Pied Harriers at Huay Mai Teng Reservoir

26 10 2014

We may have a harrier roost in the making at Huay Mai Teng Reservoir on today’s showing: I saw four different males on the ground at the same time in the same patch late this afternoon. Male Pied Harriers are always a fine sight in their distinctive black and white plumage. However I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many together or in the same area with the exception of the harrier roost at Chiang Saen lake in Chiang Rai province. So I’ll need to keep my eye on this area and see what develops. These hawks can only have been present for a couple of weeks at most so their numbers may well increase as there is lots of good, hunting habitat in the surrounding area.The patch is reclaimed scrub close to works. The scrub has been removed as if in preparation for further works, leaving behind basically rough, flat earth mixed up with rock. The presence of two Richard’s Pipits was almost incidental as was the persistent calling of a number of Rain Quail – heard but not seen. There appears to be a fair amount of human disturbance around the patch so I’m not sure if it really is viable as a roost. Plus works are clearly pending so the area may become another large pool before I get back! But very interesting and exciting. I only managed 90 minutes today but it seemed the site was overrun with anglers: they were everywhere. Water level was still highish though it is not possible to drive across the road which cuts across the reservoir. Heaps of Blue-tailed Bee-eaters and Drongos. Watch this space!


Like Clockwork

16 10 2014

A first male Eastern Marsh Harrier of the winter appeared last night in the rice paddy here in Ratchaburi. Sporting a very pronounced white rump with “salt and pepper” uppers, the harrier was happily quartering the rice paddy in search of prey. A few moments later I got a view of possibly a different harrier flying away from me, this one appearing bigger sporting a white rump but lacking the streaking. It might have been the same bird with my view distorted by light and position but it may also have been a female Pied Harrier. Whatever, it is wonderful to welcome harriers back to the rice paddy and their arrival comes at roughly the same time as previous years. This timeliness never ceases to amaze me.

Not to be outdone there were also a number of Black-browed Reed Warblers in the scrub and reeds which align both sides of the rice paddy’s irrigation canals. I sighted two but there were definitely more distinguishable by their short, monosyllabic, punctuated chirp.

As I strolled along in the late afternoon warmth, a pleasant change from the recent, abundant rain, my movement flushed a Black Bittern from deep inside the scrub – black body with long, yellow throat streaking clearly visible, a  rare sighting of this skulker. A number of Yellow Bitterns showed briefly and more could be heard. There were also large numbers of Blue-tailed Bee-eaters whose call provided the acoustic background.

Elsewhere, on Monday, a brief trip to Pala-u Waterfall, the southern extremity of Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi province, produced a Crimson Sunbird and a Orange-breasted Trogon. I don’t know if either is a lifer as my notebook crashed a few weeks ago and so I have been without access to my files.

NB: 26.10.14 My thanks to Dave Sargent for pointing out my latest attempt to introduce new species: it was an Orange-breasted Trogon not Yellow as I originally said! And both the Orange-breasted Trogon and Crimson Sunbird were lifers so a wonderful result.