Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Birds of a feather flock together - and how !


Silver-eared Mesia by Yurie Ball

(October 25th KMP) Today a pleasant change from my two lowland sites, a trip with John up to our new road at Ka Mu Phuket (up to 1600m). Added two more species to our list and they were the Slender-billed Oriole and the Lesser Coucal, nothing special about the two birds but we just hadn’t spotted them before. Other birds we saw were special and that was another uncommon Green Cochoa, a Long-tailed Broadbill and some Silver-eared Mesias. I say some but what made these one’s special was their numbers, there must have been close to a hundred of them in the flock. We had been watching them on one side of the road in thickly leaved bushes, thinking there were about 10-15 of them, as usual, and then they decided to change sides. The stream seemed never-ending, we stood there, jaws dropped, confounded at their numbers. The broadbill is an amazingly colourful bird, it could have been dreamed up by Walt Disney, a black helmet on its head, a yellow face, upperparts and underparts two shades of green and a blue tail. It is almost unreal.

It is also interesting to hear the calls of birds other than the lowland one’s that I hear mostly, spending six mornings a week at Mae Hia or Huay Tung Tao. Which then brings me to the Dawn Chorus. There is very little of one in the open lowland areas but in the higher forested levels and especially on the roadside it is much more spectacular. I have recordings of as many as 15 species, or more, all giving thanks, at the same time, for having survived the night and proclaiming to others that they are still in charge of their territories.

(October 23rd HTT) A new bird for HTT an Eastern-crowned Warbler, it also counts as a returning migrant, now bringing the figure for the area to 236 spp. Another good sighting was a flotilla of 10 nearly fully grown Lesser Whistling Ducks together with one adult. Quite an amusing sight as they swam away from us with their heads cocked sideways to make sure we didn’t try anything underhanded. I came across two pairs of Fulvous-breasted Woodpeckers fighting over a nesting hole. It’s difficult to say which pair started the excavation of the hole but there was a lot of buffeting going on and birds diving at each other. Finally one pair appeared to give up their attempt to claim ownership and flew off. The other pair went to work diligently, bringing out beaksful of wood chippings. This woodpecker normally nests between December and June so they are pretty close to the mark.

(October 21st MH) A new bird for the area, the Asian Brown Flycatcher bringing the Mae Hia total to 192 spp. The Long-tailed Shrike of the Chinese/Vietnamese Nominate race (L.s. Schach) is still with us. It has confined itself to quite a small area,within about a 100 metre radius, and can be found there just about every morning. It will, no doubt leave us eventually to breed somewhere in north Asia unlike the Lanius Schach which is a resident bird.

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