Loong Sin Blind… a Bird-Photographers Paradise
Loong Sin (loong in Thai means uncle) is a simple man with a life of experience in the forest. That smiley and helpful little man wasn’t always a great friend of nature. This is -in fact- one of these stories with a happy turn that makes the world better. He used to be a fierce and effective hunter, you could even say a poacher -as with much of the people living in his village, that used to go hunting inside the neighboring National Park-. Today, he is as fierce and dedicated but into preservation and eco-tourism.
Loong Sin has now two great spots with waterholes, feeders and blinds that he keeps and guards pretty seriously to benefit and protect wildlife while making an income of it.
NOTE: If scanning the image above, you have a hard time finding the 300 & 400 mm hide in front (to the right hand-side of the frame) and the 500 & 600 mm hide in the back… well, that is the idea!… =)
The oldest of his sites (called Loong Sin 1) it’s a real hotspot… A bird-photo adventurers holy ground… my favorite spot ever!
After driving some 3 hours from Bangkok heading south into Petchburi Province, one leaves the car on the roadside, then, a walk into a dry stream of -about- 400 meters through dense -secondary- vegetation of the buffer ring to Kaeng Krachan National Park (the largest NP of Thailand), will take you to a site that at first, doesn’t seem at all as a good birding place… A clearing with a cemented hole, rotten logs right behind it and some fruit scattered a few meters back into the shaded litter.
You don’t need a long wait to be proven wrong of the first impression!… During my first try ever -January 2009- only 5 minutes after Loong Sin walked away, a fantastic and unexpected Slaty-legged Crake came out of the vegetation to welcome me and what a lifer it was!… Which -by the way- I have never seen again!
And why don’t I have more and better pictures of that special Crake?… well, it didn’t have much time to enjoy the water. A pretty harsh and aggressive Blue-winged Pitta chased it away… How about that for the first 10 minutes you spend at a new spot?… Not so bad, would you agree?…
It is a parade of birds that you have to see it for been able to believe it!
If you visit the spot in the hottest -and driest- part of the year (Dec-Apr), many birds and I mean many, will come for a splash and it isn’t uncommon to find a group of birds sharing the pool, with some others waiting on the branches right above it (strategically placed for the nice photo-pose) and even birds you can not see from the hide, will be making a lot of noise, asking for their turn, up on the trees…
This good looking and skittish Lesser-necklaced Laughingthrush was awaiting for his chance on the pool…
…and eventually got it…
Some birds will not shower, but will show up (along with some other creatures) to enjoy the fruit that Loong Sin has placed behind the water and this makes the parade even more diverse and productive!
In the rainy season -even with loads of water everywhere- some species will still come for a splash or a sip, but the big action is on the back, where that fruit is pretty popular with bigger birds like Red Junglefowl and the eventual Pheasant, many species of squirrels, the hard-to-see Lesser Oriental Chevrotain (a.k.a. Lesser Mouse-Deer) and noisy groups of Laughingthrushes (Lesser and Greater Necklaced + White-crowned).
Many tranquil birds in one spot and at close range… yes, that is indeed fantastic, but the real deal here is that many species accounted, are normally so hard to -even- see, that people will be truly amazed and interested in learning how did you managed that shot. I’ve had so many lifers and new species for my galleries at Loong Sin 1 as never imagined and with about 20 visits in 3 years, never came home disappointed… that’s for sure!
I had the pleasure of sharing this awesome and productive bird-photo -hot- site with several friends… amongst them, our talented birdingblogs partner and Swarovski digi-genious Dale Forbes… and he didn’t leave empty handed; as mentioned in his cool post: “A Bird Photo Hide in Thailand” :
Visiting Loong Sin Blinds, you can get many fantastic species of birds in high quality approach for bird-photo while supporting a local family that preserves and protects precious wildlife… what else could you ask for?
Happy Bird-Photo adventures!