One River Lapwing, there’s only one River Lapwing….

27 07 2013

Finally I managed to rise early and reach Huay Mai Teng Reservoir at 0600h for first light. Thank goodness I did and thank goodness I stayed at the launch area and waited because at about 0640h one River Lapwing flew in and, a few moments later, hid on the other side of a little mound, out of my view! I hung around for a bit longer to see if any more came along but not today. Of course a solitary River Lapwing is hardly a cause for celebration; au contraire, a concern. Whatever, I was delighted and surprised to see this solitary bird this morning. 

There were good numbers of Rain Quail calling though I didn’t see any. Not much else to report.

The stand out birds from a brief spin yesterday evening in the rice paddy in Ratchaburi  were a juvenile Watercock, a Lesser Coucal and a Yellow Bittern.


Reservoir Blues

23 07 2013

The tracks in the southern Huay Mai Teng reservoir area were sufficiently dry to allow me to drive in today and get right out into an area where River Lapwing have been hanging out in recent years. Alas no sign of them today there or in any of the other areas I checked on my visit. While I am not writing them off for this year yet, I am saddened because I do believe I won’t see River Lapwing here this year. This is a species that has recently had its status changed to “near threatened” and the scientists believe its numbers will undergo a fairly rapid decline over the next few generations. Full details can be found here at Birdlife International. Of course I still need to make an early morning visit to the reservoir as they could be reliably seen in the gravel of the launch area at this time; I will endeavour to do this soon and if they are not present then it looks as if they have gone.

I was actually quite sad as I did my rounds today. In the handful of years that I have been birding at the reservoir a staggering amount of wild habitat has been lost to agriculture. I do wonder if species like Blossom-headed Parakeet, Chinese Francolin and Yellow-eyed Babbler will also vanish. There is also much more human disturbance than before – leisure activities like fishing, jet skiing, barbecues, etc. And there appear to be a lot more dogs roaming freely. These are all factors which are contributing to the loss of biodiversity in this area.

I visited the northern part of the site today which in previous years has been home to many Rain Quail and lots of Small Pratincoles; today I heard one Rain Quail in this area but not a sign of a Pratincole, Small or Oriental; otherwise a few Plain-backed Sparrows, a couple of Green Bee-eaters and some egrets.

On a positive note I saw one Darter, two Rain Quail, (many more heard ) and lots of Zitting Cisticolas and Indochinese Bushlarks. But I am concerned about the absence of River Lapwing and the wider implications for this site.

Back to Basics: Bagging Lifers

22 07 2013

An amazing, unexpected occurence – I bagged a Thai lifer this afternoon on the road to the big pond at Wat Khao Takrhao in Phetchburi province. First Thai lifer this year I rather fancy. Great to be back on the road again: first visit to this area since March.

I say Thai lifer because I have seen this species in the Philippines but until now it has evaded me here: Stork-billed Kingfisher, Thai lifer no. 378. There were two on overhead wire. The real give away was the size of their bills, real “stogies”; they were not happy to see me so sadly no photograph as they scarpered and didn’t return. Three kingfisher species on view this afternoon: White-throated, Collared and Stork-billed. I was thinking there might have been possibilities of an early returning Common and was definitely not expecting Stork-billed. Shame I was unable to spend much time on the birds.

Elsewhere at The Abandonned Building about 20 Painted Stork, a pair of Red-necked Stints, a couple of Little-ringed Plover, a Striated Heron, a Greenshank and a number of Long-toed Stints. A good number of Redshanks and Egrets in The Kings Project plus all the usual water birds. The Kings Project has a nice looking new shop where you can buy souvenirs and refreshments. It being a public holiday today the shop was shut but I hope it opens regularly as I am sure it will do good business with visiting birders.

I even managed to get the digiscoping rig out and will post some shots once I have processed them. My son wasn’t too impressed with my efforts and scared most of the birds away!


20 07 2013

Pied or Jacobin Cuckoo is the bird of the moment with a number of recent sightings at Bueng Boraphet, Nakhon Sawan province  in central Thailand. In global terms it is far from being a rarity but in Thai terms it is a mega rarity with two records prior to this current bird. More pertinently one of these records was in Ratchaburi; Phil Round recently advised me of this and asked me to be on the look out for it. So this afternoon I went into the rice paddy and managed to flush one largish, long-tailed black and white bird which rapidly flew off before I could get any real sight of it; definitely wasn’t a Koel; I wonder…….. I had a brief glimpse two years ago in the same area and same time of the year of another largish and unrecognised black and white bird. Mmmmmm, I wonder…….will need to return!

The highlight for me was picking out four Wood Sandpipers still in breeding plumage. I can only presume these are early migrants attracted by the flooded rice paddy conditions; otherwise a Common Iora added a touch of green and yellow – not a bird I see a lot of despite its common status. Two sub-adult White-breasted Waterhens were also being very playful; lots of Blue-tailed Bee-eaters. As evening approached lots of Black-crowned Night-herons could be seen in the sky. A really nice couple of hours.

Where are The River Lapwing?

13 07 2013

I made it to Huay Mai Teng Reservoir on my own this afternoon but sadly no River Lapwing. A brief visit a couple of Saturdays ago, unblogged, also failed to deliver this species. Too early yet to say the lapwing have failed to return: I am still fairly immobile so can’t walk into the most likely area; it’s also too risky to drive in as the track is very wet. So I won’t be writing off River Lapwing until I can get into this area by foot. I also think I need to get to the site for first light as I have consistently seen them in the launch area at the start of the day.

I didn’t sight any Rain Quail today but heard plenty of them all over the site. A male Barred Buttonquail did show for a few seconds. Lots of Indochinese Bushlarks – they also seem to be quite confiding. All the usual suspects including a Green-billed Malkoha and three Small Pratincoles; one juvenile Oriental Pratincole, a Yellow Bittern, a fair few Plain-backed Sparrows, a Pied Kingfisher and a Lesser Coucal.

For me a joy to be out in the warmth of the afternoon; sunshine, or rather sunny intervals, but no rain. Simply getting out birding on my own was a huge achievement. My foot is healing well: the wound site still has a bit of a scab on it and it  still swells a bit when I am upright for too long. However the wound is closed. Time and patience now plus a little common sense! ( With a long weekend coming next week I was reviewing the possibility of a nine hour drive south to Krung Ching – a  completely crazy scheme, because I have no doubt that once I am there I will have to do some walking and I think my limit is about 15 minutes! Perhaps Kaeng Krachan might be less testing or even Laem Pak Bia! ) Probably be a couple of months until I am firing on all cylinders.