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Thale Noi Waterfowl Reserve, Phatthalung

 Thale Noi Waterfowl Reserve is the largest waterfowl reserve in Thailand. It can be reached via Highway No. 4048 from Amphoe Muang to Amphoe Khuan Khanun and to Thale Noi, for a total distance of 32 kilometres. The road is paved asphalt all the way. The reserve is the responsibility of the Royal Forestry Department and covers 450 square kilometres, divided into 422 square kilometres of land (94%) and 28 square kilometres of water (6%), or Thale Noi.

The sea is 5 kilometres wide and 6 kilometres long with an average depth of 1.2 metres. The sea is covered with assorted flora such as lotus, bulrush, reed, and grass used for thatching. More than 187 species of waterfowls, migratory and indigenous birds make their home at Thale Noi. Some live here throughout the year and some migrate only in winter from October to March when the population density is at its highest. The low season is June-September which is the nesting period. Species that are prevalent here are those of the heron and stork family such as yellow bittern, great egret, painted stork, red stork; ducks such as lesser whistling duck, cotton pygmy goose, and garganey; grebe; rails such as white-browed crake, white-breasted waterhen, watercock, common moorhen, and Eurasian coot; jacanas such as pheasant-tailed jacana and bronze-winged jacana; cormorants such as great cormorant and little cormorant; black-winged stilt; Brahminy kite; red-wattled lapwing; whiskered tern; common kingfisher; and barn swallow. The best time to study flora and fauna is during October-March when there is an abundance of birds and pink lotus in full bloom cover the reserve. Moreover, tourists can visit villages and see cottage industries like reed mat making.

Thale Noi has been named the first world ramsar site (wetland site) in Thailand. This aims to preserve the sustainable ecology of the area, one that is being developed into one of the country’s most important nature study centres. As such, there is careful control of eco-tourism in Thale Noi in order to minimize impact on the environment.

Tourists can take boats from Thale Noi pier and go on two routes; the first one for tourists with services by the Thale Noi community and the second for academics and nature study by requesting permission and guide from a reserve official. The reserve has comfortable accommodation. For more information, please contact the Royal Forestry Department in Bangkok, tel: 0- 2579-7223, 0-2579-5734, and Thale Noi Non-hunting Area, tel: 0- 7468-5230.

Travel to Thale Noi is easy by boat and car. Access can be made from seaside districts like Ranot, Sathing Phra and Muang of Songkhla, and Pak Phayun, Khuan Khanun and Mueang of Phatthalung. Visitors by train can alight at Pak Khlong station and continue by car to Thale Noi for 8 kilometres.Tourist Advice on a Nature Study of Thale Noi Waterfowls

Obtain information from and make accommodation reservation at the park 30 days prior to the visit, tel: (074) 615722, 685230. Thale Noi Non-hunting Area is in Tambon Thale Noi, Amphoe Khuan Khanun, Phatthalung 93150.

Tourists studying migratory birds and water flora should know the best time to see them:

- The boat tour to study waterfowls provided by the Thale Noi community goes along a fixed route and takes 1 hour. The fee is 200 baht for 8 persons.

- Researchers and nature watchers interested in studying birds must obtain permission from the park directly and must strictly follow the advice of park officials.

- Embark boats with caution and try to disperse the weight of passengers evenly through the boat. Passengers should not stick arms and feet outside the boat while it is cruising or disturb the boat’s balance.

- Visitors should not make loud noises during the tour or pick flowers and plants along the way.

- Visitors should wear attire that is in tune with nature and bird watching equipment, and should wear a life vest in the boat.

- Do not eat or drink during the tour and dispose of garbage in bins in the park.