Salt pan stopover

Seriously special sandpipers:

In March 2014, Flightpathproject visited the salt pans of Pak Thale in Thailand, to look for – and find! – the critically endangered Spoon-billed sandpiper: see

Pak Thale is a vital staging ground on the sandpipers’ way to breed in Kamchatka, in the far east of Russia.

Image at

Protection for the salt pans:

By the end of 2016, the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand is hoping to buy, manage and  conserve the threatened salt pans for spoonies – and for the hundreds of thousands of other shorebirds – that use Pak Thale annually.

For more about the project see



Home away from home:

After a long flightpath – from Russia via London Heathrow to Gloucestershire, England – watch Spoon-billed sandpiper chicks hatch at Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust


Birds of passage in Penang

Flightpathproject is in Penang 4 and 5 March 2014

 Bird of passage:

n. pl. birds of passage: 1. A migratory bird; 2. A person who moves from place to place frequently.


Birds on the beach:

‘To date, about 165 bird species (80% of the total for Penang Island) have been recorded in Penang National Park. The best times to visit the park is during autumn from October to November and spring from end of February to March. During these months, it is possible to observe a variety of migratory species ranging from waders to raptors and thrushes…Shorebirds such as Broad-billed Sandpiper and coastal species such as Little Tern have been seen on the mudflats…’

Broad-billed sandpiper

Broad-billed sandpiper

Photo: Ian & Jill Brown at

When the tourists fly in:

‘Tourism Malaysia Penang is aiming to attract some 5.5 million tourists to visit the state next year…’

Article ‘Preparing for 5.5 million tourists’, New Straits Times, 28 December 2013 See

Pulau Payar, Penang

Pulau Payar, Penang

Photo:  Shahnoor Habib Munmun at Flickr

When the tourists flew in:

…When the tourists flew in
our men put aside
their fishing nets
to become waiters…

…When the tourists flew in
what culture we had
flew out of the window…

…When the tourists flew in
we could no longer
go down to our beaches
the hotel manager said
“Natives defile the sea-shore”…

from When the tourists flew in by Cecil Rajendra (Penang, 1978)

Different birds of passage:

RAF Butterworth/Penang 1941-1957

RAF Butterworth/Penang 1941-1957

RAAF Butterworth/Penang 1957-1988

RAAF Butterworth/Penang 1957-1988

RMAF Butterworth/Penang 1988 to present

RMAF Butterworth/Penang 1988 to present


odyssey /od-i-si/ n. (pl. -eys): a series of wanderings; a long and eventful journey [from Greek Odusseia, title of an epic poem attributed to Homer describing the adventures of Odysseus]

definition: Oxford Compact English Dictionary

The beginning of the Odyssey

odyssey text Bibi Saint-Pol

 Image Bibi Saint-Pol/Wikimedia Commons

The beginning of a different odyssey

‘As you set out for Ithaka

hope your road is a long one,

full of adventure, full of discovery…’

from Ithaka by CP Cavafy

The journeys of birds

 travelling birds film 1 web

Travelling Birds (also known as Winged Migration): a 2001 documentary film that follows northern hemisphere birds on their spring migration to the Arctic Circle.

Birds on the itinerary

Destination Flyways is an initiative of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

‘In 2012, a record one billion tourists crossed international borders…By providing an adequate framework for sustainable tourism management and diversifying the tourism offer along the flyways, Destination Flyways will generate revenue for improved management of biodiversity and spread the benefits of tourism to local communities, while creating attractive experiences for tourists.’

birdwatchers broome 1 kimberley birdwatching

Birdwatching at Roebuck Bay near Broome, Western Australia

Morley Beach birdwatchers 1

Birdwatching at Morley Beach, Denmark, Western Australia

Images: top,; bottom, Basil Schur

Stopping along the way

‘shhh I can make myself invisible

with binoculars in moist places…

…whisper I wear soft colours/

whisper, this is the naturalist

she’s been out since dawn

dripping in her waterproof notebook’

 from Dart by Alice Oswald