Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Pied Harrier on the deck

Tues-Thurs this week sees me working in Mae Sot, so this morning I went out for a pre-breakfast wander in the rice fields around Mae Tao.  The highlight of the morning was this male Pied Harrier that gave prolonged views on the deck, not very far from track that I was driving on.  This was one of 2-3 individuals (one female and 1-2 males) in this area, though I couldn't figure out why it was spending so much time on the ground - it didn't appear to be feeding, but simply loafing.

Other padders included three Siberian Rubythroats heard, single Red-throated Pipit, Richard's Pipit, Paddyfield Pipit, five Eastern Yellow Wagtails, Dusky Warbler, Siberian Stonechat and good numbers of Scaly-breasted Munia, House Sparrows and Asian Golden Weavers.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spooner "05"

Chris Collins and I went out to Khok Kham yesterday (Sunday) morning for some wader action, and despite the limited time we spent birding, and the "slight logistical problem" we ran into, we still came away with a nice selection of goodies.

First up was a roadside stop for a large group of Knot, which consisted  of at least 320 Red Knot plus about 800 Great Knot.  I think the Red Knot count is pretty impressive for the Gulf of Thailand, given that Round (2008) cites the two highest counts as 100 and 200, with most records involving less than 10 birds.

There had been a very heavy downpour overnight, so I thought twice about taking the dirt track up to the pools where I had seen a Spoon-billed Sandpiper back in November, but after some umming and erring I convinced myself that we'd be OK.  However, after about 500 metres we became stuck!

The mud at Khok Kham has remarkably sticky qualities, and is incredibly hard to remove.  So, at this point I decided that the best strategy was to abandon the car for an hour or so for the sun to dry out the track, and hopefully enable us to escape upon our return. We headed over to the pools frequented by the two Spooners that have been present this winter and after about half an hour of searching I picked up the unmistakable form of a Spoony bill in my binoculars, and a quick check through the scope and shout to Chris sent him scurrying over to join me to watch the first leg-flagged Spoon-billed Sandpiper that I have seen!  This was female "05", who's leg flag in green and has recently had a short article written about her here (see page 17). 

The article states that "’05’ was first ringed on her nest in Ankavie, on the eastern
part of the Meinopylgino spit, Chukotka, Russia, on 20 June 2013. Her eggs were taken for artificial incubation under the Head-Starting Project, and the pair was selected to be shown to tourists of the Heritage Expeditions cruise in early July, when about 50 tourists were able to see their only Spoon-billed sandpipers of the trip"
. Rather amazingly, Chris was leading that trip for Heritage Expeditions (and deserves a great deal of credit for getting the trip off the ground) but unfortunately did not see this individual there, instead he went to a different nest that year and saw a bird flagged "06".  I think he's also seen the bird flagged '07'...that's quite a nice little flush!

Chris celebrating his third leg-flagged Spooner, and a bit of car trouble

After about five minutes "05"  and the stints that she was feeding with took off and headed towards the falling tide line, leaving us to trudge back to the car and  hope that the sun had managed to dry out the mud bath sufficiently for us to be able to free the car. Sure enough, after a bit of work we managed to turn the car around and get back onto the metalled road, though as we passed some of the local salt farmers they looked rather dismayed - hopefully at my stupidity for driving up their muddy track, rather than because the ruts that I had created may have caused them some problems (either way, I've learned my lesson and will not be driving up there again in anything less than dry conditions!).

We then checked out the mud flats at the Mangrove Conservation Centre where Chris found us a lone Asian Dowitcher whilst other birds included a single Terek Sandpiper and 20+ Whimbrel.  Before heading back to Bangkok we stopped at some roadside pools and I found a suspect Little Stint (since confirmed from photos) amongst a flock of Red-necks (see images below). The extensively rufous-fringed tertials, apparently tapering bill, relatively long tibia and pale throat all point towards Little.

two blurry images of a Little Stint attaining breeding plumage

a blurry Red-necked stint for comparison

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Blue-and-white Flycatcher

A short visit to Suan Rotfai this morning with Chris Collins produced a a rather smart male Blue-and-white Flycatcher soon after arriving.  This was by far the best bird of the morning, with a supporting cast in the form of circa 10 Ashy Minivets, the Black-winged Cuckoo-shrike that has been hanging about for the last month, and a single Pale-legged/Sakhalin Leaf Warbler.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

7th March - first signs of migration

A visit to Suan Rot Fai produced a couple of notable birds in the form of an Intermediate Egret (not common in the centre of the city) and a party of approximately 10 Ashy Minivets (a species I strongly associate with passage migration). There also seemed to be quite a number of Brown Shrikes around, with eight individuals seen, perhaps some migrants amongst them?

Last weekend's Black-winged Cuckoo-shrike was still present, and gave itself up for the camera. Everything else was as to be expected, including Chinese and Javan Pond Herons, a group of 20 Cattle Egrets with several birds attaining breeding plumage, and a couple of Little Egrets. Passerines included at least five Taiga Flycatchers (all in heavy moult) and three Asian Brown Flycatchers, whilst a single Black-naped Monarch and the two Radde's Warblers were still present in the Secret Garden.

Intermediate Egret

Eastern Cattle Egret

Black-winged Cuckoo-shrike

Male Plaintive Cuckoo

Thursday, March 5, 2015

1st March 2015

I met up with Andy Pearce for a look around Suan Rot Fai on Sunday, in the hope of seeing the Hartert's Leaf Warbler again (it had been seen the previous day).

Our search was fruitless, so perhaps it has moved on? We did find a couple of Radde's Warblers, a Pale-legged Leaf Warbler and I got views of a Black-winged Cuckoo-shrike (an early migrant, perhaps?).

Now that March has arrived the humidity is building and the prospect of spring passage is on the horizon...

an especially peachy Radde's

this second bird's plumage was a fair bit more subdued

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

26th & 27th Feb - Pak Thale & Laem Pak Bia

I spent last Thursday and Friday taking visitors to look for the specialities that can be found around Pak Thale & Laem Pak Bia, following a similar route north to south on both days.

We secured views of Spoon-billed Sandpiper (presumablt the same individual both days), Nordmann's Greenshank (6 on the 26th, and 45 on the 27th), and Asian Dowitcher (5-10 seen) by 9.30am on both days. Laem Pak Bia sandspit delivered the goods without any trouble, with two Chinese Egrets, Malaysian Plovers, a single male White-faced Plover, between five and seven Pallas's Gulls, as well as Crested and Lesser Crested Terns.

Other notables included two Heuglin's Gulls (including a breeding plumaged adult), 30+ Oriental Pratincoles, 2,000+ Great Knot, 29 Pied Avocet a single Red-necked Phalarope and a male Painted Snipe.

On 27th we had time to visit Nong Plaa Lai ricefields where we found the Yellow-breasted Bunting flock still in residence, plus five Greater Spotted Eagles.

Chinese Egret

Malaysian Plovers

my best looking Pallas's Gull ever!

Pallas's Gulls
Oriental Pratincole

Whilst watching the White-faced Plover at Laem Pak Bia I managed to capture the sequence of images below, documenting it being attacked by a female Malaysian Plover who obviously didn't want him on her patch of beach.

get off my land!

after being given a good hiding by a lady, it is best to puff out your chest...
...and fly away to a safer piece of beach!