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.

Asian Golden Weaver



The rain season is the best time to find these lovely little birds. Restricted to a fairly small range and being threatened by loss of suitable breeding habitat help to make them sought after.



They are fairly easy to take note of as they are very active in their breeding colonies. I often see them in colonies of up to 20 pairs. Birds fly in and out and vocalize a lot. I have started seeing more nesting birds in small groups of 2-3 pairs. Possibly an indication of the increasing difficulty in finding suitable habitat?


The male is strikingly golden whereas the female have more of the traditional colors of a sparrow.



Here is the female bringing some nesting material. From what I have observed it is only the males that build the nest and it is up to the females to accept or reject. I often see empty nests in a colony so obviously not all nests pass inspection. The female seem to be the one to patch up the inside if the nest.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nakorn Nayok, part 3

Here is what most folks come to look for at the Military Academy, Malaysian Night Heron. Mainly crepuscular and having a preference to inside the forest as well as rare in Thailand makes it for a rare sighting. Outside of the Botanical Garden in Taipeh I don't know where to see it this easy. However it is only during a few months in the rainy season that it shows.


It feeds totally in the open in between a few stands of trees. I suppose it rely on its sight for protection. It flies off when approached openly. However, it is rather easy to fool as all one has to do is get into a 'walking blind' and move in on it.



It has a hunched appearance but the silhouette is conspicuous making it easy to spot once in the open.

Nakorn Nayok, part 2a



The Vinous-breasted Starling is a resident and mostly sedentary bird not encountered that often.



I remember my first sighting of this bird at a friends house in the middle of Bangkok many years ago. Boy, was I surprised. I can still go for long periods without seeing one as it isn't very numerous.
At the Military Academy there were 6 birds (biggest group I have seen) on the lawn.
Superficially resembling Black-collared Starling but easily separated by their smaller size.



This Black-collared Starling was collecting a lot of worms and I suspect it must be feeding young as well.

Nakorn Nayok, part 2



This colorful bird is quite common in a variety of open habitats. It is never easy to approach as it will fly off while flashing its blue wings glistering in the sunlight. This bird was obliging. Probably a young bird. Young birds seem to be like humans, not fully aware of the dangers in the world around them.

Another very common bird in the grasslands is the Red-wattled Lapwing. When alarmed it takes to its wings while uttering its loud song: 'dtae wae wet'

Monday, August 17, 2009

Nakorn Nayok, part 1a



The birds often call from higher up in a tree as seen here.

They also come out to sun themselves, dry their feathers, in the morning sun.


Best way to approach the birds is to remain in the car using it as a blind.

Nakorn Nayok, part 1



June-Aug is absolutely the best time for seeing Blue-winged Pittas. These birds migrate from Indonesia to breed in the wet season when there is a lot of food supply for them.

The Military Acadamy at Nakorn Nayok is located adjoining Khao Yai national park. It is a lush area with landscaped lawns, stands of trees, secondary growth and some hills with more mature forest. It is easy to get to some 80 km from where I live in Northern Bangkok.

The Pittas can be heard in their diagnostic calls all over the area. Easiest time to see them is in the early morning after a night of rain. The soil is soft and loads of worms are available. The Pittas then emerge from the thick vegetation to 'pile up' their worms for their chicks. It is interesting to observe how they sometimes put the worms down just to pick them up again. Sort of like giving themselves a break before they bring the worms to the nest.