Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Quick SRF visit pre-work produced another (or the same) Black-naped Monarch, 6+ YBWs, several Black-naped Orioles, three spp of Kingfisher (Common, Black-capped & Smyrna) and three Brown Shrikes.

Airport crisis seems to be over...phew!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Of Monarchs...

Lovely visit to Suan Rot Fai this morning, with "chilly" dawn temperatures (but still not cold enough for long sleeves!). The dry season is making it's presence felt now, with significant leaf drop from the trees - combined with the cool temperatures this almost felt like an autumn day in England! Birding was disticntly better than any autumn day could produce in the UK however, with two patch ticks - first a female BLACK-NAPED MONARCH picked up on call and watched flycatching in the foliage for a few minutes at sunrise, and secondly a THICK-BILLED WARBLER also picked up on call ("tacking" continuously) and watched for 10 minutes moving slowly through riverside vegetation. Other migrants/winterers includes 4 Brown Shrikes, 5 Yellow-browed Warblers, 8 Asian Brown, and 15+ Taiga Flys, and three large pipits (Paddyfiled/Richard's but not seen well).

Friday, November 28, 2008

Is it a bird? is it a plane...?

...well it certainly isn't a plane!

Opened the bedroom blind at dawn this morning to find an Asian Open-billed Stork thermalling in the distance, it made a couple of turns and then came straight over the house. I've seen one from one of the downtown skytrain station platforms once before, but otherwise they seem pretty uncommon in the inner city, and this was a garden tick.

Given the fact that both Bangkok airports are closed by protests, it seems that this bird will be the biggest thing in the city's skies today!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

25th November 2008

Another dead Siberian Blue Robin in my front yard when I got home from work, this time an imm. male. I'm trying to work out how common these things are around my house (I've never found a dead Oriental Magpie Robin, and they are all over the place), or perhaps they are just good at finding cats...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


'nuff said...

Pete Simpson, and old mate from my early twitching days turned up in Bangkok a few weeks back, on his way to Doi Inthanon and the other joys of the north. I promised that upon his return I'd have some gen for him on the presence/absence of SPOON-BILLED SANDPIPERS in the Gulf of Thailand this winter, and so was pleased to learn last week that Sp-bS had been seen both at Khok Kham and Pak Thale. Pete duly reappeared after gripping me with a few of my DI bogeys, and I offered to take him out to see the Sp-bS...I owed him that at least - the poor guy had driven me from Surrey/Kent to see the Roller at East Budleigh, and a Black Duck near Glasgow (perhaps the most pointless twitch of all time? No, I was introduced to the Stone Roses en route) in the late 1980s - and we spent this afternoon watching a single Spoon-billed Sandpiper in the company of the now famous Mr Tee at Khok Kham.

Mr Tee also told me that there are currently 8 Spoon-billed Sands at Pak Thale, plus five Nordamann's Greenshank.

Other waders seen today included RN Stint, LT Stint, Broad-billed Sand, Curlew Sand, both Sandpolvers, Pacific Goldie, and Black -winged Stilt...

Friday, November 14, 2008

A cold (!) snap

The wonderfully cool temperatures that Bangkok is experiencing at the moment (lows of about 19 celcius) made a wander around SRF a real pleasure this morning.

Birdwise, there seemed to have been a recent arrival of YELLOW-BROWED WARBLERS, with at least four calling, plus a smattering of TAIGA FLYCATCHERS who I’m assuming are set in for the winter. Other padders included a couple of BLACK-CAPPED KINGFISHERS, a COMMON KINGFISHER, two ASHY DRONGOS, 5+ BLACK-NAPED ORIOLES, single ASIAN PARADISE FLYCATCHER (incei) and ASIAN BROWN FLYCATCHER. One other notable sighting was a BARN SWALLOW with distinctly reddish underparts, perhaps of the race tytleri

Taiga Fly

My question is: where are the Hoopoes?? SRF is a converted golf course, with lots of grassy areas and scrubby edges, and I can just imagine something black-and-white-and-pink flapping around there sometime soon… Also, Verditer Flycatcher, a late migrant, should be on the cards before the month is out.

Ashy Drongos

9th November 2008

A quick sprint on my mountain bike to the corner shop for a bottle of milk was brought to a screeching halt when I noticed an odd dead bird in the road –I glimpsed it as I sped past and saw streaking on the neck, I mentally though of female Black-naped Oriole, and so hit the brakes. You can imagine my astonishment when I went back and found that it was actually an juvenile CINNAMON BITTERN lying dead in the street, in the middle of urban Bangkok a long, long way from any wetland!

Perhaps most remarkable is that it was only 200 metres from where I saw a probable Black Bittern in flight a few weeks ago.

