An extended weekend meant that I’d be able to catch up on some needed work and prepare for the new school term which was just beginning, but the plan changed when Ian Dugdale called me up on Friday and asked about a rumor he’d heard about a sighting of an Eurasian Oystercatcher at Laem Pakarang. I was just in the area a week ago and had not seen anything, and being that this would be a first-time record for Thailand, it piqued my interest and I decided to make a trip to the site.
I arrived at Laem Pakarang at around 2 PM, after a long and slippery drive from Phuket where we’d witnessed three accidents on the road, courtesy of an early monsoon season which has lashed the island in heavy rain for the past three days. While the weather at the cape was overcast but not rainy, my heart sank when I saw the condition of the tide, which was the lowest it has been in many months. The shoreline was a good kilometer in the distance and locals were all over the beach, setting up mist nets and collecting clams, oysters and crabs in the rock pools. Looking for a single bird in this condition would define the term “searching for a needle in a haystack” perfectly.
I started off by following the cape and working my way northwards and looping around to finish at the coral sandbar just north of the cape. Most of the visiting waders are usually found within this area so I assumed this is where the bird would be, if it were still about.
Many waders were already in full breeding plumage, with Ruddy Turnstone, Pacific Golden plover, Greater Sand Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Red necked Stint and Curlew Sandpiper strutting their newly-acquired fashionable garb.
Highlights included five Bar tailed Godwit, a single Eurasian Curlew and a single Large hawk Cuckoo, which seemed out of place sitting on a large bare boulder on the seashore.
Questionable sightings included a single Black tailed Godwit and what may have been an Asian Dowitcher. Both birds were seen briefly and were too far off to be identified with certainty.
After three hours of relentless searching, no oystercatcher was found. Despite that, I came away with a list of 33 species and the kids enjoyed a great time at the beach, where they found, among other things, a beautiful lionfish, a parrotfish and a few other interesting forms of sealife.
On the way back home we encountered a fisherman with five large moray eels on his line, a delicacy which I would not be inclined to try, but one which seems to sit well with the locals in this area.