Birder Mike Buckland was one of those lucky enough to have the chance to watch Spoon-billed Sandpiper wintering in Thailand, and even more so to see one of the successfully hand-reared birds. Prior to the story posted by WWT and Birdguides, we were contacted by Mr Buckland following his positive identification of bird ‘AA’ at Pak Thale. Mike was kind enough to provide a detailed report of his encounter.
He first located the Spoon-billed Sandpiper at 12:15 on 17th February, on a shallow salt pan to the left of the central road out to the small pump house at the Pak Thale salt pans. Bird ‘AA’ was spotted in a flock which included 13 Red-necked Stint, 1 Kentish Plover and a Curlew Sandpiper, plus one other Spoon-billed Sandpiper.
“They were feeding actively in the near corner among the mud mounds. The flock just mingled around the same area not really going very far but feeding continually, so clearly a good food source. The two Spoon-billed Sandpipers were often close together in the flock but they did not associate any more with each other than the other birds in the flock and I saw no interaction between them. They fed mainly by pecking at the surface, not dissimilar to the Stints. This bird was noticeably larger than the other. I watched mainly from the track looking across the first pool over the bank to the second pool where they fed on the near side, but did approach carefully about half way across the pool on the bank to get the photos without the low bank in the view. None of the birds was disturbed and I left them feeding in the same area – far too precious to risk flushing them by going any closer!”