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Post Info TOPIC: Thailand Diary


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Thailand Diary


Arrived back in Kut Chum Sunday evening, and started exploring the local patch Monday morning (ie 13th Nov.)

There are many Dusky Warblers calling and flitting along the riverside where they like the bushy scrub of the waters edge beneath overhanging larger trees, often in loose company with Pied Fantails and Taiga Flycatchers (these latter like to come into Pauls garden in the final hours before dusk). This morning (16th) I was really pleased to encounter a hulking Thick-billed Warbler which briefly alighted on a strand of barbed wire as Barb and I were stood quietly enjoying the assorted butterflies on the rough  overgrown path. The bird was silent and flew on into dense cover; - all within 50 yds of where I had located Februarys bird which had initially alerted me with its repeated Chac calls, much louder than those of Dusky Warbler. -A case of being in the right place at the right time. 

My riverside walk on 15th produced a local tick. I heard a Flowerpeckers thin notes directly above me and identified the culprit as Yellow-vented Flowerpecker, certainly a Thailand first for me (possibly something even better;- I wont know until I get back home).

 

Several Brown Shrikes are surveying the rice fields from fence posts and making sallies for insects, though I wonder if they also predate the assorted Munías (both Scaly-breasted and White-rumped are the local species); these, as may be expected, enjoy the ears of rice prior to cutting. 

A pair of Stonechats also frequent the bunds within Pauls rice fields. He feels that these are resident here which would make them of the form przewalskii (see Craig Robson- Birds of Thailand); despite having whitish/ pale buff rumps I accordingly refer to them now simply as Eastern Stonechats.

Paddyfield Pipits are completely at home in the garden on the cropped grassy expanse (it would be flattering to call it a lawn). The calls of these birds are nothing like those of Richards Pipits, and these are paler sleeker creatures, though they have a similar haughty carriage and very long pinkish legs.

There are hundreds of tiny blue butterflies seemingly even smaller than our smallest species of blue in the U.K., these also like the short cropped grass and minute yellow flowers carpeting extensive sections in the garden.

The rice harvest is generally in full swing, the smaller field by the house has been hand cut, and processed with the threshing machine after drying. The big fields will be tackled by combined harvester quite soon.

Cheers, Mike P



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Thursday 16th of November 2017 05:08:02 AM

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Arrived in Bangkok mid day (Friday 10/11/17) from Newcastle via Dubai. We managed to stay awake a further 8 hours then flopped into bed for 14 hours, waking up to several hours of torrential rain on Saturday.

Paul and I had a nice stroll round Suan Luang Park, (just a 3 minute drive from the house) to enjoy some initial birding, as there was plenty of activity once the rain had stopped.

This park is very extensive with both formal areas and excellent secluded pools and good birdlife, despite hordes of people out strolling. We headed for the boardwalk across our favourite pool, the stomping ground of several big monitor lizards, - the likely top predators here.

Species noted were more or less the common regulars here:-

Night Herons - min 12 in a communal roost; a Yellow Bittern; sev, Chinese Pond Herons; 6/7 Little Egrets scattered further across the lawns, a perched gang of at least 25 Pink-necked Pigeons was pleasing and of higher quality than the abundant Feral Pigeons, Zebra Doves, and several Spotted Doves, (these latter quite handsome but introduced into so many parts of the world as to be regarded generally as little more than a stocking filler).

On the large boating lake (circular and about the same size as Pennington Flash but lacking the western extension) the only species of note were 3 winter plumaged Whiskered Terns, one of which gave several close flyby opportunities to appreciate its textbook head pattern to the full. How I wished that this could suddenly be Pennington Flash!

Other species included Coppersmith Barbets (6/7), Pied Fantails, abundant and confidingly showy Oriental Magpie Robins, (-yes they are everywhere and dirt common, but really great birds to see nevertheless). Comon Ioras, a Black-naped Oriole, Asian Koels, Common Tailorbirds, a pair of Streak-Eared Bulbuls, sev. plain Prinias, Common and White-vented Mynas, and 2 Olive-backed Sunbirds.

