Friday, March 31, 2017

New wader for me!

At around 11:10 am 29th of March, 2017,  Nick Upton graciously posted a finding of Oriental Plover on a secluded beach 3 hours drive  from my home. Now this is a top top bird and very difficult to see in Thailand. I thought of my options and by 11:30 had decided to go… 11:45 it unexpectedly started to rain hard with strong winds. Having had weird weather for a few days it served as a damper on my enthusiasm.

Then after lunch my wife reminded me I had to take our youngest son to the  Embassy the following morning. Ouch, what to do but to take it on the chin!

I kept thinking of the bird throughout the day and kept getting,  ‘who is kept by the Word of God and prayer’. Now that is a Scripture which might not be specific about a bird but it kept coming to me and I started to think I should give it a go after the Embassy visit.  As usual  God speaks in a still small voice, an inner conviction or a hint. Rarely is the voice yelling nor is he bashing me on the head unless I am really in need of it. Ha!

The last Oriental Plover I knew of in Thailand only stayed for a morning. What about this one?

After the morning business I started driving reminding myself of this encouraging passage. I still had to battle the many ifs and but’s but I felt pretty assured. 

I also did however recall there was one Oriental Plover a couple of years back hanging on for longer near Changi Airport in Singapore which was encouraging.

To find the place I employed the services of Lady Google Map….boy did she ever take me for a ride…..backroads, small fishing villages, dead ends etc etc……annoying to say the least…
Finally at about 12:30 I arrived at Pranburi Forest Park. Never knew it existed. It looked a lot like Vanakorn beach further South and sported not only a nice beach but also shady trees and a few restaurants. Ah, well, very eager to get on to the bird (even skipped lunch, very unusual for me)….I quickly grabbed my gear without changing into more relaxed clothing.

At first I saw nothing but then scoping the beach  I got eyes on the birds  a bit of a distance down the beach, 4-500m, and it was sweltering hot. No cap, no water, dress shirt and pants, away I walked on the sandy beach. Ha!

Again using the scope I could see a bunch of waders, perhaps 50……….there, one larger one, my heart skipped a beat, oh, no, a Pacific Plover, and another and another….many Greater and Lesser Sand Plovers….and then….YES, the Oriental Plover standing graciously and seemingly oblivious to the commotion its presence was causing in my life and surely the life of many others.

First things first, got great scope views as I moved closer and closer to undo the heat waves.
What a slender and elegant looking bird. Long legs, long neck, longish pointed bill, elongated, so different and yet similar to the other plovers in many ways.

I then started to photograph it and worked my way closer. It never nudged, seemingly very comfortable with me being there as were all the other birds. I spent about 2 hours with the bird in baking midday sunlight.

It at times showed a little limp on one leg but it didn’t seem to hinder its movements.

Feeling very pleased I then made it back to my car and drove to Hoa Hin where I at 4 pm had my lunch/dinner in my favorite restaurant,  All in Hua Hin. Great western food, prepared properly and to an affordable price. Also picked up a couple of Fuller’s IPAs for later celebrations!

Thanks to Nick for sharing his finding so quickly. Much appreciated!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Orange-breasted Laughingthrush

There are so many 'hidden' jewels inside the deep forests of the Earth. Our part is the digging, the seeking, the going, putting oneself in the situation to make things possible for the 'miracle to happen'!
I had 4 major targets for visiting Southern Vietnam and one of them was the Orange-breasted Laughingthrush, an endemic to South Annam. Having seen and photographed its closest relation, the Spot-breasted LT some years ago made this even more special.

Our local guide, Tim, had a spot where he knew the birds would frequent at times. We positioned us in a small hide and waited. Nothing showed till 8:30 so we set a 'deadline' at 9 am. At 8:55 the miracle happened! 

It was very dark so I had to shoot at ISO6400 with 1/40s shutter speed.

Orange-breasted Laughingthrush!