Sunday, January 27, 2008

Things are just ticking over


Long-tailed Broadbill - photo by Chatree Pitakpaivan

(January 14th. HTT) I was just coming to the conclusion that the Black-capped Kingfisher which, in previous years, has stayed with us instead of passing through on its way south had abandoned us. Well, I spotted one this morning. As you might have gathered this bird is a passage migrant up here in the north. In the previous three years it was regularly seen during the winter months until it was time to migrate back north.

A flock of Crested Treeswifts was spotted this morning. The first indication of this bird’s presence is usually its kee-kyew call as it flies overhead. Even knowing it’s there it can sometimes be difficult to spot, like all swifts it is built for speed with narrow body and wings.

As nothing much else happened this morning I thought it worthwhile mentioning some of the birds that inhabit the overgrown lot at the back of my house. Two or three Siberian Rubythroats can be heard ‘cherking’ and ‘squeaking’ in the early morning in the thorny mimosa bushes, two Brown Shrikes sitting on vantage points spend quite a lot of time ‘churring’ at each other, no doubt defending their territory. Plain Prinias and the Grey-throated Prinias are often seen lurking in the undergrowth together with unknown numbers of White-breasted Waterhens. A Blue Rock Thrush (male) can usually be found perched on our rooftop carrying out its usual bobbing and tail-cocking posturing. In fact one could spend a morning looking out of my bedroom window and not get bored at all. The calls of the Asian Barred Owlet, the Greater Coucal, the Coppersmith Barbet, and various Bulbuls form a background orchestra to all this activity.

(January 22nd. HTT) Took out a party of four this morning and managed a count of 53 species seen and 5 identified by call. One bird of note seen was an Osprey flying low over the lake – having guests with me it was a good bird to come across. Others seen were a flock of 12 Blue Magpies feeding in a Silk cotton Tree (Bombax Ceiba). This is the time of year when many of the trees start flowering and these flowers attract many different species of birds. One could spend hours just watching as the different species come and go from these trees.

(Saturday 26th. KMP) Up in the mountains today at Ka Mu Phuket with friend John and we added another two species to our list bringing it to 197 species. These were the Great Tit and the Chestnut-bellied Rock-Thrush. The latter bird I almost mistook for the Blue Rock-Thrush (M..s. philippensis) It wasn’t until I saw the female on the next branch with its scaly belly and distinctive pale throat and neck markings that I realised it was the male Chestnut-bellied Rock-Thrush.

Another pleasant surprise was to see a flock of 10+ Long-tailed Broadbills flying across a gap in the trees, an amazingly colourful bird and with such clear delineation between the colours that it could have been dreamt up by Walt Disney for one of his animated films. Finally, the ever present Silver-eared Mesias were there, in fact we were hearing flocks of them every 100 metres or so.

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