Monday, December 28, 2009

Emerald Cuckoo

This shiny little bird always causes excitement. Quite easy to observe at Pah Gloaymai campsite at Khao Yai during the right time of year. It is simply very busy gleaning grubs from the fairly low trees found at the campsite.

Monday, December 21, 2009


I seldom get to see Common and Spotted Redshanks next to each other.
Here we can clearly see the difference in bill, size, supercilium and plumage.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I have been busy taking out visiting birders of late. The primThe top bird of course being the threatened Spoon-billed Sandpiper.
Inspite of it's presence it is never that easy to find as the bird change feeding pans according best water level in the pans. Still, on each occasion when the bird was a priority on the agenda the bird was seen.

A very exciting addition to our avifauna since a couple of years back is the White-faced Plover. There is only one confirmed individual here this year at Lampakbia but this individual has proven to be reliable.
Sometimes during hightide it does move away a bit from the sandspit but always reappears as the tide begins to go down.
Isn't he a charmer?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Speckled Boobook and Sulawesi Scops Owl

We first saw one of these at Gunung Ambung. Then we were taken to an abandoned building by a research station where this bird has been roosting for several years. This species apparently isn't that common.

The Sulawesi Scops Owl was heard frequently and as many a scops owl eager to respond to playback.
This one from Ambung as well.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ochre-bellied Boobook

One thing that stood out to me while in Minahassa, Sulawesi, was the relative ease at which one could spot Owls.
Not to say that I would have found these on my own. Our guide at Tangkokok, Samuel, knew of this day time roost for Ochre-bellied Boobook. There were 3 birds next to a fallen tree. The birds watched us as we approached but didn't feel alarmed enough to take off. I wasn't able to get a clean shot of all 3 birds. The one to the left I believe is the young and the one to the right the female adult.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Red-bellied Pitta

There isn't much that can live up to the excitement of getting a new Pitta species. In this case I knew the Red-bellied wouldn't be that hard once I was within its distribution range. But how to get to either the PI or Sulawesi.
Happily so, Airasia opened up a route from KL to Manado. Prompto, there I was!
I wanted to see the many endemic birds to the island but the Pitta was still my top of the list bird.

Samuel, the guide at Tangkoko knew the whereabouts of a pair. I had seen poor views of it at Tambun and was keen to get the 'real thing'. Samuel whistled and soon the birds responded. It was amazing to see how relatively confiding they were. Try doing that with a Blue or Eared Pitta in Thailand and you'll see what I mean.

I still struggled to get good shots as there were a lot of branches, bushes, etc blocking from clear views.
Eventually I ended up with these and a memorable encounter.....

Monday, October 19, 2009

Kingfisher Paradise

Tangkoka forest reserve (or is it National Park?) at the Northern tip of Minhassa region in Sulawesi is an incredible place for Kingfishers. I saw 9 different species in 3 days. This one is a bird of the forest. Very approachable as it sits motionless waiting for a prey. It was difficult to get shots without flash and the flash tends to enhance the colors a bit much but, still, lovely looking bird it is.

Lilac Kingfisher, endemic to Sulawesi

The Green-backed Kingfisher is a bit bigger and more numerous. It also hunts in wooded areas and can be approached real close with care. Endemic to Sulawesi.

Sulawesi Dwarf Kingfisher

An incredible shiny little jewel of the interior forest. Very approachable.
Also endemic.

Ruddy Kingfisher

Even though not an endemic or lifer for me, I still just love the color of this bird and I think it is the prettiest of them all.

This one was perched over a stream.

Black-billed Kingfisher

lives in the mangroves and a boat ride was necessary to get to see them

I also saw Common Kingfisher, Sacred Kingfisher and Collared Kingfisher

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Pied Kingfisher

It may not be colorful but it has character and style. Loves to hover in the air before striking a mortal blow to an unexpected pray.
Not easily found in Thailand but nevertheless occurs in a wide area in the Central region. This is a breeding pair from the great Chaopraya river in Ayutthaya province.
I got these from a blind.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Huay Hong Krai, Chiang Mai

Huay Hong Krai, 20 some kilometers out of Chiang Mai on the way to Chiang Rai is where one needs to go to see Green Peafowl in the wild. Well, some don't think they originate from a wild population but I can testify to the lack of tameness of these birds. They are easily shooed away and outright hard to get a decent shot of.

As big as they are they readily take to higher branches when alarmed.

I saw a flock of 6 birds that took off from high in the trees and flew across the waters nearby to settle in the forest across. Quite a sight to see these huge birds in flight.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Doi Inthanon

I was in the North for a week with my family doing some very exciting school programs in the hills. More about that later. I managed to sneak up on Doi Inthanon one morning. It is past the breeding season and too early for migrants at this altitude. One of my absolute favorite birds up at the bog (2565m a.s.l) is the tiny Pygmy Wren Babbler.
The penetrating call of the bird is easy to identify but to spot the bird in the moss laden montane oak forest is another thing. I was so pleased to get a decent shot of it.

