Thursday, September 21, 2006

EVEN A COUP D'ETAT WON'T STOP MY BIRDWATCHING

Black-naped Oriole by Yurie Ball
Well, this day 21st. September deserves a report. It started off as a drizzly day and weatherwise didn’t improve too much but the birds made my day. First of all there were three new birds for the area and in order of importance they were the rare Northern Hobby (aka. Eurasian Hobby-2 juveniles), Black-winged Cuckoo-Shrike (1) and Black-naped Oriole (1). This brings the number of species documented at Mae Hia to 180.

That dead tree also produced results today - 3 greater Racket-tailed Drongos, 3 Racket-tailed Treepies, 1 Black-naped Oriole (when looking at this bird through the telescope a big fuzzy shape in the background turned out to be a Crested Honey-Buzzard), 1 Black-winged and 1 Indochinese Cuckoo-Shrike (what are the odds of finding those two sitting almost next to each other in the same dead tree?), 3 Spotted Doves, 1 Green-billed Malkoha, 2 Green Bee-eaters, 1 Oriental Magpie-Robin and 6 White-vented Mynahs. Just as we were leaving that tree 12 Blue Magpies flew overhead.

Although I have recorded the Northern Hobby at Huay Tung Tao on two or three occasions at this same time of year there is always a thrill of excitement when getting another one. As I mentioned it was a drizzly day and the bird (one at that time) was not about to fly away and I studied the first bird for about 15 minutes and was easily able to pick out all the distinguishing features. The tail is a good indication of what you are looking at, the wing tips reach to the end of the tail when the bird is sitting, and it had that distinguishing moustache and white cheek patches. Being juveniles (I caught up with both of them later) they had two white patches on the back of the head. Also they had pencil-thin white eyebrows.

Two Little Grebes (aka Dabchicks) seem to have settled into a pond surrounded by reeds, tall grass and thorny mimosa bushes all of which provide ideal cover for these shy birds. Now although these birds are resident they seem to disappear at the same time as the migrants and reappear when the migrants do. I can only assume that they have even more private ponds somewhere to breed in. It was a good day for raptors too, five seen, besides the two already mentioned there was one Osprey, one Rufous-winged Buzzard and one Shikra seen. The last two are regulars.

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