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RE: Thailand Diary


03/09/21 Wednesday

-Chatted with Paul this morning. His foot is much better and he has been catching up on chores around the farm so birding has had to take a back seat for a while. As the main fields produce more than sufficient rice, his latest project (now underway) is to re wild the small higher fields and is planting hundreds of assorted native trees which in this climate will provide good habitat in a relatively short time frame.

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 



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30/08/21 Roí Et province

A fine addition to the Roí Et list this morning in the form of a migrant male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher was a just reward for a local birder working his regular home patch. This begs the question of what might be passing through Yasothon in the meantime, with Paul still indisposed for some days yet..

Regards,

Mike P.

 



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No updates to post over recent days as Paul is nursing a bruised and lacerated foot presently (due to birding in flip flops).

Cheers,
Mike P.



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Wednesday 18/08/21- Tambon Khueang Kham, Yasothon

A return visit today produced one Black-winged Stilt, 1 Pacific Golden Plover, 3 Little Ringed Plovers, 2 Common Sandpipers, 1 Greenshank, and 18 Wood Sandpipers in addition to singles of Great and Intermediate Egrets, with 25 Little Egrets. There does seem to be here a regular turnover of wading birds which are often disturbed by farmers understandably going about their business. One can only imagine what potential there might be if there existed a dedicated no hunting reserve in this general area.

Paul has captured a few photos of the regular common raptors hereabouts, on and around the farm - Black-winged and Brahminy Kites (one of the latter shown in active wing moult).

Regards,

Mike P.



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Thursday 19th of August 2021 12:50:18 PM



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Thursday 19th of August 2021 12:51:01 PM



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Thursday 19th of August 2021 12:51:40 PM

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Monday 16/08/21 - Tambon Khueang Kham, Yasothon

Paul returned to this site yesterday hoping to obtain closer shots of the previous days Temmincks Stint but it had not returned after being flushed by the farmer. Paul had earlier managed a few very distant shots of it shuffling about on the mud but best of all (as it flew off) had captured a clinching rear view shot of quite plain brownish wings and the obvious clean white outer tail feathers.

As consolation however he found a new mix of additional species: - 2 Pacific Golden Plovers, a Black-tailed Godwit and a Marsh Sandpiper keeping company with the usual culprits - 7 Black-winged Stilts, a Little Ringed Plover, and 2 Common and 9 Wood Sandpipers and an Oriental Pratincole. The first three species again are new for the province, with potential though for many further additions over coming weeks.

Best Wishes,

Mike P.

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Tuesday 17th of August 2021 04:18:43 PM

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Hi Rob,

Many thanks for responding. Paul and I have put this onto the thread not intending it to be a quiz bird as such, but because we just cannot decide between Cinnamon Bittern or Black Bittern. It strikes us as possibly a bit dark for the former but not quite right for the latter, and in any event likely to be a female or juvenile. Its ages since I saw either species in parts of Asia and never actually in Thailand. Paul sees both species regularly and normally finds them straightforward, but mainly flying (often over his garden!) when certainly adult males pose no i/d problem.

As you suggest, these could well amount to a series of record shots of just a dark juvenile Cinnamon Bittern;- (the cap does look dark chocolate brown rather than black). He will probably leave it recorded as small Bittern sp.

The current focus centres on waders, 12 species of which Paul has added to the Province list so far this year, one of these being Temmincks Stint found yesterday, (the first record of this autumn for the whole of Thailand) and which complements his earlier Long-toed Stint. He returned to the site this morning hoping for more photos and found instead several more wader additions- details to follow

Regards,

Mike P.



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Hi Mike,
I wondered what input you were looking for. Did you mean theres a chance it might not be a Cinnamon Bittern, b cause it certainly looks like one judging by the images alone.
Cheers

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@From Paul in Yasothon

 

Here are the  Bittern images referred to in an earlier post.... all input welcome.



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Saturday 14/08/2021

Tambon Song Pueai (canal bridge) Yasothon.

A great find this morning by Pen whilst out driving with Paul; - she drew Pauls attention to a party of 5 bee-eaters which they identified as Blue-throated, comprising 2 adults and 3 juveniles. These are rare passage migrants in the Isaan region and new for Yasothon province. The last record this far east apparently was 16 years ago in Mukdahan.

Regards,

Mike P.

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Sunday 15th of August 2021 09:37:37 AM

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-A small correction to my earlier post:- the adult Whiskered Tern was of course moulting out of BREEDING plumage.

Sorry,

Mike P.



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Thursday, 12/08/21

Yasothon Pools hosted four Whiskered Terns this morning, one of which was an adult moulting out of winter plumage. Im pretty sure that these are site firsts for Paul.

As regards Yasothon Province as a whole, he has now added 55 species to the list since the turn of the year, and since early 2017 between us we have boosted the province list by 114 species which demonstrates what a birding backwater this was up to that time.
Paul has photos of a small bittern species from the same Yasothon Pools site earlier this week which is puzzling us as it appears to be far too dark for either Cinnamon Bittern or Yellow Bittern and on probability is possibly a juv. or female Black Bittern, though we are puzzled by the extent of white spots on the very dark mantle with stronger white streaking on the shoulders, and sporting a blackish cap. (The bill and facial pattern broadly follow the typical small Bittern format shared by Black, Cinnamon, Yellow, and Schrencks Bitterns). 