Another tiny and incredibly active bird from the bog at the summit: Rufous-winged Fulvetta. They move about in small parties in search for food. Very hard to get a shot of.

In Thailand I only know of one 'sure spot' to see the Snowy-browed Flycatcher and that is at the bog of the Summit of Doi Inthanon. The bird is actually seen in many a high mountain in SEA and when I visited Mt. Kinabalu it was one of the most common passerines. Here is a shot of the handsome male.

One of the most common birds of the Summit is this colorful little bird. It moves about in small flocks and is always on the move.

Silver-eared Laughingthrush ( split from Chestnut-crowned) is another common resident bird easily seen.

There were a few other birds around such as the resident Ashy-throated Warbler and White-tailed Warbler.
Yellow-bellied Fantail was doing its usual acrobatic flying sorties but I decided to head down to the jeep track instead.

I managed to see a Slaty-bellied Tesia but no picture. Instead I used playback with my voice recorder and managed one single shot of a Lesser Shortwing. This is a different race from the one seen in Peninsular Malaysia and Java.

After that I went for to have lunch at Mr Daeng's restaurant. He now has 6 rooms for rent at 500 Baht/room.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Plain Prinia

Breeding is still happening in the wetlands. The Plain Prinia is the most common prinia. Prinias are resident warblers that inhabit marshes, grasslands and secondary growth. The rarest are Brown and Hill Prinia found only on mountains further North.
Anyone visiting Central Thailand evidently has to encounter the Plain Prinia. It love to perch exposed from a reed, a bush, a stick etc. It has a monotonous call zee-zee-zee-zee that is easily heard.

Here it is perching a few meters from its nest checking that the 'coast is clear' before bringing the grub to the chicks.

Some sort of a smaller cricket will also do.

The nest with the opening on the top.

Leaving for some more grubs.

Easy fieldmarks is the long and often cocked tail and white supercilium.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Small Minivet

One of the more colorful bird found in some larger parks in the Bangkok area.
These shots are from King's Park (Suan Luang) which isn't too far from the Suwanaphom airport.
News of a male Yellow-rumped Flycatcher drew me to the park on Satuday morning.
The bird was not co-operative for close shots. There were atleast 20 Thai bird photographers trying their best.
Instead, at about 8:45 a flock of about 15 of these lovely birds came by.
They are quite vocal with their peeping calls.

It was a mixture of males, females and young birds. One male adult had the company of a young bird which was very demanding. The father had to work very hard to find grubs for it.

Sometimes it seemed that the birds would 'dance in the air' as they did little tumbles and flew against the wind then letting the wind carry them before doing some more acrobatics. Very nice to observe these colorful birds at close range.

Here is a brightly colored male:

And here is the young bird with wings spread and calling for food:

Daddy comes to rescue:

The female is a lot plainer looking but still has some color:

Nice wing patterns from the male:

A more erect perch:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Eurasian Thick-knee

This is a bird not often seen in Thailand. There is a fairly regular population at an arid area in western part of Petburi province but it involves a bit of a drive. I have seen individuals in arid areas near Kaengkrachan park as well.
However, when this bird appeared in a suburban park of Bangkok it was unusual.
The park is huge and has had some good records of late such as Fairy Pitta: new species for Thailand, and Narcissus Flycatcher.

I got wind of the bird through some local websites and knew where to look for it. It was said to be on a small 'island' called 'dog island'. This is a place where stray dogs as well as unwanted dogs are sheltered.
I drove the loop slowly in search for my bird but failed to see it. Decided to step out of the car in hope of flushing it.
Did those dogs ever bark at a large caocasian on their grounds! I walked around and finally decided to get back to the car. That is when I flushed the bird. Off it flew. I followed it with my eyes, quickly got the engine going and drove after it.
It sweetly decided to land on an open lawn. Yes! Now I knew I had a chance. I stopped, got out my 'walking blind' and with me inside moved towards my target.

There are only 9 species of Thick-knees in the world. This is the most common on northern grounds as these birds are primarily found in the southern continents. Formerly known as Stone-Curlew. I suspect the name derives from the sort of Curlew like 'wailing' sound it makes. And Stone I suppose comes from the arid area it prefers to dwell in.
Now it is called a 'thick-knee'....which this image clearly depicts.

It is primarily crepuscular (active at dusk and dawn) and spend the day sleeping.
When it is alarmed it lays down as cover.

The most striking thing about the bird to me is the large eye. Maybe they should be called 'Big-eyes'?

This was my nicest image.

All taken with Canon 30D and 400F5.6 handheld.