Thailand Journal 2016-2017 by Jeff
Realizing today was the last day in HKK was saddening, as the experiences we’ve had with the staff here at Khao Nang Rum Research Station were incredible. Like we did every morning, we walked past the spider tree on the hill down to where we ate. A dense fog hung over the open field that we drove past when we would leave the station, and the ominous clouds overhead didn’t provide any comfort for the potential conditions for mistnetting the following day. Breakfast consisted of the typical pork and cabbage stew and rice. Following breakfast, we had to quickly pack, as the five groups we split up into for our presentation needed to complete their respective portions. The five groups for our project were biodiversity, camera trapping, kill sites, tracks, and occupancy surveys. After working on the project for several hours we gave our presentation to the research team at the station. It was difficult to create an enriching presentation with outside information since Wi-Fi was not available. With a limited number of computers, we used whatever resources to which we had access to enrich our presentation. Overall, I’d say it turned out fabulously.
Following the presentation, we said our goodbyes and took off in the Toyota Hilluxes. Leaving the station, a lone macaque sent us off on our ways as it walked overhead on a fallen piece of bamboo. The melodic calls of the gibbon in the morning, the civets roaming at night, the elephants in the jungle, and the activity that we could not see in the forest at this place was mesmerizing. Huai Kha Khaeng is a magical place, and it’s more than just the biodiversity that makes it so great. It’s the people there. The drive to Bueng Boraphet was the typical ride across the Thailand countryside. Sugar cane fields and rice paddies dotted the landscape with herons, egrets, and storks feeding on the diverse aquatic life in the rice paddies. The drive allowed for good conversation amongst some, and allowed for others to get some much needed rest. Arriving at Bueng Boraphet was a stark contrast to HKK, as the area around Bueng Boraphet was heavily built up in comparison. The women’s cabin had several critters greeting them including a tree frog, two dogs, several geckos, and a mouse. Before dinner we had some time to relax and get Cha Yen, or Thai iced tea from the store nearby. Dinner consisted of a curried chicken foot dish, stir fried lotus from the wetland itself, fish, and rice. Following dinner Ying gave us a crash course on the birds of Bueng Boraphet and prepared us for the next two days of mist-netting and banding. The talk went on for an extended period of time and was broken up with games where we identified various birds from photos using our field guides. These field guides were handy the next day in the field as we got acquainted with species in the wetland. With an early day ahead most people went to sleep immediately, but others enjoyed the full moon on the boardwalk. With most nights cloudy at HKK it was nice to see the landscape around us lit up by the moonlight.