Monday, December 31, 2012

Little Red Cracker

This morning I walked around the rather scrappy rice paddies close to our accommodation at Assaradevi Resort to the south of Chiang Mai.

Highlights in one and a half hours included a fine male Red Avadavat carrying nesting material (with a second bird heard calling), a male Pied Harrier,  a Common Rosefinch, two Chestnut-tailed Starlings, a couple of Zitting Cisticolas, a Wire-tailed Swallow, one Thick-billed Warbler, a pair of Pied Bushchats, several Siberian Stonechats , one Indochinese Bushlark and a flock of White-rumped Munias.


Doi Suthep - 30th Dec

An early morning trip up Doi Suthep with David Lindo produced a few interesting birds, but the volume of tourist traffic meant that it was a little less peaceful than we had hoped, and the journey back into town was a total traffic jam.

Notables included a male Maroon Oriole, a Yellow-cheeked Tit, male Hill Blue Flycatcher, two Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, a White-crowned Forktail, at least one Asian House Martin, several Yunnan Fulvettas, Two-barred Greenish, Davison's, Yellow-browed and Marten's Warbler.

Pitchit Province - 26th-29th Dec

Spent the immediate Christmas aftermath with my wife's extended family in Pitchit.  This gave me a couple of mornings birding in the local (intensively farmed) rice paddies, testing out my new Nikon V1 mirrorless camera body, mounted on my 300mm f4 AF-S lens.  The results are very promising, but I'll write a proper review once I've got used to using it (and read the instruction book!).

The species I connected with were pretty unsurprising but a welcome change from my regular patch species with Painted Snipe, Oriental and Black-browed Reed Warblers, Asian Golden Weaver, dozens and dozens of Dusky Warblers, a couple of pairs of Red-wattled Lapwing, several Cinnamon Bittern Intermediate Egret and a Grey Heron.

All images below were taken with the Nikon 1 V1.

White-throated Kingfisher
Long-tailed Shrike
Long-tailed Shrike
Yellow-browed Warbler
Siberian Stonechat
Siberian Stonechat
Barn Swallow

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Another visitor from London, innit!

For this morning's visit to Suan Rot Fai I was joined by David Lindo for his second trip to the park (he visited in December last year).  The highlight this morning was getting much better views (and photos) of the female Cyornis flycatcher which I'm still presuming is a Chinese Blue, pending making time to sit down and study the images carefully. The Cyornis flys are very tricky and the shape and colour of the throat does not seem to be classic of Chinese Blue, so I'm still a bit hesitant on this bird's ID.

Other padders today included one Dusky Warbler, three Asian Brown Flycatchers and a handful of Yellow-browed Warblers.

EDIT: Having now had a good look at the images, I'm happy that this bird is a female Chinese Blue Flycatcher (note the paler throat contrasting with the breast).  Given the markings on the gape it seems likely to be a first winter female.

Here are a few other pictures taken this morning...

Cattle Egret

Coppersmith Barbet

Sunday, December 23, 2012


London birder Richard Bonser joined me for my circuit of Suan Rot Fai this morning. Highlights in two and a half hours included a rather smart male Thick-billed Green Pigeon (my second patch record, following a female in December last year), a female Cyornis sp. which was probably a Chinese Blue Flycatcher, both Spotted and Asian Barred Owlets, two Dusky Warblers (only one seen) and a Pale-legged Leaf Warbler heard.

Other padders included at least four Black-crowned Night Herons (incl one adult), multiple Black-naped Orioles and Yellow-browed Warblers, 2-3 Brown Shrikes, and five Small Minivets.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

15th Dec 2012

Quite a lot of activity on the patch this morning, with pride of place going to the adult male Orange-headed Ground Thrush which is still present. Other goodies included my highest counts of Night Herons (three juvs and one adult), and Open-billed Storks (five).

Wintering passerines included one Pale-legged Leaf Warbler*, two Dusky Warblers, and about eight Yellow-browed Warblers, four Asian Brown and six Taiga Flycatchers and two Brown Shrikes.

Drongos included one Black and three Ashy (two leucogenis and one salangenis), whilst three Barn Swallows included one tytleri-type individual.

*Note that I use the name Pale-legged Leaf Warbler to some degree as a "superspecies", given the difficulty in identifying Sakhalin Leaf Warbler. Whilst Sakhalin has not been knowlingly recorded in Thailand its winter-time distribution is poorly known and so it seems possible that it does/will occur.  Today's bird was very grey on the head, with quite a whitish supercilium contrasting with the pale yellow double wingbar. The bird called occasionally - a liquid "tu-lut" which was somewhat clipped at the end; this is a different call from the standard "tink" which  is often given repeatedly, but it is a call that I am familar with as I heard the call today before seeing the bird and I recognised it as a PLLW call.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Zootheras on the patch!

