Saturday, November 30, 2013

Three Spoonies

Yesterday (29th Nov) myself and Filip Beeldens visited Pak Thale and Laem Pak Bia.  Happily we  secured views of a single Spoon-billed Sandpiper, eight Asian Dowitchers and two Nordmann's Greenshanks by 10am at Pak Thale. The views of the Spooner had been rather distant and brief and so we dedicated a bit more time to trying to get better views and our efforts were rewarded in spades when we found three Spooners together on one salt pan.

One of three Spooners

There were huge numbers of waders at Pak Thale, with pools along the road to the Sea Sala hosting several thousand Great Knot (Nordmann's with the Great Knot, as usual), and several hundred Black-tailed Godwit (accompanied by the dowitchers and a single Bar-tailed Godwit), and big numbers of Lesser Sandplover (plus a few Greaters), and Red-necked, Temminck's and Long-toed Stints, Grey and Pacific Golden Plovers, four Sanderling, single Dunlin. We alos saw a pair of Kestrels and two Brahminy Kites in this area.

Blackwit, Great Knot, Common Redshank, Curlew Sand, Ruff

We took Mr Daeng's boat out to Lem Pak Bia on a very high tide and quickly connected with a female White-faced Plover and a pair of Malaysian Plovers, Chinese Egret, 1st cy Pallas's Gull, 2nd cy Heuglin's Gull and a single Crested Tern.

2nd cy Heuglin's Gull

On our way back to Bangkok with checked out Nong Plaa Lai raptor watch point but found that the fields there were still very wet and unsuitable for Aquila eagles (the only raptors seen were an Osprey, two imm. Pied Harriers and several Black-winged Kites). Nearer the highway Filip had brief views of a probable Greater Spotted Eagle and we visited the Khao Yoi Black Kite roost before heading back to Bangkok.

imm. female Pied Harrier

Asian Golden Weavers

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Citrine Wag & Oriental Skylark

Another productive morning's birding south of Mae Sot Airport with four species of raptor: a Black-shouldered Kite hovering over fields at first light, a female Pied Harrier low over the car and both Rufous-winged Buzzard and Black-eared Kite found at their roost sites.

Two other species that I rarely encounter (because I spend so little time birding this kind of habitat) are Citrine Wagtail and Oriental Skylark - both of which I was pleased to see this morning (singles only).

Other notables included a Bluethroat, White-shouldered and Chestnut-tailed Starlings, several Thick-biled Warblers, Plain-backed Sparrow, Sibe Stonechat, Pied Bushchat, a pair of Little Ringed Plovers and several Rubythroats heard (but none seen).

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tak province

An hour spent exploring the agricultural land between Mae Sot Airport and the Myanmar border produced a good selection of open country Sibes including a stunning male Siberian Rubythroat which gave prolonged point-blank views in the open, a male Bluethroat, 3+ Thick-billed Warblers, Dusky Warbler, 3 Red-throated Pipits, 10 Richard's Pipits, 5 Sibe Stonechats, 5 Brown Shrikes, 10+ White Wagtails and 2-3 Eastern Yellow Wagtails.

Resident species seen included Pied Bush Chat, Green Bee-eater and 2 Paddyfield Pipits.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

No sign of Spoonie

The leg-flagged Spoon-billed Sandpiper seen at Samut Maneerat on 7th Nov was seen again on 9th at Khok Kham (at least, it is assumed to be the same bird as these sites are quite close together), but the leg flag has yet to be read or photographed.

I spent a couple of hours over high tide this afternoon at Samut Maneerat to try to relocated it.  My efforts were in vain, but it was great to be out of Bangkok and in the peace and quiet of the gulf coast, with huge skies and listening to wader calls whilst sifting through mixed flocks which held  both sandplovers, Broad-billed and Curlew Sandpipers, Red-necked and Long-toed Stints, Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Pacific Golden Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Red Knot and even a lone Avocet.

The waders were getting spooked by a Peregrine and Brahminy Kite, and I also picked up a distant Osprey.

Common Sandpiper, Nikon V1 with 300mm & 1.4x TC (equiv 1,100mm, f5.6)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Peregrine on the patch

Early morning birding in cool and rainy conditions at Suan Rot Fai produced a Peregrine and two separate White-rumped Shamas as highlights. The supporting cast was made up of two Thick-billed Warblers, one Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, two Black-naped Monarchs, two Brown Shrikes, one Common Kingfisher, two Black-capped Kingfishers, and both Taiga and Asian Brown Flycatchers.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Last couple of mornings at the MOPR have been relatively quiet.  The highlight yesterday was a pair of Spangled Drongos, whilst this morning I heard a weird Mistle Thrush-like trill and glimpsed a silhouetted large passerine shooting away. The words "what would a White's Thrush sound like?" fell out of my mouth. I have no idea what it was (and I'm obsessed with White's Thrushes!) so I'm not being too serious about that, though I would like to find a sound recording of a White's alarm call (there isn't one on Xeno-cato), to reassure myself. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013


