Saturday, December 7, 2013

Super skulkers!

This morning was one of those mornings that makes me grateful to be a regular patchworker, and reminded me that there is always a surprise around the corner and more to learn about somewhere that seems so familiar.

After a relatively uneventful hour (Taiga Fly, Ashy Drongo, Thick-billed Warbler) I headed to the isolated bushes that had held the Pallas's Gropper and Ground-thrush on Tuesday. I started playing my sound file of Rubythroat contact call which seems to be effective at pulling out inquisitive passerines and after a few minutes a Thick-billed Warbler came to investigate, quickly followed by the 1st winter Pallas's Gropper.

Given that the Gropper was was still present and the light was OK I decided to sit still and see if it would perform for the camera. The iPod kept playing, and after a few minutes the Orange-headed Ground Thrush appeared, showing for a minute or so.

I continued waiting for the Gropper to show well, but after a few minutes of getting poor views in deep cover I turned the iPod off as it didn't seem to be having the desired effect. Once I looked up from the iPod to where the Gropper was I noticed it had been joined by another bird, also in deep cover. To my surprise it looked like an imm. female Rubythroat! The views were terrible, but the bird moved in my general direction so I waited for it to pop out of the scrub closer to me. However what eventually appeared in the area I was concentrating on was ANOTHER Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler, this time an adult bird!

I was a bit confused - was this the bird I had thought was a Rubythroat? It showed a clear supercilium and a pale throat, and it was coming from the same direction as that bird. The original views had been bad, so I guessed that I'd got a bit overexcited, what with the iPod blasting out calliope contact calls. The adult PG Tips came closer and closer (to within about 2 meters), scurrying about on the ground and low branches before turning around and heading back in the direction it had come from.

A moment later and I picked up more movement in the farthest bit if cover, where the first Gropper had been feeding. I lifted the bins to to find them filled with an imm. female Rubythroat!

As quickly as it appeared, it disappeared, but I was pretty happy - a new patch bird and the epitome of what a "Sibe" conjures up in my mind - skulking and subtly beautiful, and really hard to see. I have been watching my patch for five years and have often thought that it might hold a Rubythroat, but have always drawn a blank. Now with this bird and two PG Tips I was starting to realize that these isolated bushes, which I have paid scant attention to in the past could actually be a gold mine for quality skulkers!

The Rubythroat appeared again, showing well briefly, before being chased out of view by another bird, which I glimpsed and thought that it looked structurally similar to the bird it chased turned was MALE RUBYTHROAT !!!

A bit more time and the 1st winter PG Tips eventually gave itself up for some record shots, whilst the male Rubythroat came frustratingly close... 

1st winter Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler



Gerry Brett said...

Brilliant Dave I am tempted to come on down to SRF but I imagine it might be a little busy.

Thai Birds 'n' Pies said...

Dave .. I would love to get these.. Can you give a few pointers???

Lee Dingain said...

You're not helping me feel any better after having to cancel our Thailand trip! Seriously though, well done on a great morning and some nice pics.

David Gandy said...

For the location of the "Rubythroat Bushes" see my map here

gumgig said...

Thanks for the map. SRF is new to me as mostly I do birding in Phuttamonton. Visit my blog at

Thai Birds 'n' Pies said...

Cheers Dave.. I will let you know if I get one..