I’ve heard of Pak Pli fields in Nakhon Nayok for so long, but haven’t got the chance to visit the place until 23 May 2015. The area holds one of the biggest roost for Black Kites in Thailand including both the migratory lineatus and the nationally endangered govinda races. The place also serves as winter ground for the scarce Rosy Pipit and Thailand’s first Greater Short-toed Lark was also recorded here in 2013.
One of the abundant Oriental Skylarks performing its song flight over the colourful grassland
Asian Golden Weavers were nesting along the small irrigation canal. Here’s a brightly coloured male.
Female lacks the bright golden plumage, but is still a pretty smart bird.
Male Cinnamon Bittern trying to blend into the surroundings.
Another pair of Cinnamon Bitterns; male on top and female bottom
Soaring male Red Turtle Dove
Bronze-winged Jacanas were quite common along the roadside canals, but proved to be difficult to get good shots of.
I left Bangkok very early in the morning and arrived at the area around 7AM. It was a very birdy morning. Songbirds were singing from literally every direction, particularly the larks. Oriental Skylark was the most abundant species, followed by Indochinese Bush Lark and Horsfield’s Bush Lark being the least abundant. The road leading into the field was aligned by a small irrigation canal which was filled with Asian Golden Weavers‘ nests. They could be photographed extremely easily just from the car.
A pair of Bronze-winged Jacanas; note how small the male (bottom) is compared to the larger female
White-breasted Waterhen was also seen foraging along the canal.
A pair of Lesser Whistling Ducks
Adult Black Kite race M. m. govinda, a rare resident in Thailand
Note the lack of large whitish patch on base of primaries and yellow cere and feet
Another adult govinda Black Kite perching on a Eucalyptus tree.
A flying over Oriental Darter
The dirt road that goes around a large area of grassland, rice fields and Eucalyptus plantation is also aligned by small canals with lush Lepironia grass. Many birds were seen along the canals including many Bronze-winged Jacanas, White-breasted Waterhens, Plain Prinias, Zitting Cisticolas, Javan Pond Herons, Lesser Whislting Ducks and Cinnamon Bitterns.
Several Black Kites were seen perching and patrolling over the fields. They were all M. m. govinda which is a resident and nationally endangered bird in Thailand. Pak Pli is most likely the largest stronghold of this declining taxon. In winter, they come to roost altogether along with the migratory M. m. lineatus of which some authors split as Black-eared Kite. According to the Thai Raptor Group, 1,998 lineatus and 101 govinda Black Kites were counted at this roost on 22 November 2014.
Striated Grassbird was one of the commonest birds and one of the most vocal.
Striated Grassbird proudly performing its loud melodious song in flight
It’s much harder to spot them while foraging through thick grass.
I was glad to come across a lone Long-tailed Shrike race longicaudatus, another endangered bird of the central plains.
Paddyfield Pipit with nesting materials
The least abundant lark in the area, Horsfield’s Bush Lark
Great (or White-vented) Mynas like to follow buffalo herds and prey on insects that are disturbed by the animals.
Little Cormorants were seen easily along the road.
I was really surprised to come across this male Watercock moulting into breeding plumage standing in the open completely unaware of my presence.
It stood motionlessly for a while, probably undecided about what to do nest, before slowly walked further into the open field and across the road into a small canal on the other side.
Then it behaved like a normal Watercock i.e. always hiding in thick vegetation.
At one point, I felt like there should Watercocks since the habitat looked so good for this species which is one of my favourite birds. Suddenly, I actually came across an unbelievably showy male Watercock standing motionlessly on the open ditch next to the road. It didn’t flush as the car approached but stood still for a moment before walking into a canal on the other side. I have no idea why it was behaving like that since it is normally an extremely shy bird. But as it went into the canal, it began to act more like a normal Watercock and didn’t show up again.
Many Oriental Skylarks were feeding in the newly ploughed fields.
Most of the birds were in worn plumage.
When birds were quiet, Asian Golden Weavers were always there for me.
Female at the active nest
Oriental Pratincoles were also abundant but difficult to approach.
Juvenile following and begging for food from its parent
But it was sad to see rows of mist nets over a large fish pond. Many birds were trapped in the nets and they weren’t even fish eaters; for example, this poor Oriental Pratincole.
On the other hand, this fish-eating Whiskered Tern seemed to be well aware of the nets and successfully avoided them. There were some 6-7 of these terns flying around over the pond. They’re probably over-summering in Thailand.
Striated Grassbird singing against the drizzling rain
Intermediate Egret against the many coloured grassland
One of several Oriental Skylarks that decided to forage on the road
There were many lotuses in the canals. Here’s the sweet coloured Sacred Lotus.