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.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

(very) local goodies

Early morning birding at the government compound near my house produced a few migrants this morning, with two Ashy Drongos of the uncommon mouhouti race which I only ever see in Bangkok as a passage migrant.

I then picked up the soft "tack" call of a Cyornis flycatcher, which eventually revealed itself to be a female Hill Blue Flycatcher - a rare passage migrant in Bangkok. 

Whilst trying to relocate the Hill Blue Fly I found a Paradise Flycatcher, which gave poor and distant views  but from the images I got of it, appears to be a Blyth's (identified by the greyish throat, which would be blackish in Amur PF). The same small group of trees also held single Arctic Warbler, Taiga and Asian Brown Flycatchers.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Incidental birding

Work and family commitments have kept me away from any dedicated birding odf late, so I have had to make do with slim pickings - but any free moments have been rewarded - these included migrating Ashy and Crow-billed Drongos near my house, whilst a weekend at the beach at Hua Hin managed to produce an impressive migrating flock of 60 Grey-headed Lapwings, two Hoopoes and an Amur Wagtail whilst lazing in the pool!  This morning I was at a major "spaghetti junction" in the centre of Bangkok doing the school run when I spied a Paradise Flycatcher spp sallying between two highway ramps!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Scarce and hard to ID migrants

1CY Dark-sided Flycatcher

A very productive morning at Suan Rotfai from 0630-0915 hrs, with one of the first birds encountered being a  Two-barred Greenish Warbler that called whilst flying from one clump of trees to another, and uttered another couple of calls once perched, hidden in the foliage.

Soon afterwards I heard an Amur Wagtail call as it went high over the park, and then was alerted by the call of a pair of Grey-headed Lapwings (only my 4th patch record) that I eventually saw twice going over the park.  Once the sun was properly up my attention turned to passerines and I soon found an Arctic Warbler (sound-recorded, ID confirmed as borealis), followed by my first Taiga Flycatcher of the autumn and a pair of Sakhalin Leaf Warblers (ID'd on call) and two Common Kingfishers.  Further on along the canal zone I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye - an apparent Asian Brown Flycatcher, but given that the bird had dropped out of a large, bare, dead tree I was suspicious that it might be a Dark-sided Flycatcher; my suspicions were confirmed from record shots of the bird in deep gloom (the power of digital photography!) before it gave slightly better views - a scarce autumn migrant and the only 1st calendar year bird that I have ever seen!  Whilst waiting for it to reappear I also picked up a female-type Yellow-rumped Flycatcher.
rather blurry Sakhalin Leaf Warbler

Heading back towards the park gates I checked another couple of areas and was rewarded with a Alstrom's Warbler -  a scarce autumn migrant here, as well as more usual fare in the shape of two Asian Brown Flycatchers, two Brown Shrikes, 1-2 Black-capped Kingfishers and a pair of Eastern Crowned Warblers one of which was poorly-marked (hardly any yellow in the vent), poorly seen and hence very confusing.

Not a bad start to the day!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Hainan dipping blues

A bit of dirty twitching after work at Suan Rotfai yesterday (21st) turned into dirty dipping when the targeted Hainan Blue Flycatcher did not materialise - it had been seen earlier in the day by other regulars but decided to depart before I could get there.  I thought that it was supposed to be a dowdy female but saw images of it on-line when I got home, it was in fact a stonking male. Ouch, that would have been a juicy patch tick.

For my troubles, I did manage to find a (silent) Sakhalin/Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, which was my first of the autumn. I also had a cunning plan to check the now floodlit areas of the park after dark in the hope of snagging myself a migrant Grey Nightjar (another much overdue patch tick) but the heavens opened after I got glimpses of a Drongo spp (probably Crow-billed) leaving myself and a dozen joggers to spend the next hour and a half sheltering from the downpour in the gents toilets!!!!

This morning (22nd) I made a return to the park for 90 minutes, with the Hainan Blue confirmed gone I sought out my own birds and managed a reasonable haul of common migrants:  two confirmed Pale-legged Leaf Warblers (both calling and one responding to playback), a single Arctic Warbler (which remained silent but came in to check out borealis play back having completely ignored Kamchatka LW payback), two female-type Yellow-rumped Flycatchers and two Asian Brown Flycatchers.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Unshrike-like Shrike

I checked Suan Rot Fai's "Secret Garden" area this morning, with a limited number of migrants found - single Eastern Crowned Warbler and Asian Brown Flycatcher, but the highlight was a juvenile Tiger Shrike seen a couple of times, but often elusive.

Whilst Tiger Shrikes look pretty much like any other Lanius their behaviour sets them apart - sticking to the understorey or within the cover of the canopy, and often flicking the tail up and down whilst also fanning and closing it. Today's bird spent a few minutes foraging inside an area of rather dense scub, acting more like an Acrocephalus warbler than a shrike!