Saturday, November 26, 2011

Spangled Drongo

Back in Bkk and so did SRF this morning, for the first time in almost a month, due mainly to the distraction caused by the floods. I am not sure for how long SRF was flooded, but from seeing it today it is obvious that flooding was extensive and has caused a lot of damage, with many areas of grassland now dead, and a putrid smell throughout the park.  Most distressingly, one of my favourite trees in the park, a large and dense fig that has played host to many good passerine migrants (including this autumn's Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher) has succumbed to the flood, its sodden root system overwhelmed and the tree falling.  Still it's a small price to pay compared with what has happened elsewhere (the human death toll from the floods is now more than six hundred).

Birding produced a new patch bird in the shape of a Spangled Drongo, seen a couple of time perched low-down, and moving about in rather a lethargic manner, plus a Black Drongo and two Ashy Drongos.   Taiga Flies amounted to about 10 birds, Asian Brown Fly two, 1-2 Black-naped Monarch and four Yellow-browed Warblers.

Spangled Drongo - note the square tail (not forked),
with up-turned corners and long, tapering bill.

This enlargement shows the long, thin plumes that give this species
the alternative name of "Hair-crested Drongo"

West Railey Beach, Krabi, 23rd-25th Nov

A few days non-birding holiday on the beach still produced a few notable wildlife encounters - best being an unseen, but regularly heard White-crowned Forktail around our cottage, and a troupe of Dusky Languars, which included a mum with bright orange baby.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Rock Chick

Walk around the Ministry of Public Relations this morning - I took my shiny new pair of Zen-Ray 8x43 ED3 binoculars with me (purchased as a 'back up bin" as my Leica's need to go to Germany for repair).  These bins cost less than GBP 300 and seem to be amazingly good value.

Highlights this morning were a group of three Ashy Woodswallows (uncommon in the city centre) and a stunning female White-throated Rock Thrush.  This is the first female that I have seen in Bangkok (after seeing four males in the last three winters), so it was good to get to grips with one - basically a brown and white shadow of the male, but with a gorgeously scalloped breast that was sharply demarcated from the creamy white belly.  A great bird, and remarkably small for a Rock Thrush.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wander around the Ministry of Public Relations this morning provided more views of the Blyth's Leaf Warbler, at least three Yellow-browed Warblers, two Taiga Flycatchers, one Brown Shrike and four Black-naped Orioles.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"Blyth's" Leaf Warbler

Another early morning at the Ministry of Public Relations, and another surprise....  I got onto a Yellow-browed Warbler  and watched it for a couple of minutes, and then became aware of another phyllosc close by.  This second bird looked somewhat bigger, with less "compact" proportions that the yellow-brow - it had a longer bill and tail.  It displayed two well-defined yellow wingbars, and a strong supercilium, with the bill having a pink lower mandible with a dark tip. Given these features, I was reasonably confident that it was a Two-barred Greenish Warbler, though something seemed wrong - it appeared to have at least a hint of a central crown stripe (which 2BGW doesn't show) - was I screwing up an Eastern Crowned? Rather frustratingly  it moved deeper and higher into cover and started preening, but was helpfully flushed by a Black-naped Monarch, and dropped down to give me excellent, pointblank views  just above head height and I could now see that it did indeed have a quite well-marked central crown stripe, and two very obvious wing bars (so ruling out Eastern Crowned).  At this stage I was very confused about what it was - I see lots of Yellow-brows, Eastern Crowned and Arctic Warblers in Bangkok, plus a few 2BGWs, but this thing wasn't any of those!  I guessed it might be Blyth's Leaf Warbler, and indeed a check of the books once home, and consultation with Oriental Bird Images confirms the ID. However Blyth's has recently been split into three species including claudiae and goodsoni, and it seems pretty difficult to assign a bird in the field to one or other of these species, though it is thought that migrants in Thailand are claudiae (per Phil Round).

"Blyth's" Leaf Warbler is a non-breeding visitor to the Bangkok area, seemingly in small numbers, though I suspect it is under-recorded here.

EDIT:  tried to get some photos of the  Blyth's after work - whilst I did see it, it wasn't playing ball for the camera.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chestnut-winged Cuckoo

Early morning walk at Ministry of Public Relations produced a big surprise in the shape of a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, which is only the second individual I have ever seen (the other was at Kaeng Krachan National Park a few years back).  This species is generally uncommon, and a winter/passage migrant here.  A couple of other interesting birds included a Black-naped Monarch and an Ashy Drongo.

I tried to go to Suan Rot Fai yesterday, but the deteriorating flood situation made it impossible - I suspect the park has actually been closed until the flood has passed - sadly it looks like I won't get crocodile on my patch list!

Road outside Chatuchauk weekend market, looking north

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

White-throated Rock-thrush

Early morning walk around the Ministry of Public relations gave me a very nice surprise when I glimpsed a medium sized passerine a couple of times that I couldn't get any detail on...and once it gave itself up it turned out to be a spanking male White-throated Rock-thrush.  This is the third year in a row that I have found this species in central Bangkok during the first ten days of  November, and it is obviously peak time for them to be passing through this part of Thailand.  Interestingly all the birds I have seen have been males.