He regularly sees Black Bitterns locally (even flying several times recently over the garden compound) but has no experience of juvenile plumages, and I have yet to see the species in Thailand as I have never visited in summer when they are breeding in the country. Neither of us has any experience of Schrencks Bittern which we discount as very unlikely here in late summer. I have asked him to mail me photos and I shall TRY to get them onto this thread for opinions please.

Best Wishes,

Mike P.

P.S.

(A Whiskered Tern in GM again would be welcome).

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Friday 13th of August 2021 11:33:38 AM

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03/08/21 Tuesday -Yasothon province

With wader passage livening things up on Pauls local patches, he found another first for Yasothon province in the form of a Long-toed Stint which was loosely keeping company with a Wood Sandpiper and a Little Ringed Plover. His main target currently though is to find a Green Sandpiper, a species which has so far eluded both of us in Thailand. The leading patch worker in Roí Et province (just to the west) photographed one last week but it had moved on before Paul had a chance to catch up with it. 
Thoughts of Long-toed Stint takes me back to August/September 1982 and what was then considered to be a first for Britain when one turned up on Teeside, which I made no effort to go to see as there was on offer what I considered to be a greater prize on show at  Kenfig, South Wales- Britains first Little Whimbrel (aka Little Curlew). We chose the Little Whimbrel on the basis that it was the closest we might ever get to seeing the nearest living congener of the fabled Eskimo Curlew!

Since then there has been a second Little Whimbrel in Norfolk, but still no repeat showing in Britain of a Long-toed Stint - (except for one in Ireland). As a historic footnote a 1970 bird originally accepted as a Least Sandpiper was subsequently reassessed by the rarities committee as the first British record of a Long-toed Stint. 
We live in hope

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 



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Friday, 23/07/21

Paul headed east for a mornings birding at several sites in Amnat Charoen, adding a few more species to his personal list for this province, the best of which were 2 Racket-tailed Treepies, 4 Wire-tailed Swallows, a Little Spiderhunter, and found yet another breeding site for Blue-winged Pitta (1 seen).

Sunday, 25/07/21 - Huai Aeng

Lured west into Roí Et province by a report by the leading patch worker there, Paul caught up with the target 3 Painted Storks there, and was rewarded by early signs of wader movements with 9 Black-winged Stilts, 5 Little Ringed Plovers, 5 Wood Sandpipers, approximately 300 Oriental Pratincoles ( many of which were juveniles), and best of all - a River Lapwing.

This morning, Tuesday 27/07/21

 Khok Yai Reservoir, Yasothon, - 3 Common Sandpipers.

Regards,

Mike P.



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Mike Passant wrote:

Wednesday 21/07/21

Paul related a little story this lunchtime:-

He had had a drive out to Yasothon Pools yesterday and had noted a Grey Heron on site about half a mile away, (unusual in the summer), so had walked back to his car to get his tripod, intending to take some photos. To his surprise the tripod wasnt there in the back where he normally kept it.

He phoned Pen back at home and after a quick but thorough search she confirmed that it wasnt there either. Thinking back, Paul realised that he had last used his tripod whilst photographing a Yellow Bittern four days previously over in Roí Et province, so he drove west into Roí Et and began retracing his movements searching the rice fields and wetland habitats but without any luck at all.

He returned home annoyed with himself for being so careless. The tripod would cost about £800 to replace, but more than that it had been with him in around 45 countries over the last 17 years and so meant a lot to him.

On arriving home, feeling really down, Pen took things in hand -Come on, well go back and find it!

They drove back the 80 kilometres into Roí Et and knocked on the door of the first house in the first village in that area. There they were told that a local man on a motorbike had been all round the lakeside villages asking people if they knew anything about a strange object that he had found in the marshes and he also left his name and address in case anyone should come looking for it!

Following directions given, Pen (with Paul in tow) found 4 fishermen in a boat, one of whom turned out to be the finder of Pauls tripod. The man had sat by the tripod for two hours after finding it in case the owner should return before deciding to take it home, where it now was. The man declined to accept any money, - for him this was just normal behaviour on his part. At his home in one of the nearby villages Paul gratefully accepted the return of his tripod and did manage to at least press upon the family 1000 baht for the 3 smiling children there.

Paul was pleased beyond measure, not just at the return of his tripod but more about what this says about the people of Isaan and how fortunate he is to live among them, and indeed to be married to one as well.

Regards to all,

Mike P.

 

 


 That's a great outcome it just shows there are still good people around.



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Wednesday 21/07/21

Paul related a little story this lunchtime:-

He had had a drive out to Yasothon Pools yesterday and had noted a Grey Heron on site about half a mile away, (unusual in the summer), so had walked back to his car to get his tripod, intending to take some photos. To his surprise the tripod wasnt there in the back where he normally kept it.

He phoned Pen back at home and after a quick but thorough search she confirmed that it wasnt there either. Thinking back, Paul realised that he had last used his tripod whilst photographing a Yellow Bittern four days previously over in Roí Et province, so he drove west into Roí Et and began retracing his movements searching the rice fields and wetland habitats but without any luck at all.

He returned home annoyed with himself for being so careless. The tripod would cost about £800 to replace, but more than that it had been with him in around 45 countries over the last 17 years and so meant a lot to him.

On arriving home, feeling really down, Pen took things in hand -Come on, well go back and find it!

They drove back the 80 kilometres into Roí Et and knocked on the door of the first house in the first village in that area. There they were told that a local man on a motorbike had been all round the lakeside villages asking people if they knew anything about a strange object that he had found in the marshes and he also left his name and address in case anyone should come looking for it!

