Bird buffs flock to Phetchaburi
Bird watchers have welcomed a campaign to promote Phetchaburi as the "capital of bird watching", seeing it as a means to raise awareness about biodiversity and the environment.
Kiattisak Klomsakul, chairman of the Phetchaburi bird watching club, said the province has become famous for its variety of avian species and deserves to be recognised as such.
According to Mr Kiattisak, more than 500 species of native and migratory birds can be spotted in the province and that number is more than half of all species found in the country.
"What we have here is diversity. There are migrating birds, predator birds and rare and graceful birds. I think it deserves to be known as the capital of bird watching," he said.
The "Phetchaburi: Capital of Bird Watching" campaign is the latest idea from the Tourism Authority of Thailand's Phetchaburi office to capitalise on the natural resources of the province.
Phetchaburi is becoming a favourite choice among holidaymakers thanks to its variety of attractions -- beaches, mangrove forests, historical sites and the national park. But for both casual and hardcore bird watchers, the province has long been their No.1 destination.
Ayuwat Jiawattanakanok, a representative from the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand, said the province has several locations for bird watching experiences with four being particular highlights.
The first and foremost is Kaeng Krachan National Park, where the greatest variety of species can be found, including hornbills, broadbills and ratchet-tailed treepies. It is a mecca for avid bird watchers.
The park, covering 2,914 square kilometres, has been designated as an Important Bird Area, which and is regarded as important for conservation on the global, regional and national levels.
Another destination of choice is located in Laem Pak Bia in Ban Laem district, which is a mangrove forest site. During November and April, Heuglin's gulls, a new-found migratory bird, can be spotted in the sky.
Next is Ban Pak Thalay, a small fishing community near Laem Pak Bia. More than 50 types of migrating bird are found there.
The highlight is the spoon-billed sandpiper, known among avid birdwatchers as "the must-see bird before you die" as only about 400 breeding pairs remain worldwide. Up to 10 of these birds have been spotted in this community.
Last but not least is a large field located in the Khao Yoi and Muang districts where predator birds are common due to the abundance of prey in the surrounding environment.
Mana Permpoon, chief of Kaeng Krachan National Park, said the park is perhaps one of best bird watching spots in the country due to its fertility and diverse ecology.
Welcoming the campaign, he said it is about more than just attracting tourists and boosting the local economy.
"Bird watching can lead the way for environment protection and conservation," he said.