Whilst on the patch yesterday morning I caught a glimpse of a passerine that flushed in front of me but gave me such poor views I had no idea what it might have been.  Despite searching for it for about twenty minutes I found no further sign of it and as such tried to convince myself that perhaps it was simply a badly seen Oriental Magpie Robin (!), though the mystery bird had crossed my mind momentarily as possibly being a thrush of some kind.

When I started working the patch again this morning I almost didn't bother checking the area where I had seen this "mystery bird", but remembering yesterday's incident, and with a nagging doubt that it really wasn't a Magpie Robin I decided to have a quick look.  Checking the precise location of yesterday's sighting I found nothing, but  some dense canopy nearby yielded a Taiga Flycatcher and so I decided to give this area a few minutes attention and was about to move on when what was obviously yesterday's bird (based on size and jizz) flew out of the canopy and back to the area where I had seen.  I didn't get much on it but I felt I knew what it was, and when it perched up (rather distantly) I could see that it had an orange head!

I walked straight back to the original location and sat quietly, waiting to see if it would show, and a few minutes later it appeared in front of me,  about 4 metres away...

Orange-headed Ground Thrush

This is the first time that I have seen Orange-headed Ground Thrush on the patch, though I was aware that it had been recorded in the past. This species breeds in Thailand, but is also a winter visitor.  My experience of the species in the past has all been in good quality forest in various parts of SE Asia so it is really nice to find such a forest denizen in the middle of Bangkok's magatropolis!

Walking around the Ornamental Gardens at the patch didn't reveal too many other surprises, though I did finally come across my first Thick-billed Warbler of winter 2012/13.  However on my way out I found a SECOND Orange-headed Ground Thrush  - this one a stonking male...

OHGT number 2 - not a great photo but WHAT A BIRD!

So my prediction yesterday of Zoothera action in the park had been correct, though the location was entirely wrong and I couldn't have predicted two seperate sightings on the same day!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

New boardwalk

I spent a couple of hours at Suan Rot Fai this morning, the highlight being 1-2 Black-winged Cuckooshrikes, an occasional winterer/ passage migrant here in central Bangkok.

Not much else of note - a few Taiga and Asian Brown Flys, good numbers of Black-naped Orioles, Coppersmith Barbets and common sturnidae species enjoying the continued abundance of trees in fruit, and a couple of Black-capped Kingfishers.

Notable by their absence so far this winter are Thick-billed Warblers - I have not seen a single one on the patch yet (normally seen from early November until April), and I have also noticed reduced numbers of Brown Shrikes (only one seen on my last visit and a single heard today).

One bit of (good?) news is that a boardwalk and nature trail has been installed in "The Clump" - a previously impenetrable, isolated patch of bushes in the ornamental park which I have always thought held Zoothera potential but had been very hard to work. Now it can be easily accessed but I guess it remains to be seen how much disturbance it gets...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Arctic and Kamchatka Warblers

I thought these  would be of interest - a series of images of the recently split Kamchatka Leaf Warbler, plus an image of a nominate Arctic Warbler taken at the same location (Ashmore Reef, Australia).

The Kamchatka Warbler's (diagnostic) vocalisations was apparently also recorded.

Kamchatka Warbler is likely to occur in Thailand but has not yet been confirmed, as far as I am aware.

Big bill

Given that today is the King of Thailand's birthday it was fitting that the highlight of  walk around Suan Rot Fai was Thailand's biggest kingfisher - a Stork-billed.  This is only the second time I have recorded this species in Suan Rot Fai (the other time being when I first started watching the site in autumn 2008).  Today's bird was watched in deep cover, spending a long time repeatedly whacking a large prey item senseless before swallowing it whole.

The same area held one of several groups of Blue-tailed Bee-eaters that I saw this morning, plus Black-capped, White-throated and Common Kingfishers - not bad: one pool with four species of Kingfisher on it - just 100 metres from a busy main road in downtown Bangkok!

Other notables this morning included one or two tytleri-type Barn Swallows, two juv Night Herons, two Open-billed Storks, one White Wagtail, two Paddyfield Pipits (my first on the patch this autumn/winter), one Dusky Warbler, seven Yellow-browed Warblers, two Black Drongos, three Ashy Drongos, three Asian Brown Flycatchers and good numbers of Black-naped Orioles and Taiga Flycatchers.