Following directions given, Pen (with Paul in tow) found 4 fishermen in a boat, one of whom turned out to be the finder of Pauls tripod. The man had sat by the tripod for two hours after finding it in case the owner should return before deciding to take it home, where it now was. The man declined to accept any money, - for him this was just normal behaviour on his part. At his home in one of the nearby villages Paul gratefully accepted the return of his tripod and did manage to at least press upon the family 1000 baht for the 3 smiling children there.

Paul was pleased beyond measure, not just at the return of his tripod but more about what this says about the people of Isaan and how fortunate he is to live among them, and indeed to be married to one as well.

Regards to all,

Mike P.

 

 



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Mike Passant wrote:

Friday 09/07/2021

With no migration yet Paul has been enjoying some easy list building and site exploration in neighbouring provinces Si Sa Ket and Ubon Ratchathani to the south and east of Yasothon.

Attached (provided I dont mess it up!) is a decent record shot of a Crested (= Oriental) Honey Buzzard which he photographed recently in April in Pha Taem Nat. Pk. Ubon Ratchathani. This species may be of interest to those of you who possibly have seen this species in Israel where it is noted annually these days in small numbers amid hundreds of thousands of migrating Honey Buzzards, after famously being recorded as a West Paleactic first in 1994 by Hadoram Shirihai whilst photographing migrants from a mountaintop hide above Eilat.
Groundbreaking i/d papers by Dick Forsman and Hadoram were published highlighting the key differences from Honey Buzzard, these mainly centred upon Crested Honey Buzzard showing six rather than five distinct primary fingers lack of blackish carpal patches on the underwing, and birds being 5/10 % bulkier than Honey Buzzards.

I have found that the main confusion species in Asia can be the similarly sized Changeable Hawk -Eagle, especially when briefly glimpsed passing overhead through trees, when birds often end up as raptor sp !

Regards,

Mike P.

 





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Friday 09/07/2021

With no migration yet Paul has been enjoying some easy list building and site exploration in neighbouring provinces Si Sa Ket and Ubon Ratchathani to the south and east of Yasothon.

Attached (provided I dont mess it up!) is a decent record shot of a Crested (= Oriental) Honey Buzzard which he photographed recently in April in Pha Taem Nat. Pk. Ubon Ratchathani. This species may be of interest to those of you who possibly have seen this species in Israel where it is noted annually these days in small numbers amid hundreds of thousands of migrating Honey Buzzards, after famously being recorded as a West Paleactic first in 1994 by Hadoram Shirihai whilst photographing migrants from a mountaintop hide above Eilat.
Groundbreaking i/d papers by Dick Forsman and Hadoram were published highlighting the key differences from Honey Buzzard, these mainly centred upon Crested Honey Buzzard showing six rather than five distinct primary fingers lack of blackish carpal patches on the underwing, and birds being 5/10 % bulkier than Honey Buzzards.

I have found that the main confusion species in Asia can be the similarly sized Changeable Hawk -Eagle, especially when briefly glimpsed passing overhead through trees, when birds often end up as raptor sp !

Regards,

Mike P.

 



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Mike Passant wrote:

A dragonfly species which I photographed on the floor of Paul and Pens kitchen in 2018 has been identified as a female of Neurothemis tullía (with a few English names :-Blackspot Widow, Pied Percher, etc.)

Thanks are due to Richard Gabb for his help and expertise. I recall seeing the species regularly on my riverside morning walks. In terms of its habitat preferences, Richard tells me that it haunts pond edges in lowland areas, and open wasteland.

Regards,

Mike P.



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Friday 25th of June 2021 06:39:15 PM



Mike had trouble attaching the photo for unknown reasons (incompetence perhaps? smile). So here is the kitchen floor dragonfly.

Cheers, John

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A dragonfly species which I photographed on the floor of Paul and Pens kitchen in 2018 has been identified as a female of Neurothemis tullía (with a few English names :-Blackspot Widow, Pied Percher, etc.)

Thanks are due to Richard Gabb for his help and expertise. I recall seeing the species regularly on my riverside morning walks. In terms of its habitat preferences, Richard tells me that it haunts pond edges in lowland areas, and open wasteland.

Regards,

Mike P.



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Friday 25th of June 2021 06:39:15 PM

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25/06/2021 - Friday

Paul has now found ten territories occupied by breeding Blue-winged Pittas, three in Roí Et province and the rest in Yasothon, often quite close to each other and all but one close to the meandering Chi river. This morning he visited the site of his first Pitta find for Yasothon the Bhoong Khla community forest in the eastern extremity and found another new province species, a Grey-eyed Bulbul, a most welcome addition though nevertheless an ordinary looking creature.

Speaking to him this morning I was surprised to learn that the national parks which he visited yesterday are (due to COVID restrictions) in fact currently closed for two months until mid July; this in fact is no bad thing during the breeding season. At the entrance to the first park the staff were nevertheless sat outside in deckchairs with wads of tickets to hand which they were of course unable to sell so his birding was limited to strolling around the perimeter.

At the second park a woman manning the entrance post was fast asleep in her chair so he crept in and quietly got on with some birding. Upon leaving she was very much awake and chastised him somewhat though mainly out of embarrassment that she had been caught napping.

Regards,

Mike P.

