Where is Chumphon
Chumphon (pronounce as choom-pond) geographical coordinates 10° 30' 0" North, 99° 10' 0" East is located midway of Bangkok and Hatyai.
It is about 463km south from Bangkok. Located in the narrow landbridge linking Malay Peninsular with the mainland of asia, in between of Adaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand. Chumphon’s total land area is 6,009.0 km2 (2,320.1 sq mi). It is a stop-over place for most travelers for island hopping to Koh Tao and those who drive to the south from the north of Thailand.
Due to it’s strategically located in between of mountains range, agricultural is the main source income generator to the people of Chumphon. Majority of the people in Chumphon are involve in plantation eg rubber, palm oil, fruits and coffee. Besides the main occupation in agricultural sector minorities are also in fisheries as it is located near the coastlines. One walk into their morning market in chumphon town would discover fresh products from the sea.
Noticed that Chumphon is famous for princes finger banana. It taste in between of our pisang emas and berangan. The local make varieties of banana fritters for sells at the local products stalls along the road leading to Khao Radar.
Why chumphon is good for raptors watching.
Limited food resources in the winter in northern hemisphere will triggered the birds to do the annually migration. Chumphon is the bottleneck to connect 2 flyways of bird summer migratory route. To conserver energy, raptors migrate during the daytime where they make use of the hot thermals generated during the day to lift them up. We can notice great amount of raptors fly pass Chumphon it is due to during mid September till mid October the south east wind will push them to the coastal area. With the help of wind blow towards the mountain ridge that surround Chumphon they will be then updraft. In the recent raptor count study done from early September till early november by Robert DeCandido with a few birders recorded there are at least 26 raptor species and more than 210,000 individuals heading south towards Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Sulawesi and even the Philippines. Chumphon is a good place for raptor watching and bird migratory study site in Thailand.
How to go to chumphon.
Ever since from January 2006 there are no flights to Pateu that is about 30km from Chumphon town. The nearest airport is in Phuket is about 281km from Chumphon town. Alternatively is to fly to Hatyai (450km away) or Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport about 390km.
Best time for raptor watching
For raptor watching the best time is from mid September till early November. To create migratory birds awareness it is an annual event of MNS selangor branch since 2003 will take 20 MNS members to chumphon for raptor watch. The 1,000+km journey will start from Kuala Lumpur on Friday night either by long journey bus or train to Hatyai. The journey from Hatyai would then continue in the mid-day around noon by stage bus or chartered van to Chumphon. This tedious journey would take at least 24hrs per journey. One would definitely forgotten the long tedious strenuous tiring journey after seeing the vast amount of migratory birds in the fields. Some of my friends do not mind even to drive all the way from Malaysia passing thai border through padang besar overnight at Hatyai. The next morning continue the journey follow the direction to Surat thani drive past trang, patthalung and then follow the signage to Ranong and Bangkok. Mueng Chumphon is in the midway of Hatyai and Bangkok.
Where to stay.
There are numerous affordable hotel accommodation range from 450baht to 1500baht at chumphon town which are within easy access to food and others common facilities such at shopping malls. For those who wish to have holiday mood kind of accommodation beside the beach can head to the coastline Pateu districts about 30mins drive from chumphon town.
Where is the site for raptor watch.
Raptor Watch Site - Nong Yai
My first visit to chumphon was in year 2003, we visited 2 sites then one of it is the King’s Project (Nong Yai). This place is very near to Chumphon town. The best time for watching raptors here is the morning from 6am – 10am and evening 5pm – 6pm where raptors can be easily identify off it’s species with a 10X binocular. In the midday where there is enough thermal the birds are flying very high.
Besides raptors watching due to the surrounding habitat of freshwater wetlands there are others birds worth to look out for.
I had my lifer the Asian Openbill. This colonies is at least 40 individual Asin Openbill perched on this tree.
Besides the flypast raptors our sightings here are
Asian Openbill, Bronze-Winged Jacana, Richard Pipit, Red-Wattled Lapwing, Chinese Pond Heron, Egret, Little Cormorant, White Stork, White-Throated Kingfisher, Black Capped Kingfisher, White-Rumped Munia, Javan Myna