Cattle Egrets - an increasingly regular patch bird

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Eye-browed Thrush

A stomp around the patch before work this morning found me looking into a number of trees heavy with fruit and being visited by a plethora of Coppersmith Barbets, Streaked-eared Bulbuls and various common Sturnidae species.  Amongst that lot I picked up an unexpected Eye-browed Thrush (I've only seem this spp in Bangkok twice before, and both occasions were during northward migration in April).

Other passerine migrants/winterers were a bit thin on the ground with just a single Ashy Drongo, two Asian Brown Flys, four Taiga Flys and a couple of Yellow-browed Warblers.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thaksin Maharat National Park, Tak province

I drove back from Mae Sot to Bangkok this morning, breaking the journey with a dawn visit to Thaksin Maharat NP.

Birds were not seen in particularly large numbers, but I  heard a Bamboo Woodpecker drumming on the other side of the valley (so totally inaccessible) - the drumming was loud and relatively short, slowing at the end (but not to the same extent as Rufous Woodpecker's "motorbike"). I have listened to Xeno-Canto recordings of the drumming of all woodpeckers that occur in this area and am certain of the ID, which is not that surprising as Bamboo 'pecker been recorded here previously, but personally I have never seen or heard one anywhere.

I also picked up four Olive Bulbuls (pretty range-restricted in Thailand) and several groups of White-throated Bulbuls. Other species included many Spangled Drongos, two Marten's Warblers, two Yellow-browed Warblers, a couple of Two-barred Greenish Warblers (heard only) and several Red-rumped Swallows feeding over the canopy.

The other interesting bird was this japonicus Buzzard which gave excellent views after it came out of the forest (presumably from a roosting site).

japonicus Buzzard

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Umphang Road again...

After a very early start, having been woken up at 4.20am by the other guests in my cheap and cheerful resort in Umphang, I headed to the main area of birding interest for dawn, starting at the Shrine Viewpoint and finishing mid afternoon at KM 116 (see Dave Sargeant's site description here).

There was quite a lot of activity again today, with birds making the most of the abundant supply of fruit currently available throughout the forest. Species not seen yesterday but picked up today included Great and Blue-throated Barbets, a single male Grey-chinned Minivet in a mixed flock which also included a Bar-winged flycatcher-shrike and a Speckled PiculateRufous-browed and Little Pied Flycatchers were added to the trip list and Phylloscs were again well-represented and included two additional species in the form of Yellow-vented and Two-barred Greenish Warblers.

EDIT, 22nd Nov:  I had not realised, until Dave Sargeant pointed out to me, that Yellow-vented warbler is a very good record for Thailand.  The species is rare here and seemingly a much wanted bird by Thai listers (I don't keep a Thai list).  Apparently the Umphang Road has been mooted a a potential site for the species, so I'm pleased to have confirmed that it is indeed found there. 

Great Barbet

I found a mixed group of Black-throated and White-necked Laughingthrushes (the former not seen yesterday), a mobile a mobile group of six Eye-browed Thrushes were my first of the winter, as were two Grey-backed Shrikes. Other notables were a small flock of Black Bulbuls, a single White-throated Bulbul and a very skulking Slaty-bellied Tesia.  On the way back towards Mae Sot I stopped at about KM 108 (?) where the road runs along a ridge-top offering views over the forest-clad mountains to the north west - I spent about 45 minutes scanning this area in the hope of connecting with some hornbills but only managed to add a male Pale-blue Flycatcher.

Perhaps the highlight of the day was the fact that I had two Yellow-throated Marten encounters, involving three animals - the first, early in the morning was very brief but very close (six metres), whilst the second involved a single Marten crossing the road at 2.30pm whilst I was parked up photographing a Striated Yuhina flock.

Striated Yuhina

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Umphang Road

With work taking me to the Thai-Myanmar border for a few days I decided to spend the weekend birding the road between Mae Sot and Umphang, which passes through Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary.  This is in effect a repeat of my trip in August.

After leaving Mae Sot at 5.45am for the slow journey to the key birding areas, my first notable bird was an Eastern Buzzard (ssp japonicus)  hunting on the ridge at approximately KM 105. From there I drove on and parked just before KM 116 and worked my way to KM 118 without too much avian interest - the best being a couple of parties of White-necked Laughingthrushes.

