Thursday, December 24, 2009

First Bird Survey Trip

After surfing the internet and reading almost everything about swiftlets, it's time to go out and see where the birds are. We, me and my dearest hubby, drove from Bangkok to down south of Thailand.
On Dec 11th, we left our house around 8 am and drove all the way down to SuratThani, 600 km from Bangkok. We arrived there around 3 pm, it took us 7 hours in total to reach there.
We checked-in into a small road sided hotel, the hotel rooms were built in clusters in an oil palm plantation! Nice and clean room with hot shower at a very reasonable price at 500 Baht per night.
After we checked-in, I called Khun Wor to tell him that we have arrived, within 15 minutes he came with his brother, Khun Wit.

They took us to several potential areas to see the number of birds in those areas.

First location, Khun Wor parked his car in the middle of a rice padi field and turned on a bird call sound from his car. Wow so impressive, many birds,around 100, flew in around the car to check out who's calling.
We were there for a while and then went on to his parent's house. There, we met Khun Wor's mom and dad, aged 62 and 66 respectively. His dad was not quite comfortable about his son's planned investment on this BH business. It was quite an invesment for them as Khun Wor had to borrow from the bank to build his first BH.
I was trying my best to reassure him that his son, Khun Wor, has done a good job in studying and planning very thoroughly about this BH business and he would do well and succeed, so no need to worry too much.
Khun Wor, after I 've done a good job convincing his dad, treated us with his home grown freshly picked coconut, dragon fruits and rose apple, very refreshing. Then he performed another bird call to see how many birds we have there too.
Despite the place was surrounded by many tall coconut trees. The birds still responded well with his bird sound. I told Khun Wor jokingly that, you must have made an appointment with all those birds to impress me. He just smiled back and said  " may be ".

Then we proceeded to town area which is the bird center. We saw many shop houses where downstairs the owners ran their business as usual and upstairs, 2nd and 3rd floor were converted to BHs. On every BH, we could see birds flying around the entrance hole. Khun Wor drove us around and showed us his being built BH. Piling was just finished a few days earlier. It would take around 4 more months to be completed.
Then he drove us around to see other being built BHs in the area. It seemed like BHs were mushrooming here and there. One of them was being built up to the third floor and not yet finished roofing, birds were already there circling around checking whether it's ready.
Then we stopped by and asked some of the BH's owners whether they had bird nests for sale, as I wanted to buy some for my mother. Most of them said as soon as they harvested the nests, the buyer came to buy from them at their doorstep. The current selling price is 40,000. Baht per kilogram. After being denied by two BHs, on the third BH, I had to tell them that my mother is 84 years old and would be very disappointed if I couldn't bring some freshly harvested bird nests back to her. So this nice guy said, " how's about come back tomorrow morning, he will  harvest some tomorrow morning, specially for us". I was very glad and told him we would certainly be back tomorrow morning.

The high light on this trip came around 7 pm, when we stood in front of a BH  to see the birds flying back to this BH. It was a three storied cemented shop, next to this BH was a two storied wooden grocery shop. The entrance hole of the BH was on the third floor and situated behind the shop, many birds were flying above the roofs of these two shops. It was getting darker and darker after 7 pm, then some of the birds started flying very low into the road in front of these two shops. We were wondering why these birds were flying so low on the street where few cars were still running. Then we knew the answer, some birds were flying into the two storied wooden house. This house as mentioned earlier was a grocery store, the owner was standing inside doing business as usual, there were many open sacks of white rice and many other grocery goods in the shop. All the birds just flew inside the house passed through the lady owner and all the hanging merchandises in the shop. I went into the shop to talk to the lady. To my surprise, she denied that these birds were staying inside her house. She said they flew in and flew out only, they didn't stay as she didn't adjust the right conditions for them as the next door BH. I thought she might be afraid that I came from the revenue department to assess her tax on the bird nests! Around 7.30 pm, all of a sudden , not a single bird insight.
They all flew into their residents. What a wonderful experiences for us.

Then we went on to do a Thai silk shopping and to a restaurant by the beach to have our seafood dinner and back to our hotel. We bid farewell to both Khun Wor and Khun Wit as Khun Wor needed to head back to Krabi which is 1.45 hour drive from Surat to his family.

