Thale Noi Waterbird Sanctuary

Thale Noi Waterbird Sanctuary

A highlight of Phattalung

More on Phattalung

Supporting more than 180 species of local and migratory waterbirds and protected under the international Ramsar wetlands preservation treaty, Thale Noi is Thailand’s largest waterfowl reserve.

Travelfish says:
Get a boat and go. Photo by: David Luekens.
Get a boat and go. Photo: David Luekens

The marshy, 450-square-kilometre Thale Noi (Small Lake; also spelt Talay) is the northernmost of the bodies of water that make up Thale Sap (Freshwater Lake), also known as Songkhla Lake. Birdlife is most abundant from November to March, when flocks travel here from as far north as Siberia. From February to April, the birds glide above hot-pink waterlilies amid a brilliant sea of colour.

The heron and stork family is prevalent in Thale Noi, with plumed egrets and purple herons fairly easy to spot. Also well-represented are purple swamp hens that show off their stunning blues, greens and indigos while hopping awkardly from one patch of greenery to the next. Rarer species include the bronze-winged jacana, cotton pygmy goose and the brahminy kite, a handsome thing that looks like a smaller cousin of the bald eagle.

Aptly named purple swamp hens. Photo by: David Luekens.
Aptly named purple swamp hens. Photo: David Luekens

Longtail boat rides cost 450 baht per hour and the best time to go is early morning, followed by late afternoon. The boats do not have roofs, so sunscreen and hats are smart at any time, and going out at midday is not recommended. You’ll also find walkways stretching at least a hundred metres out into the lake. Further north is a birdwatching tower topped by an air-conditioned viewing room.

Another good place to watch the birds without using a boat is an elevated road—part of Route 4010—running from east to west in the far south of Thale Noi, some three kilometres south of Baan Thale Noi’s boat piers and viewing platforms. Along this stretch you’ll see several wooden pens occupied by another type of animal that enjoys standing in the ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 600 words.)

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Reviewed by

David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.

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