Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ministry of Birdy Walks

Went for a short early morning walk around the Ministry of Public Relations buildings close to home.

The weather is gloriously "cold" at a nippy 20 celcius!  Even without binouculars I managed to pick up a local goody - a BLACK-NAPED MONARCH, plus a BLACK-CAPPED KINGFISHER, as well as BROWN SHRIKE, 2 YELLOW-BROWED WARBLERS, three INDIAN ROLLERS and an ASIAN BROWN FLYCATCHER, all within 10 minutes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Nice examples of common migrants

An hour and a half on the patch before dusk produced some nice photo opportunities of some fine examples of common migrants...

lucionensis Brown Shrike (I'm guessing this is an adult female?)

moulting adult male Taiga Flycatcher

Friday, November 13, 2009

6th November 2009

Lots and lots of TAIGA FLYCATCHERS today (see above) - perhaps as many as 30, or more!  Every bit of cover seemed to hold at least one...

No sign of either of the Rock Thrushes, but the SIBERIAN STONECHAT was still present, as was  the LITTLE CORMORANT (which I am assuming is a sick bird as it seems to be feeding is pretty sub-optimal habitat).

Also a few opportunities for photographing common residents today...

 Plaintive Cuckoos

Coppersmith barbet

Blue-tailed Bee-eater

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Between a Rock and.....another Rock!!!

Did Suan Rot Fai again before work today.  Loads of birds active in the sunshine after yesterday's dull conditions - the trees seemed to be dripping with TAIGA FLYCATCHERS (had three together at one stage), and YELLOW-BROWED WARBLERS were much in evidence.  At least 3 BROWN SHRIKES seen well, and I was graced with another new bird for my patch list in the form of a SIBERIAN STONECHAT.


I wanted to check to see if yesterday's White-throated Rock Thrush was still around, but a first wonder through "The Ramble" produced nothing apart from an ARCTIC WARBLER and nice views of a couple of yellow-brows.  I made a second pass through the woodlot and soon found the WHITE-THROATED ROCK THRUSH  in the same area I had seen it yesterday, and watched it for a few minutes before it disappeared deeper into cover.  Satisfied with this I wondered back towards my exit, but after about 10 minutes was amazed to find ANOTHER WHITE-THROATED ROCK THRUSH!!!!!  I took lots of pictures of this new bird, and as you can see from the pictures below the pattern of white on the tertial tips and primary tips is less extensive than on the first bird.

1st bird - note those crispy white primary tips,
and the extensive white fringe to each tertial.

2nd bird - fringing on tertials less extensive,
white tips to primaries very narrow. Also the distance
between the tips of p3 and p4 seems shorter here.

Here are a few more pictures of the second bird.....just glorious!  You can also see on these pictures that the greater covert bar is less obvious on the 2nd bird, and there appears to be a more extensive pale base to the bill.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

You ROCK my world!

Back in the Big Mango and life is GOOD.  A first taste of dry season cool weather came in yesterday, with lots of cloud, a north east wind and some drizzle (ok, not so dry season, but 26 celius as a day time high bloody cold by Bangkok standards!).  These conditions made me think "migrants" so I fought the lingering jetlag and headed to Suan Rot Fai before work.

Birding was a bit slow first thing, with just a couple of ASIAN BROWN and TAIGA FLYCATCHERS, but then got more interesting wen I flushed a LITTLE CORMORANT out of a tree - patch tick!  I walked around to the area where it had appeared to land and got good views (but too far away for the camera), as I got closer I flushed a YELLOW BITTERN from beneath my feet.  I also saw a cracking BLACK-CAPPED KINGFISHER.


I made the effort to visit the Park's large lakes, which I rarely get to because they are further from the entrance I use to get into the park and this area is heavily used by joggers/cyclists etc, however today this area held a lot more birds, with at least 3 YELLOW-BROWED WARBLERS calling and another ASIAN BROWN FLYCATHER.  About 10 BARN SWALLOWS were feeding over the lake of which two appeared to be of the rufous-bellied form tytleri.  I then headed to a (relatively) large area of trees on the edge of one of the lakes (I nickname this area "The Ramble" because it reminds me of the area of the same name in NYC's Central Park), skirting its edge on the main path, but then for some  reason I decided to turn back and take a small side path into the trees - I don't know why I made that decision, but I'm very glad I did: a minute later I noticed a large passerine move in the trees ahead of me and with the naked eye, I knew it was something good, it just had that feeling about it - I got my bins on it and was astonished and overjoyed to be looking at a male WHITE-THROATED ROCK THRUSH!!!!!

The big one

Now I've seen this species on Doi Inthanon  and on Koh Samet, but they are really, really stonking birds and this one was on my local patch, in the middle of a city of ten million people, no more than 50 meters from a rather noisy construction site. WOW!  I grabbed the camera and took as many shots as I could on a variety of exposure settings (the woodlot was dark, the cloud was down), then after a couple of minutes I glanced down at the camera, and up again, but the beast had flown.

I moved through the rest of the woodlot, which seemed to have a few more birds, including a female hepatic phase PLANTIVE CUCKOO and a couple of BLACK-NAPED ORIOLES.

 hepatic phase Plaintive Cuckoo

Looking at Phil Round's Birds of the Bangkok Area it appears that there is only one previous record of White-throated Rock Thrush from the Central Plains, so it is a real local rarity.  One caveat to add however is that I have seen this species in capivity (in a small cage being carried down the street in Macau...accompanied by a male Siberian Rubythroat!), so there may be a chance that it is an escape from Chatuchak market.  However it is a migrant that winters in Thailand, and without any evidence to the contrary (eg suspicious feather wear) I am happy to consider it as a wild bird.

28th-29th Oct: Home Counties highlights

Tehe rest of my week in the UK had a couple of avian highlights - first being the Brown Shrike (Britain's 7th record) at Staines, just a very short distance from Heathrow Airport (which lead to an after dinner conversation hypothesizing abut if it was feasible that a bird could be "jumbo jet-assisted"!). I was interested to see the Shrike because it was a) a british tick, b)not far off my route and c) because I wanted to check out what a "western" cristatus looks like compared with the more eastern birds we get in Bkk.

The answer to this last point is "really quite different!" much more whitish underneath, and no buff-washed flanks, thus the underparts contrast much more with the upperparts. Something else I noticed was that this bird was silent when I saw it, and the few birders I have asked have said that they have not heard it call.  This is interesting as I hear Brown Shrikes all the time in Bkk and I often pick them up on call, and Phil Round's Birds of the Bangkok Area states that "newly arrived migrants are especially vocal" and that "Brown Shrikes are strongly territorial on winter quarters".  If the Staines Brown Shrike is planning to overwinter (as some birders in the UK suggest) it seems strange that it would be calling.

My final day's birding was spent with James Lowen, freshly returned from 3 years in Argentina, and Chris Collins, freshly returned from the Philippines and who has spent much of the last year in France/Guyana/Antarctica/Spitzbergen/Arctic Russia and on a boat steaming between New Zealand and Japan. The novelty of going birding in the UK was too much for us and we managed to find nothing otherthan an odd, perhaps "eastern-type" chifchaff and dip Zitting Cisticola and Glossy Ibis during a grand tour of Kent.

EDIT - James has now posted some chiffy pix for discussion here