Further on around the Park HQ there was a lot of activity, but mainly from a few common species - Oriental White-eye, Striated Yuhina (no sign of Burmese Yuhina!) and Mountain Bulbul.  There are currently large amounts of fruit all over the forest so birds are feeding actively but are not concentrated in particular areas.  Notable species today included Golden-throated Barbet a couple of times, a group of six Brown Needletails, Collared Owlet (2 heard), a single Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon and two other Green Pig spp, a worn female Oriental Honey Buzzard (there's a lesson for me on this birds ID here), a male Orange-bellied Leafbird, single Brown Shrike, several Bronzed Drongos and a couple of large flocks of Spangled Drongos, both Grey Treepie and Maroon Oriole heard only, and a single White-browed Fantail seen. Flycatchers included several Hill Blue, a single male Hainan Blue , a couple of Verditers. Compared with my visit in August, Forktails were very thin on the ground with only one White-crowned Forktail heard and none seen.

Phylloscs included Radde's, Claudia's, Davison's and Yellow-browed, whilst I watched and listened to one Seicerus warbler for a prolonged period and have concluded that it was a Marten's. I also picked up several Silver-eared Mesias and Laughingthrushes along the way.

Golden-throated Barbet

Mountain Bulbul

Monday, November 12, 2012

Black Bittern

Did Suan Rot Fai before work and managed quite a nice haul.  Pride of place must go to a juvenile Black Bittern which was flying around Lilly Lake and perching in adjacent trees. I also picked up a White Wagtail flying over and calling - both of these species are new for the patch.

Remarkably, a new Ferruginous Flycatcher was present in the same stand of trees where I had seen one just two weeks ago (the photos below show it is much more heavily worn than the previous bird), whilst perhaps the strangest encounter of the morning was a Brown Shrike in sub-song! Other notables included single Pale-legged Leaf and Dusky Warblers in the Ramble, an adult Night Heron, at least four Cattle Egrets on the deck, two Great White Egrets overhead, and at least five Ashy Drongos.

more fudge

A couple of shots of some more run-of -the-mill patch birds from this morning....

Black-naped Oriole

Indian Roller

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bang Poo

I made a lunchtime visit to Bang Poo, which this weekend has been hosting the 3rd Asian Bird Fair.  After chatting to a few local birders I headed out onto the Pier and checked the roosting pools to seek out some Larid action...

adult winter Brown-headed Gull

1st calendar year Brown-headed Gull

2nd (?) calendar year Brown-headed Gull

1st calendar year Brown-headed Gull

1st Calendar year Brown-headed Gull (female? note the narrower bill)

1st calendar year Black-headed Gull

1st calendar year Heuglin's Gull

1st calendar year Heuglin's Gull

Apart from the gulls (hundreds of Brown-headed, a few Black-headed and one, possibly two Heuglin's) there was also a big roost of perhaps 1,000 or more Black-tailed Godwits, with a few Marsh Sandpipers, Common Redshank, Pacific Golden Plover and a single Greater Sandplover thrown in for good measure.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


This morning's early morning visit to the Ministry of Public Relations produced two Black-naped Monarchs (classic early November migrants), a couple of Black-naped Orioles, two Brown Shrikes, Taiga and Asian Brown Flycatchers. The air was ringing with the calls of many Yellow-browed Warblers, which seem to hit a peak around Bangkok at this time of the year.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Early morning visit to Suan Rot Fai in humid, very overcast weather was slow to begin with but eventually produced a selection of migrants that made me want to stay (just a shame I have to work for a living). The highlight was a Pale-legged Leaf Warbler which I heard going "tink" and managed to pish into the open a couple of times. The same area held an Arctic Warbler that was calling persistently and was also pished out. Further on, in a rather uninspiringly sparse  but surprisingly birdy strip of vegetation I picked up one or two more Arctic Warblers,  three Yellow-browed Warblers and had brief, distant and badly lit views of what I suspect was a female Verditer Flycatcher.

Other migrants this morning included one or two Brown Shrikes, two Ashy Drongos, at least seven Black-naped Orioles, two Asian Brown Flys and 10-15 Taiga Flycatchers.

I also had at least three Cattle Egrets feeding in the park (all my previous records have been flyovers).

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fudgy Fly

My visit to SRF 0630-0815hrs this morning produced a lovely 1st winter Ferruginous Flycatcher - a patch tick and only the second time I have seen this species. A rather tiny flycatcher that seemed pretty unconcerned by my presence.

Oh Fudge!

The other highlight was an Ashy Minivet which was only my second record on the patch. Otherwise migrants were pretty much as you'd expect on the patch in late October - perhaps ten Taiga Flys, a couple of Asian Brown Flys and Yellow-browed Warblers, an Ashy Drongo and a few Blue-tailed Bee-eaters.  A group of Barn Swallows seemed to be feeding up before heading further south, but the hoped-for raptors didn't materialise.