Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, in Prachuab Khiri Khan province, covers an area of approximately 99 sq.km encompassing a number of varied habitats including steep limestone mountains, freshwater marsh, beaches, limestone islands, mangrove remnants and coastal pools. The name Khao Sam Roi Yot means “The Mountain With Three Hundred Peaks”, and whilst the number may be an exaggeration, the mountains, which rise to a height of 605 m, are certainly a magnificent backdrop to the aquatic habitats that provide the main ornithological interest.
The forest on the mountains receives very little rainfall and the vegetation reflects this as does a fairly sparse avifauna, however, the wetland habitats more than make up for this and provide an opportunity to see a large number of species in a short length of time.
Thung Sam Roi Yot is the largest freshwater marsh in Thailand, provides an important habitat for numerous species of birds and other small animals. It is a shame to see that encroachment into this area still regularly occurs and that almost all the wetland areas to the seaward side of the mountains have been converted to shrimp ponds despite the international importance of the site.
In spite of these problems, this remains an excellent region to find wetland species and indeed, some of the shrimp ponds appear to be reverting to a more natural state. Additionally, Khao Sam Roi Yot seems to be visited less often than it was in the past and large areas of habitat that are seldom visited exist, and the potential to find exciting birds here is high.
Waterbirds are the primary reason for visiting Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, with a large number of species present. The beaches here are one of the few places where Malaysian Plovers nest in Thailand along with small numbers of Little Terns, but plenty of other wetland birds can be found on the coastal shrimp ponds and the freshwater marsh.
Waders such as Spotted Redshank, Broad-billed Sandpiper and Kentish Plover are quite numerous here and Malaysian Plovers breed in small numbers along the more lonely beaches. Birds such as Caspian Tern and White-bellied Sea Eagle are also regularly seen, not to forget that Spoon-billed Sandpiper has been recorded here amongst flocks of Rufous-necked Stints, but not for some time.
Raptors are well represented at Khao Sam Roi Yot too, with Eastern Marsh Harrier fairly common and this is good place to look out for Greater Spotted Eagle and Oriental Hobby which likes to associate with the limestone outcrops. With more observers visiting this area during migratory periods impressive numbers of raptors are likely as at the raptor watch site a few hundred kilometres to the south at Chumpon.
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