 



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24/06/2021 Thursday

Yesterday Paul undertook a shortish jaunt into Mukdahan province immediately to the north of Yasothon. Mukdahan is arguably the least enthralling birding destination in Thailand. We were last there on an exploratory basis in Phu Mu Forest park when we recorded a thrilling 6 species and vowed never to return. Ironically our record of a Green- billed Malkoha was a province first.

However there are other sites;- Paul visited several new areas which included Phu Sa Doi Búa National Park, Phu Pha Thoep National Park in the morning and later several sites which he had identified as worthy of a look- Tambon Na Si Nuan Chang Wat, Nong Lom Noi, and Tambon Lao Mi. He recorded in total 41 species new for his own list for the province, three of which (Cinnamon Bittern, Little Spiderhuner, and Plain Flowerpecker) had never previously been noted in Mukdahan. The effect of this lifts Mukdahan into 75th place in the national rankings!

Earlier in the year (February) Jan Peter Kelder, another European expat, had added no less than 20 new species to the province list, and Wachara Sanguansombat a further 6 species. No doubt further exploration will pay dividends.

Among Pauls sightings yesterday the most noteworthy were probably Wire-tailed Swallow, Eurasian Jay (white-faced form) White-throated Kingfisher, Lineated Barbet, and the eternally underwhelming Plain Flowerpecker.

Regards,

Mike P.



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Wednesday, 16/06/21

With the onset of the wet season now in Thailand, the rice is growing tall and Paul is presently just logging the usual species of his local patch either in/over the garden compound and rice fields mainly in passing as he gets on with outside chores.

I have attached a couple of his photos;- one depicting one of the pairs of Blue-winged Pittas which he has discovered as breeding summer visitors to both Yasothon and to the adjacent Roí Et province as a new species for both provinces, and of a Javan Pond Heron, which he recorded in fair numbers in the greater Bangkok area. This latter species has so far eluded me in Thailand for the simple reason that I have never visited in the late spring or summer months when the species is in its distinctive breeding plumage. At other times in non breeding plumage it is not safely separable from the abundant Chinese Pond Heron, which can be taken as the default species, especially up in Isaan region.

I suppose that the same I/d problem applies to the Indian Pond Heron in the winter months, though that is a much scarcer beast in Thailand.

 



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June 2nd Wednesday

Regarding the wider scene in Thailand, the current leading year lister for 2021 (ie on the Ebirder recording setup) is Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok who has uploaded some mouth watering superb photos of the scarce Rufous-bellied Eagle at the nest with young. He also obtained a flight shot of the adult which certainly is the finest depiction of this species that I have ever seen. He also uploaded excellent photos of Golden-throated Barbet, the quite common species to be seen in the Doi Pha Hom Pok Nat. Pk which we visited back in 2019.

I have been enjoying his recent article on the separation of Blyths, White-tailed, and Claudias Warblers in the field and realised that a lilting song I was hearing repeatedly on our last trip was that of Blyths Warbler and not of Claudias Warbler as I had thought.

As regards the relatively less exciting lands in the Isaan region, Paul has added a few more species to his Roí Et list and for Yasothon a new species in the shape of White-bellied Erpornis (formerly known as White-bellied Yuhina).

Cheers,

Mike P.



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26/05/21 Wednesday morning, Kut Chum.

An early morning walk along the riverside and adjoining rice fields of the next farm on his local patch rewarded Paul with another new province species - a pair of Barred Buttonquails which he was able to watch quite readily from the raised bank of the riverside bund as they shuffled through the young rice shoots which are only some 4/5 centimetres high at present. While this species is a widespread resident in Thailand (which I have never seen anywhere myself) I imagine that seeing one is not always as easy as one might suppose?

In general with the spring migration just about over, things are fairly quiet. The Stonechats have all departed north, leaving only the resident closely related Pied Bushchats making it onto daily counts. I have noticed that the Eastern Stonechats seen here over the winter months are referred to on ringers and other birders sightings logs as almost exclusively Stejnegeri or less often Eastern or Siberian for simplicity.

Regards,

Mike P.



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20/05/2021- Yasothon Province

A return visit to the Bhoong Khla Community Forest site in the provinces eastern extremity on 19th proved fruitless.

Paul had some days previously heard vocalisations from an unidentified woodpecker which he had hoped to track down, but it was not to be. By way of consolation, on 20th while out shopping he discovered a Golden-headed Cisticola singing behind his local Tesco Lotus in Kut Chum, and later a Black Bittern which flew over the garden compound in the late afternoon, - both local patch ticks.

Regards,

Mike P.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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Thursday, 13/05/2021

Paul was birding the west side of the Chi river this morning, exploring further potential Blue-winged Pitta sites in Roí Et Province where he and Pen had located another pair on territory a few days earlier. He is finding that this migratory species seems able to utilise quite small residual forest patches for breeding even in these rice growing areas, provided that they are relatively close to the river. The same river also forms the boundary with Mukdahan Province (to the north of Yasothon), so he is confident that he might find other territories there as well as the three locations he now has in Yasothon.

Earlier on 09/05/2021 in Si Kaeo at the Khok Yai reservoir he logged 24 species amongst which the highlight was a mixed gathering of about 17/18 migrating marsh terns, comprising 6 Whiskered, with the rest summer plumage White-winged Black Terns, - these latter a further addition to the Yasothon list. These had departed by the following day, with Osprey, Openbill Stork, and Freckle-breasted Woodpecker the only additional species relative to the previous days count.

