Visit to Bueng Boraphet Bird Sanctuary-Nakhon Sawan
November 13-16, 2021, we visited Bueng Boraphet bird sanctuary at the largest lake in Thailand. We travelled on road from Chiang Mai for about five hours to reach Nakhon Sawan. Stayed in a guest house and went for bird watching several times during our three day stay. At the lake, it was rather quiet due to the Covid-19 pandemic and there were hardly any other tourists. No birding guides were available but we managed to find a boat man, knowledgeable of the local birds, but he did not speak a word of english. However, he did point out some uncommon birds when sighted.
Although originally a wetland, the lake as it currently stands, was created in 1930 by damming, and today consists of more than 220 square kilometres. In spite of various disturbance to the area, the lake still remains an interesting birding site. The lake is situated just to the east of Nakhon Sawan and is about halfway between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The stay at the city makes it possible to explore the surrounding area and the bird watching.
Many common water birds were sighted but notable ones were
breeding glossy ibises, open-bill storks, indian cormorants, little, intermediate and great egrets, gray and pond herons, purple swamp hens, black drongos and pheasant-tailed jacana. Large numbers of barn swallows and bee-eaters were also sighted. On the shores we saw coppersmith barbet, spotted and zebra doves, common myna, asian pied starling, white-throated kingfisher, oriental magpie robin, pied fantail, indian roller and a white bellied sea eagle.
Bueng Boraphet came to prominence in 1968 with the discovery of White-eyed River Martin Pseudochelidon sirintarae - a bird of now near mythical status, last recorded 1980, and currently assumed to be extinct. The white-eyed river martin was seen in Thailand in 1972, 1977 and 1980, but not definitely since, although there is an unconfirmed sighting from Thailand from 1986.
One of the evenings we visited Kao Nor-Kao Kaew, bout 40 minutes from Nakhon Sawan, at the foothills of limestone mountains. Hundreds of monkeys, some of them quite unruly, reside in these hills and come out to take food offering from the visitors. Every evenings, millions of bats fly out from the cave of Kao Nor-Kao Kaew in long black waves, which is a spectatorial phenomenon, lasting for more than 30 minutes.