It was 8th March 2020. I travelled from Hanoi, Vietnam, to Bangkok, Thailand for a last two weeks of work on a project. A year later, I’m still there. A few days after I arrived in Bangkok, Vietnam closed its borders to keep COVID-19 out. Unfortunately, it kept me out as well.
Bangkok has its positive sides, and, for a bird lover, there is actually quite some good areas in and around the city to go to. It has some beautifal parks. Yet, daily life remains in the big city. And while the many restaurants—occasionally closed whenever a flare-up of COVID-19 infections made it necessary to curb large gatherings—have much to offer, they are invariably to be found in the setting of the metropolis that Bangkok is.
I had the good fortune to be able to visit Robert up in Chiang Khan, Loei, a couple of times. He and his family live along the Mekong river, and one can see on that small patch quite some wildlife. But Loei is a big province, mountainous, with forest remnants and quite a few protected areas. In this year of forced stay in Thailand, Loei was a welcome change from Bangkok. After initial COVID-19 lock-downs it became sufficiently safe to travel wihtin Thailand—if with all the proper precautions—and so we could also visit a few protected areas. I also could cycle to some forest remnants around Chiang Khan and make some walks. Even in those very disturbed forest patches, one can encounter Crested Treeswifts, Violet Cuckoo, and Plain Flowerpecker. If one visits Phu Ruea National Park it’s not only wildlife that strikes the eye. It’s full of rocks and rock formations, that reminds us of the intimate relation between biodiversity and geomorphology, Wind, rain, temperature changes, microbial life, lichens, plant roots: all form, shape and create rocks and soils, that allow worms, insects and other invertabrates to live, in their turn allowing birds and mammals to find a home, who at the same time become part of that process of forming and shaping the many habitats and niches that that biodiversity needs.
This post gives some impressions of that wildlife, rock formations and the landscape. In some images the light was very challenging, like for the White-rumped Shama or the far-away-raptor in a tree. Despite that, I included those, as they do add to the impressions of Loei.