My last encounter with summer plumaged White-winged Black Terns was the superb Elton duo of May 2014, followed by Brian Fieldings find 8 days later- the excellent Little Bittern! Eltons purple patch; - was it really 7 years ago??

Regards,

Mike P.

 



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Friday, 07/05/21

-Chatted with Paul this morning, mainly exchanging bird news as to whats around in UK, and my 7 hour stint yesterday morning at one of my local sites in Co. Durham, just missing by two species my best previous morning count.

He has discovered yet another site in Yasothon for more Blue-winged Pittas and managed some record shots taken in the deep forest shade of an individual bird bathing in a small shallow pool amid the leaf litter. Although the photos as such would be seen as rather poor, one shot shows clearly what he described to me. After bathing, the bird did a complete back flip which would do credit to Tom Daley, and he has managed flukily to capture it horizontal to the ground and upside down in mid air.

Regards to all in GM,

Mike P.

 

 



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Saturday, 01/05/2021

Pauls beaming smile said it all on Facetime today. He had undertaken an exploratory trip this morning to the easternmost extent of his home province after studying satellite imagery looking for suitable mid altitude forested habitats worthy of exploration. The chosen site (Bin Nom Khao/Boong Khla Community Forest) yielded only 12 species in sapping humidity; - it was rather slow initially with not much to show for his efforts and he very nearly packed up but thankfully carried on. Of the 12 species, remarkably five were new for the Yasothon list, underpinning the fact that the place is drastically underwatched. The five additions were 3 Hair-crested Drongos, a stunning male Blyths Paradise Flycatcher, 7 Puff-throated Bulbuls, a Crimson Sunbird, and best of all a pair of Blue-winged Pittas, watched ahead of him along the forest trail;- apparently the first Pittas of any kind (at least on the Ebirder system) ever recorded in Yasothon Province. - Nothing new here for his life list or Thailand list, but its apparent that good birds are there to be found if you put in the time and effort.

I just wish we could share the fun more directly.

Keep birding!

Mike P.



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23/24th April,

The COVID situation in Isaan region is not as dire as in the Bangkok environs, and accordingly Yasothon and its nearest provinces are not designated as red zones. The effect of this is that although everyone has to wear masks (even in cars) travel into Yasothons immediately adjacent provinces is allowed for the present.

Paul ventured for the first time into Si Sa Ket province immediately south from Yasothon to spend a couple of days birding the Huai Sala Wildlife Sanctuary, closeup against the Cambodian border. He recorded an enjoyable 75 species exploring new sites and although he saw no new species for his Thailand list, he did record species he has yet to find in Yasothon such as Large-tailed Nightjar, Dollarbird, and Racket-tailed Treepie (though he may now have recorded the latter in Yasothon, - Im not quite sure offhand).

Si Sa Ket does have hidden gems with resident Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo seen recently, as well as Japanese Thrush possible in the winter months, and with patience Great Slaty Woodpecker is a realistic expectation.

25/04/21 - Back on home ground yesterday a site which Paul has been watching regularly of late, Huai Thom produced a Little Cormorant, generally a common enough species, but another first for Yasothon Province with a nice support cast of 3 Oriental Darters, 12 Oriental Pratincoles, and a distinctive looking Little Ringed Plover.

His photographs show a flooded area with rotten emergent tree stumps dotted across a lake setting with Darters and Cormorant looking completely at home. The Little Ringed Plover photographs show a long legged creature with an extra large eye ring and a black well defined collar of even width (rather like a thick hoop). The bird would certainly stand out from the crowd in a European context, and I assume is of a different sub species.

Regards,

Mike P.



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Monday 26th of April 2021 10:55:14 PM

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Monday, 19/04/21 - midday.

Driving within his home province yesterday, Paul pulled in to check out a perched raptor which turned out to be a new species for Yasothon- a Rufous-winged Buzzard. We first turned up this species as a lifer for all of us four years ago in Pha Taem Nat. Park where we were camping, close to the Mekong border region with Laos. Its a readily identifiable species which when seen perched reminded me very much of an outsized Kestrel in terms of size and general plumage pattern. This again underlines the view that Yasothon still has species yet to be found when a bird like this has hitherto remained under the radar.

Once out of his vehicle Paul flushed from his feet out of the rank grass verge a Quail species which flew some 20 metres and landed never to be seen again, nor specifically identified. He surmised that it was most likely a Rain Quail and one to be alert for in future.

Regards,

Mike P.

 



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Saturday 17/04/21

Depressing news from Paul in Kut Chum this morning;- a resurgence of COVID infections across Thailand, seemingly radiating out from Bangkok and coinciding with Thai New Year celebrations (with many people travelling accordingly) has resulting in a sudden lockdown by way of response.

Pauls birding is therefore limited to Yasothon province for the time being. As the only active resident birder in the province his local patch work can carry on for the present subject to commonsense distancing disciplines.

Though Barb and I have now had both our vaccinations a visit to Thailand looms no nearer......

Regards,

Mike P.



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Meanwhile, back in Thailand Paul has been quite active in the field now that his construction project is largely behind him, often out with Pen and stepson Art.

He started 2021 (04/01/21) in twitching mode with a Common Shelduck at the Khon Kaen University water treatment lagoons and followed this up on 16/01/21 with two Eye-browed Thrushes whilst birding in Phu Wiang Nat.Park, also in Khon Kaen Province.

