Thursday, November 23, 2006


Blue Magpie by John Moore

(November 20th HTT) A White-browed Piculet seen drumming, very interesting, it drums mostly on bamboo and sounds a little like someone tapping out morse code. So close to morse code, in fact, that I’m sure I picked out an S.O.S. but it didn’t appear to be in any trouble. One returnee today a Common Sandpiper. The Black-capped Kingfisher, a passage migrant, is still with us and today I managed to record its call which is very similar to the call of the White-throated Kingfisher. A juvenile Common Buzzard seen making some extremely clumsy landings as it flew ahead of us from tree to tree. As it’s a migrant one wonders how it made the journey from the northern climes to us here in Chiang Mai.

(November 21st Mae Hia) We have five different Spotted Owlets in the area, two can usually be found sitting on telephone lines and the other three on an exposed branch in a leafy tree. They will sit there staring down at you and occasionally move their heads from side to side to get a better look at you. They could certainly stare me down.

Raptors galore today, 3 Crested Honey-Buzzards (one dark morph), 12 Black Bazas circling in the sky, 1 Common Buzzard and a Rufous-winged Buzzard. This latter bird was sitting on a dead tree and interestingly had a snake clamped in its talons. We managed to get quite close and the snake, what was left of it, was about 70-80 centimetres long.The buzzard had started with the head and that was long gone by the time we arrived on the scene but every time the bird tore a strip off it its body writhed and curled up on itself. The thing was dead but was still reacting, amazing.

(November 23rd Mae Hia) 50+ Chestnut-tailed Starlings seen, in those sort of numbers they must have been heading for a fruiting or flowering tree. Talking of numbers, at least 12 Blue Magpies were seen. They don’t exactly fly in a flock but one at a time float across the sky to their next destination, giving their little screeches as they go.

I’m a little worried about our rare Long-tailed Shrike (Chinese/Vietnamese-Nominate race) as there is a spate of chopping and mowing going on and its habitat is fast disappearing. A few Siberian Rubythroats will also be affected but I’m not too worried as there are dozens of them around the area. They skulk in low bushes and long grass but occasionally pop up to take a look around. A flock of Baya Weavers were seen and all the males were in their drab winter plumage and resembling females.

So finally, what with ‘progress’ I don’t expect things to get any better, habitat destruction is part of this so-called progress. It may benefit us humans in the short term but in the long term will be our downfall.


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