Chiang Saen, as well as being a district of northern Thailand, is a large lake with a convoluted shoreline and luxuriant margins. Home to hundreds of Lesser Whistling and Spot-billed Duck, as well as many of Thailand’s rare visiting wildfowl. We spent four nights at Viang Yonok but despite scouring the lake morning, noon and night pretty much every day, we drew a blank on all of the rare ducks which were being reported around the time of our visit, including Baer’s Pochard, Falcated Duck and Baikal Teal – oh well, that’s birding for you! We did manage to find a dodgy Mallard x though, which wouldn’t have looked out of place on Salthouse duckpond, and a leucistic Moorhen!
Compensation for our many hours of fruitless lake-watching however came in the shape of the delightful private ‘pocket’ nature reserve at Nam Kham (see previous post) and the nearby rice fields, where we saw a hat-full of new and interesting species.
Here’s some of the stuff we saw:
Male Purple Sunbird in the garden of Viang Yonok
Long-tailed Shrike – relatively common in this part of Thailand
Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker – one of only two regular ‘peckers’
An awesome male Pied Harrier – one of several seen flying into the roost by the lake
Also at the same roost, a rare Western Marsh Harrier
Spotted Bush-warbler (Baikal I think), coming to drink at Nam Kham
along with a Dusky Warbler
We found several interesting waders along the Mekong – this River Lapwing was the best, if a little distant!
In the rice fields – several Citrine Wagtail
and, of course, Paddyfield Pipit – not without the usual id. controversy though!
Finally, my own version of two of the star birds of the area – Firethroat and Siberian Rubythroat
Next stop Doi Lang, for more upland forest birding…