Locations

Locations

Best Flying Fox Sites to Visit

Best Flying Fox Sites to Visit -  by Adrian Hillman

 
As far as I know there are about a dozen sites in central Thailand with colonies of Lyle's Flying Fox (Pteropus lylei) outside of National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. Most are within the grounds of temples and thereby offer easy access and pretty good views of the bats. There are also a couple of less accessible sites in mangroves (birders may also know the one at Laem Pakbia in Petchaburi) and a single site in Nong Jok near Bangkok which dares to exist without the “protection” of a temple. 
 
My top three recommendations for having a look at one of these flying fox camps are:
 
1. Wat Pho in Bang Khla, Chachoengsao Province – because it's easy to find in the small town on the banks of the Bang Pakong river and simply has the most bats of any of the temples. Enter Bang Khla along the 3121, turn left when you meet the main road through the town and the temple is on the right after about 400m.
 
2. Wat Ta Soong in Ayuthaya Province – a bit harder to find: not far from the west bank of the Chao Phraya river almost directly opposite the Bang Sai Art and Crafts Centre. On the 3111 between Pathum Thani and Ayuthaya turn off at the junction with 3418 but turn immediately right along a road that's first parallel to the main road but then bends towards the river (there is actually a golden bat statue beside this junction but it isn't very prominent). This takes you to the temple after about 2km. This temple has a watching tower giving very good eye-level views so probably the best option for photography.
 
3. Wat Chantaram (also called Wat Ban Chang), Amphur Pothong, Angthong Province – a site with a camp of flying foxes and a colony of nesting waterbirds (egrets and cormorants) within adjacent trees. Find Pothong northwest of Angthong, take the 3064 heading northwest out of Pothong, go straight over the junction with the 3454 and take the first left about 1km later. The temple is on the left after about 2.5km. (I haven't actually been here for over ten years so I'm not 100% sure of its current state although Google Streetview suggests the bats are still there at least).
 
Up until a few years ago I would also have recommended Wat Tan Ehn north of Ayuthaya as it also had a nesting waterbird colony (and I had great views of a large monitor lizard successfully hunting young night herons by sneaking up on them underwater) but thanks to temple expansion all the bird nesting trees have now gone – it is actually a Non-hunting Area so should perhaps have had some protection but I guess cutting trees down doesn't count as hunting!
 
Although, as a perceived (and edible) pest species, living in a temple does offer good protection to the bats it does also leave them at the mercy of the temple's management and new buildings do usually seem to be top of the priority list. I am aware of two other temple sites (in Ratchaburi and Chainat) that both lost their flying foxes to such development.
 
Any time of day is okay for a visit as there will always be some screeching, wing-flapping and occasional flying going on but dawn and dusk are the best time to see them more active. At Wat Pho the first thing many of them do at dusk is swoop down to snatch a drink from the river which is worth hanging around to watch.

by Adrian Hillman
 
 
 
 

 

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WT admin replied the topic: #4499 1 year 4 months ago
Great info Adrian.

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