Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The April heatwave is upon us!


Common Koel (male) photo by John Moore

(April 19th HTT) Was out with two clients, Paul and Pauline and it was a fairly successful morning number-wise, 57 species seen and 9 identified by call. A Forest Wagtail did what it is supposed to do, flew up from the ground when we disturbed it onto a low branch and proceeded to show itself off. It paraded along the branch so that we could get a good look at all of its markings but wagtail is rather a misnomer as it wags its whole body from side to side.
Two Cinnamon Bitterns were seen flying across a small pond. We will see more of them as the breeding season progresses, they become less shy as they ply to and from their nests to feed their young. Also they will become more vocal, clucking and croaking, as they vie for mates.
Odds and Ends. The Ruddy-breasted Crake is still promenading on its own stretch of shoreline. A little Egret has shown up regularly in the last few days, the Little Heron is still with us and the easily identified Black-capped Kingfisher was seen as it was chased out of a tree by a pair of Ashy Wood-Swallows. A Black-naped Oriole was heard calling and then seen sitting in a dead tree.
My assistant Suk as usual provided many birds with her great aptitude on the telescope. She also produced her usual outstanding breakfast of a thick pea and bacon soup, ham and cheese sandwiches, honey cake and bananas, all set out on a table and us seated in comfortable chairs. One really doesn’t have to suffer when looking for birds, more often than not the birds will come to you.

(April 20th HTT) A new bird today the Yellow-bellied Warbler. Another case of ‘why haven’t I seen it before’. This bird has a preference for a bamboo habitat and we have plenty of that at Huay Tung Tao, but better late than never. It was its high, tinkling, short and fast call, of course in the bamboo, that brought it to my attention. That brings the numbers to 248 species for the area.
The pair of Plain-backed Sparrows are still waiting patiently for the Coppersmith Barbet family to vacate their nesting hole. I’m just wondering how many young there are, only one at a time can appear at the entrance to receive food. Usually they produce 2-4 young.
Two more migrant species that are still with us are the Common Snipe and the Eurasian Kestrel. Three Brown Shrikes, also migrants, were seen in their individual territories as opposed to none being seen there yesterday. The Black-capped Kingfisher was seen again as a bright splash of colour, black, red, white, chestnut and blue, against the green mountain as it flew along the shoreline of the lake. Beautiful!

(April 23rd HTT) A new bird for the area, a male Daurian Redstart a really flashy bird and in good plumage (249spp). I had seen one in the vicinity before but that was before I decided to make the area a project site. Another poor day number-wise, either I was flagging or the birds were keeping undercover due to the heat. Heard the ascending call of the Drongo Cuckoo but couldn’t spot it. The Ruddy-breasted Crake still parading in the same spot, this time alongside a Common Sandpiper. The Common Koels are still keeping up their incessant shrieking, mostly the males but also abetted by the females.

(April 24th HTT) Another poor day and this time I decided to take the temperature twice. At 0600 it was 24c and by 0840 it was 42c, no wonder the birds went undercover and that I was flagging! But there was some activity, the Coppersmith Barbet family had vacated their nesting hole and two young were seen being fed by two adults. The Plain-backed Sparrows that had be waiting in line to take up residence moved in. Some of the rubbish they were using to furnish the nest was quite amazing. Most of it was bits of plastic bags, straw and I swear I saw a piece of wire going in. No Pond-Herons seen around the lake but two seen on the way in, most seem to have headed north, I wonder if the hot weather has anything to do with it?

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