Friday, April 13, 2007

A Chinese Ballet?


A refurbished Purple Sunbird's nest


Doi Suthep in an unsmogged condition due to last night's rain

(April 11th HTT) Temp. at 0630 24c. More fires on Doi Suthep.
Spotted a Red-throated Flycatcher with its new red throat it is certainly living up to its name now.
All the migrant warblers were singing their understated songs today, plus a Siberian Rubythroat added its song, a song that one really has to strain to hear. The Common Koels are still letting us know they are around, their strident calls and bubbling calls drowning out all others, except for, maybe, the Black-collared Starling, only a female Black-collared Starling could fall for this earsplitting screech! Four Black-naped Orioles seen, heard and recorded. Another six Crow-billed Drongos seen and this time I had my recorder ready but they wouldn’t oblige, I don’t have much luck with them.

(April 12th HTT) A pleasant surprise to hear the 5 note ascending whistle of the Drongo Cuckoo, a few minutes later, after I had imitated its call, it flew into a nearby tree and showed me the white chevron markings on the undertail to confirm it. As its name suggests it is very drongo-like in appearance.
Also spotted a Black-winged Cuckoo-Shrike, another bird that is always a pleasure to see. In the same tree a group of Common Ioras were flashing their white rumps and in addition when they flew their wings produced a very noticeable ‘brrrup’ sound, this is part of their display.
Odds and ends: A Violet Cuckoo seen. The Ruddy-breasted Crake is now parading the same piece of shoreline most mornings and finally a display that will forever remain in my mind. This was an aerial ballet performed by 12 Chinese Pond-Herons, in their new gaudy plumage, as they dropped down to the edge of a small pond. I’m sure that they didn’t consciously choreograph this but it was all done with great precision and grace, weaving and swerving and crossing each others path as they descended to the ground, it really deserved more of an audience than just me.

(April 13th HTT) ‘Friday the 13th’ but nothing more sinister happened than an Asian Barred Owlet making an indecisive dive at me when I got too close to its nesting hole. The same owl and same nesting hole I described the other day.
Some weeks ago I mentioned a Purple Sunbird and its nest, well after bringing up the young it abandoned the nest. Today I saw another female, or maybe the same one, working on it. This architect decided it wanted something neo-modern to improve on the old nest and added a blob of what looked like cotton wool to the bottom of the nest (see photo). What did surprise me was that the nest was being re-used, I can’t say that I have come across that before, nesting holes, yes but old nests?
Odds and ends: An Asian Brown Flycatcher seen, they always seem to have a ‘gaunt’ look about them compared to the Red-throated Flycatcher. A Black-throated Laughingthrush seen singing in a tree, not the most melodic rendition I have heard but I’m sure it will improve as the breeding season progresses. A young Coppersmith Barbet seen peering out of its nesting hole. A Crested Serpent Eagle seen and heard calling as it soared skywards and finally a Yellow Bittern seen skulking in the reeds. We had some rain last night and this morning the sky was clear and we could see Doi Suthep in all its beauty.

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