From a European perspective, Asian Brown and Taiga Flycatchers, and Barn Swallows were of interest and present;- the latter looking a bit scruffy and showing white patches around the rear of the lower scapulars/mantle area, which I took to be indicative of moult.

Sunday (12th) was spent entirely on the drive north-east; - 630 kilometres to Kut-Chum, with no birding other than incidental sightings along the highways of Openbill Storks and Cattle Egrets, and a single Black-shouldered Kite noted by Paul during his driving stint.

Cheers, Mike P.



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Postscript:

Wed. March 1st. - back in the frosty N/E of England.

After scrubbing our earlier record of Chinese Goshawk (on the basis of insufficient black in the under-primaries) the final trip list has come out at 147, adding 98 species to my Thailand list, boosted by our last two days birding Khao Yai Nat. Park in terms of quality and nos.

I ended up with 6 lifers; pick of the bunch of course being self found Spoon-billed Sandpiper at Tak Thale, followed by Rufous-winged Buzzard in Pha Taem Nat. Park, and Black-throated Laughingthrush in Khao Yai. Perhaps the most ridiculous "tart's tick" would be Plain-backed Sparrows building a nest in a shrubby ornamental potted tree just outside the bedroom at Paul and Pen's. -It matters not; they all count.

Cheers,

Mike P



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Wednesday 1st of March 2017 08:27:09 AM

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Thursday Feb 23rd:

The morning saw us catching up with work about the farm until 10am when the sun became oppressive. I had a last stroll round my adopted local patch for the final hour of daylight  at 17.00, but saw very little, other than a Magpie Robin and a White-rumpled Shama;- it all seemed rather anticlimactic.

Friday (24th) saw us rising early and on the road by 5.20 heading south. At 10.30 we reached Phi Mai for one of the cultural highlights of the trip where I found the only Hoopoe of our travels calling from a large tree. Phi Mai is an ancient centre/ temple dating from around 1080 and was a major centre of the old Khmer empire, and architecturally is smaller but identical to the great complex of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, which Phi Mai predates.

By mid afternoon we arrived at Khao Yai National Park, where we booked in for two nights. We decided to keep a separate list for the park species, and set about exploring the superb forest at various elevations. New species here were Red Junglefowl (i.e. hens! - but real wild ones - honestly); 20 plus Red-wattled Lapwings, Vernal Hanging Parrots, point blank views of a male Emerald Cuckoo, - a favourite of the girls, 2 Great Hornbills, tracked down from their calls, a Heart-spotted Woodpecker, Verditer Flycatchers, and an underwhelming Thick-billed Flowerpecker.

We rose early on Saturday 25th, entering the park at 6.30 and quickly launched into ticking mode with a couple of flyover Oriental Pied Hornbills, Grey-eyed Bulbuls, several Hair-crested Drongos, then on a side trail, a pair of Red-headed Trogons, a very obliging female Banded Kingfisher perched up in the forest, Scarlet Minivets on the forest edge, and a flyover Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo. Asian Fairy Bluebirds vied with Blue-winged Leafbirds, Black-winged Cuckoo-Shrikes and calling Moustached Barbets for our attention.

A walk out to a tower hide gave us the only Bright-capped Cisticola of the trip and a family party of Grey-breasted Prinias with point blank looks at Ashy Woodswallows.

In the afternoon session after a brief 30 minute break for lunch, we took to a forest trail leading to a superb overlook over miles of inviting forest; down below Paul picked out two Hornbills which turned out to be yet a third species: - Wreathed Hornbills, sharing a tree with some 15 /20 black birds which looked good for Racket-tailed Treepies, but with our inexperience and the huge distance involved even at x 60mag. we still couldn't be certain of the i/d.

A river close to one of the minor campsites lured me away from the birds for some twenty minutes as an impressive gathering of butterflies were tasting the salts on the sandy rocks; I was just tempted to go back for the iPad with photography in mind when the skies opened for the first rain of our visit.