I did Suan Rot Fai from 0610-0815 hrs, arriving in twilight and seeing the park wake up. Groups of Pond Herons and Cattle Egrets were commuting across the park, and three Night Herons (1 Ad. and 2 Juvs) sat out on a dead tree before heading to their roost. There were also several Asian Brown Flycatchers (total of five detected this morning) calling at dawn, and I also picked up a Black-capped Kingfisher

Whilst this was an enjoyable start to the morning it was all rather run-of-the-mill but was soon followed by a number of significantly more scarce species making an appearance. the first was a high-flying, calling Ashy Minivet (my first record outside of April), that was followed by the most remarkable mixed flock that I have seen in the Park, consisting of one Claudia's Leaf Warbler (my second patch record), one Arctic Warbler, a Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher (which was a patch tick last weekend, so let's assume it was the same bird, even though it was a good distance away from that one), and two Black-naped Monarchs (a low-density late autumn migrant and scarce winterer in the city).

Other species of note this morning included a male Yellow Bittern and one more Black-naped Monarch (bringing the total to three). Blue-tailed Bee-eater (5+), Brown Shrike (3), Common Kingfisher (3), Black-naped Oriole (6), Taiga Flycatcher (5), Ashy Drongo (3+) and Spangled Drongo (1).

If you are interested in the intricacies of ID'ing Claudia's Leaf Warbler and the dizzying array of confusion species you should look at Ayuwat's blog here, here and here.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Seven Spooners, including a leg-flagged bird

Phil Round posted this message on the BCST Facebook page last night:
Mr Tii reported a Spoon-billed Sandpiper with a probably engraved white flag at Samut Maneerat Saltpans, Samut Sakhon this morning. This is almost certainly one of 20 or so SBS that were head-started chicks from Chuchotka this year. If so, it is the first that has been seen anywhere along the flyway. It is crucial that we identify this individual, which mean that somebody needs to read and report the number. Ideally, a digital photo would be best, so photographers are encouraged to get in touch with Mr Tii and arrange to see the bird.
Also posted was this message:
Currently there are 7 known [SBS] in Thailand: 3 at Pak Thale, one at Khok Kham (found by Daeng and Tii respectively); a single at Khlong Tamru, Chonburi, found by Somchai and DNP Team; and single individuals at both Samut Maneerat and Wat Bang Khut (both of which were found by Tii this morning). If any observer can check further sites and locate some more, we'd like to hear.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Verdi(ter)'s requiem

The grounds of the Ministry of Public Relations this morning produced brief views of a Verditer Flycatcher, a scarce winter visitor to Bangkok and indeed only my second confirmed record in the city (in 2011 I found a male in Suan Rot Fai, and last year  I glimpsed one "possible" there).

The other highlights this morning were an adult Peregrine that flew past giving fabulous views and a Spangled Drongo. Otherwise migrants were a bit thin on the ground with 1-2 Brown Shrikes, 2 Asian Brown Flycatchers, 2 Yellow-browed Warblers and a single Taiga Flycatcher.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Canaries and Hemipodes

Suan Rot Fai from 06.15-09.45 hrs.  A very productive morning at Suan Rot Fai, with the biggest surprise being one of the first birds I saw - a Buttonquail spp, which I think was yellow-legged. Flushed twice from long-grass, and despite seeing where it landed the second time it eluded my attempts to re-find it.  A buttonquail, in the middle of Bangkok.  I must say that I don't know what to make of it as they are sometimes captured in villages and kept as good luck charms, so the potential for this bird being an escapee does exist.  On the other hand at this time of year some resident species do wander away from their normal ranges, so it could be a wild bird.

The other highlight this morning was a Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, which is a much anticipated patch tick.  The species is known as a resident in Thai forests, but in winter birds disperse further afield.  This bird was in The Ramble which was filled with bird activity this morning including Eastern Crowned (at least 1), Yellow-browed (at least three) and single Pale-legged Leaf Warblers,  Elsewhere in the park I connected with single Dusky and Thick-billed Warblers (both first records of the autumn).

Other notables included three species of Drongo (Ashy x 2, Spangled x1 and Black x1), a single Blue-tailed Bee-eater, two Black-capped Kingfishers , four Brown Shrikes, three Asian Brown Flycatchers, approx 20 Taiga Flycatchers and a single White Wagtail.  There also seemed to be a bit of a movement of Himalayan Swiftlets. Today  I recorded the highest count of Night Herons that I have had in the park (6 birds, all juvs), and approximately 20 Cattle Egrets (again, a record count).

Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher

Eastern Cattle Egret

EDIT:  Phil Round kindly furnished me with photos of Yellow-legged and Barred Buttonquails which have helped me to confirm the ID as Yellow-legged.  On status Phil commented that "Seemingly migrants should occur as well as residents, but I would expect to find residents hanging on unobtrusively in well-watered areas, which means just about anywhere around the city margin.  I see no reason to think your bird might not be wild".

Friday, November 1, 2013

Spooners are back!

In the last couple of days I have heard that Spoon-billed Sandpipers have reappeared for the winter, with one at Khok Kham  on 27th Oct (Khun Tii, via Dave Sargeant), and three apparently at Pak Thale today (per Peter Ericsson).