Monday, January 27, 2014

25th January - Pak Thale

A day birding at Pak Thale and Laem Pak Bia produced a bunch of the usual suspects - a single Spoon-billed Sandpiper and 48 Nordmann's Greenshanks leading the field of 30-odd species of waders that we encountered, with others including at total of 28 Red-necked Phalaropes (including a flock of 21 at the Abandoned Building), Malaysian and White-faced Plover.  Other highlights included one Chinese Egret (plus a confusing Little Egret with oddly black-and-green legs (see photo below).

A late afternoon visit to Nong Plaa Lai raptor watchpoint produced just one Eastern Marsh Harrier but all three species of Weaver.

Pacific Goldie
Nordmann's Greenshanks
Red-necked Phals

RN Phal with Marsh Sandpiper
heat-hazed Chinese Egret
Heuglin's, and Pallas's Gulls

odd-legged Little Egret
Green Bee-eater

24th January - Kaeng Krachan

Pre-dawn to 3pm in Kaeng Krachan - it was a VERY cold start to the day by Thai standards: 7 celcius at sunrise!

The birding started well with Brown Boobook responding to tape and an Orange-headed Ground Thrush on the track. Woodpeckers seen during the day included Lesser Yellownape, Greater Flameback and Streak-breasted 'pecker.  Other highlights included Sultan Tit, Hill MynaFork-tailed Drongo Cuckoo, Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush, Claudia's Leaf Warbler, lots of Two-barred Greenish Warblers, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Black-naped Monarch, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Stripe-throated Bulbul, Eye-browed Thrush, Ashy Minivet, many Spangled Drongos, Crested Serpent Eagle, Emerald Dove, Grey-rumped Treeswift, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Green-billed Malkoha, and Chestnut-headed Bee-eater. Grey Peacock-pheasants were heard but were always distant.

There were also a couple of young Leopards being seen around KM 24.5 but I didn't  have time to go and check it out as I had to get back to Bangkok.

Crested Serpent Eagle

Green-eared Barbet

Puff-throated Babbler

Great Hornbill

Red-wattled Lapwing

White-handed Gibbon

the leap of faith

Giant Black Squirrel

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Kaeng Krachan National Park

I arrived at Kaeng Krachan late afternoon today, so spent the last two hours of daylight checking out the area as far as the first salt lick.  Not a huge number of notable species (certainly by KK standards) but managed to pick up Two-barred Greenish Warbler, Verditer Flycatcher, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Shikra, Besra, and Crested Serpent Eagle.  On the way back to my accommodation I chanced upon a fruiting fig tree which held three Great Hornbills, two Oriental Pied Hornbills and had a Red Muntjac feeding beneath it.

After leaving the park I stopped at a random area of scrub and found a small party of Yellow-eyed Babblers and a a lone female Siberian Rubythroat.

Yellow-eyed Babbler

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mae Sot

An early morning visit to Mae Sot rice fields produced three Pied Harriers (including one adult male) and two Wrynecks as the highlights. Other padders included Thick-billed Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Brown Shrike, Oriental Skylark and Paddyfield Pipit. Heard only species included three Siberian Rubythroats and several Dusky Warblers.

The "Rosy Pipit Fields" have now dried out and have been planted with maize, so there was no sign of these birds, more's the pity.


Skydancers doing the business

Paddyfield Pipit

Monday, January 20, 2014

Pak Thale and surrounds

I spent Sunday doing a couple of sites for the Asian Waterbird Census and then headed down to Pak Thale to meet up with Mark Telfer and a group of his friends who had just arrived from the UK and were keen to get Spoon-billed Sandpiper under the belt as fast as possible. One of their party located a Spooner at reasonably close range within five minutes of arriving at Pak Thale, and some of the others in the group located a second bird shortly afterwards.  We also went down to Laem Pak Bia saltpans to look for Nordmann's Greenshanks and located a flock of 33 birds within a couple of minutes of arriving on site - it is nice when birds behave themselves for visitors!

three Nordmann's and two Great Knot

Highlights on the AWC surveys included a huge flock of Lesser Whistling Ducks (I still need to estimate the size of the flock from photos), a flock of more than 600 Spotted Redshank,  one Black-headed Ibis, and a group of 11 Glossy Ibis (I'm uncertain of their status in the gulf of Thailand, but I think they are pretty uncommon as I don't recall seeming any in this area before).

