Northumberland, Bird Club


Twitching in Thailand

Flooded roads to Bamburgh Pavilion did nothing to deter a large attendance of North Northumberland Bird Club members to our first indoor meeting of the year, and were they in for a treat.

Take lots of enthusiasm, superb pictures of stunning birds, together with mammals, giant moths, swarms of butterflies, an abundance of information, a generous dash of humour and even photographs and descriptions of mouth-watering dishes, and you have all the ingredients for ‘A Thai Recipe’, an account of two visits Brian Clasper made to Thailand.

His first trip in February 2013 included a visit to Pak Thale, a coastal area south west of Bangkok, coinciding with the visit of passage migrants, mainly species of waders from Siberia stopping on their journey to and from Australia and Indonesia. Of special note are the rare spoon-billed sandpiper and Asian dowitcher, along with more common visitors such as red-necked and long-toed stints, Pacific golden plover, greater sand plover and ringed plover, black-winged stilts and Nordmann’s greenshank.

At nearby Kaeng Krachan National Park, resident birds seen in the rainforest included collared kingfishers, gerygones, hornbills, various bulbuls, blue-throated barbets and endearing little bee-eaters.

Mammals included squirrels, mouse deer, monkeys, gibbons, macaques and elephants.

Brian related an amusing anecdote in respect of an elephant that decided to charge the pick-up truck he was travelling in. George, the driver, decided to vacate the vicinity at speed, driving over rough terrain and not realising that the two passengers in the back had been ejected from the vehicle. Fortunately, they were not seriously hurt. Luckily, the elephant had decided to give up the chase and they were collected from where they had been deposited.

Brian’s second trip to Thailand was in May 2014 to photograph some of the most challenging bird species at the best time of year; this time he visited the area on the Thai peninsula near Phuket.

Part of his stay was spent in a floating bungalow on Khao Sok Lake, near Krabi. Brian described the accommodation as “minus five star”, partially because they had to sleep on the floor without a mattress and the bathroom was 200 metres away. The fantastic scenery compensated for some of the discomfort.

This area had been singled out to see and photograph the elusive pittas and he was rewarded by seeing the gorgeous banded pitta, the hooded pitta and the mangrove pitta, as well as the dwarf oriental kingfisher.

The audience showed its appreciation of the presentation and everyone is looking forward to Brian’s next visit.

The next indoor meeting at Bamburgh Pavilion will be on February 12, at 7.30pm, when Paul Morrison will talk on Coquet Island – A Place Just For Birds.