Khon Kaen lies some 3 hours drive further west from Yasothon, but has more active birders based there and a rather riicher avifauna. On a return visit on 04/03/21 at a site known as the stakeout bridge (Kang Lawa) Paul recorded 65 species, notably including a Pied Harrier, 4 Temmincks Stints, 4 Oriental Pratincoles, 4 Freckle- breasted Woodpeckers, his first ever Lanceolated Warbler, a handful of Bluethroats and Sib. Rubythroats, 20 (approx.) Red Avadavats, and 2 Black-faced Buntings. On the following day in the same general locality he logged 2 Ruddy Shelducks, 42 Glossy Ibis, and the main target, the object of a major twitch in Thai terms - a vagrant Lesser Whitethroat, well seen and photographed by many.

In April (3rd) Paul and Pen undertook a road trip south down into Chon Buri Province on the east side of the head of the gulf of Thailand and at the mouth of the Bang Prakong river added Pacific Golden Plovers, a Black-headed Ibis flyover, and 3 Golden- bellied Gerygones. On more familiar ground in Krung Thep Maha Nakhon ( = Bangkok Province) working the Lat Krabang Thap Yao rice paddies (a site I have yet to visit) they logged 56 species including 80 Oriental Pratincoles, 2 Indian Cormorants, 9 Spot- billed Pelicans flying over heading south, 2 Blue-tailed Bee eaters, and 15 Zitting Cisticolas. Later the same day back in Suan Luang Park near their Bangkok home Paul added a Ferruginous Flycatcher, and also there on 04/04/21, photographed a cute pair of Spotted Owlets.

Whilst still in Bangkok on 05/04/21 he bumped into a lifer by the BTS station near Kasetsart University, - a party of at least 12 Daurian Starlings in trees by the canal.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 



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Saturday - 10/04/2021

After persevering with my old Thailand fieldguide for some 25 years I finally prised open my wallet with a Philips screwdriver and splashed out £57 on a hardback copy of the Lynx/Birdlife International guide published a few years ago (Treesuchon & Limparungpatthanakij). I am presently indulged in critical scrutiny but am basically well pleased at what I see, though inevitably with no less than thirty different artists involved with the colour plates, some minor variance in the quality is inevitable and a minority of species depicted have tiny key I/d points not depicted or given sufficient emphasis. Nevertheless this guide is essential preparation material for any new visitors to Thailand and in view of its weight, cost and quality, quite apart from the potential ravages of a humid climate, it is best kept in the car. Paul has recently spent much time pushing on with his list building and tells me that his copy is already falling apart.

Best Wishes,

Mike P.



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Friday 26/03/2021

Since the turn of the year Paul has been pretty active exploring new sites and has added quite a few new species to the Yasothon province list. I must add now that this is not too difficult as Yasothon occupies something of a birding backwater largely given over to rice growing, and with Paul as the only regularly active birder there; - in short it is underwatched relative to the well known much visited sites in the west especially. Of the 76 provinces of Thailand, I am told that some months ago it ranked next to bottom in terms of species ever recorded, though now with a list of 149 species, it has shot up to 70th place!

By way of contrast, Chiang Mai in the north west is the top ranked province with some 660 species recorded.

The list for Thailand stands presently at just over 1000 species recorded, with a handful of top listers (all resident there of course) with just over 900 species apiece;- staggering totals indeed and a level to which I can never hope to aspire. 
Paul has introduced me recently to the E birder recording system so I have just finished entering over 100 of my daily checklist totals covering the 14 provinces in which I have been birding in the past for the years 2001, 2017, 2018 and 2019. I quite enjoyed reliving some of my birding adventures anew as part of the process. Hopefully this autumn may present an opportunity to get back there to fill in more than a few blanks!

Regards,

Mike P.



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25/12/2020

Chatted with family today via FaceTime, everyone in party mode in Kutchum which of course is 7 hours ahead of us.

Paul mentioned that with harvest work behind him he had gone off on Monday (21st) for a couple of days birding hoping to see 2 Glossy Ibises for his Thailand list. These had turned up at Sanambin, the no hunting reserve some 200 Kms. from Kutchum which we had last visited together in March 2019. There is normally something good there, our last highlight there being a Spotted Eagle, and before that, a Chestnut - winged Cuckoo, - this latter a lifer for all of us. 
Despite a lengthy session on the Monday afternoon he failed to find the Glossy Ibises on this relatively vast site, but as consolation enjoyed seeing a fine male Pied Harrier, (arguably the most strikingly handsome of all harrier species).

The following day he asked the reserve staff as to the best location for the ibises. The staff here are generally very helpful and always pleased to have birders visiting, so they sent for their colleague with the best birding info. He arrived after about 15 minutes, only to tell Paul that the Ibises could be just about anywhere on the reserve and for the present to forget them as there was a much rarer bird on a complex of fields and pools just across the road from the reserve entrance.

Paul went off in search, and glassing through a group of about two dozen Painted Storks picked out his quarry, - an adult Milky Stork, and these days regarded as a vagrant to Thailand, (apparently its main population being on Sumatra, and generally in decline).

So Sanambin came up trumps again with a true lifer for Paul, its one of only 2 Storks which I myself have yet to see anywhere. Glossy Ibis will fall another day?

Regards,

Mike P.



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Kutchum - Wednesday 28/10/20 

Paul is battening down the hatches ahead of typhoon Molave which is already battering Vietnam, and scheduled to reach Yasothon province in the small hours (about 9 pm UK time), though thankfully at greatly reduced strength.

