Tuesday, March 26, 2013


With little time available to get out in the field Monday/Tuesday I tried my luck in the grounds of the Ministry of Public Relations.  The only notable migrant was a Pale-legged Leaf Warbler this morning, with Yellow-browed Warbler and Brown Shrike still present.  Yesterday's highlight was a newly fledged Black-naped Oriole being fed by its mum.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


After getting back from Mae Sot on Thursday, it has become apparent that the temperature in Bangkok is now climbing significantly - tomorrow's expected high is 39 Celcius. Consequently, this morning's session in Suan Rot Fai, with visiting Iraqi birder Mohamad, was pretty hard work and the birds were not really playing ball.  We met a local bird photographer who said that a male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher had been seen yesterday (the first of the northbound passage), and we found a migrant Forest Wagtail, which was the first I have seen at Suan Rot Fai for quite a while, plus a Common Kingfisher heard. There were also a reasonable number of Asian Brown and Taiga Flycatchers - perhaps including some migrants from further south?

I visited the park on Friday afternoon but the only notable spp was the Stork-billed Kingfisher that is  still hanging around.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ruby Wednesday

I'm in Mae Sot again this week, and so I made a short pre-breakfast visit to the fields south of the airport, just a kilometer or so from the Burmese border.  The highlight this morning was a rather crispy male Siberian Rubythroat that I coaxed out of thick streamside cover with a little bit of help from my iPhone.Whilst Rubthroat is supposedly a common winter visitor I seem to run into very few indeed because I do very little birding in open, agricultural scrub - and I'm desperate to find one on my patch in downtown Bangkok!

There were also lots of spankingly bright male Siberian Stonechats and Pied Bushchats in breeding plumage whizzing around, a dozen or so Barn Swallows (including a male singing, which suddenly brought forth a flood of nostalgia for British summers gone by!), several Red-rumped Swallows, five or six Paddyfield Pipits, two Thick-billed Warblers and a couple of Duskys.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A heavy, violent shower mid afternoon sent me scurrying to Suan Rot Fai after work in the hope of some grounded migrants.  Lots of birds where drying themselves on open branches, but the only notable passerines were a single Thick-billed Warbler, one Taiga Flycatcher, two or three Asian Brown Flycatchers, a Yellow-browed Warbler, one or two leucogenis Ashy Drongos, two Brown Shrikes, and several Black-naped Orioles.

I also saw single Night Heron, Black-capped and Common Kingfishers.

Bit disappointing not to pick up a bit more, but that's patchwork I guess.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Phrustrating Phyllosc

This morning I again visited the grounds of the Ministry of Public Relations  where the only notable bird was a salangensis Ashy Drongo.

After work I did Suan Rot Fai in an attempt to pick up some migrants. Apart from a single leucogenis/salagensis intergrade Ashy Drongo and two each of Asian Brown and Taiga Flycatcher the main interest was a large, silent Phyllosc that would not give itself up despite much pishing - from what I saw on it (rather domed crown, broad supercilium, pink lower mandible) it looked promising for Two-barred Greenish and this was perpetuated by its very active behaviouw (constantly zipping around and giving me little time to get my bins on it once it moved to a perch where I could be able to get views). Ultimately it disappeared and I had to let it go unidentified - rather disappointing, but a likely migrant which is an encouraging sign.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A good and affordable option for playback?

Whilst birding over the weekend with Richard Thomas we used his Olympus LS-10 digital recorder in conjunction with a RadioShack Mini Audio Amplifier.  The microphone on the LS-10 is amazingly good at recording bird vocalisations, and I was totally sold on it as a very worthwhile investment for playback (currently I simply play sound recordings using my iPhone and a RadioShack amplifier, which is fine but means I cannot record anything myself).

A bit of googling determined that the LS-10 has now been replaced by the LS-10S which seems to be significantly cheaper that the original recorder at only US$ 175.  It also seems worthwhile spending US$ 50 on a Windjammer to ensure the best possible sound quality.

Signs of migration, or wishful thinking?

A short walk around the Ministry of Public Relations, near home this morning produced the first red-throated Taiga Flycatcher that I have seen this spring, and was quickly followed by a Black-naped Monarch, two leucogenis Ashy Drongos, four or five Black-naped Orioles and single Thick-billed Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler and Brown Shrike.

