Thursday, 15 March 2018

11 Nordmann's Greenshank - Krabi Estuary - March 2018

After leaving Khok Kham it was back to KSR for a night and then an early morning flight Bangkok - Krabi with Thai Smile airline. I can't rate them highly enough, safe, efficient, friendly and reasonably priced and they are a subsidiary of Thai Airways. Arrival in Krabi was hot but welcomed and after checking-in at the "Pitta Guest House" It was time to get a few details arranged. 

I had planned to have four visits out on to the Estuary at Krabi, two pre Sri Phang Nga and 2 post, however a quick check of the weather for both in Krabi and Bangkok showed that Friday 09th March was to be a thundery and heavy rainfall day, with this forecast I decided that I would change my flight, to be able to return to Bangkok a day earlier than planned as I wanted another hit at BPT and Khok Kham for Spoon Billed Sandpiper and Friday was showing for a heavy rainfall and thundery I decied I needed to be on site at BPT for Thursday at least

The following morning it was time to head out on to the mudflats of Krabi Estuary and to follow up one of the main reasons for this trip and that was to see and to get better video-footage & photographs of Nordmann's Greenshank. 

Krabi Estuary is one of my favoured "Wadering" locations, alongside The Thames Estuary, Tacumshin, Cabo da Praia quarry and Khok Kham, also Nordmann's Greenshank is also a favoured species and one of those waders I just can't seem to get enough of alongside Spoon Billed, Buff Breasted & Stilt Sandpipers. 

Communication between Phil R, Chenxing Yu and myself prior to leaving the UK allowed for an update of birds and tidal conditions. Chenxing was really helpful providing details of a flag ringed Nordmann's Greenshank that was in the area as a part of her studies and by also sending a tide table for March 2018.

Today and Tomorrow (Sat 03rd & Sun 04th) was the highest tides for the month of March, which has it's +'s & -'s, the + being that birds will get pushed up from most areas but a - is that the tide run's up and run's off very quickly providing less time on birds feeding pre and post high tide. 

Sam W also had news from eBird of 12 birds being seen the previous day providing us a real-time up to date picture of  what was happening out on the mud-flats.

We met with our boatman, Deow, the son of the late Mr Dai who I used to go out with many times, many years ago. As we headed out I noticed that some of the sand bars had become a lot higher and larger than my previous visit in 2011. This has happened in the Thames where mud and shells get deposited over the years and the area buids up larger & higher and can also shift in location. 

It took me a while to get my eye in and I found it more difficult pinning these birds down than previously, I guess lack of fmailiarity with the species and the area didn't help as I used to see them on nearly annual basis. 

Waders being pushed up by the rising tide on the second from last sand bar, Krabi Estuary - 04th March 2018

Waders being pushed up on to the last remaining sand bar pre high tide, Krabi Estuary - 04th March 2018

It was during this time of rising tide on the 05th whilst scanning through the waders that I located a Terek Sandpiper sporting a flag combination of a blue flag over yellow flag on the right leg. I suspected that this was a Chinese ringed bird but wasn't sure of the exact location. Upon checking the flag charts that evening it didn't take long to discover that this was a Bohia ringed bird. Bohia being an area where Chris H visits every spring to undertake wader surveys and ringing, I sent the details straight to him that evening and Chris came back confirming that this was a Bohia ringed bird with additional info. 

Also observed today was a Thai flag-ringed Greater Sandplover. Also present was at least 2 Far Eastern Curlews, both seen in flight showing the dark rump and underwing, compared to that of the Eurasian Curlews present and the "orientalis race" which are larger and much longer billed. Lesser Sandplovers out numbered Greater Sandplovers but some of the Greater's were looking rather smart in their new summer finery, Great Knots were starting to brighten up but very few Red necked Stints were present and still retaining their grey winter wear. Terek Sandpipers were by far the most abundant wader present and seen at every location throughout.

The video footage above and below was taken on Sunday 04th March and provides an insight to what the viewing conditions were like on the day, with birds trying to stay on terra firma before the ebbing tide covers the sand bar. 

It also shows how on first views, Nordmann's Greenshank resembles a large, bulk-bellied - stocky Common Greenshank or that of an overweight, oversized Terek Sandpiper but with closer inspection you discover a unique and beautiful wader, with a soft-gentile appearance and character, admitidley the head and bill are some-what similiar to that of Common Greenshank but the bright yellow legs are much shorter with a short tibia and ghostly white underparts (when in winter plumage) which I believe is one of the best ID features and easiest ways of locating a Nordmann's Greenshank when in the field. 

Waders roosting on the fishing poles / nets at high tide including Nordmann's Greenshank's, Krabi Estuary - 03rd March 2018

As the incomming tide coverred the last remaining sand bars the waders began to head off to roost out on the many fishing poles and nets present in the area. The idea is to scan these poles / nets in the distance and if there are birds present and roosting on them then we would take the boat in closer and then cut the engine and check through the birds present looking for any Nordmann's Greenshanks. If they were present we would start the engine and head closer cutting the engine allowing us to drift in closer and take photographs, however this can be very tricky with a head-on & icomming-tide, birds being hidden or part obscured from view by other birds, fishing poles, ropes and or netting and also the angle of the sun, however with some good manourvers from Deow we manged to get some shots.    
Nordmann's Greenshank - Roosting at high tide, Krabi Estuary - March 2018.