He noticed much heightened chattering among the garden birds at dusk with the dogs by way of contrast seemingly unusually subdued. He is accordingly bringing them indoors for the night and hoping that his newly planted trees will still be standing upright by dawn.

Cheers,

Mike P.



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Thursday morning, 30/07/20 (Bangkok)

A quick chat with Paul in Bangkok who had driven the 630 Kms from Kutchum to renew his passport, but he had very briefly broken the journey at Yasothon Pools as a bird which caught his eye while driving by, turned out to be an adult Black Bittern, not a scarcity but one I myself still need for Thailand, so I suspect a slight element of gripping may have been in the mix?

Its not really possible to pass Khao Yai en route without checking it out at least, but the place was swarming with holidaymakers so he didnt linger. It appears that the government have allocated replacement public holidays to allow for what was forfeited months ago during the lockdown; - the Thais certainly do enjoy their public holidays which seem to occur for all sorts of obscure reasons. Apart from the expected regular species, Paul was pleased to pick up a Thailand tick; - overhead Brown Needletails; - this one a pull back on me, and quite possibly the worlds largest swift species in terms of overall bulk as it averages some 20/25% bigger than White-throated Needletail ; - hence the name Hirundapus giganteus.

Regards,

Mike P.



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Sunday, 19/07/20

With no prospect of any of us based in Europe getting back to Thailand before next year, at least as some consolation one of the family in the meantime is able to get on with birding there.

With Khao Yai recently reopened for visitors, on sudden impulse, Paul shot off on Friday intending to spend four days camping and birding in the park. Rumour has it from park staff that after months of lockdown, animals are increasingly conspicuous and roaming more openly around the park HQ in the absence of hordes of visitors.
A 6 am start on Saturday saw him exploring the same trail where he turned up last Februarys Eared Pitta. All was unusually quiet until he heard ahead of him a calling Blue Pitta which obviously got his juices flowing. Advancing carefully, he gave a playback call and as the birds calls became louder and closer he stopped and soon glimpsed some movement in the leaf litter before seeing the culprit, - a male Blue Pitta suddenly hopped up onto a log. He was able to watch his first of the species for some minutes before birding his way back down the 4 Kms. to the main access road. 
With weekend visitors from the cities beginning to materialise he noticed a group of Thai birders scoping something up in the roadside trees. Upon enquiry it transpired that they were scoping a Banded Broadbill visiting its nest; - another quality species which he hadnt seen for a number of years, so he waited a while and was duly rewarded.

Moving on, it was still quite early and hoping to escape the increasing numbers of visitors, he tried another longish trail deemed worthy of exploration where eventually quite unexpectedly he encountered another good bird just ahead of him a metre or so off the trail showing interest in a small muddy pool, - a Blue-winged Pitta (a regular wet season breeding visitor to Thailand) - nevertheless his second self found lifer of the morning.
He is on something of a roll with Pittas of which he has self found 4 lifers over the last 17 months. As the weather was rapidly deteriorating with heavy rain coming on he decided to cut short his stay. He had covered some 20 kms. on the trails (which were unusually almost leech free at least) was soaked with sweat but well satisfied with his brief visit. 
He updated us (with beer in hand) with news of his adventure via FaceTime this morning. He is now under orders to find a Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo, and to search the Bangkok parks for migrant Fairy Pittas next April.

Regards,

Mike P

 

 

 

 



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Well for the foreseeable future Thailand may as well be on another planet as far as going to see family, quite apart from birding there. We at least see and talk to Paul several time each week via FaceTime. He reports that in the whole of Yasothon province (the part of Isaan where he lives) there has only been one case and life has been little changed by Covid19. He did go off birding a few weeks ago but the wetland area, where he has had some good days in the past, was completely dried out, with very few species to see.

I dont even know under what circumstances I might get down to Manchester again or even to the Durham coast, as we have quite frankly been happily engrossed in birding our local sites.

Keep safe,

Regards to all,

Mike P.



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Another relevant split noted as I browse through 14 years of sundry taxonomic updates - all references to Indian Roller (C. benghalensis) in previous posts concerning the birds seen in Thailand should now be read as Indo-Chinese Roller (C. affinis). 
On comparing the two forms, affinis shows more uniform dark purple cheeks throat and breast, barely streaked on the throat as compared to the paler underparts of benghalensis; though it strikes me that juvenile birds are rather trickier to differentiate?


In general in spite of more species than ever being endangered, there now seem to be about a thousand new species (ie 10800 or so) than used to be the case 15 years ago. 

Concerning the earlier post below about Phu Khieo (which does seem to have several spellings) by way of correction it is not a national park but is a wildlife sanctuary, with access accordingly rather more restricted than would be the case with a national park. The White- winged Duck is possible but supposedly only in the company of a ranger involving a considerable hike to the favoured pools. There is a good selection of mammals and supposedly between 10/20 tigers though these very rarely seen.

Regards,

Mike P.



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27/02/20 Phu Kieow Nat. Park Isaan, North Thailand

Paul has just returned from a couple of nights exploring new surroundings some 60 Kms. short of Nam Nao Nat Pk. about 3 hours west of Kutchum.

He was pleased to find his first Bar-backed Partridges coming to a forest pool and viewable from a hide which he was fortunate to have to himself. Apparently this park is the principle site for the endangered White-winged Duck which is possible here but rarely encountered in the wild. The species is the subject of a captive breeding program here for this and various rare pheasants, and thus can be seen but remains of course untickable.

