Saturday, 23 January 2010

Phetchaburi Province: A Few Birds

By sheer coincidence I live close to serious bird action and today's photos indicate what is on offer less than hour from my home. Today once more to Khao Yoi, a 30 minute drive from home, just down the Petchkasem highway. Firstly an aerial shot of a black kite. 

Black kite, milvus migrans, Khao Yoi, 23.01.10

These birds abound in Khao Yoi and I have read one recent report of several thousand of them roosting in the area. Yesterday we saw about 20 kites today there were about 10 or so. The snap shows the limitations of my equipment but the key diagnostic is the fan tail. The birds in the blog strap are also black kites photographed at Huai Mai Teng Resevoir a few months ago.

Next a female pied harrier, I believe, which was in the same area checking out the kites with a friend. I saw the bird when it was just above the ground and the diagnostic white uppertail-covert band was visible as it cavorted about before soaring off. Unfortunately my camera was in the car when it was just above the ground!

Pied harrier, circus melanoleucos,  Khao Yai 23.01.10

I then headed off to count waterbirds and I couldn't resist this purple swamphen. There were two in a pond but this is the best shot. This is a pretty common bird but I really like its colouring.
Purple swamphen, porphyrio porphyrio,  Khao Yoi 23.01.10

I have to say the Asian Waterbird Census has really been great in terms of my development as a bird watcher. I now understand how difficult it is to count birds due to the amount of movement. Take a disused fish might contain 1-2,000 birds, most of which are fairly common: black-winged stilt, chinese pond heron, marsh sandpiper, green sandpiper, greenshank, common redshank, spotted redshank, little egret, grey heron and the like. Enter yours truly, and I start counting when all of a sudden the birds fly 100 metres further up the pond to join several hundred similar birds. How do you know which ones you have counted and which ones you don't?! 

Oh and then there are the not insignificant problems of separating the greenshanks from the marsh sandpipers.Well let me say I think I can distinguish marsh sandpipers from greenshanks, the latter have a stouter bill and it has a slight upward tilt. They are also more slender. I have seen so many birds of both species over the last few days I think I can finally separate them. Now a little work on green and wood sandpiper. 

Green sandpiper, tringa ochropus,  Khao Yoi 23.01.10

I headed off in search of raptors at about 17:15h and I wasn't alone. I met a group of Thai birders who had sighted steppe and imperial eagles during the day. I managed a couple of shots of this eastern marsh harrier. I like the one of including a sunset  which for artistic purposes is uncropped!

Eastern marsh harrier, circus spilonotus,  Khao Yai 23.01.10

Not bad birding for a few hours in the afternoon about 30 minutes from home!

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