Vulture patrolled the beach constantly.
I was very tired but happy when I returned to my car. By the way, I saw the Black Scooter but it was too far out for a decent photo.
Next day I decided to drive north towards to the Elephant Seal colony at San Simeon. My first stop was San Simeon Creek Campground where I walked the beach for an hour. Again I saw many Snowy Plovers but also some Ducks and gulls like this stunning Bufflehead. While walking the spit I saw some Least Sandpipers but this individ was not taking much notice on me.
I´ve been at the seal colony a couple of times before but it´s a pleasure to see them every time. Quite a few this time of the year but many were sleepy.
On the way back I stopped at Estero bay, Cayucos Point which is a splendid spot for "rocky shore birds". I had hoped to see wandering Tattler, which I only have seen briefly before, but no, the seems to be scarcer here than before. I saw one Surfbird and a group of Black Turnstones.
Next day Jim took a half day off and we drove to Avila Beach south of Los Osos. This is a very pleasant place I can recommend anybody to make a stop at. We were looking for a Red-naped Sapsucker that had been seen before but we had no luck. Normally quite secretive this Wrentit seemed to liked the sun which gave good opportunities for photos. Close by a Western Scrub Jay also enjoyed the sun.
In a small inlet I saw this Western Grebe.
We also birded Spooner´s Cove just south of Los Osos and saw some common but nice birds like these White-crowned Sparrows (ad + 1:st winter) and the Golden-crowned Sparrow which winters here.
I had a fantastic week and I pass my best regards to Jim and Celeste for their outstanding hospitality.