Common Shelduck @ Laem Pak Bia

25 02 2013


A Common Shelduck, a pretty rare bird in Thailand, obliged this morning at Laem Pak Bia; fortunately these ducks are big and can be seen at a distance, so easy to find. A lifer too!


Grey-headed Lapwing

23 02 2013



This is one of my favourite species and it has taken up temporary residence in the local rice paddy. It is very difficult to get close to and it is brilliantly disguised. It really is hard to pick it out against the mud. I’ve seen them on Tuesday and Wednesday evening this week and now this afternoon. On Tuesday there were also  two Common Greenshanks in the flooded fields, quite unexpected; there have also been a few Oriental Pratincoles flying around as well as some Marsh Sandpipers and lots of Black-winged Stilts. More common birds, like Pond Herons and Cattle Egrets are starting to show their breeding plumage.

Ratchaburi Rice Paddy

17 02 2013

A couple of hours in the rice paddy threw up some great birds this afternoon. Pride of place must go to a Greater Spotted Eagle, a first for the patch. At times it few so close its yellow bill was clearly visible. At times like this I feel privileged as I doubt whether anybody else in Ratchaburi was aware of this bird’s presence. There was plenty of human activity in the rice paddy but none of it was interested in this magnificent bird.

Rice is being sown at the moment in the paddy so as well as increased human activity there is also an increase in the amount of water sluicing around the fields and irrigation system. Domestic ducks are still present in places. I learned recently these ducks are an important part of the strategy of minimising rice predation by apple snails. Anyhow there were also a lot of Black Kites around mixed up in large flocks of Openbills and Cattle Egrets; the latter are starting to show their distinctive yellow breeding plumage. Overhead a number of Oriental Pratincoles announced their presence by their distinctive warble-like call as they flew over.

A couple of Eastern Marsh Harriers put in an appearance and were joined by a Black-shouldered Kite. These are the first Eastern Marsh I have seen this “winter”. A solitary Common Kingfisher and Oriental Reed Warbler rounded off a splendid afternoon.

Rain Quail on the Ground

17 02 2013

For the first time in ages I had clear views of Rain Quail at Huay Mai Teng reservoir on Saturday morning. There was a small group of five foraging in some mixed grass and it felt good to get my sights on them. In fact it was wonderful watching the male’s black breast which merges into a  sublime caramel colouring. Such were my views I could see that the males’ upperside  yellow streaking was more pronounced and striking than that of the females. A very happy spectacle indeed. I had been checking out the whereabouts of Small Pratincoles at the “usual” place close to the point where the road across the reservoir disappears under water on its northern side. As I rummaged I managed to flush about 8 Rain Quail and I was able to follow them until they came down in some scrub a couple of hundred yards away. As I say, a bonnie sight.

It was a great morning. A fair few Small Pratincoles but no major flock, perhaps 30-40 dispersed around the site; there were also about 20 Oriental Pratincoles; these were on the move but I did count four on the ground; three Common Snipe, 2 Grey-headed Lapwing, lots of Little Ringed Plovers, a few Wood Sandpipers and there were also good numbers of Pheasant-tailed Jacanas

Then the little brown jobs: definites on Black-browed Reed Warbler,Thick-billed Warbler and Lanceolated Warbler; the latter perched very nicely for me deep inside a bush.It really helps to get a look at these otherwise elusive warblers. There were other little brown birds too, in particular a pair of very similar plain light brown coloured warblers which I couldn’t identify. Add in an Indochinese Bushlark, the continued presence of Richards Pipits, three Rosy Pipits, several Oriental Skylarks – a great couple of hours.

Weekend Shorts

11 02 2013

In an otherwise busy weekend, I snatched a few hours at Huay Mai Teng Reservoir on Saturday morning. I chose to concentrate on a patch of reed-like plants on the south side of the reservoir which I had noticed last weekend. I also decided I would try and digiscope and so I set up and waited. I didn’t have to wait very long; however I didn’t manage any images The Black-browed Reed Warblers literally ran riot. I would estimate between 6 and 8 constantly on the move and not perching for long enough to let me get focused. There was also one Thick-billed Reed Warbler which showed and possibly others. Fantastic fun, to be honest and I don’t doubt I’ll be back for another go. Maybe I’ll get a great shot of a Black-browed or Thick-billed or who knows what. I must confess I didn’t do much else. I did however note 8 Oriental Pratincoles in the air.These are really early, perhaps even they have over-wintered.

