Monday, September 11, 2006

A WET, BUT PRODUCTIVE, MORNING AT MAE HIA

Lineated Barbet (28cm) by Yurie Ball


The number of species seen this morning (11th. September) were only a little above normal (52 seen, 10 identified by call = 62) but it was what was seen and where. Dead trees are always worth a look and, of course, it’s made easier because there are no leaves to block the view. The worry though is that because they are dead the farmers may chop them down. There is one way to prevent this, and it is peculiar to this part of the world, and that is to get the local monks to ‘ordain’ the tree, they actually wrap a saffron robe around it. No one would dare to chop it down then in fear of losing merit. Some farmers have already noticed that I study the birds in these dead trees so they leave them alone for which I am grateful. There is a particular tree at Mae Hia which will usually produce one or two good birds but today the list was as follows: Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (2), Racket-tailed Treepie (3), Lineated Barbet (2), Black Drongo, Ashy Drongo, Green Bee-eater (3), Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Sooty-headed Bulbul, Red-whiskered Bulbul and a Common Koel. All within ten minutes.

At Mae Hia there is a mixed herd of Friesian and Holstein cows and in themselves they are not very interesting but it is what they attract that is. Common Mynahs will come spiralling down out of the sky and land on the cows backs. No reaction from the cows, they just carry on grazing. This is a symbiotic relationship, the mynahs will relieve the cows of their ticks and the cows will disturb the grass as they graze, insects are put up, which the mynahs will then pounce on.

Two more migrant species have returned today, the Common Buzzard and the Wood Sandpiper (7). The latter bird is a new species for Mae Hia bringing the numbers up to 176 species documented.

A GROUSE: Mae Hia and Huay Tung Tao are in a state of confusion, the former because they are holding a horticultural show there in 10 weeks time. They are chopping down the grass and undergrowth and with it the nests, nestlings and eggs of birds like the Grey-breasted and Plain Prinias and the Chestnut-capped Babblers. At Huay Tung Tao the military (they own the property) are turning the track at the top end into an asphalted road. This means that the area is unreachable for who knows how long, it’s a quagmire at the moment. It has cut me off from an area of paddyfields which at this time of the year is the arrival site of many migrant waterbirds and waders.

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