Thailand seems quiet for seabirds, and this was confirmed by our guide Ike who after many hours watching has turned up very little (bar Thailand's first Zino's Petrol!). Fishermen report that 2 miles out, their ships become mobbed by seabirds including Frigates and Storm Petrols. Stuff is out there, but it rarely approaches the shore. We therefore felt lucky to see a Crested Tern species head south past our beachside resort on the 8th.
On the 9th, we took a taxi to Pakarang Cape, around 10 minutes drive from Khao Lak. Ike had told us this spot could be good for Waders, including Malaysian Plover. The beach here was wide, allowing the tide to play more of a role. We instantly struck gold upon arrival, a flock of 20+ Sandplovers were feeding along the tideline! A bird I have always wanted to see. Some individuals had a narrow orange breast band, but these guys stayed further away from the camera. This feature and the longer tibia and bill confirmed them as Greater Sandplover. The juveniles allowed close approach, and we spent sometime walking the beach scanning the flock and learning about these Waders. Now to find one along the Happisburgh coast this Autumn! Also here, 2 of 'our' birds: 2 Whimbrel and 1 Curlew.
Back at our resort, the lifers didn't dry up, with Pied Fantail displaying beneath our balcony and a Common Tailorbird finally nailed! Common Myna, Scaly Breasted Munia, Olive-backed Sunbird and Eurasian Tree Sparrow were common here. In the evenings, Brahimny Kites flew over to roost, giving way to Bat species that hunted the resort grounds.
In other wildlife, we came across a variety of Lizards. Our favourite was the flying Lizard the Draco, encountered in the rainforest, flying, before camouflaging itself against tree bark. I initially thought I had seen a large Dragonfly land! Geckos were common in rural and urban areas (smooth backed gliding possibly) and at La Flora we stumbled across a Common Butterfly Lizard sunning itself. on particularly dry days, I saw a couple of Many Lined Sun Skink.
Butterflies were both hugely varied and impressive. I have not yet gotten round to completing a list, so a few photos below will have to suffice, some identified, others not. We must have seen in excess of 20 species, so a great destination for the Butterfly enthusiast.
My final bird list comes in at 106, although v1.2 will be out soon with the odd correction and amendment I expect. Birds are everywhere in Thailand, from Black-winged Stilts and Egrets at Bangkok airport, Flowerpeckers and Broadbills in the rainforest, Sandplover on the beach at Barwings up a mountain. I have to choose the Spectacled Barwing as bird of the trip. A real specialist at altitude, the only Barwing species in Thailand and a bird I did not know existed until I went on this trip. That for me is what it is about, learning and experiencing new things with great company in phenomenal habitat. Here is a video which I believe was uploaded by our first guide Uthai of 2 birds in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8nher6weWg
And finally, a few pictures. Thanks for reading, especially if you got this far!
'Draco' Flying Lizard
Common Butterfly Lizard
Sandplovers DO make you happy