Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Harrier got harried!

Great Barbet by Yurie Ball

(December 8, 2006 HTT) count 67-9, a fairly good count for HTT and among them was a juvenile Red Avadavat. The only thing that kept it from being labelled a ‘little brown job’ was its bright orange bill. The uncommon Oriental Turtle-Dove occasionally becomes common for a while. Four seen today and in February and March a flock of up to 12 birds was seen almost every day. As for the Ruddy-breasted Crake heard again today, it is a very frustrating bird, heard often but seldom seen. I now speak of it with the emphasis on the Ruddy, as in ‘where is that Ruddy-breasted crake!' A lone Grey Heron was seen in its effortless flight going down the length of the lake, a beautiful sight.
I know it’s not a bird but it’s worth a mention and that is the mongoose. I see them quite often as I did today, wandering along a track or just crossing it, shades of Rudyard Kipling’s Riki Tiki Tavi.

(December 9th Mae Hia) Six raptors today, they are almost becoming ‘Old Hat’, Ah, but one of them was nothing like an old hat. It was a Black eagle! It’s a whopping bird at nearly 80cm. and it flew at tree-height over our heads with yellow legs plainly in sight. I’ve only ever seen it once before. It’s a new bird for the area along with a Great Barbet. The barbet was a little surprising as it is usually found above 600m. but I do have it down as having been seen at Huay Tung Tao, once. This brings the number for Mae Hia to 200spp.
Weatherwise things have been warming up. From early morning temperatures of 11-12c the previous week, today’s temperature was 19c. and yesterday’s 18c.

(December 11th HTT) A new bird for the area, a Plain Flowerpecker and it has earned its name. It really qualifies as an LBJ (little brown job). It has nothing to redeem it except, of course, that it now brings the number up to 241 spp. I forgot that today was the last day of a long weekend. The place was packed with joggers, cyclists and noisy campers.

(December 13th HTT) And yet another new bird for the area, a White-browed Fantail bringing the figure to 242spp. A delightful bird to watch but it must get tired. Not only is it forever fanning its tail but it twitches its body from side to side without stopping. But the bird of the day was a male Pied Harrier, it was sitting on the ground when first spotted. It soon flew off when a mob of smaller birds took umbrage at its presence. This male is one of the easier harriers to identify being black and white. To differentiate between the females one has to look for other identifying marks, and on the wing and at a distance they can be difficult to spot. A Blue-throated Barbet was seen and is unusual at this level, only seen once before at HTT. The White-vented Mynahs and the Common Mynahs seem to have deserted the area, didn’t see one today. Even the Black-collared Starlings are few and far between.


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