Hang on, that's not in the book (birdwatching with Dowroong and Mick)
Well it seems that while I have been up here at the posh hotel getting on TV, playing with charismatic large mammals and generally doing all the glory boy stuff dynamic birdwatching duo K. Dowroong and Mick have been doing some proper conservation - the 'up to your knees in leech infested swamp counting territorial raptors' (raptors have pointy bits), the 'you shouldn't be hunting here so please put your gun down' type of conservation on some important wetlands next to Chiang Saen lake.
The wetland plays host to an unusual (for Thailand) array of waders and waterfowl, including my first Pheasant-tailed Jacana and, always a hot favourite, the Purple Gallinule; it also plays host to the usual array of huntsmen and fisherladies, for the pot and for the market, as well as two temples - one of which is named for the ancient city of Yonok whose chronicle is old enough to report the holding off an Angkor age Khmer invasion (with the help of a legendary elephant - which is the bit I read) and, legend has it, slipped below the lake when the population ate a sacred white eel.
Khun Dowroong has been out talking to people, trying to find out what is needed to protect the wetland, its birds and its people. The hunters and fishermen, with misty eyed distraction, talk of the days a decade ago when the sky was black with birds and you only had to fire into the sky twice to feed your family, when you could throw a net and catch fish the size of, well, the size of adult fish.
Luckily Dowroong's a diplomat and doesn't ask them why they think it might be that they can only catch fewer and fewer baby fish each year, leaving them to join the dots that may, someday, be joined.
The monks in both the temples are happy to help police the hunting and the fishing and have asked for English lessons for the kids of the local villages, something we are going to try and provide through K. Dowroong with a little help from us English but none polished Thai speakers.
So it looks as though we're going to make some headway and have a stab at making sure this little part of the world is available as a migrationary refuge for birds and as a sustainably used resource for the local villagers for as long as we can.
We haven't worked out the details yet but we will be running guided walks (after a fifteen minute drive) from Anantara for people who would like to see rural Northern Thailand, one of the villages has a silk production process - mulberry trees to handbags - that they bought with them when they migrated from the North East, there is a buffalo camp and the two temples all on an hour or two's flat walk that also takes in the birds and a beautiful wetland.
Hopefully the presence of fee paying guests will allow everyone to gain some benefit from the swamp without destroying it in the process...
...and that's where you come in, please come walk with us - ask about the Yonok Wetlands project if you stay either at Anantara or Four Seasons.
For those more serious about birds the Yonok project does contain some ornithological oddities - and some charismatic ones at that (those of you who follow this column may remember that Anantara's claim to fame was a cute little White Wagtail that appeared to be wearing too much mascara and forgot to fly home to China for the breeding season - we'll take any claim but...).
The area is home to what might well be Thailand's largest Harrier roost - even an unskilled eye such as mine counted 200 large raptors coming in one dusky winter's evening, lately it has played host to a River Tern - only recorded in three other places along the Mekong in Thailand and the piece de resistance is a roost of Grass Owls, a bird not recorded anywhere else in Thailand (though Dowroong and Mick have found another in the area through a great deal of hard work).
Mick and Dowroong record their sightings on the Thaibirding website, so birders amongst you may want to keep that link to keep up to date.
Both of the photos are of the project area in moody mood, can't have a wetland without rain!