The afternoon ended on a high note with a Black-throated Laughingthrush, a female Blue Rockthrush catching butterflies, and at the park exit a pre roost gathering of Red -breasted Parakeets. In addition we had many more species already seen earlier. 

It was immediately obvious that the birds in the park were far less wary than those up in the north-east (Isaan), and it was good to see considerable numbers of young Thai birders with bins and scopes/ cameras, anxious to exchange information.

Sunday dawned rather cloudy, and we made another early start to maximise our birding time as we had to leave by 11.15 for our return to Bangkok. Out of the morning mist at a good roadside overlook, we enjoyed a spectacular flyby procession of Hornbills leaving their roosts: some 25 Oriental Pied Hornbills, and a single Great; this latter's wingbeats sounding like those of a Mute Swan.

An open lakeside section produced our first Black-naped Orioles for Thailand, a White-throated (Smyrna) Kingfisher, then later behind the restaurant at park HQ several White-crested Laughingthrushes, a gathering of Green Magpies, and some annoyingly high (and tiny) White-eyes, which we then ignored as better fare was on offer. A perched Mountain Imperial Pigeon, competed with two Thick-billed Green Pigeons, raising the standard of recorded doves and pigeons considerably.

As our time came to an end, we recorded our only Crested Serpent Eagle of the trip, soaring high above.

En route to Bangkok, at a roadside vantage point over some flooded rice fields, we found our only Wood Sandpipers of the trip keeping company with more numerous Black-winged Stilts.

- Journeys End!

Best Wishes,

Mike P.

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Sunday 26th of February 2017 02:04:08 PM



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Sunday 26th of February 2017 02:33:51 PM

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Four of us rose from our tents at 5.30 (rather stiff) and ambled sleepily towards the cliff edge a kilometre or so to the east.

Waiting for the sun to rise over the misty hills of Laos, we inadvertently disturbed a large raptor which glided off to the south and was left unidentified.

The sun rose, and we commented that of Thailand's 62 million people, we were the first to see it on this day, being the easternmost, and positioned on a high cliff edge.

A Pied Bushchat pair were first on our "park list" followed by Eurasian Jay, Lineated Barbet, Large-billed Crows, Raddes Warbler (h), silent wing-barred philloscopus Warblers, (probably Two-barred Greenish) but which we still didn't clinch, as we just failed to see the tertials (yet again!), a Rufescent Prinia was a new "trip" bird, as was an excellent party of between 15 and 18 Hill Mynas which the girls enjoyed through the scope. The Bee-eaters here we found to be Chestnut -headed, and an excellent section of forest offered up a Puff-throated (i.e. Spotted) Babbler, and a family party of White-bellied Yuhinas, - common birds, but the first of the genus for us in Thailand.

From a clearing, we noted above, a soaring accipiter showing solid black primary tips: - a Chinese Goshawk, interacting with a pair of  Shikras. A new trip bird here was Black-headed Bulbul, several of which showed briefly but well, up in the canopy.

Greater Racket-tailed Drongos were picked out flying between some skyline bare branches. The temperature was slowly becoming a problem and so we decamped and began the tricky drive out, the only other species added being a perched Indian Roller, and a couple of Blue Magpies flushed by the vehicle.

In summary, the birding here has potential for some good discoveries; the drive into this part of the National Park is a major obstacle and only researchers would be inclined to spend time here. A forest ranger we met had scarcely seen Europeans here, and "birding" as such was a totally alien concept to him. We had barely scratched the surface but found several species "seemingly" out of range. The site produced for me 8 more Thailand species of the 25 we recorded here, though we heard many more vocalisations which remained a mystery to us; - realistically we'll most likely never return, as there are easier sites in the top destinations within Thailand which still await us in the future.

Cheers,

Mike P.



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Thursday 23rd of February 2017 02:35:58 AM

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Feb 21st Tuesday morning - forest and river section (7.15 -8.15)

A Common Kingfisher on the river was only my second sighting and probably the same bird (same location). In birding terms this is the least productive river I've ever come across, though the riverside cover itself is excellent for warblers.