Other major specialities here which are possible are Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo, and of course Blue Pitta, so hopefully I should pencil in this site for future joint endeavours?

Regards,

Mike P.



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I have been reading up on certain splits of late. Accordingly concerning my post on this thread of 16/03/19, any reference to Red-flanked Bluetail (T. cyanurus) should be read please as Himalayan Bluetail (T. rufilatus).
I understand that the latter has been split from the former as it is a short distance migrant form, the male also sporting generally brighter blue plumage on the upper parts and especially on its supercilium. Females remain more problematic?

Regards,

MLP.



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Sunday 09/02/20

- Chatted with Paul this morning on Facetime. He travelled back north from Bangkok last week and took the opportunity en route to have a couple of nights camping in Khao Yai Nat. Pk. (As a resident he now qualifies for the much cheaper discounted rate as regards the entry fee). 
Like me, his preferred ideal mode of birding is to wander slowly alone along forest trails and soak up the atmosphere and see what he might turn up by just melting into the background whilst totally focused on sound and movement.
He had decided to check out a particular trail which we had all previously sampled but never explored thoroughly before. He logged a few of the expected usual species, but paused to check out a particular movement on the forest floor; - an adult Eared Pitta hopped into full view, which he enjoyed for several minutes; - a lifer no less, and just reward for his efforts.

Having found last years Rusty-naped Pitta for us all, the lad is on a bit of a roll and he can hopefully make it a trio of Pitta finds by turning up a Blue Pitta, a long overdue species for me which I particularly would love to catch up with!

Isnt birding great!

Regards to all,

Mike P.



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Hi again Pete,

Its pretty remarkable that in many parts of the world one can bump into lone birders who not only turn out to be Brits, but Brits that one already knows;- a small world in many ways and always really nice, (like you bumping into Broomy in a Thai filling station for instance!)

We are probably back in January though not sure yet what we shall do;- the girls probably will prefer heading south for some beach stuff;- (god knows theyve earned it after being dragged along 100s of forest trails these last few years).

Best Wishes,

Mike and Barb



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Hi Mike,

re 17th March. You were the only people I saw that day, in what is probably one of the remotest areas of Thailand accessible by saloon car, so I was surprised to see you. I've put together my illustrated eBird checklist for that day with images of some of the birds that you mention. No lifers and I didn't connect with Cutia (would only be a Thai lifer) but Giant Nuthatch, Black-throated Bushtit and Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler were new video achievements. Hulme's Pheasant and Spot-breasted Parrotbill weren't even on my radar, as i couldn't possibly improve on video footage from previous visits.

https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S59073298

Cheers

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10/06/19 Monday,

It is now quite wet (rainy season) and the newly transported and planted large trees appear to be taking well, - the idea is that these will afford more cover and shade.

Although not new birds for the garden list, an Indian Roller was foraging on the ground last week (a first of sorts) and a Black-shouldered Kite is spending more and more time within the garden compound. 

Cheers,

Mike P.



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14/05/19

The Siberian Rubythroat was last recorded on 25/04/19 so its almost certainly migrated back north.

The latest addition to Pauls garden list this week has been a male Streaked Weaver, an uncommon resident in these parts.

It was only seen for around 15 minutes.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 



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17/04/19 Wednesday,

Paul advised yesterday that he had a new bird for the garden list - a Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker. - Pleasing this, as it is the first woodpecker species of any kind on his local patch and hopefully the first of many as his trees mature and offer more shade and cover.

Surprisingly, the Rubythroat is still present.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 



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Saturday 30/03/19

Paul advises that the Siberian Rubythroat is still present in the garden today. I am curious as to when it will eventually depart back north.

Cheers,

Mike P.



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26/03/19

A summary of our trip from a birding standpoint came out at 226 species seen, (plus 1 heard only). The trip had given me personally a further 84 species boost to my growing Thailand list (of which just 13 were species completely new for me) so I was well pleased and it was really nice to become reacquainted with some stunning Himalayan species which I had not seen for some 20 years or more. The most productive leg of our wanderings was in the Doi Lang area which is part of the Doi Pha Hom Pok Nat. Park in the border area with Myanmar. I found myself wishing that I could share these at some time perhaps with my regular birding pals (you know who you are) with whom I have enjoyed so many birding adventures in the past. Having said that though I still have many reserves and Nat. Parks (such as Doi Inthanon) yet to visit.

My own personal favourites on this trip included Humes Pheasants, Crimson-breasted Woodpecker, Scarlet Finch, Black-throated Tits - all these either rare or barely touching NW Thailand with their wing tips. Among my new species I was grateful to catch up with a stunning male Silver Pheasant, an obliging two day Rusty-naped Pitta, Crested Finchbills, Giant Nuthatch, Spectacled Barwing, Spot-breasted Parrotbill and White-bellied Redstart. Of the three Siberian Rubythroat seen, the one wintering in Pauls garden was easily the most handsome (well, it would be anyway wouldnt it?) and deserves mention.

Much of rural Thailand is blighted by illegal trapping of birds by poor people scratching out a living, but hopefully an increasing level of affluence generally will reduce this activity over time and it was noticeable that in the two large No Hunting wetland reserves which we visited we encountered keen helpful and seemingly dedicated staff and impressive growing numbers of Egrets, Ducks, and Waders.

Best Wishes,

Mike P.

 

 



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