Bit(tern) the dust

3rd November 2008

Recent weeks have been rather too busy for patch watching, however a trip today yielded a few bits and bobs including ASHY DRONGO and RED-RUMPED SWALLOW.

Here are a few pixs of common species in the park...

Pied Fantail

Peaceful Dove

Chinese/Javan Pond Heron

Monster monitor

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tart's tick

Despite having a headful of good quality red wine, courtesy of Charles and Nang, I woke up very early and made my way to SRF for the first couple of hours of day light. TAIGA FLYCATCHERS were, it is no exaggeration to say, abundant, and I even managed to get a world tick in the form of SPOTTED OWLET - a resident in the park, and something I've glimpsed a few times, but today I had crippling views...and a camera on the wrong setting! I also managed to summon up a patch tick in the shape of an ASHY DRONGO (of the migrant race leucogenis), which brings my patch list to 63.

Ashy Drongo (race leucogenis), this singing bird was a patch tick

male Black-naped Oriole

Brown Shrike

Bangkok Dragon

Friday, October 17, 2008

Red-throat with a red throat

One of two red-throated Taiga Flycatchers seen today

Lots of migrants in SRF this morning during my visit from 0700-0900. TAIGA FLYCATCHERS were much in evidence, with perhaps 15 individuals seen/heard including two birds with some evidence of red in the throat, also I'm happy to report that there were a few phylloscs around, with one YELLOW-BROWED calling, one PALE-LEGGED LEAF WARBLER seen well, and two ARCTIC WARBLERS. Also noticable was an increase in the number of BARN SWALLOWS. Other migrants seen included one BLACK-NAPED ORIOLE, two BLACK-CAPPED KINGFISHERS, two COMMON KINGFISHERS, 4 ASIAN BROWN FLYCATCHERS and 2 BROWN SHRIKES.

What might have been "bird of the day" was one that got away...an apparently medium-sized all-dark heron glimpsed from the back of a motorbike taxi at it flew over Ari Soi 2 was presumably a migrant BLACK BITTERN (?) but I saw it so briefly that I can't be sure. Also a YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER calling around our garden this morning.

I bumped into a flock of Small Minivets this morning, including this male. I'm not sure how many groups there are in the Park, but I always see them in different places, and only occasionally, so I think there are only a small number and they cover a big area.

Little Egret catching breakfast

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Was that it?

Easy Taiga!

Did Suan Rot Fai from 0615-0745 this morning, with little in the way of rewards - 5 TAIGA FLYCATCHERS, a couple of ASIAN BROWN FLYCATCHERS, single BROWN SHRIKE, two BLACK-CAPPED KINGFISHERS, three BLUE-TAILED BEE-EATERS, and four BLACK-NAPED ORIOLES were the sum total of the migrants/winterers seen. Still a complete lack of phylloscs which has me mystified, especially as there were a number of yellow-browed warblers calling in Khao Yai over the weekend and I would expect to be hearing them in SRF; and it appears that the eastern-crowned and arctics I was seeing in September were exclusively passage birds (I had expected some winterers to stick). So perhaps my autumn is over??! I have looked back at the BCST records (all stored on their website) for the last few years, and it appears that passage should be continuing (including migrant Hooded and Blue-winged Pittas as an outside possibility at the end of Oct/beginning of Nov) so I guess I just have to keep working SRF hard and see what I can find.

In the mean time, I have these to keep me entertained...

Coppersmith Barbet

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Khao Yai National Park

The first elephant I've seen this year that
didn't have a red light flashing on its arse

With the moon nearly full, I decided that last night would be a good time to go to Khao Yai for night birds and mammals, and I wasn't disappointed, with three different ELEPHANT encounters (two singles, plus a party of four which included a VERY protective mother and her tiny calf - needless to say I backed off pretty damn fast when she started trumpeting at my car, even though I was more than 50 metres from her), a couple of MALAY PORCUPINE, poor views of what can only have been a YELLOW-THROATED MARTEN, two separate LARGE INDIAN CIVETS, GOLDEN JACKEL, and most bizarrely a SLOW LORIS on the ground, waddling across the road (at surprisingly high speed). On the night bird front I had a bit less success with only LARGE-TAILED NIGHTJAR seen, but I heard three different MOUNTAIN SCOPS OWLS as well as one ORIENTAL SCOPS.

Birding before dark yesterday afternoon produced a lot of the usual Khao Yai goodies such as GREAT HORNBILL, and I was surprised to hear a BLUE PITTA calling briefly. Migrants included a nice flock of about 10 BLUE THROATED BEE-EATERS. I also got nice views of a singing WHITE-HANDED GIBBON.

