We spent the last week of our summer holidays on the beautiful island of Koh Tao off the east coast of Thailand (in the Gulf of Thailand near Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan) to spend time with one of our other great passions – the underwater world.
But it wasn’t just the underwater world that drew us – we are also both great fans of laid-back tropical island life. And Chalok Baan Kao – the southern-most cove on Koh Tao – did not disappoint. A beautiful bouldery shoreline; warm, turquoise water; white-sand coves; and friendly people made for a wonderful time.
The thing about tropical islands is that – unless they are large enough to hold endemics or in a vagrant trap – they are typically pretty dull for birding. But the stunning Bridled Terns (Onychoprion anaethetus aka Sterna anaethetus) kept me entertained and drew my breathe every time one flew by. And there was one boulder just a little ways into the water that a few Bridled Terns would visit and hang out on in the early mornings right in front of our bungalow.
So on our last morning on the island, I whipped out my great big telescope and camera to try get a photo of the Bridled Terns only to be left dry. But a wonderful Western Reef Heron (Egretta gularis) kept me entertained with its antics in fishing.
I was also blessed with two fly-bys of the graceful pied form of the White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) – fast becoming one of my favorite eagles.
The mean twist to the tale was that four Bridled Terns came and sat on the boulder right in front of where I was just 5 minutes after I had had to leave and pack up to leave the island… Oh well, gotta leave something for next time.
Great diving, wonderful island life and a few interesting birds to keep my birder heart happy.