This morning's circuit produced nothing new other than a different Brown Shrike. This a handsome male showing a neat grey crown, whitish throat and delicate peachy underparts, the tail seemed more rufous in flight than the other Brown Shrikes around here, and I studied it for ten minutes through bins and scope. The literature indicates that this is of the race lucionensis, which I'm pretty certain is new for me.

Other regulars were both Brown and Taiga Flycatchers, Raddes and Dusky Warblers plus the usual common residents.

We hit the road at 9am heading east for Pha Taem National Park in the easternmost part of Thailand, via the Mekong River which we reached at about the worst time for birding- 14.30 or so. Ashy Woodswallows, a Common Sandpiper,  8 Little Ringed Plovers, and a River Lapwing were all we saw;- this time not even a Wagtail of any kind. However our lunchtime stop at a roadside cafe had earlier produced a new (overdue) species for our Thailand lists in the form of an Intermediate Egret. The toilet block at the rear of the cafe offered a view over a field of early rice, within which strutted a solitary egret which on proportions looked a good candidate through my bins. I set up the scope whilst the others ate most of the chicken (ouch!). The bird showed a black bill tip on a shorter looking bill and the gape line ended directly under the centre of the eye, certainly not extending past the rear of the eyeline; - job done.

The final tortuous 20 kilometres of the drive saw us needing the 4 wheel drive over what we though were old lava flows, the rock appearing black, but when broken, the rock revealed itself to be a sandstone of sorts. A perched raptor superficially showing the plumage pattern of an outsized male Kestrel proved to be a Rufous-winged Buzzard, which soon flew away gliding off on level wings - far bigger than any Kestrel gave us hope of exciting discoveries to come. After we had erected our tents we walked to the Cha Na Dai cliff edge where we could look out over miles of the Mekong river perhaps 700 feet far below us, and beyond, into the hills of Laos.

Surely the morning would yield up yet more new trip birds?

Cheers,

MikeP.



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Wednesday 22nd of February 2017 10:33:54 AM



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Wednesday 22nd of February 2017 11:51:22 AM



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Wednesday 22nd of February 2017 11:49:41 PM

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It's been hotter these last few days, so I didn't go out for the afternoon session until the last hour of daylight, just covering the forest section, but I did add another 9 species for a day list of 32, which for here in the dry season isn't bad.

I was watching a Raddes Warbler foraging in long grass close to the dirt road, when I heard a disyllabic/trisyllabic repeated call from a tall tree behind me. I picked out 2 philloscopus warblers interacting which looked and sounded interesting. The problem was that they were variously either 15 or 20 feet above me in poor light and in and out of leaf cover giving only jigsaw views  and I could get no meaningful plumage details other than that they had fairly prominent supercilia and fleeting hints of at least one wing bar. They were obviously on call not Arctic Warblers, nor Yellow-browed, leaving the obvious alternative here of Two- barred Greenish which on call alone, fitted. However as this would give a total "clean up" of the philloscopus likely to be wintering in this area, I had to let this go as I should prefer to nail down the full suite of plumage characters for what would be a local patch tick.

In an attempt to get them to come lower, I resorted to squeaking, which generated an immediate response from something sounding entirely new; - a larger species going bananas and coming right in from another section of thick cover -: a fine male Black-naped Monarch, an old pal from previous adventures, but new for the local patch here, and a fitting end to the day.

Cheers,

MikeP.



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Monday Feb 20th

Yesterday's festivities mitigated against any birding. The tambun was a solemn ceremony in which 9 monks come to the farm house early, with around 80 guests turning up, these being relatives and neighbours from the village. Caterers organised the marquees, seating and food. The idea is to bless the new farm house, announce Paul and Pen's wedding to those who couldn't make it to Switzerland (where they married in Oct. 2015), and to induct us Europeans into the family and local community.

