Thailand Birding: Chulachomklao Fort


This morning I took a visit to Chulachomklao Fort at the river mouth of the Chao Praya in Samut Prakan province. There are some mangroves at this site but actually the location consists mainly of gardens, scrubland, wetland patches and buildings serving the Navy, in fact there is a pre WW2 warship there, many naval guns and a fort that fought a skirmish with the French Navy in the 19th century: Chulachomklao Fort.


However, it was birds I was after but things didn’t turn out quite as well as hoped. Although there is a reasonable bit of mangrove boardwalk, which is in good condition, there were few birds in evidence. A few Pied Fantail, a couple of Golden-bellied Gerygones and lots of Collared Kingfishers were about all that was to be seen. Despite playing the call of Mangrove Whistler I neither saw nor heard one, although there seems to be enough mature mangrove remaining to support a few pairs. Common and Dark-necked Tailorbirds were also easily seen and as I was leaving the mangrove boardwalk I happened upon an Eastern Crowned Warbler – a passage migrant.

A Few Migrants
Indeed, the whole site has great potential for passage migrants, situated as it is at the mouth of a major river. Unfortunately I arrived too late in the day to pick up much migratory movement, although I did come across a few common migrants including 1 Brown Shrike, 3 Common Kingfishers, 2 Black-capped Kingfishers and a few waders; 3 Long-toed Stints, 5 Wood Sandpipers, 6 Common Sandpipers and 2 Little Ringed Plovers. Also worth noting was that out of 20-30 Pond Herons seen only 1 Chinese Pond Heron was still in breeding plumage and just 1 Javan Pond Heron – all the others were in winter plumage and unidentifiable.

Chinese Pond Heron

A few flooded areas of grassland produced a few nice birds including some more migrants, 3 Yellow Wagtails, as well as a few Great Egrets, Little Egrets, Cattle Egrets and 1 Intermediate Egret. Also in this area were 3 Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, an Indian Roller, 1 White-throated Kingfisher and a Paddyfield Pipit.

Although the birding was not spectacular, there were enough birds to make it interesting and alongside the ship, the fort and a decent seafood restaurant, this site is worth a visit – even if for just the once.

A pier goes out into the river but even just 1 hour before low tide there was no sign of any mud being exposed although the view out to sea produced many Whiskered Terns, Little Cormorants, a few Indian Cormorants and lots of Great Egrets.

By 1pm I decided it was time to quit and go home, but I always seem to find myself hunting down more birds and in this way I came across a Black-crowned Night Heron and 2 Brahminy Kites.

Public Transport
Public transport to this spot does exist but it would involve such a convoluted set of connections that I don’t recommend trying. Come here in a taxi or your own vehicle and stay for a nice lunch.

Lots of Common Species
Although I didn’t find many notable birds at Chulachomklao there were lots of birds to see. Brown-throated and Olive-backed Sunbirds were both common as were Oriental Magpie Robin, Streak-eared Bulbul, Scaly-breasted Munia, Asian Koel, Common Myna, White-vented Myna, Asian Pied Starling, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Large-billed Crow., Spotted Dove etc.; all the species that are common in any open-country and park situation.

Other Wildlife
Apart from birds I saw a number of large Water Monitors and two small parties of Long-tailed (Crab-eating) Macaques that were very nervous of humans – probably used to navy personel throwing stones at them. Additionally I happened upon a small green snake which fell out of a mangrove tree onto my shoulder before flicking itself off into the water: I don’t know if it was me or the snake that was more shocked.

One other bit of (unwelcome) wildlife were a lot of aggressive mosquitos.

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2 Responses to “Thailand Birding: Chulachomklao Fort”

  1. nick says:

    The boardwalk is exactly where you have said. From the car park, with the river in front of you, the boardwalk starts to the left of the restaurant building – it is easy to see. Not that many birds but quite a nice trail and a few Crab-eating (long-tailed) Macaques.

  2. Andy says:

    When I visited the fort some years ago, I did not notice this boardwalk, though I have to admit I did not look around that much for one either. Where does it start exactly – looking in Google Earth it looks like there’s such a structure next the the building north of the HTMS Maeklong. Well, if I get to visit the fort again I will look for it, though I am probably not patient enough to wait for the birds walking in the mangrove is already a nice view.

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