Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tart's tick

Despite having a headful of good quality red wine, courtesy of Charles and Nang, I woke up very early and made my way to SRF for the first couple of hours of day light. TAIGA FLYCATCHERS were, it is no exaggeration to say, abundant, and I even managed to get a world tick in the form of SPOTTED OWLET - a resident in the park, and something I've glimpsed a few times, but today I had crippling views...and a camera on the wrong setting! I also managed to summon up a patch tick in the shape of an ASHY DRONGO (of the migrant race leucogenis), which brings my patch list to 63.

Ashy Drongo (race leucogenis), this singing bird was a patch tick

male Black-naped Oriole

Brown Shrike

Bangkok Dragon

Friday, October 17, 2008

Red-throat with a red throat

One of two red-throated Taiga Flycatchers seen today

Lots of migrants in SRF this morning during my visit from 0700-0900. TAIGA FLYCATCHERS were much in evidence, with perhaps 15 individuals seen/heard including two birds with some evidence of red in the throat, also I'm happy to report that there were a few phylloscs around, with one YELLOW-BROWED calling, one PALE-LEGGED LEAF WARBLER seen well, and two ARCTIC WARBLERS. Also noticable was an increase in the number of BARN SWALLOWS. Other migrants seen included one BLACK-NAPED ORIOLE, two BLACK-CAPPED KINGFISHERS, two COMMON KINGFISHERS, 4 ASIAN BROWN FLYCATCHERS and 2 BROWN SHRIKES.

What might have been "bird of the day" was one that got apparently medium-sized all-dark heron glimpsed from the back of a motorbike taxi at it flew over Ari Soi 2 was presumably a migrant BLACK BITTERN (?) but I saw it so briefly that I can't be sure. Also a YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER calling around our garden this morning.

I bumped into a flock of Small Minivets this morning, including this male. I'm not sure how many groups there are in the Park, but I always see them in different places, and only occasionally, so I think there are only a small number and they cover a big area.

Little Egret catching breakfast

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Was that it?

Easy Taiga!

Did Suan Rot Fai from 0615-0745 this morning, with little in the way of rewards - 5 TAIGA FLYCATCHERS, a couple of ASIAN BROWN FLYCATCHERS, single BROWN SHRIKE, two BLACK-CAPPED KINGFISHERS, three BLUE-TAILED BEE-EATERS, and four BLACK-NAPED ORIOLES were the sum total of the migrants/winterers seen. Still a complete lack of phylloscs which has me mystified, especially as there were a number of yellow-browed warblers calling in Khao Yai over the weekend and I would expect to be hearing them in SRF; and it appears that the eastern-crowned and arctics I was seeing in September were exclusively passage birds (I had expected some winterers to stick). So perhaps my autumn is over??! I have looked back at the BCST records (all stored on their website) for the last few years, and it appears that passage should be continuing (including migrant Hooded and Blue-winged Pittas as an outside possibility at the end of Oct/beginning of Nov) so I guess I just have to keep working SRF hard and see what I can find.

In the mean time, I have these to keep me entertained...

Coppersmith Barbet

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Khao Yai National Park

The first elephant I've seen this year that
didn't have a red light flashing on its arse

With the moon nearly full, I decided that last night would be a good time to go to Khao Yai for night birds and mammals, and I wasn't disappointed, with three different ELEPHANT encounters (two singles, plus a party of four which included a VERY protective mother and her tiny calf - needless to say I backed off pretty damn fast when she started trumpeting at my car, even though I was more than 50 metres from her), a couple of MALAY PORCUPINE, poor views of what can only have been a YELLOW-THROATED MARTEN, two separate LARGE INDIAN CIVETS, GOLDEN JACKEL, and most bizarrely a SLOW LORIS on the ground, waddling across the road (at surprisingly high speed). On the night bird front I had a bit less success with only LARGE-TAILED NIGHTJAR seen, but I heard three different MOUNTAIN SCOPS OWLS as well as one ORIENTAL SCOPS.

Birding before dark yesterday afternoon produced a lot of the usual Khao Yai goodies such as GREAT HORNBILL, and I was surprised to hear a BLUE PITTA calling briefly. Migrants included a nice flock of about 10 BLUE THROATED BEE-EATERS. I also got nice views of a singing WHITE-HANDED GIBBON.

Trips like this make me realise that I should go more often, particularly as it's only 140 km from my front door to the National Park's southern gate (that's about the same distance as Cambridge to Cley) and takes about 2 hours to drive.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Large-tailed Nightjar

Suan Rot Fai again this morning. Generally quiet but at the last gasp as I was about to make directly for the exit I flushed a nightjar spp, which obligingly landed close by and allowed me to get these images for identification. My assumption was that it would be Grey Nightjar as it is the only migrant nightjar species in Thailand (five other species are resident). However examination of the pictures suggests that this bird is a LARGE-TAILED NIGHTJAR, a common forest bird but not something usually seen in the inner city. They are much easier to identify on call when wondering around Kaeng Krachan National Park in the dark!

