Thursday, December 21, 2006

Barbets Galore!

Common Koel Photo by John Moore

(December 14th Doi Pui) Took a trip up Doi Suthep/Pui with John and Chan, not a very busy morning birdwise. At km. 16 we saw a Crested Goshawk sitting at the top of a dead tree all huddled up against the cold. Another bird heard in the same place was the Silver-breasted Broadbill, its melancholy 'pee-lu' call held our attention for about a minute. The main excitement of the morning was the traffic jam at the King’s Palace, one solitary policeman looking quite stressed and desperate, you had to feel sorry for him.

(December 18th Mae Hia) New bird for the area (201spp) an uncommon Chinese Sparrowhawk, nearly wrote it off as a Shikra until closer examination. At the risk of going on about this, ad nauseam, six more raptor species seen this morning. It was brought home to me that the Richards Pipit we most often see is the A. n. rufulus.I say this because this morning I came across two A.n. ricardi, they are giants compared to the others and their legs are pinker. The Hair-crested Drongos are being seen more often due to these large trees with large white flowers. They are easy to see because this tree loses it leaves and then the flowers appear.

(December 20th Mae Hia) An excellent new bird for the area this morning (202spp), but you wouldn’t think that to look at it, the rare Russet Sparrow. I almost overlooked it, it was in amongst a flock of Scaly-breasted Munias and the thing that brought it to my attention was the thin bib on its chest and then the rusty head and back. First I thought it was a Plain-backed Sparrow but it had no yellow and then the rest fell into place. Smelly Field came into its own this morning, four male Junglefowl and one female feeding among the cows. The scene did seem to lack authenticity, it looked more like some farmyard with cows and chickens feeding on cabbage leaves. I could have wished for a more jungle-like scene but beggars can’t be choosers. A Hoopoe and two more Richard Pipits A.n. ricardi seen in the same field. I have decided to rename this bend, instead of Stench Bend it will henceforth be known as Flaming Flies Bend. The stench is intermittent but the flies are constant! 15+ Hair-crested Drongos seen in their regular white-flowered tree.

(December 21st HTT) A funny day today, funny peculiar that is. Two Little Egrets flew overhead (yellow feet, black legs and black bill seen) and that’s not unusual but one had its neck stretched straight out and its head twisted down. I watched until out of sight and it never settled its head back into its shoulders as all egrets do when flying. I assume that it must have had some sort of accident. Next, for the last few days there has be an immature Eurasian Kestrel lying/sitting on top of a pyramid shaped haystack in the early morning. My theory is that it is getting the effects of internal combustion from inside the haystack, these have been cold mornings. A leafless fruiting tree has been taken over by 15+ Coppersmith Barbets and 4-5 Lineated Barbets and one female Common Koel. This bird is quite interesting, it is connected to the cuckoo family and is parasitic. I have noticed that they prefer Black-collared Starling as host parents whenever I have come across them up here but they also use Mynahs as hosts.


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