Trips like this make me realise that I should go more often, particularly as it's only 140 km from my front door to the National Park's southern gate (that's about the same distance as Cambridge to Cley) and takes about 2 hours to drive.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Large-tailed Nightjar

Suan Rot Fai again this morning. Generally quiet but at the last gasp as I was about to make directly for the exit I flushed a nightjar spp, which obligingly landed close by and allowed me to get these images for identification. My assumption was that it would be Grey Nightjar as it is the only migrant nightjar species in Thailand (five other species are resident). However examination of the pictures suggests that this bird is a LARGE-TAILED NIGHTJAR, a common forest bird but not something usually seen in the inner city. They are much easier to identify on call when wondering around Kaeng Krachan National Park in the dark!

Few other birds of note – male Black-naped Oriole, 5+ Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, a handful of Taiga Flys and one Brown Fly. The dirth of spritely sprites continues………..

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

From frenzy to famine

Astonishing morning at SRF - not a single phyllosc in two and a half hours in the field! Not sure what to make of that...perhaps I was asleep, or unlucky, or maybe they just moved south and for some reason others haven't come in from the north. Whatever, very strange.

Despite the dirth of leaf warblers, there were a few goodies to be had - perhaps the nicest being a single tree simultaneously containing BLACK-CAPPED & WHITE-THROATED KINGFISHERS, JAVAN POND HERON, INDIAN ROLLER and COPPERSMITH BARBET! Additionally I had stunning views of a luminous BLACK-NAPED ORIOLE, and 5+ TAIGA FLYCATCHERS and a couple of ASIAN BROWN FLYCATCHERS. A wander through the fairways produced a single PADDYFIELD PIPIT, and another 1st winter incei PARADISE FLYCATCHER showed well on the way out.

I met a couple of Thai bird photographers who told me that another BROWN-CHESTED JUNGLE FLYCATCHER has been seen in the park on 30th September.

ssp. incei

Paddyfield Pipit

Sunday, October 5, 2008

"bird" of the day: Reticulated Python!

A late morning bash around Suan Rot Fai produced few birds of interest due to the sun being out and it being HOT. Highlights were a pair of BLACK-CAPPED KINGFISHERS, single BROWN FLYCATCHER, TAIGA FLYCATCHER heard but not seen, PALE-LEGGED and ARCTIC WARBLERS, however the best thing was a small RETICULATED PYTHON curled up on a branch high in the canopy, which sent the local avifauna completely bonkers, and later got the attention of a brave (or foolhardy) VARIABLE SQUIRREL that kept approaching it and then backing off, getting closer each time...

Sleeping (or strangling?) reticulated python

The most effective way to deter a potentially deadly
reptile is to swish your tail back and forth at it, obviously.

Pale-legged Leaf Warbler; The phylloscs still aren't playing ball
for the camera, or perhaps I'm just a crap photographer.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Phyllosc phrenzy

Did SRF from 7.00-9.30 this morning, for the first time in almost a week due to work commitments and the inadvertent consumption of vast quantities of alcohol over the weekend.

The main difference I noticed this morning was the much higher numbers of phylloscs and the lack of flycatchers (no yellow-rumped for the first time in a month, and strangely no Asian Brown). Of particular note on the phyllosc front was a count of at least 10 PALE-LEGGED LEAF WARBLERS, a DUSKY WARBLER, (my first of the autumn), and EASTERN CROWNED and ARCTIC WARBLERS apparent in greater numbers. TAIGA FLYCATCHER numbers have increased (I saw at least 5), and I had singles of both PARADISE FLYCATCHER (1st winter incei) and SIBERIAN BLUE ROBIN (a very skulking 1st winter female picked up on call and seen with a bit of persistence). The only other bird of note was a Golden-fronted Leafbird, which seemed rather gaudy after looking at all the warblers.

A very bad photo of a Pale-legged Leaf Warbler.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Brown Shrike on the garden list!

The weather is pretty dreary today, and I'm sitting at my desk, waiting for a colleague in Mae Sot to email a project budget to me for revisions. So as I sit here waiting, I happen to hear a bee-eater and look up from my laptop to see it, a BLUE-TAILED BEE-EATER whizz over the house. Inspired I pick up the bins and think that perhaps some other migrants are being held down by the weather...sure enough within 20 minutes I've had found a CROW-BILLED DRONGO sitting on a nearby roof, and then spot a passerine with rather "odd" flight heading to a distant TV ariel, getting the scope on it I'm rather pleased to discover that it's a BROWN SHRIKE.