Next morning at 8.30 am, we went to pick up 200 gram of bird nest, cost me 8,000 Baht. We then had our breakfast, bought some salted eggs and then started driving back home.

On our way home, I had an appointment with Mr. C, an owner of three BHs in Petchburi. This was the first time we met after I knew him by commenting the articles he wrote in his blog and talked through e-mails for months. Unfortunately, we met only one hour and didn't have opportunity to talk and see much as he had to rush to the airport to see his brother off.

Then we drove through Baan Laem, Petchburi area where there were many BHs, it was around 4.30 pm, surprisingly we didn't see any birds at all around those BHs, unlike in Surat, there were birds all over above the BHs.
Couldn't figure out why, as they were still new BH being built in the area.
Thus although I have lands in Petchburi, I definitely will not build my BH there.

Later we drove to a bridge across a river, I saw many birds above the river and then a road sign pointing direction to " Wat Chong Lom", a famous bird temple in SamutSakorn. So they might be a good population of birds in this area.

We arrived home in Bangkok around 7 pm, very exhausted.

Overall, we had a good trip. It helped us to finalise where we should build our first BH.
You guess.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Visit a New BirdHouse in Samutprakarn

Yesterday I had a chance to visit a new Bird House in Samut Prakarn Province which is south-east of Bangkok.
This new BH is situated on the fourth floor of an old electronic toy factory. It is a big building with an area around 700 meter on one floor only. The owner has moved his factory to a bigger plot of land next to this building. So this building has been left vacant due to an economic downturn during the last two years.

I arrived around 6 pm. They invited me to go to the fouth floor. I said it would be very tied to climb 4 storeys at my age. You know what, we went to the fourth floor by an elevator!
In the equipment room, the consultant, Mr.K, and his team were working on the control system of the temperature and humidity.The temperature had reached the desired level at 27 degree celcius, but the relative humidity is still far below the desired set point at 85%. The RH was slowly climbing up from 68% to 70 % and stable there until I left at 8 pm.

The interior was very well built with very good workmanships, all four walls were insulated with foam sheet and covered with a cement board to protect the room from outside heat. Wood plank were neatly installed with corner pieces. Around the wall, there were so many ventilation holes covered with a blue PVC pipe, the opening of each pipe faced down to the water trough, inside each pipe was a small fan, each and every one of them! The air was drawn from outside the building through the pipe and blown into the water to create humidity and thus cool down the room. When the desired temperature is reached, these fans will be stopped as controlled by a sensor placed in the middle of this room and a thermostat at the equipment room.
There are also 8 humidifiers placing on the floor with a sensor connected to a hygrostat in the equipment room. Once the desired humidity is reached, the hygrostat will automatically turned off these 8 humidifiers.
This room is approximately 20* 35 meter, with  two rows of column.
There were also 300 tweeters installed. All the tweeters were turned on full swing, it was quite an experience to me to be in a BH!

The entrance hole is a dog kernel type at 3* 4 meter(W*L) and 5 meter high on the roof top. When I was on this roof top I could see a very big pond near by this building which is a big advantage to this location.
There were also 4  infrared cameras installed to monitor the entrance hole and 3 more spots inside the BH.
The owner said he paid around one million Baht for the renovation and all the equipments (excluding the land and building), which is equivalent to 1,430 Baht per square meter.

Mr.K told me that he used three types of sound for this BH.
One external  and two internal sounds. The two internal sounds are the mating sound and the soothing sound.
He said the mating sound should be open until 9 pm and after that play the soothing sound until early in the morning and switching back to the mating sound.
I asked him to play me the two sounds, he was very kind to show me the two sounds.
I showed him my two sounds that I got from a friend and from the internet.
He can quickly pointed out that one is a baby bird sound and the other one is a bird call sound which he also claimed that this sound  is originally his.
I was impressed!  the first sound that he said was a baby sound was indeed called a Piyik sound. Piyik means baby bird.

They invited me to go back again the next morning to see the optimum atmosphere inside where they hoped the required RH will be reached. I politedly said no, as I had already saw what I wanted to see.

This is my first visit to a BH, it is really an eye opening to me.
See the pictures of this BH building's step by step renovation process from the beginning in here.

Good luck to them.