The monk's chanting of the mantras was almost hypnotic and I videoed much of it. Virtually everyone participated in the custom of tying strings round our wrists (and queuing up do do it, which took about 40 minutes keeping us from breakfast) so politeness and patience were necessary.

Later when the monks had departed, the beer and whisky came out and a noisy party resulted with karaoke booming across the fields, but at least it stopped at around 6 pm.

I'm picking up more and more of the language, and can now count. Thai is much like Mandarin, is grammatically simple, but complicated in that it has 5 tones which impart meaning and is therefore full of pitfalls. To further complicate things the local language here is Isaan which is close to Laotian.

This morning after attending to the watering chores, it was with a sense of relief that I vanished into the peace and quiet of the woods and fields.

I logged 23 species before breakfast, including a new bird for the patch, a common but welcome Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker.

This is definitely not a prime birding area, but nevertheless who can complain at wandering around lovely farm fields (almost reminiscent of Suffolk rural scenes from 200 years ago) dotted with hay ricks, and with Siberian wintering Warblers and Flycatchers easily studied and with Bee-eaters gliding around, an Indian Roller flying over, 3 species of Cuckoo (Greater Coucal, Koel, and Green-billed Malkoha) all showing well?

It seems that Tree Sparrows are now nesting under the eaves and Plain-backed Sparrows in a couple of the ornamental garden trees, with nests like grassy balls with an entrance hole at the side.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 



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Today saw an early 5.20 start for the 40 klms drive to Phu Mu forest park which Paul had briefly scouted a month ago.

This is an isolated forested hill rising above the plain to about 1100 ft above sea level.

At the top car park there were already hundreds of kids doing exercises and chanting in unison; a scout camp for boys and girls; - all very nice, but to birders out for some new species in a different environment about as welcome as a wasp in the underpants. 

We walked off in search of peace and quiet and found it; - the trail was birdless, and very dry due to the ongoing dry season.

undaunted, we walked back down the approach road and soon at last met with increasing numbers of birds, - all of them Black-crested Bulbuls.

We did see both Brown and Taiga Flycatchers (Paul briefly noted one with its red throat), and we heard and glimpsed a vanishing Raddes Warbler. Having taken a side track into a small clearing the habitat looked promising as the sun rose higher hitting the bushes around us, with the usual Sunbirds and Flycatchers and the ever present Bulbuls still the only species to be seen. Suddenly Barb picked out a large raptor gliding on flat wings towards us, a Changeable Hawk Eagle which passed right overhead; - bird of the morning as it turned out and a new addition to our Thai lists.

In summary, a pleasant enough outing, with spectacular views over the surrounding countryside but even in some of these relict islands of good looking habitat, birds are really very wary here, and it can be hard going compared with the riches to be found in the national parks of the south and west of Thailand.

Cheers,

Mike P.

 



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Friday morning, 7.05 - local forest section.

A little more activity today; - both Taiga Flycatchers, L. Green Bee-Eaters and Ashy Drongos were already hawking about in the little recessed corner of the forest which acts as an early morning sun trap. Both Greater Coucal and Common Koel were calling and I soon located and scoped them in turn; the numerous Streak-eared Bulbuls seemed disturbed at the presence of the Coucal which soon moved on. A White-rumped Shama was a local patch tick, only the second for this trip. An odd lump high on a horizontal shaded branch turned out to be another Owlet (Asian barred again) giving even better scope views than the previous bird. This one kept looking nonchalently away, and then back at me, "full on" as if rather indignant at my staring, and after a couple of minutes it moved into deeper cover. It's always great to see cryptic birds well, and Owls to my way of thinking always seem full of character.

I then noted the ongoing presence of the Pale-legged Leaf Warbler in what I think of as its usual spot, foraging amongst a spread of leafy vegetation no higher than a foot off the ground. I'm noticing distinctive behavioural patterns across the philloscopus warblers I'm seeing. This morning a Yellow-browed Warbler darted along and across fine branches of a loose open straggly tree mostly at or just above eye level and hovered briefly several times during its foraging, staying for a good ten minutes whilst I checked its finer points (inc. tertials tips). Arctic Warbler is more deliberate, whilst Raddes comes over as slightly clumsy, almost as if it's tail is a bit loose and needs to be dragged along in some of its foraging actions.