EDIT: A few hours after writing the above post I was sat in a Thai language lesson on Sukhumvit Soi 33 (a downtown sleazy neighbourhood) and happened to look over the shoulder of my language teacher to spy an adult confusus BROWN SHRIKE sitting on a small bush that was being buffeted by a strong breeze. After my lesson finished I stepped outside to look at the said bush and found that the "strong breeze" was being generated from the out flow of an air conditioning unit! Then I made the five minute walk back to the skytrain station, passing the sex workers dressed in skimpy leather bikinis and offering me "massage"...Bangkok: City of Contrasts.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A fifth kingfisher

Having found out earlier in the week that my workload is probably going to increase exponentially in the next few weeks I decided to make the most of the current lull and headed to Suan Rot Fai at 4pm yesterday. Birdwise it was more of the same as seen in recent days - a new Paradise Flycatcher (this one a 1st winter), now two Taiga Flycatchers showing well, one female Yellow-rumped Flycatcher and a brief glimpse of a Black-capped Kingfisher which was pleasing as it was well overdue (they normally arrive in the first week of September) and because it is the fifth species of Kingfisher I've seen in SRF. A bird photographer saw a Ruddy Kingfisher in the same area last week, so there is definately scope to add another species!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The last hour of day light

Spent one hour in Suan Rot Fai before dark – first bird I saw was this rather delicious male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, quickly followed by Eastern Crowned and Arctic Warblers, a Red-rumped Swallow, 2 Brown Shrikes, 5 Asian Brown Flycatchers, a single Taiga Flycatcher (the first of the autumn) and a yesterday’s Siberian Blue Robin lurking in the undergrowth again. Not bad for an hour, and almost as good as Shetland today!

Asian Brown Flycatcher

Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher

Khun Mohporn has posted a picture of the BROWN-CHESTED JUNGLE FLYCATCHER (seen on 21st September) here and there is a forum on the bird (with lots of high quality images) here

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Paradise in Suan Rot Fai

A quick trip early morning revealed a very nice female Asian Paradise Flycatcher, two Eastern Crowned Warblers, one Arctic Warbler, and lingering female-type Yellow-rumped Flycatcher and a couple of Asian Brown Flys. Halfway through the walk I remembered that Phil Round mentioned peak dates for Siberian Blue Robin passage being around 23/24th September, so I started examining the undergrowth very carefully, seemingly to no avail (as expected), then just as i was about to break out onto the main trail I flushed a bird that perched up briefly in front of me, long enough for me to get the bins on, and it to imprint on my retina - 1st winter female SIBERIAN BLUE ROBIN. Too quick for the camera though...

Asian Paradise Flycatcher (incei), Phil Round has commented: The blackish throat contrasting with the grey breast and belly tells you that this is the migrant race, incei. Clearly bluish bill and orbital indicates an adult (greyish, bill flesh-based in 1Y), so presumably a female.

Yellow-rumped Flycatcher photos

Here are a couple of my (not very good) shots of yellow-rumped flycatchers...

Note the diagnostic laser-eye
Some more pictures from recent weeks...

Collared Kingfisher, common but stonking

Plain Prinia..zzzzz

Brown Shrike (21st Sept)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Some recent pix:

Tiger Shrike, Suan Rot Fai, 19th Sept 2008

Blue-tailed Bee-eater, from my desk whilst working...

Oh my god, look what the cat dragged in!
a few recent photos...

White-thraoted Kingfisher, Laem Pak Bia (Thanks to Phil Round for taking myself and Charles Davies ringing)

This is a blog of my birding exploits at Suan Rot Fai, a park in Bangkok, Thailand. A direct translation of "Suan Rot Fai" is "Park of the Electric Train", reflecting the fact that the park is very close to one of the terminus stations (Mo Chit) for Bangkok's Sky Train, and hence the name "electric birding" for the blog. More details about the park can be found at http://www.thaibirding.com/locations/central/srf.htm

I've lived in Bangkok since 2002, but had always ignored the local birding options in favour of something more exotic - Khao Yai, Kaeng Krachan, or Doi Inthanon National Parks, or further afield in Borneo. However, recently Phil Round published "Birds of Bangkok", an informative book with stacks of data about the city's birdlife, and as a result I decided to check out Suan Rot Fai and discovered that it is actually a very big park, and is rammed with birdlife. Since my first visit of 22nd August (one month ago) I've seen loads of excellent birds, including significant numbers of "sibes" which get the pulse of an English birder like me racing (even if Suan Rot Fai is not on Bryher!).

Highlights to date at Suan Rot Fai have included Stork-billed Kingfisher, more than 10 Yellow-rumped Flycatchers, Forest Wagtail, Arctic, Eastern Crowned and Yellow-browed Warblers, Brown and Tiger Shrikes, Asian Brown Flycatcher, and Black-naped Oriole. Pride of place however must go to the BROWN-CHESTED JUNGLE FLYCATCHER that I found on Sunday 21st Sept - a rare passage migrant and listed as globally threatened. I never imagined I'd see a Red Data Bird in the middle of Bangkok!

In addition to these birds on the patch, I've also had a migrant Blue-tailed Bee-eater from our house, and found a stonking male Siberian Blue Robin dead in our front yard. Migration is in full swing (though not for the Robin any more).