Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Khao Yai quicky

A work retreat near Khao Yai gave me a welcome break from the hubbub of Bangkok city life last week, and a few avian highlights.

Driving along a quiet country road near my accommodation I came across a Barred Buttonquail with a half-grown chick crossing the road - when a vehicle came in the opposite direction the adult ran for cover but I was surprised to see the chick take to the wing to avoid an untimely demise.

The grounds of my accommodation hosted several Red-breasted Parakeets and Spangled Drongos each morning, but the main birding highlight was the journey back to Bangkok with a detour into Khao Yai National Park for a few hours.

Even a short trip to KYNP can produce some exceptional wildlife, with the highlights in my three hours being a male Siamese Fireback and a male Silver Pheasant feeding together on the Radar Road, with a Blue Pitta calling at the same spot. I also heard a further two Blue Pittas, plus a Hooded Pitta elsewhere on the same road.

The park also offered Great, Wreathed and Oriental Pied Hornbills, and I may have heard the contact calls of Austen's Brown Hornbill (my Khao Yai bogey bird!).

One other highlight in the park was a close encounter of the needletail kind, with a Brown Needletail passing so low and fast overhead as it departed its drinking pool that I could hear the air whizzing through its wings.

A slow spring

Family commitments have kept my birding at bay over the spring, with occasional visits to Suan Rot Fai and the grounds of the Dept of Public Relations during April and early May.

There were no real stand-out highlights in terms of rarities, but a nice trickle of Mugimaki Flycatchers throughout April (my first one actually on 31st March).  The undoubted highlight of the spring was making a short visit to Suan Rot Fai and finding a single tree that simultaneously held a male Blue-and-white Flycatcher, a female Mugimaki Flycatcher, two Eyebrowed Thrushes, a Black-winged Cuckooshrike, a Taiga Flycatcher, five Asian Brown Flycatchers and a Brown Shrike

Perhaps the most satisfying bird of the spring was finally nailing a Kamchatka Leaf Warbler in sub-song and calling regularly at the Dept of Public Relations on 5th May.

Friday, April 7, 2017

I've spent the last couple of days in Naypyidaw, capital of Myanmar - a strange city indeed which is mostly made up of huge conference centres  for the Myanmar government to hold negotiating meetings with donors and investors.

The resort where I have been staying has extensive grounds, which offered a few birds before breakfast on both my mornings here.  The highlights were three endemics, all pictured below:

White-throated Babbler

Burmese Bushlark

Burmese Bushlark

Irrawaddy Bulbul

Other notables included Oriental Reed Warbler, Black-browed Reed Warbler and Thick-billed Warbler all in song, a Wryneck and a small Reticulated Python swimming across one of the resort lakes.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Winter on the patches

Non-birding commitments have meant that my forays to Suan Rotfai and the grounds of the Dept of Public Relations in recent months have been irregular and all too brief, and consequently I've had no time to post updates on sightings.

Generally the birding has been quite slow, with no really interesting records - a product of my limited field effort for sure, but also we have been having an extremely warm "winter" with few days of cool weather that might have pushed birds southwards. The best has been a male Verditer Flycatcher at the Dept of Public Relations that graced a fruiting fig on the last day of 2016, whilst 6th January produced an Eye-browed Thrush and a pair of Hair-crested Drongos in Suan Rotfai.

Below are a few images of my recent encounters.

Asian Brown Flycatcher

leucogenis Ashy Drongo

Brown Shrike

This unfortunate Brown Shrike was present from late Oct until early Jan

All my recent mid-winter PLLW/Saks have proven to Sakhalin on call

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Mae Sot

I worked in Mae Sot (on the Thai-Myanmar border) on Monday and Tuesday this week.  This gave me the opportunity to check out the fields behind Mae Sot Airport, giving a nice selection on wintering migrants.

These included three Brown Shrikes, at least four Siberian Rubythroats (heard), three Bluethroats in one area of recently burnt stubble that also held a flock of at least six Amur Wagtails and five Eastern Yellow Wagtails.

I also came across three Red-throated Pipits and Paddyfield (at least four birds) and Richard's Pipits (two birds). The latter two species offered opportunities for photographing and comparing them - Richard's being substantially bigger, longer tailed, heavier billed and generally more robust.

adult Brown Shrike


Amur Wagtail

Paddyfield Pipit

Richard's Pipit

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Mae Sariang

A work trip to Mae Sariang (Mae Hong Son province) this week got me out of the city and I brought my binoculars in case I managed to sneak in a few birds between meetings.

Actually the trip gave me a couple of notable records - firstly and I think bizarrely - I saw three Java Sparrows on top of Don Muang airport car park in Bangkok - I have never seen this species before, anywhere!  Whether I can tick this feral population is another matter, but you can i agine my surprise as I dragged my suitcase from car to terminal!

When I got to my hotel in Mae Sariang I went for a stroll along the river below my room and found a real, genuine Thailand tick in the form of a Green Sandpiper feeding on a shingle bank - a seemingly sparsely distributed winter visitor to northern Thailand.  This bird was in the lose company of three Amur Wagtails, two Common Sandpipers and three Little Ringed Plovers. So with Siberian Rubythroat, Thick-billed and Dusky Warblers calling as they skulked unseen in the undergrowth, this makes a very pleasant place to explore out between meetings.

On my second day checking this area I added Wire-tailed Swallow (three birds feeding at close range along the river) and a probable Asian House Martin (poor views in bad light) as well as Common and Black-capped Kingfishers and a group of small starlings (presumably Chestnut-tailed or White shouldered).

Not proper birding by any stretch of the imagination, but better that being stuck at my desk in Bangkok.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Stejneger's Stonechat

A morning birding around Mae Sot last week gave me the opportunity to photograph this male Stejneger's Stonechat - a form (species?) of Siberian Stonechat that has got many european birds's interested this autumn, and is the default winterer here in Thailand.

Marus only occurs in northern Thailand, where it is resident at high altitude.

Stejneger's Stonechat

The fields around Mae Sot where pretty productive with Pied Harrier (2 males), two White-shouldered Starling, at least  seven Siberian Rubythroat, a Two-barred Greenish Warbler, three Black-browed Reed Warbler, two or three Thick-billed Warbler, four Red Avadavat and 15 Black Drongo.