Most of my weekend was devoted to celebrations to mark my daughter Margaret’s first birthday. Sunday morning, however, I noted two Black Kites flying over our house – an unexpected soi first. We usually get a small flock around this time that hang out in the rice paddy for a couple of weeks, presumably part of north bound migration. Nice to see them right above our house. There are always good birds around. I just wish I had a bit more time on my hands – however that is coming soon!

Common Kingfisher

4 02 2013

commnking01Not being doing much digiscoping over the last week or so. Grabbed 30 minutes tonight in the rice paddy and captured this lovely Common Kingfisher.

Bingo: Rain Quail seen but BVR….

3 02 2013

Today I was joined by Steve Mawby from North Devon, England and we headed for Huay Mai Teng Reservoir just after 0530 this morning after some coffee at 7-Eleven. Steve had one main target, Rain Quail but was also enthused by the possibility of Chinese Francolin. Notwithstanding my recent unsuccessful attempts, I felt confident we would see Rain Quail today. I also felt there was a good chance too with Chinese Francolin. Don’t know why, just did.

We arrived in darkness and after the briefest of looks at the launch area, one discernible Little Ringed Plover,  we headed to the usual Rain Quail location at the northern end of the reservoir. We were greeted with the loud rasping of Savanna Nightjars, perhaps 7 or 8, as they flew around this area perching high on tree tops. This really is something special – an acoustic feast and well worth the visit. Like yesterday it stopped at 0630 as the first light of the day appeared and the nightjars repaired to roosts in nearby trees. No Rain Quail, however, so I guess we better stop referring to this as the “usual” place!

Having had a good look round in recent weeks my thinking was to go to the south side of the reservoir and concentrate on the western section of this large area of flat land. This was simply on the basis that I hadn’t been this way in recent weeks whereas those places I had been to hadn’t produced any Rain Quail. We discounted Chinese Francolin as we got to the entrance to the marsh. If it can’t be heard, then finding it will be equivalent to searching for a needle in a haystack. It couldn’t be heard.

We set off on a walk and first up we were detained by a couple of Thick-billed Warblers. We progressed around the grass area close to the water edge and in amongst some airborne Red-wattled Lapwing I picked out some bigger birds whose wings were not right: black primaries with white coverts and secondaries. Grey-headed Lapwing, I thought, but they came down a distance away and stayed out of sight. So we headed in their direction and saw lots of the regular, common species: as last Sunday good numbers of Pheasant-tailed Jacanas; we picked out a couple of Oriental Pratincoles in the sky too, rather early arrivals I fancy; lots of Zitting Cisticolas, a hovering Black-shouldered kite, both Paddyfield and Richards Pipits, a few Oriental Skylarks and as we walked I flushed a Rain Quail; off it went with a little burst of sound and down it came a few hundred metres away. Soon after I flushed a second and we pursued it. Sadly they weren’t calling but in the remainder of our walk we must have flushed at least five Rain Quail, good enough for Steve but I think we both agreed: BVR – better view required.

We also established the presence of three  Gray-headed Lapwing in the air but never got to see them on the ground. A low-flying Shikra was a patch tick and Steve then pulled out a Red-rumped Swallow, a lifer for me. I need to do some work on my swallows and martins, because there are also a good number of martins present but I wouldn’t know if they are Common or Pale Sand Martins. We also had a mystery bird in some reed like plants: Steve mentioned Paddyfield Warbler as a possibility; it looked like an acrocephalus but it really didn’t allow us good views. I know where I am going to go next weekend with my hide and a seat!

On the northern side of the reservoir we saw an estimated 50-60 Small Pratincoles and at the western outlying pool we had two Oriental Darters and about 50 Cotton Pygmy Geese. A lovely morning and great company.