Whilst all of these species winter around Bangkok it is interesting to see them all in one small area in a very short period of time (15 minutes) and makes me wonder if some of them at least are already moving north.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Petchaburi Province

A short visit to Pak Thale on Saturday produced two Spoon-billed Sandpipers, four Nordmann’s Greenshanks and approx. 800 Great Knot – many getting well into summer plumage.  Other wader goodies included several Long-toed Stints, lots of Red-necked Stints (including a bird flagged black over white, both flags above right knee) a few Broad-billed Sandpipers, both Sandplovers, both Godwits in good numbers, Curlew Sandpiper, Sanderling, Ruff, Marsh Sandpiper, Spotshank, two Dunlin and five Grey-headed Lapwing. We also saw one female Pied Harrier, one Osprey and a couple of Brahminy Kites.

We then headed to Kaeng Krachan National Park where we spent the last few hours of daylight birding along the first 10km of road. Notable species included an imm. Rufous-bellied Eagle on a thermal with three Oriental Honey Buzzards, Crested Serpent Eagle and two Oriental Pied Hornbills. At dusk we saw a Brown Boobok, and heard Large-tailed and Great-eared Nightjars along the road. We stayed overnight at Samarn Bird Camp, where we were informed that the White-fronted Scops Owls have abandoned their well-twitched day roost.
Birding on Sunday was dedicated to Kaeng Krachan again,  focused on the area beyond Bang Krang camp site.  Notables included four species of Broadbill (Silver-breasted, Dusky and Banded all by Stream 2, with Long-tailed seen at approx. KM 26), both Orange-breasted and Red-headed Trogans, Hornbills included a pair of Rusty-cheeked seen between streams 1 & 2, with a party of three seen at approx. KM 25, and several Great Hornbills were seen overhead during the morning. Woodpeckers included Lesser Yellownape, Greater Flameback, and a single Grey-faced Woodpecker.

Rusty-cheeked Hornbill

Other notables included Ratchet-tailed Treepie at the usual stakeout, a flock of Ashy Minivets, two Drongo Cuckoos seen and Banded bay Cuckoo heard, Puff-throated Babbler, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, a couple of parties of Lesser-necklaced Laughingthrushes, Crested Jay, Sultan Tit a couple of times, Yellow-bellied Warbler, Sulphur-breasted Warbler, Eastern Crowned Warbler, Vernal Hanging-parrot and various Common Green Magpies. Notable heard-only species included Banded Kingfisher and Grey Peacock-pheasant.

Sultan Tit

Collared Owlet

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Warbler master class

See this powerpoint on Phyllosc and Seicercus ID by Per Alstrom, "the man who can"!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Large Blue Flycatcher in Sri Phang Nga

Following on from my possible Large Blue Flycatcher back in December 2012, I read with interest about a male that has been found in Sri Phang Nga in southern Thailand during the last few days.  Some stunning pictures of this bird can be found  here.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A tale of two colonisers

Quiet on the patch this morning, wintering passerines thin on the ground, the best being one Ashy and one Black Drongo. Padders included a male Cinnamon Bittern, Stork-billed, Black-capped, White-throated and Common Kingfishers.

The fortunes of two apparent colonisers seems to have diverged considerably: much to my dismay the island that has played roost site for the park's Night Herons in recent months has been "landscaped" in the last week, meaning that all thick vegetation has been hacked and a flowerbed planted in its place! On the other hand the Open-billed Storks are doing very well - I counted at least 33 individuals today, with a total of 52 sightings during two hours - and most remarkably they have started building at least four nests.

Friday, March 1, 2013

A week in the provinces

I've been away for the last few days, firstly in Saraburi province where the birding was pretty uninspiring, with the best being a good number of Racket-tailed Treepies whilst out early one morning. Since Wednesday I've been in Mae Sot in Tak province where the focus has been very much on work, but early this morning I made an excursion to some fields that I found using googlemaps, located to the south of the Mae Sot airport.  This open country didn't seem too promising, but gave me enough justification to have made the effort when I found a Wryneck (only my second in SE Asia!) as well as a few Thick-billed, Fan-tailed and Dusky Warblers, several rather smart-looking Sibe Stonechats and Pied Bush Chats and an Australasian Bush Lark in song flight.

I'm not really sure of the status of Wryneck in Thailand, and suspect its one of those things that I rarely see simply because I don't spend much time birding in the right habitat - this one, and the bird I saw in Burma last year have both been in dry scrub.

I made one short stop on the six hour drive back to Bangkok, which produced about 20 Asian Golden Weavers and a female Eastern Marsh Harrier.