Monday, May 23, 2016

Laem Pak Bia - 17th May

On my way back from Cha-am I visited Laem Pak Bia, focusing my time on the Royal Project.

On my way into the project I came across a showy group of Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, and soon afterwards I located a full breeding plumaged Indian Pond Heron which was flushed by a motorbike before I could get any photos of it.

Blue-tailed Beer-eater

I spent a long time looking through the herons trying to relocated the IPH, but actually ended up finding a second IPH (in less pristine breeding plumage), after photographing a few Javan Pond Herons.

Javan Pond Heron

Javan Pond Heron

Indian Pond Heron (bird number 2)

The ponds in the Royal Project were also very productive for terns, with 20 or so Caspian Terns feeding and 40-50 Whiskered Terns, plus a lone White-winged Black Tern.

Whiskered Tern

Caspian Tern

Passerine interest came in the form of an "Arctic-type" Warbler, which given the late date could well have been an Kamchatka Leaf Warbler, but remained stubbornly silent. I also found a late Oriental Reed Warbler.
Arctic Warbler (probably Kamchatka?)

On the way home I checked the area where I had seen the Australian-flagged Curlew Sandpiper and indeed it was still present in the company of more than 100 Red-necked Stints and a group of at least 200 Painted Storks.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Driving to Cha-am

On Sunday afternoon I had to drive to Cha-am which is about 35km south of Laem Pak Bia.  Given this proximity it seemed rude not to stop off for a spot of birding along the way!

My first stop was at KM 55 on Rama 2 Road (the main road heading south west out of Bangkok).  This road has saltpans right next to it in this area and I have explored here several times in recent months, having found a flock of a couple of hundred Great Knots and a handful of Asian Dowitchers in the past. This time I chose a random track to explore, not really expecting to find many waders, given the date and the fact that I knew that the state of the tide was less than ideal - but I had to work with what I had.  I eventually found a pool that hosted a reasonable number of herons and a few Sandplovers, and a amongst the 20 or so Javan Pond Herons I was pleased to find  two Indian Pond Herons (a vagrant to Thailand) and a late Chinese Pond Heron.

Indian Pond Heron (bird 1)

Indian Pond Heron (bird 2)

Chinese Pond Heron

 I then headed on to Pak Thale (the wintring site for Spoon-billed Sandpipers and thousands of other waders) which was pretty much devoid of birds, save for a single pool which hosted about 100 Marsh Sandpipers, 10 or so Black-tailed Godwit and a party of 11 Spotted Redshank. Passerine interest came in the form of a late Black-browed Reed Warbler.


Further south, towards Laem Pak Bia I was fortunate enough to find an impressive flock of 160+ Painted Storks feeding close to the road,  joined by seven Spot-billed Pelicans.  A look in a saltpan behind this flock revealed a small group of Red-necked Stints and encouraged by this I scanned further to find a couple of Pacific Golden Plovers and a party of seven Curlew Sandpipers including one brandishing a bright orange flag above the right knee.  I knew that this was not a local bird (inner gulf flags are a combination of black and green), so I banged off a few record shots as "evidence".  Looking at various resources on line it seems that this bird was ringed in the Australian state of Victoria!  This means that if the bird travelled in a straight line it would have covered a minimum of 7,300 km to get to where I was watching it, but that would mean a direct flight traversing the outback (I've no idea how likely that is).  If the bird were to have travelled along the coat from Melbourne to Perth and the north to Thailand it would have had to cover a total of about 10,000 km to reach me.

G'day, mate!

Painted Stork

6th May 2016

One of my last bashes of the spring around the patch produced only two migrants - the first being a splendid and very showy Dark-sided Flycatcher (pix below), with the other an Arctic Warbler in song.

Having latterly examined my sound recordings of this bird and the one I heard singing on 15th April and comparing them (by ear) with various recordings on Xeno Canto it seems to me that they are clearly closest to Phylloscopus borealis transbaicalica (recorded at Khasanskiy rayon, Primorskiy kray in Russia, north of the Korean Peninsular) rather that Phylloscopus borealis borealis recordings from Finland.

I am unsure if it is generally accepted that P.b. transbaicalica is the main (only?) sub-species of Arctic Warbler passing through Thailand on passage (obviously excluding the separate species of Kamchatka and Japanese Leaf Warblers which are now confirmed on the Thai list).
But I have found literature that indicates that P. b. transbaicalica breeds in "Transbaikal" also known as "Dauria". Is there any likelihood that future studies will identify P.b.transbaicalica as a distinct taxon? "Daurian Leaf Warbler" perhaps?!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Another Crazy Crake

Following on from the Red-legged Crake that was hanging around Chulalonkorn University back in February, another mega Crake was found at Suan Rotfai on Saturday by birders visiting to see the Ruddy Kingfisher.

This time the bird in question was a Slaty-legged Crake, a seldom-seen forest bird that is best looked for around Kaeng Krachan.  I was out of town for the weekend, so I had to play it cool and take it in on my way to work this morning.  Fortunately the bird was still present and ludicrously easy to see, feeding in the open and occasionally taking cover in a flowerbed and a storm drain!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Purple reign

It's not ofter that I get to see birds with any purple colours in their plumage, but given the untimely passing of megastar Prince it was perhaps fitting that today I caught up with a Ruddy Kingfisher (purple sheen on the mantle) that has been present for the last couple of days.  This is a good local rarity, and only the third individual that I have seen on the patch.

Ruddy Kingfisher

 Also present today were a Forest Wagtail, two Yellow-rumped Flycatchers, a Dark-sided Flycatcher, Asian Brown Flycatcher and an Arctic Warbler spp.which demonstrated some interest in a tape of Kamchatka Leaf Warbler (but did not actually vocalise). 

female Yellow-rumped Flycatcher

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Yellow rumps

A quick look at Suan Rotfai this morning produced one Eye-browed Thrush, a Thick-billed Warbler, two Yellow-rumped Flycatchers and a Brown Shrike.

The Thrush was the least regular visitor amongst that lot, but the Yellow rumps stole the show.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Chinese Sprawk & Dark-sided Fly

Suan Rotfai during a 50 minute excursion this morning produced a couple of interesting birds - first up was an immature male Chinese Sparrowhawk that allowed incredibly close approach whilst it devoured an unidentified prey item.

Afterwards I located a tree that held three species of flycatcher - a very dowdy female Mugimaki, an Asian Brown and this rather excellent  Dark-sided Flycatcher (my first of the spring).

Dark-sided Flycatcher

female Mugimaki