I paid a first visit to my favourite local birding site, Huai Mai Teng Reservoir, about 35 kms west of Ratchaburi on the road to Suan Phueng and the Myanmar border. My list shows a pied starling, a pied fantail, a pied harrier and a pied kingfisher!
I attach a cropped shot of the pied kingfisher. Unfortunately it was taken about 18:00h and the light was very poor and I was unable to get much closer. The things I could do with a 400 mm lens! The photo has no real merit but it is nevertheless great in terms of helping me with correct identification. I would hate to miss out on a crested kingfisher! Even though the latter is about 10 cms bigger this picture shows the pied has an all black tail and that is for me a key diagnostic. This bird actually put up an excellent show for about 5 minutes as it was feeding; it hovered in warm air and then swooped down to pluck something from the water below it and as it did so it made its quite distinctive shrill sound.
Pied kingfisher, ceryle rudis, Huay Mai Teng Reservoir, Ratchaburi Province, 10.01.10
The pied harrier flew up out of scrub as I walked along. Unfortunately I had my binoculars over my camera strap and a scope/tripod on my shoulder so I was unable to snap it. It was a male with distinctive black head, white body and black cross section on upperside. This is a bird that fills me with awe but it moved away swiftly. I'd love to get a snap of the male in particular, it just looks like the complete avian killing machine. I also sighted one other unidentified harrier high in the sky but it had gone by the time I had got the bins out!
I guess the pied fantail is very much taken for granted as it is very common. What it has is a beautiful, variable sound, a real songster. It seems to pop up all over the place: deep in Kaeng Krachan, this local reservoir and this photo was taken in our front garden!
pied fantail, rhipidura javanica, Don Tako, Ratchaburi, 31.12.09
Otherwise I am not sure if I sighted a green or a common iora. No photograph. The Oriental Bird Club Image Database doesn't help me to rule it out but what is against me is that it is quite rare and only seen in the south of Thailand. Very green and very disinctive eye ring. I have learned it takes a lot of experience to call some species so in this instance I'll just mark it as a possible!
Now here is a dilemma.....looks like I sighted a rain quail. Unfortunately no picture but I had two of them in my scope as they fed in grass near the reservoir. They didn't come out into the open but they were jumping up presumably to feed off flies. Very distinctive markings and I took time to note their details: "black/gold streaking - vertical, thick; black eye; double line under eye, black, white, black mesial line under chin; black breast." My dilemma is I marked this up as a barred buttonquail! Of course now that I have had a good look at the field book buttonquail have horizontal markings on their breasts and it looks as if the only bird it can be is the rain quail due to the black breast. This is confirmed by the Oriental Bird Image Database. I best try to sight it on my next trip before I claim it!
Not bad really for three hours entertainment mid-afternoon. Add in many commoners, red-mottled lapwing, white-throated kingfisher, black drongo, barn swallow, little egret, green bee-eater, black-headed bulbul, little grebe, black-winged stilt, intermediate egrets....As far as I know I am the only person who covers this location. I think I might make this my patch! I have seen a lot of good birds in this area.
Lovely to be out looking at birds for the first time this year. Unfortunately I have been very busy one way or another.