Monday, December 8, 2014

Getting the Nod

A couple of days ago I heard that a Brown Noddy had been seen off Laem Pak Bia sandspit (that's the site for White-faced Plover and Chinese Egret, about 13 km south of Pak Thale). Brown Noddy is a mega rarity here, and a bird I had not seen anywhere in the world, but as a bit of a (passive) anti-twitcher these days who's more interested in finding my own stuff I didn't really pay much attention to this news.

That was until I got a call from Gerry Brett who was putting a boatload together to go an look for the Noddy, which seemed to be hanging around the rich fishing grounds about 8km offshore.  It seemed like a bit of a long shot, but given that I was already planning a full day's birding and that I had been meaning to get myself on a boat in the Inner Gulf to look for seabirds, this seemed like a good excuse for a day out.

Saturday morning (6th Dec) saw our group (Gerry, Deang Manit, Jens Tøttrup, Tom Backlund, Peter Ericsson and myself) heading out on a relatively small fishing boat which bounced around a fare bit in the moderate sea conditions and once we got out to the the first of the buoys that the Noddy had been seen on, Tom Bucklund picked up the bird on another distance buoy, and once we had made our way over to it, a serious photo session ensued.

Brown Noddy

Brown-headed Gull, Noddy, WWBT, Whiskered Tern

Having never previously seen either Noddy spp. I was impressed by this bird's considerable size (somewhat larger than common tern, with considerably broader, blunt-tipped wings and with a big wedge-shaped tail), and its direct flight of low arching tracks reminded me of a skua. I also thought the bill was also remarkably long.

After we had had out fill of the Noddy we headed back to shore, picking up a superb immature Purple Heron and Chinese Egret on the way.

I spent the afternoon exploring the area around the abandoned buildings (with the hightlight being a flock of 21 Asian Dowitchers), and the Royal Project, which held a lone Spot-billed Pelican and good numbers of co-operative terns for photography.

Chinese Egret

Spot-billed Pelican
Asian Dowitcher

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