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)

Friday, October 17, 2014

A binful of Sibes & an interesting Arctic Warbler

Two hours in Suan Rot Fai before work, with the highlight being when I raised by binoculars to view a Thick-billed Warbler and found a Siberian Rubythroat lurking just behind it before disappearing, never to be seen again.

I also found this very well-marked Arctic Warbler which was silent but has me thinking it may be a good candidate for Kamchatka Leaf Warbler (P. examinandus). Sadly it did not call, and didn't give an especially obvious response to a sound recording of P. examinandus but on plumage it immediately looked like a very different kind of Arctic Warbler - very well marked supercilium (much broader and brighter that the dowdy P. borealis I'm used to seeing) and the yellow suffusion around the face seems to favour examinandus - but without the call or biometrics I'm just speculating.

P. examinandus???

In addition to this bird I had two Pale-legged/Sakhalin Leaf Warblers, one of which showed interest in and responded to my Sakhalin recording, a lone Eastern Crowned Warbler and at least five Yellow-browed Warblers. The same area held an incessantly calling Monarchidae but I was to busy with the phylloscs to bother working out if it was an Asian Paradise Fly or Black-naped Monarch.

I also encountered at least two Ashy Minivets as well as four Brown Shrikes, lone Black-naped Oriole and leucogenis Ashy Drongo, and a Blue-tailed Bee-eater.

a rather splendid  male lucionensis Brown Shrike

Black-capped Kingfisher

Eastern Crowned Warbler

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Thick-billed Warbler

Did the first couple of hours of the day at Suan Rot Fai with the most notable sighting being my first Thick-billed Warbler of the autumn.  There were at least three leaucogenis Ashy Drongos  zooming about  the canopy of the larger trees, whilst flycatchers were present in smaller numbers than last weekend (four Asian Browns and approximately 10 Taigas).  Ashy Minivets were heard calling several times, but weren't seen. Phylloscs included four Yellow-browed, two Eastern Crowned and a pair of PLLW/Sakhalins, one of which showed well and even posed for a few photos - the extensively dusky lower mandible & relatively long primary projection might favour Sakhalin LW.

Sakhalin candidate

 Pond Herons were much in evidence, with 20-30 seen and I was also surprised to see this adult that retained more-or-less complete breeding plumage.