Monday, November 24, 2014

22nd & 23rd Nov 2014

A rather busy weekend, but managed to get some birding in on both days.

Saturday morning found me checking out Muang Boran Fish Ponds and Bang Poo, with the Fish Ponds produsing  lots of Black-browed Reed Warblers (but not the hoped for Manchurian RW) as well as four Chestnut Munias, three Chestnut-tailed Starlings and several Pheasant-tailed Jacana.

Bang Poo was a Gull-fest, with the seemingly homogenous flock of Brown-headed Gulls harbouring at least two Black-headed Gulls and a rather confusion selection of moult stages for a laraphobe like me (the last time I looked at gulls was here, two years ago!).

Sunday morning was spent taking some visitors to Khok Kham, and with the help of Mr Tii seeing a single Spoon-billed Sandpiper amongst a huge number of waders.  Broad-billed Sandpipers seemed to be especially well represented, with small numbers of Great and Red Knot, a couple of Turnstones and a single Dunlin in the mix.  Remarkably one of the flocks of grey-and -white winter plumaged red-necked stints held an apparently full breeding plumaged bird, looking very out of place.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Luscinia on the path

This morning was the first, after ten days of being laid up with flu that I actually felt like getting out of bed, so I went to Suan Rot Fai for a couple of hours.

There has been a big drop off in the number of Phylloscs passing through the park, with just a single PLLW/Sakhalin and three Yellow-browed Warblers heard, but a few late autumn migrants have turned up including 2-3 Grey-headed Canary Flycatchers, single Hair-crested Drongo and Black-naped Monarch.

The highlight of the morning however was the vision of a "robin" on the path that leads to a private area of woodland. As soon as I saw it my brain said (european) Robin as as I raised my bins my brain actually engaged and thought "wrong continent...whatever this is it's going to be good!" and then the binos finally met my eyes they were filled with a Bluethroat -  a new bird for the patch.

Bluethroats are reasonably common in arable land elsewhere in Thailand, but I've never seen one in the city, though it has been on my list of candidate species that could turn up in the Park.  This one sat in the open for about 20 seconds, but as I attempted to switch from bins to camera it flicked out of view and didn't reappear despite me putting in considerable effort to re-find it. Those Luscinia are sneaky little buggers!

Monday, October 27, 2014

First Spooner back in Thailand

The first Spoon-billed Sandpiper  to return to Thailand for the 2014/15 winter was seen yesterday at Pak Thale.  Photo here.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Balcony birding

I had been planning full-on weekend's birding, but my plans were cut short as my cold virus intensified. Instead I simply tried a bit of viz-migging from our balcony (which in years past has produced flocks of Black Baza in late October) on both Saturday and Sunday morning.

The results were quite surprising:  on Saturday I saw two large raptors  - the first seen incredibly briefly as it disappeared behind a building, whilst I photographed the second - identified after some discussion on the Thai Bird Report Facebook page as an imm. Brahminy Kite.  I also picked up a pair of Pacific Swifts (seldom reported in the city, as far as I am aware) high up, a single Red-rumped Swallow (there were about 20 Barn Swallows moving south west as well), and a Painted Stork whilst an Intermediate Egret in the company of a Little Egret made for a nice comparison of size & structure.

imm Brahminy Kite

Pacific Swift

Painted Stork

Sunday's attempted viz-migging was a little bit poor by comparison, with a few egrets (including three Cattles, four Littles, and one Great White with a broken leg) and several Ashy Drongos, whilst a couple of Red-breasted Parakeets perched up in a fruiting tree, offering prolonged scope views.

Cattle Egrets

male Red-breasted Parakeet

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The humble heron

Woke up this morning with a fever, so abandoned plans to drive to Bang Pu for waders and gulls and instead plumped for a gentle session on the patch.

The weather was really gloomy - heavy overnight rain and low cloud meant that it still didn't really feel light even an hour after sunrise. In my febrile state, the birding was a bit laborious, but after a while I was rewarded with some uncommon migrants - two Grey-headed Canary Flycatchers and an Asian Paradise Flycatcher, followed by a very skulking Thick-billed Warbler that had me convinced for a while that it was going to be something more interesting.

The park was littered with Taiga Flycatchers and I saw at least 4 Asian Brown Flycatchersphylloscs included several Yellow-brows and three Pale-legged/Sakhalin Leaf Warblers - one of which I had responding to Sakhalin call.

The bird of the morning however was a flyover Grey Heron, which was a patch tick!  Grey Herons are reasonably common on the Gulf of Thailand, but I cannot recollect ever seeing one in the city.

Other herons this morning included numerous pond herons, including the adult breeding plumaged Chinese Pond Heron that is still hanging around.

jouyi Grey Heron

 EDIT: Doing some reading from Round (2008) about Grey Herons here in Thailand it appears that the race found here is jouyi and that although it used to breed in small numbers to at least 1950 the breeding population has been extirpated so that all birds seen today are migrants from north-eastern Asia. Indeed there are five recoveries of birds ringed as nestlings  in south-eastern Siberia and the Amur Basin. The highest count on the gulf of Thailand is 450 at Petchaburi in January 2003.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mae Sot paddyfields

 I had an hour pre-work to explore the paddyfields between Mae Sot airport and the Myanmar border this morning.

This area was looking fantastic - it's the end if wet season, so after months of rain the landscape is looking amazingly lush.

Birds included about 20 Amur and four Eastern Yellow Wagtails, 1-2 Wryneck, two Thick-billed and two Dusky Warblers, a couple of Zitting Cisticolas, at least three Siberian Rubythroats heard, four Red-throated and a single Richard's Pipit, plus several Siberian Stonechats and Brown Shrikes.

There were 10+ Red Avadavats in their usual area, with males now sporting fantastic deep red plumage.

Most intriguing was a crake spp with a streaked back that I flushed from a roadside ditch - I'm guessing either Baillon's or White-browed but has to be left unidentified.

"Amur" Wagtail Motacilla (alba) leucopsis

Monday, October 20, 2014

18th & 19th October

A bit of a slow down in terms of migration, but still plenty of interesting stuff to look at over the weekend.  The two main highlights were an Oriental Reed Warbler (only my second patch record) in the same area of marsh vegetation where the Rubythroat was on Friday, and a Plain-tailed Warbler (the first one I've seen on the patch for three years).

Ashy Minivets were still in evidence, and common migrants included PL/Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, Eastern Crowned Warbler (one on both Saturday and Sunday), whilst the number of Taiga Flycatchers seemed to increase and the number of Asian Brown Flycatchers decreased. I also saw Stork-billed Kingfisher a couple of times.

Blue-tailed Bee-eater

Taiga Flycatcher

Eastern Crowned Warbler

breeding plumaged Chinese Pond Heron still here
adult non-br Chinese PH (note remnants of br plum on ear coverts)
female Small Minivet (resident)
male Ashy Minivet (migrant)
1st winter Brown Shrike - probably Lucionensis
this shot and the one below show the reddish cap of cristatus  nicely

juv Shikra (thanks to Thai Bird Report subscribers for help with ID)