Few other birds of note – male Black-naped Oriole, 5+ Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, a handful of Taiga Flys and one Brown Fly. The dirth of spritely sprites continues………..

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

From frenzy to famine

Astonishing morning at SRF - not a single phyllosc in two and a half hours in the field! Not sure what to make of that...perhaps I was asleep, or unlucky, or maybe they just moved south and for some reason others haven't come in from the north. Whatever, very strange.

Despite the dirth of leaf warblers, there were a few goodies to be had - perhaps the nicest being a single tree simultaneously containing BLACK-CAPPED & WHITE-THROATED KINGFISHERS, JAVAN POND HERON, INDIAN ROLLER and COPPERSMITH BARBET! Additionally I had stunning views of a luminous BLACK-NAPED ORIOLE, and 5+ TAIGA FLYCATCHERS and a couple of ASIAN BROWN FLYCATCHERS. A wander through the fairways produced a single PADDYFIELD PIPIT, and another 1st winter incei PARADISE FLYCATCHER showed well on the way out.

I met a couple of Thai bird photographers who told me that another BROWN-CHESTED JUNGLE FLYCATCHER has been seen in the park on 30th September.

ssp. incei

Paddyfield Pipit

Sunday, October 5, 2008

"bird" of the day: Reticulated Python!

A late morning bash around Suan Rot Fai produced few birds of interest due to the sun being out and it being HOT. Highlights were a pair of BLACK-CAPPED KINGFISHERS, single BROWN FLYCATCHER, TAIGA FLYCATCHER heard but not seen, PALE-LEGGED and ARCTIC WARBLERS, however the best thing was a small RETICULATED PYTHON curled up on a branch high in the canopy, which sent the local avifauna completely bonkers, and later got the attention of a brave (or foolhardy) VARIABLE SQUIRREL that kept approaching it and then backing off, getting closer each time...

Sleeping (or strangling?) reticulated python

The most effective way to deter a potentially deadly
reptile is to swish your tail back and forth at it, obviously.

Pale-legged Leaf Warbler; The phylloscs still aren't playing ball
for the camera, or perhaps I'm just a crap photographer.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Phyllosc phrenzy

Did SRF from 7.00-9.30 this morning, for the first time in almost a week due to work commitments and the inadvertent consumption of vast quantities of alcohol over the weekend.

The main difference I noticed this morning was the much higher numbers of phylloscs and the lack of flycatchers (no yellow-rumped for the first time in a month, and strangely no Asian Brown). Of particular note on the phyllosc front was a count of at least 10 PALE-LEGGED LEAF WARBLERS, a DUSKY WARBLER, (my first of the autumn), and EASTERN CROWNED and ARCTIC WARBLERS apparent in greater numbers. TAIGA FLYCATCHER numbers have increased (I saw at least 5), and I had singles of both PARADISE FLYCATCHER (1st winter incei) and SIBERIAN BLUE ROBIN (a very skulking 1st winter female picked up on call and seen with a bit of persistence). The only other bird of note was a Golden-fronted Leafbird, which seemed rather gaudy after looking at all the warblers.

A very bad photo of a Pale-legged Leaf Warbler.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Brown Shrike on the garden list!

The weather is pretty dreary today, and I'm sitting at my desk, waiting for a colleague in Mae Sot to email a project budget to me for revisions. So as I sit here waiting, I happen to hear a bee-eater and look up from my laptop to see it, a BLUE-TAILED BEE-EATER whizz over the house. Inspired I pick up the bins and think that perhaps some other migrants are being held down by the weather...sure enough within 20 minutes I've had found a CROW-BILLED DRONGO sitting on a nearby roof, and then spot a passerine with rather "odd" flight heading to a distant TV ariel, getting the scope on it I'm rather pleased to discover that it's a BROWN SHRIKE.

EDIT: A few hours after writing the above post I was sat in a Thai language lesson on Sukhumvit Soi 33 (a downtown sleazy neighbourhood) and happened to look over the shoulder of my language teacher to spy an adult confusus BROWN SHRIKE sitting on a small bush that was being buffeted by a strong breeze. After my lesson finished I stepped outside to look at the said bush and found that the "strong breeze" was being generated from the out flow of an air conditioning unit! Then I made the five minute walk back to the skytrain station, passing the sex workers dressed in skimpy leather bikinis and offering me "massage"...Bangkok: City of Contrasts.