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...

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