Wednesday, November 17, 2010

 Paddyfield Pipit

A wander around Mae Sot Reservoir this morning produced a nice selection of birds including five or six CHESTNUT-TAILED STARLINGS which I don't get to see  too often, plus a selection of typical wintering warblers including at least four THICK-BILLED WARBLERS and two DUSKY WARBLERS, as well as three BROWN SHRIKES and several PADDYFIELD PIPITS.

Brown Shrike

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cyornis headache

I'm in Mae Sot this week, working each day but sneaking in a bit of birding at the reservoir before work. A nice selection of birds today included BLUE MAGPIE, four PURPLE SUNBIRDS, several PIED BUSHCHATS, one or two RADDE'S WARBLER and this tricky female Cyornis flycatcher... 

This flycatcher twice gave a sharp, almost scolding "tak" call, which (according to Robson 2004) reduces the options to either Blue-throated, or Hill Blue Flycatcher.  Given the bird's rather greyish lores and relatively pale, non-uniform breast with orange restricted to the breast (not extending onto the flanks), I think this bird is a female BLUE-THROATED FLYCATCHER.  However the top photo shows no evidence of a "strongly refescent" tail, which is noted as a feature by Robson.  This may be simply because the photo was taken in deep shade and the tail is out of focus, or possibly because this bird is of the race glaucicomans (split by some authorities as "Chinese Blue Flycatcher") though I'm struggling to reconcile the other features of that race (strongly orange breast with contrasting pale throat, brown-washed flanks - see this image) with the subject bird.  I've seen females of both Hill Blue and Blue-throated before, but not recently, so thoughts/suggestions/confirmation welcome!

EDIT, 3rd Oct 2011:  After seeing another migrant Cyronis at Suan Rot Fai I feel more comfortable with the idea of the mae Sot bird being Chinese Blue, most notably because of the pale throat.  I believe the bird linked to in the post above, seen by another observer in Suan Rot Fai in Sept 2008, is actually a Hill Blue, rather than a Chinese Blue Flycatcher (due to the lack of contrast between breast and throat).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Get your Rocks off....

Productive morning on the patch, with some different (but expected) migrants/winter visitors showing up. The best being a THICK-BILLED WARBLER and a BLACK-NAPED MONARCH.  

I had given pride of place  to a male WHITE-THROATED ROCK THRUSH that I discovered feeding in a secluded shelter belt, however upon returning home I looked at the record shots that I had taken of the bird and I am rather devastated to see that it appears to have a damaged right leg and foot.


The fact that this stunning bird is seriously injured is very upsetting. It also throws significant doubt on the origin of the other two WTRT that I found in the park last year. At that time I considered the risk of captive origin, but I had no evidence so gave the birds the "benefit of the doubt".  However I now see no alternative but to remove this species from the patch list.  I just hope that this particular individual is able to survive. I often think about visiting Chatuckak weekend market to see what birds are being sold, but it is such a depressing experience that I have avoided doing so for a long time.  However, given this situation I will probably pay a visit in the near future.


Paddyfield Pipit

EDIT:  Phil Round has commented as follows...

"I don't think we have seen White-throated Rock Thrush in trade and on balance, notwithstanding your bird with damaged foot, I would guess these are genuine migrants. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, I would count them [as wild]....the timing is spot-on for migrants. We have also seen females at other sites around Bangkok."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Harrier hunting

 Sometimes, I wish I was a rice farmer...

After being asked for my opinion on an odd Marsh Harrier in the UK, and realising that I'd rarely looked closely at any harrier in Asia that wasn't a stonking male (!), I decided to use my free Sunday afternoon to go looking for harriers to improve my own knowledge.  I headed up towards Ayutthaya to the area where I had glimpsed a harrier spp as I whizzed past on the southbound journey from Mae Sot a few weeks ago.

I made a couple of stops en route and picked up a few interesting things including three distant BLACK KITES (too far off to tell if they where migrans or lineatus), three WOOD SANDPIPERS, a group of seven GREY-HEADED LAPWINGS, several BLACK-SHOULDERED KITES, large numbers of EASTERN YELLOW WAGTAILS, and a few PLAIN-BACKED SPARROWS.

When I got to the area where I had seen a single harrier last month, I soon picked up a very smart, but distant male EASTERN MARSH HARRIER, which was quickly followed by a two females quartering fields a little (but not much) closer, then a female PIED HARRIER.  A look further along this road produced brief but very nice views of a stunning male Pied Harrier as it belted over the road in front of me, hanging around just long enough for a couple of record shots.

Returning at dusk to the area where I had seen the other harriers it became apparent that I had found a roost - in the fading light a large number of harriers could be seen over one field - I counted at least 16 birds, most of which appeared to be Eastern Marsh (the light was very poor by this time). So a great afternoon - finding a harrier roost just 40 minutes drive from my central Bangkok home!

Sadly the views I got today were mostly of adult birds, so not very informative with regard to the bird in the UK, but I least I know where to look next time...