Sunday, March 30, 2014

29th March 2014

A wander around Suan Rot Fai this morning yeilded few migrants, but the highlight was an Orange-headed Ground Thrush (my fourth patch record).  The only other passage migrant was a Pale-legged/Sakhalin Leaf Warbler.

Winterers still hanging on included single Taiga and Asian Brown Flycatchers, Yellow-browed Warbler, Thick-billed Warbler, three Black-naped Orioles and several Chinese Pond Herons.

Khao Yai NP, 25th-28th March

Oriental Pied Hornbill

Four days in Khao Yai National Park produced a good selection of target birds....

Siamese Fireback - a group of four  and a pair seen on the HQ loop trail one morning (one male displaying, and excellent views of a female perched at eye level).  Another two males were seen displaying on the Radar Road.

Silver Pheasant - seen on the Radar Road everyday, including a male displaying that gave excellent views.

Jerdon's Baza - one seen and heard calling over the lower section of the Radar Road.

Eurasian Woodcock - one seen over grassland at dusk.

Silver-backed Needletail - a pair seen bathing in a lake between the HQ and the Radar Road.

Hornbills - Great, Wreathed and Oriental Pied Hornbills seen regularly.  Absolutely no contact with Austin's Brown Hornbill (still my bogey bird).

Eared Pitta - one heard calling on the lower section of the Radar Road, and glimpsed briefly.

Blue Pitta - daily total of up to four males calling along the Radar Road.

Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo - one pair and at least two other birds located by call.  One bird seen very well on the Radar Road. There has apparently been one individual coming to feed at the HQ restaurant kitchen most afternoons recently.

Blue-and-white/Zappey's Flycatcher - one female seen. I'm unsure if females can be ID'd to species in the field?

White-throated Rock Thrush - two males seen  near the HQ.

White-throated Rock Thrush

Asian Fairy Bluebird

Jerdon's Baza

Monday, March 24, 2014

Limestone Wren-babbler

This afternoon we made a trip to Wat Phra Phuttabath Noi to look for Limestone Wren-babbler of the endemic race calcicola.

Despite having lived in Thailand for 10 years I've never bothered to make the trip to see these very easy birds at this stake out (yes, my middle name should be "complacent"), so it was nice to get a world tick very close to Bangkok with very little effort.

In total we saw six birds - a lone bird initially, but then we encountered a group of five hopping about on the karst just a few meters from where I had parked the car.

We also saw a single Hoopoe and at least two philippensis Blue Rocktrhushes on site.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Asian Dowitchers & a lotta o' Knot

A few hours late afternoon at Khok Kham produced a very enjoyable selection of waders, with many birds advancing into breeding attire.

The highlight was a large flock that consisted of somewhere between 750-1,000 Great Knot along with 10 Red Knot and at least 6 Asian Dowitchers (one in breeding plum.).  Other waders included 50+ Black-tailed Godwit (incl one partial albino bird), 50+ Broad-billed Sandpipers, 100+ Red-necked Stints and seven Ruddy Turnstones.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Pre-breakfast chats

I'm in Mae Sot for a couple of days this week, so an early morning visit to "patch-away-from-patch" produced a few birds to help keep me sane against the background of a huge workload.  The male Pied Harrier that I've seen on my last two visits also showed very well this morning, quartering roadside fields and making a couple of close passes.  Other raptors badly seen included what I think was a japonicus Common Buzzard, and a probable Rufous-winged Buzzard glimpsed.

The chats performed well with single Bluethroat and Siberian Rubythroat, plus several Siberian Stonechats and Pied Bush Chats.  The final notable birds that I saw were an Eastern Yellow Wagtail, a small party of Chestnut-capped Babblers and a Ruddy-breasted Crake in terrible light.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rubythroat and Pied Harriers

I'm visiting Mae Sot again this week, so last evening and this morning I have had a hour or so checking the rice fields.

Despite grilling the flocks of Scaly-breasted Manakins I have  failed to find anything more interesting (was hoping for a bunting of some kind), so the main highlights have been attractive regular winterers in the form of 1-2 male and single ringtail Pied Harriers, plus this very attractive and co-operative Siberian Rubythroat.

