Friday, January 04, 2008

A shrinkage of birds ?


Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker by Yurie Ball

(December 24th. HTT) This year there seem to be a drop in numbers within the species seen. For example the Common Moorhen down to 2-3 whereas we we used to see 10+. Both Kingfishers, the common and white-throated are always there but in lesser numbers. no Little Grebes have been seen on the lake this year compared to 3-4 in previous years.A lone Common Sandpiper was seen today which again leads me to mention that the waders are also in short supply – not as many Common Snipe seen as in usual years along with the, normally solitary, Green Sandpiper. The Richard’s Pipit and the Rufous-winged Bushlark are also sparse on the ground. But, today produced a fairly respectable count of 56 species seen and 10 species identified by call, go figure! (I always wanted to use that expression).

(December 31st. HTT) My ‘Breakfast Tree’ was fairly busy this morning. The Yellow-vented Flowerpecker made its usual entrance at the top of the tree and then disappeared into the dense foliage. A Verditer Flycatcher put in a brief appearance, A flock of 15+ Japanese White-eyes made there way busily through the tree, a male and female Black-naped Monarch were also seen giving their pwish-pwash call. A Grey-headed Flycatcher entertained us with its usual aerobatics in the lower branches plus 3 or 4 Scarlet-backed Flowerpeckers, a few Inornate Warblers were also present and sundry Bulbuls. All this in the time it took me to eat my thick pea and ham soup.
In one patch of woodland there was a mobbing scene going on but I couldn’t see what was being mobbed. Obviously a flock of 20+ White-crested Laughingthrushes could as they were cackling away, taking no notice of me. Along with them were 2 male White-rumped Shamas churring away and a whole host of smaller birds adding their shrieks of indignation.
Another fruiting tree was taken over by 10+ Lineated Barbets. By fruit we imagine apples, oranges, pears etc. but these fruit were clumps of small unappetising looking brown berries, but each to his own.

(January 3rd. 2008 Mae Hia) Rather a shock to find that one of my popular ponds had its surrounding mimosa bushes and reeds cut right down to the bare earth. Contemplating my navel would have been more productive than trying to find a bird around that pond!! Also a lot of the other wild patches have been burnt but just enough was left to make it worthwhile for the birds to visit. So the count wasn’t bad at 61 species seen and 9 identified by call.
Some of the birds seen in the burnt out area were a flock of 40+ Baya Weavers, male and females indistinguishable at this time of year. The Long-tailed Shrike, nominate race, was still persevering against all odds to eke out a living in this burnt patch. Yet another exhibitionistic male Siberian Rubythroat put in an appearance and churked and squeaked in indignation at us for daring to get so close to it. Another fruiting tree produced a splash of bright yellow which turned out to be a Black-naped Oriole and it was accompanied by a host of mixed bulbuls. Farther on a Banded Bay Cuckoo was heard calling using its ascending series of notes. A Ruddy-breasted Crake was seen skulking in some overhanging undergrowth in another pond and what stood out were its bright reddish/orange eyes and the black and white barring under its tail. And finally but in fact the first birds of note we came across was a flock of Lesser-whistling Ducks in the Office Pond. I say they were in the pond but as we put in an appearance they all took off together and I estimated that there were 400+ in the flock. At least that pond has been left alone but one wonders for how long!

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