At less than 2 hours driving from Bangkok, in Petchburi Province, Laem Pak Bia it’s a fishing town that offers some rich and unique birding opportunities with many waders, gulls and more in a diverse range of habitats… from the mangrove estuaries to the sandpit out from the river’s mouth.
People comes here for dolphin and whale watching and it has become a local tourism hotspot. A lot of people will also visit the area for birding, as it is one of the best for waders and nearby is a small village called Bang Phak Tale, which is one of the most reliable and famous sites for the sought after Spoonbill Sandpiper.
You can hire a boat and try many birds on the mangroves alongside the river up to the mouth where the mudflats are rich in wader sights. In low tide, a sand bar opens up a few hundred meters from the pit and it is a great spot for gulls and terns in the season… many of the rare and new ones have been spotted there. Not far inland, many farmers have turned their properties into fish ponds or salt-pans (both perfect for birds) and you get decent looks and even images from the roadside all the time. Then, the Royal Projects are the best of the best for Bird-Photo, as there are many oxidation and re-planting (mangrove) ponds that you can drive around which are filled with fish and attract a large variety of birds -and HUGE Water Monitor Lizards- at click range from your window.
I have visited this great shooting corner of heaven so many times, with great success… That’s why telling you about it is going to take me more than a post and will try to pack the most valuable of my LPB birds in 3 post…
After long months in USA, Hong Kong and Indonesia, we finally got to Thailand, our home-to-be in August 1st, 2006. A week later, to start exploring and to celebrate my birthday, we visited this well mentioned birding spot by the very first time.
Then I was just a birder trying to figure out if truly wanted to get into photography and my gear was a Nikon D70s + a Tamron 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 lens… so, images aren’t that good. We’ll skip all the way to 2008, starting on the first time I used my new gear, the Nikon D80 + Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 lens
My good friend Ken Wilson (Talon Tours) brought me the new gear from USA and we visited Laem Pak Bia, just after new year with great fortune and cool birds. We had some nice views at the King’s Project, like juvenile Black-crowned Night-Herons and Common Snipes amongst others
…but we focused our efforts much more on the gulls and terns at the sand-bar… In the following 2 frames you can find: Palla’s Gull, Brown-headed Gull, Caspian Tern, Greater Crested Terns, Common and Little Terns.
I went back with Peter Ericsson in april and again found some big gulls amongst the many terns at the sand bar… Palla’s and Heugling’s Gulls in different plumages (different age)
But the winner and special bird of the day was this worn plumage Slaty-backed Gull, as this image resulted in the total confirmation of the species as a new addition to Thailand’s bird-list!
August 09th, 2008, August 12th 2008 and November 06th 2008
You see Cormorants in Hong Kong and Indonesia, but never so close as in the poles at the Royal Project… the large Indian Shag (nowadays re-named as Indian Cormorant) it’s always a neat posing model
I also enjoyed a familiar face again… the ubiquitous Black-crowned Night-Heron, this time, several adults
Some odd looking Painted Storks and a Javan Pond Herons were showing well
A few days later, we spent a few hours at the King’s Projects while on the way to Kaeng Krachan National Park with my good buddy Nick Upthon (thaibirding.com) and encountered a few good birds… specially at dusk
A saturday in november, the family decided to go birding and get some shrimp lunch… meaning LPB! We spent a good full morning, driving around the ponds of the Royal Project with some nice birds to share and enjoy
…and managed to get really close (using the car as a blind) to great photo subjects like Grey Heron, Pond-Heron, etc
November is already a good month for migrating waders in Thailand and we had our share that day
Thanks for watching… see you at part 2 😉
Happy Bird-Photo Adventures!