New Bird Species Sighted at Sam Roi Yod (PHOTOS)
“Pelican?!” I yell, and Ruj slams on the breaks of his truck. He cranes his neck, and sure enough, the disinctive clumsied shape of a flying pelican sweeps across the sky.
Ruj’s eyes grow wide. “New!” he exclaims, and guns the truck. Jo and I scream and fall sideways as we start careening down the pot-holed dirt road, zig-zagging as Ruj tries to watch the bird’s path and drive. We whiz by shrimp farms and the water-filled ditches wave perilously close. I am really wishing this truck had seatbelts in the backseat.
Looking for fishing cats is often a fruitless business, but we’ve been a bit blessed when it comes to discovering new species for the Sam Roi Yod area. So far, we’ve observed first records for three bird species, one including an endangered species for Thailand, the spot-billed pelican.
This seems to be yet another reason the land of the fishing cat needs saving. It is also a land for the birds. Sam Roi Yod plays host to more than 300 bird species. September through November are especially good times to visit when the wetlands become a major migratory stopover for birds travelling the East Asian/Australian Flyway. You’ll see visitors from China, Siberia and Northern Europe as they head south for the winter.
Ruj with his miracle animal-tracking sense thinks he knows where the pelican has gone, and he doesn’t disappoint. We drive back through the rural village and pull into a farmer’s driveway. A brief yelled conversation in Thai, and we are hoofing it through rice fields and pasture towards the railroad tracks.
Ruj and I forge a ditch, climb to the tracks and peer over the other side. There, a lone spot-billed pelican floats amidst a backdrop of dozens of egrets, the mountain of 300 peaks, and the land of the fishing cat.