Laem Pakarang Shorebirds: Thailand Birding


One of the locations I visited on my recent trip to Southern Thailand was Laem Pakarang in Phang Nga province. This is one of the south’s most visited shorebird sites and makes a nice stop when driving between Phang Nga Bay  and Sri Phang Nga national parks. I stopped there in the late afternoon of 5th April and there were good numbers and variety of waders there, many of them in breeding plumage and all of them looking good in the late afternoon glow. I chose a spot close to the water’s edge and sat on a rock to watch and wait for birds to come close to me while feeding. Scanning through the waders I spotted a single Grey-tailed Tattler but large numbers of Terek Sandpiper and Greater Sand Plover with smaller numbers of Lesser Sand Plover, Red-necked Stint, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone, Grey Plover, Pacific Golden Plover as well as a single Ruff and a male Malaysian Plover.

The Sand Plovers were wonderful in their breeding plumage and they look almost like a completely different species from their rather drab winter colours. Sitting and waiting I was able to get some nice photos of several of the species at Laem Pakarang.

There were plenty of Greater Sand Plovers, most of them in breeding plumage, and this species was by far the most tolerant of my presence, frequently allowing me to be very close.

greater-sand-plover2Greater Sand Plover (male) by Nick Upton

greater-sand-plover3Greater Sand Plover (male) by Nick Upton

greater-sand-plover4Greater Sand Plover (female) by Nick Upton

Having photographed many Greater Sand Plovers I noticed that a male Lesser Sand Plover had come fairly close. The plumage is very similar but the structure of the bill is quite different as well as a clear black upper border to the breast band .

lesser-sand-plover3Lesser Sand Plover (male) by Nick Upton

Laem Pakarang is named after the banks of dead coral that form the spit here but there are also patches of sand which presumably is what attracts a small number of Malaysian Plovers to this site. While I was sitting and waiting a nice male came very close to me.

malaysian-plover5Malaysian Plover (male) by Nick Upton

Large numbers of Terek Sandpipers were busy feeding in the muddy areas and as this is a bird I usually see at some distance it was really nice to be able to get quite close to them and watch them feeding. In fact with my limited camera I have never been anywhere near enough to get a half decent photo so it was nice to get this one. Not perfect but not bad.

terek-sandpiperTerek Sandpiper by Nick Upton

Javan and Chinese Pond Herons in breeding plumage were nice to see as were several Pacific Reef Egrets, 12 Lesser Crested Terns and a group of Little Terns. Laem Pakarang is a good shorebird spot in Southern Thailand from late October to early April and it is a really good spot for sitting and waiting for waders to come in close for photos – late March/early April is the time to be there to see them in breeding plumage.

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