Reservoir besieged by Birder Onslaught!

29 11 2014

The best thing about birding today at Huay Mai Teng reservoir was just being there reasonably early in the morning. There were no Pied Harriers in the roost but I didn’t get there until 0700h so I imagine they had already gone out for the day! The presence of two other birders staking out a Bluethroat was also a very pleasant surprise. I have seen Bluethroat here before too and this would be about the right time for it to reappear here.

I usually have this place all to myself so great to see these guys. The worst thing was being suckered by an Eastern Stonechat which had me thinking I was on to a female flycatcher of some description! It was behaving like a flycatcher too, perching on a branch and then taking off after prey and returning to the same spot. I’m happy being suckered! Nearby a Thick-billed Warbler was deep in the scrub – it wouldn’t show long enough for me. However with this area now being fully accessible I fancy getting in among the reed beds to check out those little brown jobs.

The most important bird today was a Black-collared Starling in a freshly ploughed field near the road leading to the southern side of the reservoir. I’ve seen this species here before but it is not common in the area. Having checked the roost I felt comfortable for the first time in over a year heading out into the vast area of flat land that forms the southern reservoir. The roads were dry and drivable and I was rewarded with masses of Rain Quail calling (none seen), a female Barred Buttonquail and its solitary brood having a dust bath on the track, and further along toward the water, two Oriental Skylarks, 32 Small Pratincoles, 4 Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, 2 very large Grey Herons and lots of Wood Sandpipers and Oriental Pratincoles. There were also decent numbers of Richard Pipits as well as one Red-throated Pipit and two Olive-backed Pipits.

I have some guests next week who have booked up at the new hotel on the north shore of there reservoir so I’m going to try and spend Saturday with them. It will be wonderful to have a whole day birding here and it will be really interesting to see what is about.

I should add a brief foray to the Laem Pak Bia sandpit last Sunday with my nephew and my family was joyful bit a little bit disappointing from a birding perspective: three Chinese Egrets, a handful of Malaysian Plovers and a Whimbrel. My nephew swears he saw whales further out in the Gulf  which wouldn’t surprise me altogether as I know up to eight Bryde’s Whales have been seen in the area in recent weeks. We also stopped at the beach at Ban Bang Gao where there were lots of Sanderlings and Malaysian Plovers on the sand and the first Brown-headed Gulls had arrived.


Urban Birding

8 11 2014

By virtue of my son’s football training I finally managed to get round to checking out a bit of interesting habitat bang in the centre of Ratchaburi, between Tesco Lotus and Daruna School. The football pitches are at the far end of the site and there are a couple of decent access roads to them so it’s possible to walk a kind of loop around the middle of the site:  a large plot of derelict land, much of it overgrown  with a fair amount of shallow water in it. In fact it is so overgrown there are some parts of it which are virtually inaccesible.

This afternoon the place was teeming with drongos and barn swallows but I also picked out Oriental Reed Warblers and by sound Black-browed Reed Warbler and Thick-billed Warbler. A rail or crake flashed in front of me as I drove in this afternoon and the only thing I can be sure of is that it wasn’t a White-breasted Waterhen; the latter are present along with good numbers of Little Egrets and Chinese Pond Herons. A Yellow Bittern briefly hovered over over the phragmites reeds and a small flock of White-rumped Munias were happily working their way around the site. In the final light of the day I heard the high pitched ululation-like call of a Red-legged Crake. There were also a couple of Eastern Stonechats present.

Benny trains twice or three times a week in the late afternoon so I reckon I’m going to get about the site and try and see what I can find. There was enough there today for me to think this site could have real potential with the possibility of some raptors and owls too.

Reservoir Notes

3 11 2014

When I left Huay Mai Teng Reservoir on Sunday evening at 1800h there were three male Pied Harriers in the “roost”. At 1640h there were none so I was very pleased with this tally. I watched the first one fly in low head on at about 1655h and when he sensed me the harrier diverted to the left with a minimum of fuss. In doing so the harrier put up a large number of Oriental Pratincoles who had been on the ground and clearly understood the raptor’s potential threat.

The afternoon started out with scattered showers, reminiscent of a Scottish summer day. From the north side of the reservoir looking south I thought I could make out a flock of Small Pratincoles on a small piece of land close to the road that cuts through the reservoir; this road is still covered but is progressively emerging from the water and the birds were on a piece of bare gravel. Mental note to check later from the better vantage point of the reservoir’s south side. A Rain Quail nearby was loudly calling but did not reveal itself from the scrub and there was no visible movement to assist with location.

A number of Richard’s Pipits, some Paddyfield Pipits and a couple of Olive-backed Pipits were nearby and a Yellow Wagtail dropped in. Over in the direction of the putative Small Pratincoles I observed a Pied Kingfisher perched on a pole. A detour to the reeds produced an Oriental Reed Warbler and an elegant Common Kingfisher.

I made it to the south side of the reservoir for about 1630h and confirmed the presence of 52 Small Pratincoles as indicated above. They were almost bookended by two Grey Herons; a number of Little Cormorants were present plus a few Wood and Common Sandpipers.

On to the “roost” where I was almost disappointed by the absence of any Pied Harriers. But they did come in eventually and it remains to be seen how this will develop over the next few months. A Black-shouldered Kite perched up on a nearby tree and between 30 – 40 Oriental Pratincoles also came in to the roost though keeping a very wary eye on the harriers. Then at about 1740h I heard a distant Chinese Francolin calling which gave me no end of pleasure – this must be one of the most vulnerable species at the reservoir so great to be able to confirm it is still here.

In the end it had become a beautiful, sun drenched evening as the sun set behind me and it felt good to be in the middle of it all observing the three Pied Harriers on the ground.