Friday, September 08, 2006

More from Mae Hia

White-throated Kingfisher
Illustration by Yurie Ball

September 6th : A very interesting bird has turned up again at Mae Hia. It’s the Long-tailed Shrike but this one is the Nominate race from China. The difference between this one and Lanius schach is that instead of a black head it is dark grey and the mantle instead of being sandy is also dark grey. I said again because it turned up about two years ago and today’s bird was found within the same small area as last time.

Another bird of interest, yesterday, was a juvenile Osprey sitting at the top of a tall tree which is also favoured by many other raptors (one at a time usually). For the first time I noticed that the tuft of feathers that stick out from the back of the head were spotted black and white. It wasn’t having an easy time as it was being buzzed by Ashy Wood-Swallows and Green Bee-eaters. It finally gave up the unequal struggle and flew off. Now this has nothing to do with birds but I thought it gave a hint of Thailand. It was just after the Osprey incident that I noticed this cat-sized furry animal squatting at the side of the track , it turned out to be a mongoose (thank goodness there was only one as the plural would have made me think). More interestingly it seemed to be chewing on something. As I got closer it ran across the track and it was dragging a snake behind it, the snake was about one metre long and brown, probably a young rat snake.

September 8th : Another migrant has returned to Mae Hia and it is the Green Sandpiper. At the end of the morning’s birding I realised I hadn’t seen or heard a White-throated Kingfisher (28cm). Now this is most unusual as they can always be heard with their loud cackling voice or their penetrating whinny, I wonder where they got to? Wherever, I’m sure it’s temporary. Normally I would see around 7 or 8 of them. Also seen today were 4 Indian Rollers and 2 of them were doing their aerobatic rolling display at the time. I haven’t seen that display very often. Finally an anomaly in a Common Kingfisher I spotted this morning. Instead of having the full orange/rufous belly it was mostly grey. Normally the colour of the belly, I believe, would be related to its intake of shrimp or other crustaceans (said to be up to 30% of its diet), so I don't know what this one had been eating! The Common Kingfishers that inhabit streams tend to have a deeper colour which would suggest that they eat more shrimps etc..

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