I've not yet bumped into Two-barred Greenish Warbler which winters here, nor Eastern Crowned Warbler which is a passage migrant through here, wintering further south down the peninsula, so I'm probably here too early for this latter species.

All in all, a good little session.

Cheers,

Mike P.



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Thursday, Feb 16th,

The morning started at 6.15 with a 30 minute spin on the racing bikes, followed by a full session with the vegetable watering, after which Barb and I headed for the forest, which initially was pretty quiet apart from a fly-over Indian Roller. Later she did pull back Ashy Minivet and Pale-legged Leaf Warbler (in the same little corner as yesterday;- same bird?) followed by several Taiga Flycatchers, all of which showed really well, though Raddes Warbler was neither heard nor seen. Perhaps I'm expecting too much, as this morning I found nothing new, but I guess it's inevitable that new species will get harder to find. The usual support cast of Bee-Eaters and Fantails etc were present but now we seem prone to taking them for granted.

This evening we had a stroll by the riverside, setting off at 16.45 with just one pair of bins and no great expectation. Common Ioras, Streak-eared Bulbuls, Green Bee-Eaters and the inevitable Pied Fantails were buzzing around when we stopped to study a particularly close and obliging Plain Prinia. There are allegedly four Prinia species hereabouts, but search as we may, this is the only one we have found so far. Suddenly from a few feet ahead on the grassy path, a small bird flew very low ahead and landed again some 15 feet further on towards the waters edge, where it commenced a fairly rapid repeated nervous low "chacking."

I couldn't see the bird which was a little down the banking, so edged closer guided by its calls, and repeated as best I could with a quiet clicking noise with my tongue. The grass only four feet ahead was moving, as if it had come closer, but it was too tall for me to see the bird behind it, but then it moved away onto a twig just in my line of sight and below me, showing a graduated tail and a mass of streaking along head and uniform mantle and upper tail - Lanceolated Warbler, here a common winter visitor but which had eluded me for the last ten days. So a "blank" day was flukily avoided, though Barb missed this by not having bins to hand.

I only ever before saw this species in China in 2002, and as I have never been to Fair Isle, this remains one of the commoner species I "need" for Britain, though I know that a certain J W Rayner, (surely in league with Satan), has seen one at Filey.

Best Wishes,

Mike P

 

 

 

 

 

 



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Still Wednesday, - late morning,

I took a longer walk along the riverside later, (despite the hot sun) as there are intermittent shady spots from which to scan and it was nice to be able to do a full circuit joining up with the little forest section with which I'm now pretty familiar. 

From various spots along the route, among the treetops it was possible to see the 30 metre high water tower in Paul's vegetable garden as a direction aid.

Annoying small flies seemed to be competing with each other to land in my eyes, but as consolation I found a new mix of small birds just yards within the forest edge. First addition was a Pale-legged Leaf Warbler, readily identified not just by its pale legs and single wing bar, but by its solid grey crown contrasting with olive green mantle. Almost next to it in the same sapling were two Ashy Minivets and nearby a Grey-headed Flycatcher, (a common Asian species) but with the previous two species all new for my Thai list, to which I've added 57 species thus far.

It's great fun doing all this in an area largely neglected by birders, and I wonder just what the potential might be once migration is underway.

Cheers,

Mike P.



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Wednesday Feb 15th

The last two mornings have yielded close encounters with Raddes Warbler, easily found by listening for its gentle but persistent "tuc"calls as it forages in low vegetation. Also several Taiga Flycatchers and the Brown Flycatcher seem to haunt the little corner of forest edge which has become one of my "must check" spots from 7 am onwards.