The morning of the 07th March was more productive for searching for feeding birds as the tide was lower and slower in rising than that of the weekend. This left the mudflats remaining exposed for longer allowing more time to look for feeding birds. Three Nordmann's Greenshank were located this morning and provided some nice prolonged viewing and some video-footage of the birds foraging. As the tide pushed  up we checked the last remaining locations of sand bars and located two birds trying to hold out for as long as they could. 

The video footage below was taken on the 07th March and shows a single Nordmann's Greenshank alongside Common Greenshank and a Grey plover. To get this video footage I was up to my waist in the water, with all three tripod legs also in the water. The boat was behind me acting as a hide blocking out my profile so as not to be as visible. The slight tremble and shake in this video footage at times is from the incoming tide lapping and banging against the tripod legs. 

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Lesser Crested Terns - Krabi Estuary, 2018.

Being out on the mudflats of Krabi Estuary looking for Shorebirds also allowed some nice viewing of the Lesser Crested Tern flock which was present. On the 07/03/18 there was c260 but this is a very conservative count as this was only of birds on a sand bar pre-high tide with undoubtedly many other birds present in the area. See video below of a small part of the flock on a sand bar - pre-high tide roost. 

I was looking & hoping for birds wearing some bling of some sort but standard metal rings were all that I could observe and at a distant with the brightness of the sun reflecting off of these rings could look like white plastic rings at times but unfortuantley not. These metal rings were to far to even attempt to read as the flock was edgy due to the incomming water pushing up prior to high tide.  

Lesser Crested Terns perched up on the fishing poles and nets at high tide - Krabi - Estuary, March 2018

Lesser Crested Tern with fish, Krabi - Estuary, March 2018

Great Crested Tern - perched up on a fishing pole at high tide - Krabi - Estuary, March 2018

Great Crested Terns were also present in lower numbers with a count of 14 roosting on fishing poles at high tide - Krabi Estuary 07/03/2018. 
Great Crested Tern - perched up on a fishing pole at high tide - Krabi - Estuary March, 2018
Great Crested Tern fl-by as going to land on a fishing pole - Krabi Estuary, March 2018.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Spoon Billed Sandpiper 4 - Ban Pak Thale, Gulf of Thailand.

So with the beast of east hitting the UK and severe weather warnings of heavy snowfall and -5 conditions forecast for the south of the country there really was only one thing to do and that was to head for warmer climes. A five hour delay and an eleven hour flight later and it was a totally different feeling, blue sky, fire-balling sun and tempreatures in the 90f region. So back again in Siam where the first port of call was KSR where I met with Sam W and then we headed out to the salt pans of Ban Pak Thale and Khok Kham.  

A good start with a Spoon Billed Sandpiper being seen shortly after arrival but as we were just working out how to go-in for views of the individual above a lone worker from the salt pans walked along the nearest bund flushing everything. It was then a case of "the run-around" for the rest of the morning before finally seeing two Spoon Billed Sandpipers together at closer range for a prolonged period but just not quite close enough to get the proper shot with just the 1-400. Even digi-videoing was limited due to the heat hazed conditions.

A total of four Spoon Billed Sandpiper were seen today at BPT which consisted of a single leg flagged individual P7 and 3 non flag wearing birds. The usual selection of waders provided plenty of support. 

Red necked Stint, Great Knot, Long Toed Stint, PGP, Broad Billed Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper 2 in full sp, Marsh Sandpipers, Sanderling 6, Red Necked Phalarope 5, Lesser & Greater Sandplover of which the later were looking rather smart in sp, White Winged, Whiskered, Little and Caspian Terns and Brown headed Gulls all present throughout the day. 

As the midday sun peaked and the heat became just to much & with a worsening heat haze we decided to break for lunch. After a late lunch we headed back to Khok Kham but stopped on route at a site for Oriental Pratincole that Tii took us to. A short walk provided about 6 birds but it was only after covering more ground when we realised just how many birds the actually were with a tally of c150 Oriental Pratincole. A great site to see so many Oriental Pratincoles, along with 6 Grey Headed Lapwing, several Long Toed Stints, Wood Sandpipers and a single PGP. 

Continuing on we arrived at Khok Kham for the last couple of hours of light where despite extensive searching between the three of us we were unable to locate any Spoon Billed Sandpipers here as the sun set over the salt pans, however a good day, some great birds, decent weather and good company. 

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Ross's Gull - No Beast From the East here just an Angel from the Arctic.

After having a day out on Forest yesterday with Mike, I decided that i'd just do the morning shift out locally today as I had plenty to be getting on with at home, however just one small spanner, was of one of those small arctic gulls in the Weymouth area. I resigned myslef to the fact I wasn't going to go "but you know how it is", you tell yourself your gonna do the right & responsible thing and then do the total opposite. Any way after discussing the logistics with Steve A it was an early morning arrival at a very bright but bitingly cold and windy Lodmoor. 

