On my final full day I had decided to take the advice of the German guy who this time gave me his calling card. It turned out he lives in Thailand and, until it was destroyed by the 2004 Tsunami, he used to have a house in the spot he was urging me to visit.. Laem Pakarang.
I had to investigate further, there was a taxi usually parked opposite the hotel and using the map on the call card I was able to clarify the fee was only 300 baht or £6 but trying to negotiate a return pick up was altogether more difficult so taking her over to the reception I was able to explain I needed someone to pick me up again just in case I was going somewhere in the middle of nowhere. As it happened I needn't have worried. Dropped off by the Tsunami monument there are several bars and a taxi rank. Ah well, I confirmed I didn't want to be picked up until 5.00pm giving me a whole 7 hours to look around.Fingers crossed it would be worthwhile!
I walked on to the beach to be greeted by a sight of the distant sea and a beach made up of rocky rubble interspaced with patches of sand and a quite a few rock pools. There were several locals searching the rock pools for seafood so I asked one if the tide was coming in and he indicated it was. Things were looking up !
I started to walk out towards the sea but was cautious as I could see the causeway I had chosen to walk on would easily get cut off so after a few attempts to close in on some Turnstones and a Lesser Sandplover I decided to retreat to the safety of being nearer the shore. A wise move. From over half a mile out the sea was soon within a hundred yards or so, driving towards me a variety of birds. Knowing I could beat a hasty retreat from this distance I went out to meet them and was rewarded with my first ever Far Eastern Curlew.
Huge compared to the Whimbrel it was keeping company with.
A couple of Bar-tailed Godwit ware following the tide in nearby.
The tide was pushing me back but I managed a few hurried shots of some Red-necked Stint.
and some of a personal favourite, the Terek Sandpiper
But before I knew it I was back on the beach taking shots from the guaranteed high tide line.
Just me, a dog and the occasional walker. The beach is a weird affair, it's made up of fragments of sun bleached white coral and it's like walking on a huge pile of dog biscuits. Quite hard work as you sink in as you walk along it.
From this safe vantage spot I settled down in the hope that I would soon have some of the birds coming in closer to me and to a certain extent it worked.
A Lesser Sand Plover grabbing a worm or two before the sand was submerged.
but one by one the birds retreated to a rock perch as the sea came in
At full tide there were numerous rocks sticking out of the water, some gave better refuge than others.
Some were distinctly unsuitable for an undisturbed sleep !
Some were quite distant, but with a 2.0x converter on my 500mm lens they were within distance for a reasonable record shot.
Some were so close I didn't need one!
I walked to the distant point and found huge numbers of small waders all huddled together on the beach
Interesting to scan but not good photographically.
I walked back along the beach and towards the cafes. A cold drink beckoned. Fortunately the sun had kept behind cloud for much of the morning but it was still very,very hot and I had drank nearly 1.5 litres of water already. It was about 2.30pm and I still had 2.5 hours left, I walked back to the point again but by now the roost had been moved by the tide. Along the way though I had caught up with this Stripe-throated Bulbul with a spider it had caught.
and a close up encounter with a Richard's Pipit.
It was just about high tide by now, lots of birds had moved from their original perches but I did manage to get fairly close to a Common Kingfisher sat on the beach.
Then I spotted my "bird of the day"... an unfortunately distant Grey-tailed Tatler.
Further down I came across the Whimbrel roost...I have never seen so many in one place, this is a few of them.
I spotted a couple of walkers heading towards me, the Whimbrels between us. They would fly.
I had enough time to remove my teleconverter and get ready for a flight shot, I knew I'd struggle with the 2.0x attached.
Sure enough up they went and this was my capture.
I decided to call it a day as by now there was little left to see, even the Whimbrel headed off to a distant place.
It had proved to be an excellent day and I was glad I'd made the effort. Quite a few new birds for the trip, many quite common like Little Ringed Plover
others less so like Pacific Golden Plover
Some offered better photos than others
but I had at least got some.
There would be plenty to keep me occupied when I got home.
And so it turned out to be.
It was a good end to a great holiday.