It's been a long, cold winter or so it seems, my wife was desperate to get away for a winter break, the sunshine and warmth of Southern Thailand beckoned. We decided to revisit the province of Krabi, in particular a small resort just on the edge of Krabi town called Ao Nang.
|"The monument of Black Crabs" at Krabi waterfront, Thailand.|
The Black crab or Mangrove Crab represents respect to the Mangrove forest and natural environment
Like most holiday destinations of late I like to take a discrete look at the wild life opportunities, and I was in for a treat, one of Thailands few remaining Mangrove Forests was right on the doorstep. A habitat I was totally unfamiliar with, a quick look at the potential wildlife sightings and the prospect of seeing six different Kingfishers, one of my very favorite bird families, along with many other Mangrove specialties, I was really looking forward to it. I just needed to convince my wife that an interesting boat ride through the mangroves was something she would really enjoy.
As well as the Mangrove forest which incidentally is ranked in the "Ramser" list of international important wetland sites, there are also the tidal mudflats which are also protected.
The main channel within the larger estuary to the Andaman Sea is known as Krabi Tai, one of Thailand's shortest rivers at just over five km long, the other two channels are the Yuan river to the south and the Chi Lat to the west.
From Ao Nang it was necessary to hire a taxi for the the ride to Krabi Town waterfront, (aim for the monument of mud crabs next to the pier) the taxi 's are very accommodating, for a fee of 800 baht roughly £18.00, they will pick you up from your hotel, transfer to Krabi town a 40 mins journey, wait for you, and then return you to your hotel, very reasonable I thought.
The journey to Krabi town brought me my first and only sighting of a White Throated Kingfisher, typically perched on some overhead wires on the roadside vegetation, surprisingly I expected this Kingfisher to be the most common seen.
Not hard to find a Boatman at the pier, they will usally find you, a fee of 600 baht for an hour, I found a two hour boat trip was more than sufficient. maybe longer if you visit the mudflats.
Now my wife is no lover of any habitat that harbors or possibly harbors Frogs, Snakes, Water Monitor Lizards, mosquitoes, not even a great lover of the Long boat which she considers to be unseaworthy.
But she decided to accompany me on this first trip to the Mangroves, needless to say she decided not to join me on the second trip, the hotel swimming pool and tropical gardens seemingly more attractive than the Mangroves.
these Brown winged Kingfishers have a bright blue back and rump, very distinctive as they fly away from you.
|Rear view of Brown Winged Kingfisher|
So with two Kingfisher species seen, we moved further up river seeing a good few Brown-Winged Kingfishers, their bright orange plumage making them quite easy to spot.
Two Heron species were seen the riverside mangrove trees, the first was a smallish Heron, typically named the Mangrove Heron , but also known as the Little Heron or Striated Heron or Green Backed Heron.
|Chinese Pond Heron|
No such luck it was a Little Egret..
So with the White Breasted Kingfisher and the Brown Winged Kingfisher in the bag my third species made an appearance, and what a stunner, the Black Capped Kingfisher, not as numerous as the Brown Winged, but of a similar size. at least four individuals seen during our trip.
|Black Capped Kingfisher - Krabi Thailand|
Most of my bird sightings were all seen from the boat on the river, the Mangrove forest looked pretty impenetrable as you can see from the following phone photo's. There are a few channels which cut through the mangroves, a truly amazing natural sight.
As you enter the Mangrove forest , surprisingly very quiet and eerie, no bird sightings within the immediate area surrounding the channel. a look back at my trusty boatmen added to the atmosphere of the place.
The channel soon breaks out into the open river again and bird sightings start to reappear.
A familiar sighting appeared all along the river banks, Common Sandpiper, the only wader seen within the river system.
A few of these Coucals and Asian Koels were seen high in the trees along the river, just could not get a clear shot of one, so just a record shot of a Coucal for my benefit.
Another familiar bird sighting was the Common Kingfisher we are all familiar with back home, again surprisingly only one sighting. not so common, but my fourth species of Kingfisher.
As we neared the end of our tour of the forest, a Brahminy Kite was seen feeding in one of the overhanging trees. made a change from a Red Kite.
And now for the most frustrating moment of the trip, its not easy getting off these long boats, I had packed my camera equipment away, making it easier to climb on to the pier, as I said my goodbyes to the boatmen, two Collared Kingfishers in dispute, circled overhead before moving off down the river.
But at least they were seen, making my Kingfisher sightings to five out of a possible six, only the Rufous Kingfisher eluding me.
Two sightings of what I presume were long Tailed Macaque in the mangroves.
|Long Tailed Macaque|
The Tidal Mudflats of the River Tai estuary
Buddy my Boatman insisted on taking me out to the tidal mudflats where he assured me I would see lots of birds, he was not wrong plenty of waders on the mudflats, most of which scattered as he beached the longboat at speed on to the mudflat.
He insisted on me going for a walk on to the mudflats, I knew that I would not be able to make him understand with his limited understanding of English this was not a good idea, but I did not want to upset him so I set off on a short walk, keeping a close eye on the rapidly incoming tide.
I always feel slightly disappointed when I travel abroad and come across birds seen back in the UK.
Ruddy Turnstone being a good example.
Closely followed by a low flying Whimbrel flushed from one of the rapidly filling channels.
Then a nice surprise, Greater Sand plovers scattered all along the tide line.
|Greater Sand plover|
A slightly smaller Sand Plover with darker legs which I think is the Lesser Sand Plover.
And a possible Pacific Golden Plover which are known to frequent these mudflats, suppose to be longer legged than the Eurasian.
Although I think I could only tell the difference if an Eurasian Golden plover was alongside.
|Pacific Golden Plover ?|
A few Great White Herons were seen distantly on the sand bars.
|Great White Heron.|
|Chinese Pond Heron|
Safely back on the Boat with Buddy we returned to the pier at Krabi Town, an excellent trip if you are ever in the vicinity.
There is also a Board walk, a short ten minute walk through a small area of mangroves, we saw no birds here, there was a lot of construction work and disturbance on the boardwalk installing a handrail while we were there. probably finished by now.
And for something you don't see every day. the motor bike ferry across the estuary