This morning was quieter, though I did manage scope views of a skulking Greater Coucal; I'm more interested though in finding Lesser Coucal which along with many other species still eludes me. Of these latter, I'm still hopeful of bumping into Lanceolated Warbler and Two-barred Greenish, both of which should be here.

Walking home for breakfast, I met with a Flycatcher which attracted me initially with its sharp repeated "tic" calls. The bird was some 15 feet up in an open tree with its back to me. I managed to see a blue upper tail, duller bluish mantle, White vent area, and a black face before it exited stage right into the denser forest.

Studying the field guide, the commoner option is Hainan Blue Flycatcher, the less common would be the bigger Blue and White Flycatcher, both make "tic" calls, though Hainan Blue is described as a harder note. On plumage, a front on view of the breast easily splits the two, so I have to build upon what I saw before it can count.

Walking through the rice fields on the dividing bund, I checked a lump on a horizontal branch which turned out to be Asian- barred Owlet, a species which I have seen many times before, but this individual made my morning, being my first Owl of any kind in Thailand, and which obligingly stuck around in time for me to check the finer points in the scope.

My only previous birding in the country was a very successful week spent in the spring of 2001 when I came out with a pal specifically to see Gurney's and other species of Pitta down in the south, with a good sample of Trogons, Kingfishers and Woodpeckers, so my list for the country is pretty modest as we didn't bomb around chasing numbers, but quality species instead, though we still failed to find either Finfoot or the Malaysian Rail -Babbler.

Best Wishes, 

Mike P.

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Wednesday 15th of February 2017 09:04:41 AM

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Monday 13th Feb.

I went out at 6.30 a m alone as Barb fancied a lie in after the previous night's partying.

An hour and a half mooching quietly around the forest section some 300 metres from the farm perimeter, yielded 18 species, which is not a bad score for here; the usual regular culprits being Brown Shrike, Dusky Warbler (which showed really well), and Brown Flycatcher. A few new additions to my local list were Green-billed Malkoha, and a pair of Ashy Drongos chasing about, with 2 Black-collared Starling flying out from the farm trees.

I heard what seemed to be a Yellow-browed Warbler calling, and traced it to a small phylloscopus, sporting what appeared to be only a single wing bar; - an altogether rather dull individual, which on appearance would make a better fit for Hulme's Yellow-browed Warbler, (which shouldn't be here and which of course calls differently). I didn't get a chance to check the tertials before losing the bird altogether, which was frustrating. Two-barred Greenish and Arctic Warblers winter here, but Yellow-browed is very common in the winter and on call it probably was a dull/ worn one of these, but I should wish to see more before it makes the list. 

Later we drove the 40 Klms. to the hilltop stunning temple and forest park at Pha Nam Yoi. This is jaw droppingly impressive, (google it and you'll see what I mean) and I added at least a new trip species as well, - a male Blue Rock Thrush. I would have dearly loved to spend a few hours of early morning birding here, as much of the forest looks very tasty, like a residual island patch of primary forest. 

This evening I managed 40 minutes more in the local forest patch and found Black-crested Bulbul (common), to pad out the local list a bit more, and pleasingly a Taiga Flycatcher, which I enjoyed for 10 minutes or so.

Best Wishes,

Mike P



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Today, Sunday Feb. 12th we drove east to the Mekong River, some 80 Klms. from the farm (itself just up the road from Kut chum), our target species being Mekong Wagtail, the "new" species described relatively recently in 2001. Although we had our passports with us and should have loved to have crossed into Laos, there were no legitimate crossing points. We reckoned that the local fishermen would have taken us across for buttons, but suspected that the cost of the return trip might be much higher.

On checking the first site, I heard a wagtail call, located the bird on the muddy shoreline below our vantage point, and saw 2 birds, - both leucopsis (Amur Wagtails); - old friends to Paul and me from the famous Co. Durham bird of some years ago, but not our target on this occasion. Undaunted, we carried on scoping, finding 2 Little Ringed Plover, a single River Lapwing, and a scatter of 3/4 Common Sandpipers.

