Friday, October 13, 2006

THE GARDEN OF EDEN? WELL, NOT QUITE



The Chinese Pond-Heron - Before and after

Besides Smelly Field and Stench Bend we now have Ant Bite Pond. It’s usually a very productive walk around this pond but beware the army ants. They are not the large one’s you see in the nature documentaries that would strip you to the bone in five minutes, but the smaller one’s which make them all the more difficult to see. You are most likely to be attacked when you see an exciting bird and don’t check to see where you are standing. But it’s worth the pain and it doesn’t last long. Suk, my assistant has her own early warning system, no socks! I often hear the stamping of feet and her muttered imprecations and incantations against these murderous insects, that’s her view of them..

At Mae Hia the Chinese Pond Herons are around in great profusion. They float ghostlike out of the paddyfields as you pass by, the rice is already high enough to conceal them. They are all in their non-breeding plumage, but other years some of them have returned from the north still in their breeding plumage. In their present state they have this amazing form of camouflage. When they are flying they are white but the moment they land they become brown, this is due to the dropping down of long brown feathers which when flying are pushed along the back. They almost disappear on landing.

(October 5th MH) A family of four Black-naped Orioles seen in the area of Stench Bend. Luckily they were giving their diagnostic kyerr call which meant that I didn’t have to work at distiguishing them from the Slender-billed Oriole. Disgustingly 3 Junglefowl, 1 male and 2 females, were seen feeding off the over-ripe cabbages in Smelly Field, they can’t have any sense of smell.
(October 6th MH) What a coincidence, this time it was a family of four Slender-billed Orioles seen at Stench Bend, the adults are more greenish yellow on the back. Also seen a juvenile Asian Emerald Cuckoo. Two returnees, the Eurasian Kestrel and a Raddes Warbler.
(October 10th MH) Two new birds for the area, 15 Black Bazas were seen circling above, the other bird was a solitary Blue Rock Thrush bringing the figure for the area to 192. They also count as returnees, being migrants.
(October 11th MH) One returnee, a Common Moorhen, it was being harassed by two Little Grebes on Little Grebe Pond. I think they must have taken me seriously when I gave it that name, they certainly acted as if they owned it.
(October 12th MH) Excuse my spelling but it was a raptorous day today. Two Rufous-winged Buzzards, one Crested Serpent Eagle, one Crested Honey Buzzard, one Common Buzzard and one Peregrine Falcon were seen. A single Olive-backed Pipit has returned
(October 13th HTT) I decided to check out the progress on the road at Huay Tung Tao, it is now well graded and a pleasure to travel on. A single Forest Wagtail was spotted and a flock of 20 + Red-rumped Swallows were seen roosting in a dead tree, I can’t recall seeing that many together. Another bird of interest was the Grey-headed Flycatcher, interesting because as far as I can make out it is an altitudinal migrant. It seems to disappear from the lowlands, around here, to breed in the foothills and higher elevations.

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