9th March

A sightly less slow morning on the patch (compared to last weekend produced better numbers of common winterers including three Thick-billed Warblers, three Yellow-browed Warblers, two Brown Shrikes,  two Asian Brown Flycatchers and a couple of Taiga Flys. Many birds are still in some stage of prenuptial moult, so looking quite scruffy.

I spent a while chasing Pond Herons to document the various stages of moult that birds are currently in.  A few examples are included below:

Bird 1: small areas of maroon suggest this is a Chinese PH

Bird 1: dark coverts and primary shafts suggest it's a 2CY

Bird 1: tail seems pretty clean, but dark primary shafts (& tips) obvious here

Bird 2: I think this is going to turn into a bright Javan PH in breeding plum

Bird 2

the colour of Bird 2 is closer to this Javan (from April 2011)

compare Bird 2 with this Chinese PH photographed a few seconds earlier

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Birds of Cambodia - an annotated checklist

I just got an email announcing an important addition to those interested in SE Asian ornithology and conservation...

Even though the international importance of the Cambodian bird fauna is widely recognised, the only review to date was confined to pre-1970s records for 399 bird species. As information on Cambodian birds has grown exponentially since the 1990s, the country has needed a national treatment synthesizing latest knowledge on its fascinating avifauna for some time.

The Birds of Cambodia - An Annotated Checklist is a landmark publication that addresses this need. It stems from 12 years of ornithological surveys and observations, coupled with six years of collation and review of all available records. The book exhaustively documents the entire bird fauna of Cambodia and identifies all bird species of national conservation concern. As such, it provides an authoritative basis for a national red data book and future conservation legislation.

The book consists of three parts and includes 48 colour plates illustrating major habitats, conservation threats and over 80 bird species photographed in the wild in Cambodia.

The introduction describes the country’s natural geography, major habitats, protected areas, ornithological history and survey coverage, then goes on to review conservation successes and challenges and provide guidance for novice birdwatchers.

A systematic section forms the heart of the book and presents peer-reviewed accounts for the 598 bird species currently confirmed for Cambodia. The accounts synthesize latest knowledge on seasonal occurrence, abundance, distribution and habitat, including notes on breeding and conservation. English, Latin, French and Khmer names, including transliteration, are provided for each species. Detailed reviews of records are also provided for rarities and all species of conservation concern, together with a proposed national conservation category.

Several appendices complete the book. These include a reference checklist for Cambodian birds, tables of nationally threatened species and potential future species additions, census results for globally threatened species and a geographical gazetteer.

In addition to stimulating interest and awareness among the general public, The Birds of Cambodia - An Annotated Checklist will undoubtedly become an indispensable reference for conservationists and ornithologists in Cambodia, as well as all bird watchers visiting the Kingdom.

All proceeds from sales of the publication will be used to build awareness and capacity for bird conservation among young Cambodians.

Copies can be obtained from Fauna & Flora International Cambodia Programme, #19, Street 360, Boeng Keng Kong 1, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Email:

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The late winter lull

Late Feb and early March are a fairly quiet time on my local patch.  Many winterers seem to have dispersed to better habitat or are keeping a low profile as they undertake their prenuptial moult, some resident breeders are thinking about breeding, and migration is still a few weeks away. It is at this time of year that I look back and remember that even up until mid December there is still some inward movement of migrants, and late December and January hold the possibility of birds being displaced by cold fronts, but February sees the temperature climb and the bird activity drop away as the month progresses.

This morning's session on the patch reflected this with only singles of Asian Brown Fly and Yellow-browed Warbler, two Taiga Flycatchers, one Black Drongo and two Brown Shrikes seen, whilst Thick-billed Warblers were conspicuous by their complete absence. Sadly the Siberian Rubythroats have also abandoned the park it seems. One highlight was a peregrine seen briefly over the park after a failed stoop at one of the local feral pigeons.

I spent a bit more time studying the Pond Herons, following on from recent discussions on ID and moult.

Chinese PH (all birds above are one individual)
Chinese Pond Heron (different individual)
apparent Javan Pond Heron
Pond Heron spp
Pond Heron spp, same bird as immediately above. Note buff-washed coverts
Javan Pond Heron