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Saturday, March 9, 2019

Thailand & Cambodia - Day Nine - Pak Thale

This wasn't part of the plan.  This was the day I travelled home but with my flight due to depart at 6pm, I had a few emergency hours in the morning for one last crack.  Today, I arrived for sunrise where on previous days I'd arrived at around 9am after having breakfast at the hostel.

The sunrise over the salt pan was really beautiful.



This group of Terek Sandpiper was part of a collective group of around 300 birds - typical of just how amazing this place is.  Also there were seven Red-necked Phalarope feeding along the bund-line.

Terek Sandpiper
It appeared that the tide was low again, only because of the lack of waders on the shore.  However, there were decent congregations of wader on some of the pools.  One in particular looked very promising.  The light was great, and Stints were busily feeding in the shallows.  One by one, searching through but nothing.

This felt tough.  Having met a couple of guides, one yesterday and one this particular morning, I was encouraged to be a little bit more expansive in my search.

Heading over to the north side again, I set up the scope in what was my final chance.  The clock ticked through and I possibly had half an hour left.  I admit to feeling a little disappointed after what was a great trip.

I scanned through more wading birds.  What I saw was truly incredible. Scoping out from the the vantage point below, I clocked a Spoon-billed Sandpiper feeding as it scurried away amongst a group of small waders.  Its bill was clearly visible as it fed on the shallow pool before settling down on a bund.  I was so relieved.

Vantage point for Spoon-billed Sandpiper
 

It sounds a bit mad to have travelled all this way for a single species, but what I had in fact discovered was that the site was not just about one bird, despite its scarcity and novalty.  Pak Thale is an immense area for wintering waders, particularly important when numbers are facing general declines.  The sad and pitiful state of our natural world.

It was the culmination of an incredible trip.  No doubt I'll return, but for the time being, I will be grateful that all the planning transpired without incident.  Grateful also for the kindness shown by all the people I met who were all unfeasibly helpful and gracious.

I am also burying my head in the sand (mud) a little, recognising that my carbon footprint wasn't exactly something that I would write to my mother about.

I drove back to the hostel and enjoyed half an hours peace on the rooftop, before embarking on the long trip home.

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