Huay Mai Teng Reservoir: Location

7 12 2014

A recent request for information caused me to check out “Huay Mai Teng”  (“HMT”) on Google maps where, in English, it is listed as Samnak Maiteng. “Samnak”, as you may know, means “office” in Thai and is often used in the nomenclature of buildings and premises under official control. It does not mean “reservoir” as far as I know and has no possible linkage with water in Thai! I presume that because there is an official waterworks (ประปา)  office at the reservoir that this is why “samnak” wrongly features in the Google map. So if you want to find the reservoir on Google try entering “samnak Maiteng”.

In real terms you can find HMT the way I did. I opened up an electronic map a few years ago and started looking for lakes and the like in the Ratchaburi area. HMT stands out! On this basis alone I drove out there one day, took a left and kept going and finally arrived at the water edge where I inadvertently came upon some River Lapwing, a seminal moment in my birding experience.

If you simply want to get to HMT then in most cases you will need to drive to Ratchaburi Town, a truly delightful place, offering the best of Thailand, really worth a visit. That means using Highway 4, the Phetchkasem Road; then you need to take Highway 3208, going east, it can only go east from Ratchaburi Town, which leads to the burgeoning and grotesquely fascinating mountain resort of Suan Phueng – a must for sheep lovers!

HMT is about 23 km along Highway 3208 on the left side. It is actually signposted in English as “Huay Mai Teng Reseryoir”. As you drive along the main highway you will eventually come to a long, sharp right bend with a smaller road from it  leading to the left; take this road and it will deliver you to the launch/landing area in about 1.5 kilometres. Be advised at weekends and public holidays this area can be quite busy, especially in the afternoon/evening with locals picnicking and swimming; people launch boats here mainly for fishing and sometimes there are jet skis making a terrible racket. You might also venture upon an event here. However once you are here you can get your bearings and from here you can explore the site. Most roads/tracks going left after the sharp right bend lead to the reservoir.

HMT is  a very considerable size and of course the level of the water varies in the course of a year – there is a road across the reservoir which has remained underwater for the last two years due to high water level. As I write the bridge in this road has now emerged and is making an excellent platform for local anglers! I would suggest you explore. There are many roads and tracks. The terrain is largely flat but roads get very muddy in the rainy season and rutted when dry. It is easy to get stuck in mud so take care when driving.

In the short period I have been visiting this area it has been subjected to a huge amount of development. More and more habitat is being lost to agriculture including the construction of a large commercial piggery in what was one of my favourite bits. This latter included the installation of electric mains and you can see the concrete pylons as you drive in. Access to this area is now impossible as it has been fenced off: Siberian Rubythroat have been heard in this same area and I have seen Yellow-rumped Flycatchers here on migration. It also provided a popular berth for Oriental Honey Buzzards migrating southwards in September. Fields which are now growing cassava and pineapples were once scrub. I saw and heard Chinese Francolin in this area. I fear for the future of the habitat.

There is now a resort near the reservoir, the Lake Scene, with rooms costing about 500 THB which can be booked via the usual booking sites. There is also a new 24 hour garage and convenience score a few kilometres before you reach HMT and Ratchaburi is a 20 minute drive away. So it’s not exactly venturing into the wilds.

Finally I’d like to know what you see so please email your observations and indeed your experiences. Let me know if you plan to visit because if I am free I’ll happily meet up with you and show you around.


Brown Noddy

6 12 2014

There is something quite preposterous about going out into the Inner Gulf to twitch anything given that pelagic birds are so mobile and capable of covering such vast distances. So when news reached me that there was a Brown Noddy out, I knew it was a rarity but I was also well aware that finding it could be a bit hit and miss. We were able to arrange a seaworthy boat thanks to Phil Round and Mr Deang so  five us – Tom Backlund, Peter Ericsson, Dave Gandy and Jens Tøttrup –  set off at 0800h this morning with Mr Dearng and Loong Yoong.

But somehow, and I guess this is even more preposterous, we did find it today. In fact it was very obliging in that it appears to be flitting between two large buoys about an hour out into the Gulf and thanks to the excellent boatmanship of Loon Yoong we were on the bird for a couple of hours this morning once we had located it. He really got us in close too.

At first glance Brown Noddy is very ordinary looking, appearing black from a distance but as you get in closer its real colours emerge,a mix of brown and grey, dark chocolate brown to be precise, and and as you get nearer its most distinctive feature can be seen:  its forehead from the base of its bill to the crown….it’s almost like a dusting in places….and as you get nearer white crescents can be seen above and below its eye. It’s a reasonably large bird too, somewhat similar to Brown-headed Gull in size but an altogether different structure with a very distinct M shape when in the air. It really is sublimely and subtlely beautiful

While the sea was quite rough the weather stayed fair and we were blessed with lots of Common Terns, Whiskered Terns and White-winged Black Terns. On our return to the creek there was one Chinese Egret present. After lunch an early afternoon trip to the Abondonned Building failed to produce the reported Long-billed Dowitcher, but there must have been 20 or so Asian Dowitchers present, a more than adequate compensation.

A cracking day!

The Reservoir Never Fails to Deliver!

5 12 2014

When Brenda and Dave from England  advised they had booked three nights at the Lake Scene Resort in order to bird the reservoir, (on the strength of this blog – blush!), I actually felt a huge responsibility. Well, the birds delivered today and when I left our guests they were purring as the Pied Harriers, perhaps as many as six, came out to play – there were definitely five, three of which were males. The presence of perhaps 350 Small Pratincoles was an added bonus as was the sound of Rain Quail and a few very obliging Indochinese Bushlark.

So today I simply showed Brenda and Dave how to access the various nooks, that I take for granted, so they can bird the site over the next two days. Tomorrow I am out on a  pelagic in search of Brown Noddy and with some unsettled weather in the region courtesy of Typhoon Hagupit and some moderate high pressure over China, well anything is possible in the Gulf Of Thailand.

So I hope Brenda and Dave have fun and I am pretty sure our pelagic is going to be interesting too. Watch this space!

Footnote: my friend Guide Paan photographed a Dunlin at the reservoir at the beginning of December, an amazing spot and a great record : check out this link. He’s also got some amazing photos of Pied Harriers at the reservoir such as this and this. I told you the reservoir is kicking!