Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Drumming up competition


Tree Sparrow by Yurie Ball

(April 28th HTT) More rain last night and by the time I got out this morning there was just a light drizzle which disappeared after the first half hour. The overcast sky persisted until nearly 10am, so it was quite a pleasant, cool morning.
A Blue-bearded Bee-eater made its presence known with its coarse language, gutteral croaking noises, I then spotted it sitting on a bending bamboo frond. It is a big bee-eater at 35 centimetres.
Saw the lone Pond-Heron again but this time it wasn’t alone, it was sitting high up in a tree with another pond-heron, this one was in full breeding plumage so probably won’t stay long.
I’m so full of myself! I heard a Shikra calling so called back to it and gradually it came to me, think again Ball! It turned out that it was coming to its nest which was in the top of a nearby tree and it eventually settled itself onto its eggs. The nest was an untidy collection of twigs. I have what I’m sure is a unique calling ability and this was brought about by my brother as we were somersaulting around a lawn as kids, his shoe clipped me in the teeth and chipped the two front one’s (I have since forgiven him). But this incident now allows me to produce these calls through the gap in the teeth. But I have to admit, some birds will come to any old noise out of curiosity.

(April 30th HTT) Today there were more Brown Shrikes than I’ve ever seen in one morning, there were ten of them, four together. Two of them seemed to be displaying which I thought unusual, I was under the impression that they waited until they got to their breeding grounds before they started that.
Just after I thought we had seen the last of our Barn Swallows a flock of 20+ were seen this morning. I do hope that the lonely one I’ve been seeing joins them in their northerly flight to their breeding grounds.
A pair of Rufous Woodpeckers were seen inspecting a hole in a tree and I’m fairly certain they didn’t dig it out themselves. It was in a pretty obvious place and I’m sure I would have seen them at work if they had.
There are quite a few young birds about, six young Coppersmith Barbets seen in various places around the area, ten Green Bee-eaters also dispersed around the area and three Red-wattled Lapwings trotting along the water margin. These delinquents weren’t obeying the parent birds, whenever there is a hint of danger they are told in no uncertain terms to keep under cover. Meanwhile the parent birds were dive-bombing me and Suk my assistant was laughing her head off, I don’t know why but they never attack her.
In the last 15 visits I have seen the Ruddy-breasted Crake 13 times. I’ve had people who have come over with this bird on their lists as a ‘special’ and I haven’t been able to show it to them, sometimes we heard it but that’s not good enough. Now that it’s promenading most mornings no one is coming to see it, I think that is a prime example of “Murphy’s Law”.

(May 1st HTT) Now that I know the area the Yellow-bellied Warbler prefers it is easier to locate. It’s still elusive but at this time of year it sings a lot so I know it’s still there.
A White-browed Piculet was seen drumming madly on bamboo and that started off another two, each in nearby bamboo thickets.
A lesser Coucal gave a display of how much can go into producing a pretty mediocre call. The body quivers and the neck arches up then forward and down, the quivering is during the hiccupping part and the arching is during the hooting part.
The female Shikra was sitting on the edge of her nest peering down at me peering up at her
Last and least, there seem to be a lot more Tree Sparrows around than I ever remember seeing before, in this particular area.

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