We then spent another two hours driving north along the river's western shore and finding just a few more Amur Wagtails, which seemingly winter here in considerable numbers. Barn Swallows, Little Egrets, an Ashy Woodswallow and a few noisy Yellow-vented Bulbuls made up the very modest species range. I thought that I had a Plain Martin on breast pattern but according to the field guides only Sand Martin is here, so I left this unidentified.

We took to long distance scanning of the Laos side of the very wide river as that seemed to have fewer fishermen about, and there was also a possibility of Small Pratincole and Great Thick-knee both of which would also be new birds for our Thailand lists but this added nothing. To cut a long story short, the highlight of the day was probably the Mekong River itself, with its numerous rocky and sandy islands, and though we dipped on the Mekong Wagtail we still had a good day with some spectacular temples explored en route.

Earlier in the week, we had taken to early morning rides on the racing bikes, going out into the countryside with highlights being Indian Roller, several encounters with the always impressive Black-shouldered Kites hovering close to the highway, with a few Brahminy Kites, (much scarcer here then in the areas to the south closer to the sea). My early morning (6am) riverside walk by the farm on Saturday 11th. had produced something of a thrill to encounter some 40 or so Little Green Bee Eaters leaving their communal roost. Both in the mornings and evenings, a Shikra has flown over the farm, out of and into its roost nearby. 

Tomorrow morning Barb and I shall hope to visit a small but inviting forest section only some few hundred metres from the farm which we briefly sampled a few days ago and in which found quite a selection of butterflies.

Best Wishes,

Mike P.

 

 

 



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Sunday 12th of February 2017 07:01:38 PM



-- Edited by Mike Passant on Sunday 12th of February 2017 07:04:25 PM

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Date:

we've now been here a week of what is essentially a family visit involving socialising, sight seeing, working on the farm, with some birding when the opportunity presents itself.

A few common species were frequenting the garden of the Bangkok house, with Pied Fantails zipping around in typical fashion, all but landing on me in response to my squeaks.

In the local park we found several Openbill Storks, a nice but furtive adult Yellow Bittern, numerous Common Koels, Chinese Pond Herons, and honking Large-billed Crows to kick start our listing. Copper smith Barbets, a White-breasted Waterhen, were outnumbered by the very common but showy Oriental Magpie Robins. Overhead, Swiftlets defied confident identification, but were probably of the Edible-nest species.

Friday saw us heading south out of Bangkok's nightmarish traffic congestion for a night in a beachside hotel at Cha-Am.

En route, the plan was to spend a couple of hours checking through the waders at Tak Thale salt pans for a hoped for Spoon-billed Sandpiper, likely to be knocking about with the numerous parties of Red-necked Stints.

When we finally found the correct site, we were already behind schedule, as we needed to secure beds for the night, knowing that many Thai families come down here for the weekend to escape the city. It was therefore with some relief that we finally located our target bird within minutes of having to give up.

Other species present were numerous Black-winged Stilts, Bar-tailed Godwits, Marsh Sandpipers, Kentish Plovers, Sandplovers, (we had neither time nor patience to devote to splitting Sandplovers), Greenshanks, (no Nordman's, which anyway we had seen before), a Curlew Sandpipier, a Whimbrel, a Long-toed Stint and a Spotted Redshank.

On Sunday Paul drove the 700 kilometres (11 hours) north-east to Isaan, where they have the farm.

En route, we took in the temple at Wat Phra Phutabath Noi for the Limestone Wren-Babbler, this being an easy site for this species.

I have now started a new list for the farm area. This is not prime birding country, as the land is given over to rice farming, and birds have traditionally been seen as a food source, and are quite wary accordingly.

Nevertheless, sandwiched between farming chores (i.e. helping to install an improved irrigation system for the vegetable garden) I have so far managed several quality species from a European perspective: Brown Shrike, Brown Flycatcher, Thick-billed Warbler, Dusky Warbler in addition to more exotic but common resident species.

More to follow,

Best Wishes,

Mike P.

 

 



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