Thailand Journal 2016-2017 by Megan

Journal publication date: 
January 12, 2017
Winter 2017

This morning was the earliest we have had to wake up on the trip so far. We had to meet as a group in front of Dave and Francie’s bungalow at 4:45am. Once there, we had coffee while we waited for the pick-up trucks to arrive. It seemed like everyone was in a pleasant mood, despite the hour. The ride to the docks was short, about 10 minutes or less. The only light was the moon in the sky. We arrived at the docks and, sitting about 8 people to a boat, we pulled away to begin the boat ride to the small research station located on an “island”. It was a long ride, and very loud – the motors of the boats sounded like race cars as we sped along across the water. After about 20 minutes or so, we arrived to the “island”. Dividing into our bird banding groups, we all walked our mist net lines to set the nets around 6:00am. Once the nets had been set, we met back up as a large group under the pavilion to set up the banding stations and wait for the sunrise. During this time, some people ate noodles and cookies, while others walked around and explored the area. The sunrise was beautiful. Around 7:00am, Ying asked for two volunteers from each group to walk the mist net line to retrieve caught birds. I was one of the people for my group. I can honestly say that this was one of my favorite memories from the class because it was very exciting to come around the corner of my mist net line and see so many birds caught in the net! It took awhile to retrieve all the birds, but finally they were individually bagged and we carried them back up to the pavilion.

Ying processed the first bird very quickly, then turned to us and said, “Your turn”. Processing birds was slow at first, but it got easier as group members gained more experience and worked with more birds. Our group seemed to be getting into a groove with each other as well, so time spent collecting measurements and banding the birds seemed to fly by. Some of the birds that we got included kingfishers, bee-eaters, cuckoos, and even a woodpecker! It was amazing to see the diversity, considering our mist nets were in close proximity to each other. We banded birds until around 11:00am. Later we were told that we banded over 130 birds as a large group that first day, with only about a dozen accidental releases. We rode the boats back to the general research area to find that we were having fried chicken wings for lunch, along with rice, some type of lotus peanut salad and a lotus dessert (which was delicious!). After lunch, we had a little break to take a nap or clean up before a birding boat ride. On the tour, we spent about an hour and a half cruising around the lake. We were able to go to a rookery where little cormorants, oriental darters and egrets breed. We also saw a bunch of purple swamphens and open-billed storks. There were also huge flocks of ducks – pintails, whistling-ducks and garganey. One of the boat drivers also caught some whistling-ducks that were too sick to fly. It seems like the reason for this sickness was pesticides. They were brought to a different part of the station, where they would be nursed back to health. We then had another break before dinner. Most students chose to walk to the convenience store that was right down the street. We bought chips and Thai teas, among other goodies. After dinner, we met in the classroom to briefly go over three articles in the course textbook provided; one about small cat abundance in HKK, one about background information of Bueng Boraphet, and the other was about small mammals of HKK. It’s hard to believe that this is one of our last ights as a group. Most of the students went to bed shortly after the lecture.

Bee eater