Highlights around Pak Thale and Laem Pak Bia included a full breeding plumaged Curlew Sandpiper and a flock of at least a thousand Great Knot, plus a Red-necked Stint with yello-over-white leg flags, which if  am reading my chart correctly means that it was ringed on Russia's Sakhalin Island.

a little unseasonal - no other waders showing any hint of summ plum!
Great Knot
Long-toed Stint
Temminck's Stint
one of five Ruff
Marsh Sandpiper
Black-winged Stilt
Whiskered Tern
Richard's Pipit

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Brown Rubies

A couple of hours on the patch in cool early morning weather enabled me to get better photos of one of the two Siberian Rubythroats still present.  Interestingly I watched one of these birds eating a tiny frog! Whilst photographing it I  also had brief views of a Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler.

Siberian Rubythroat

Also seen this morning were a probable Claudia's Leaf Warbler seen badly, but calling - an unfamiliar rather monotone single note which caught my attention, but the bird disappeared before giving good enough views, and I have no sound recording of the call to compare (all recordings on Xeno Canto are of the song). Other notables today included one Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, two Black-naped Monarchs and a posse of five Red-breasted Parakeets.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Patch gold

Today saw my first visit of the year to Suan Rot Fai, and was a good reminder of why I love this place so much.

Highlight number 1 came in the form of my second patch record of Collared Scops Owl - a bird being mobbed by a flock of passerines (including Thick-billed Warbler and Asian Brown Flycatcher).

Collared Scops Owl

Whist I was watching this bird a local Thai birder came up to ask me what I was watching and also informed me that a Northern Boobook had been seen in The Ramble over the weekend.  I eventually made my way over to look for it (I found one in the same area in 2010) though the birder I met earlier had failed to locate it.  He and I continued to search for it, and eventually he relocated it - in the same tree where my 2010 bird was roosting! Northern Boobook is a rare bird in Thailand (less than 20 records) which is probably overlooked; the recently described diagnostic field mark is the tear-drop shaped streaking on the underparts, which is heart-shaped in much more common Brown Boobook.

Northern Boobook

Given that the Boobook wasn't even a patch tick, I took my time to make my way over to where it had been seen, electing to check out the small bushes which had held Rubythroat, PG Tips and Orange -headed Thrush in early December.  On entering these bushes I quickly located two Siberian Rubythroats (a female and a first winter male), and a distant warbler which I assumed was an adult PG Tips, however it was acting in a very un-locustella-like manner (ie not scrurrying along on the ground, but rather it was feeding mostly about 2-3 metres off the ground, and was regularly giving a "tick" call). It eventually gave good views and I realised that it was in fact an Acro - a Black-browed Reed Warbler, which is a patch tick!

So the year on the patch starts with a National rarity, and first and second records for my patch list!  The only downer was that the reason I had time to go birding this morning is because of yet more political protests bringing Bangkok to a standstill - my office is closed until at least Friday, and whilst birding this morning there was the constant drone of vitriolic speeches being given at one of the protest sites not far from the park.

Black-browed Reed Warbler

Siberian Rubythroat

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Rocking around Khao Yai

I've been attending a meeting at a resort just outside Khao Yai National Park for the last three days.  Free time for birding was very limited, but a pre-breakfast walk rewarded me with nice views of several Olive-backed Pipits and a couple of Thick-billed Warblers, Red-rumped Swallow, Pied Bush Chat and Siberian Stonechat. The resort grounds held Spotted and Asian Barred Owlets plus Barn Owl.

Our meeting finished ahead of time today so I drove back to Bangkok taking the road through the National Park, stopping near the HQ to see if the regular wintering male White-throated Rock Thrush was around.  In fact it was showing as soon as I arrived (there was another birder scoping it) and it gave cracking views for half an hour or so.