Video above & below provides you of what the viewing conditions were like through the scope today, second video you can clearly see / hear it give a soft call.

As we arrived we could see people watching the bird but by the time we got on site we were greeted with those words you just wanna ban from the English Language " it just flew off" news then came out that it had returned to the scene of the crime at Ferrybridge. Arrival at this site was met with " it flew off over that way about five minutes ago" "wtf - please don't be a day of this". Time to try and settle in and wait for sighting number three for the day. Radipole, a good strategic position near Lodmoor with easy access back to Ferrybridge, also near the bay and also a good bet for a showing itself later in the day.

We settled in at Radipole and I managed to get a few items completed from the car, which I had planned to do at home and then the star of the show just lazily dropped in. A little distant and drifting out of sight in to the edge of the reed bed at the start but it came closer and affording better viewing and ending up on the island just oppossite the visitor centre. "Back of the Net"

This is my third Ross's Gull, the first also seen with Steve A in 1993, a 1st Winter individual at Inverness, the second (2002) came in the form of a collar wearing & slightly flushed adult in Plymouth found by "Inglorious Bustard himself - Simon Tonkin". It has been a long time since but this smart and finally obliging individual made the wait worthwhile. It was also nice to catch up with some old faces and meet some new. 

After the bird departed we decided to hang it out on the viewing platform of the visitor centre, where the sun provided some warmth after the wind had relented. A quick stop off at Lodmoor on the way back and then time to head home. A good day, a great bird, some decent company and as always good to catch up with Steve A and others.

Adult winter Ross's Gull, Radipole Lake RSPB, Weymouth, Dorset, February 2018.

More images to come from a new and exiting blog by Steve A - Here
View from the viewing platform at the Visitor Centre at Radipole Lake, RSPB, Weymouth, Dorset.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Keyhaven 19/02/2018.

Image above shows the Shoveler Pools where I took the Spotted Redshank Video below

Belated Post

The weather forecast was for a cloudy & damp day with frequent showers, hardly the forecast I was after for sitting on a view point over looking the canopy or walking the forest floor. So I decided to have a wander and lunch at Keyhaven & Pennington Marshes. 

Image above shows Pennington Lagoon where 1 Greenshank was present today.

The Marsh at Shoveler Pools was full of birds, primarily Lapwing, Wigeon, Golden Plover, Blackwits, Redshank, Pintail etc. 

Three Ruff were present and a Spotted Redshank was my first of 2018. Arrival at the jetty provided a mill pond flat Solent, Ideal conditions for viewing across to the Isle of Wight. I was keen to try for the Red necked Grebe , which was picked up pretty much staright away. The Red necked Grebe was a long way off but close enough for some digi-video as below. Six RB Mergs and Two GC Grebes were also on offer. I had lunch taking in the view and photographing the feeding & Roosting Turnstone's but no sign of the Purple Sandpiper. A short stroll over looking Pennington Lagoon provided my first Greenshank for the year.

After this I walked back along Butts Lagoon over looking the exposing mudflats closeby where Brent Geese, Grey Plover & Three Knot all added for the day. The Environment Agency were present today undertaking scrub clearance. A three hour wander today was rather nice and the rain kept away.

Image above shows Butts Lagoon where the Environment Agency were presnet today undertaking some scrub clearance.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Keyhaven - 11/02/2018.

Belated Post - Sunday 11/02/2018

After leaving Christchurch I decided to head back to the Forest to give Keyhaven a glance. The weather remained very windy but the dry and bright sky made it worthwhile. I haven't been here for quite some time but this is a nice area and worthy of more time than the two hours I gave it this afternoon.

Image above shows the jetty at Keyhaven with the Isle of Wight in the background and the Wight-Link ferry crossing the Solent

Hilights Included:
Red Breasted Merganser 8+, Eider 1 male, Spoonbill 2, Golden Plover c280, Ruff 1. Both the Ruff and Golden Plover were the first of the year for myself.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Stilt Sandpiper-Fisherman's Bank-Stanpit.


The day started off early morning on Forest at a view point looking for Goshawk of which some small display-interaction was observed and nice to see. The dry and bright morning was cold as the wind was strong and getting stronger throughout which was more than forecast and when a flurry of snow came through I decided to call it time out for sitting still and to warm up and move on.

I had been meaning to visit Stanpit Marsh again to try another look for the Stilt Sandpiper which now seems to have settled in at the creek viewable from the Fisherman's bank side. So I decided to give it a go and I arrived on site and headed down to where a nice bench provided some comfort and easy viewing across the area of inter-tidal creek. 

Above shows the creek, with the Stanpit Marsh visitor center in the background beyond the reeds, the loaction from which I saw the Stilt Sandpiper my previous visit. Below video shows you what the Stilt Sandpiper viewing conditions were like today from the Fishermans Bank

Even though there was a cold wind the conditions had improved and it was quite nice sitting in the sun watching the Stilt Sandpiper & other waders within the creek. A rather smart Bar-tailed Godwit was much appreciated and the first of the year but no sign of the Spotshank. After a cuppa and conversation with some nice people from both London and Winchester I decided to head back to have a look at another site on Forest.