Monday, 25 January 2010


What a day! Wat Norng Bla Lai, my transliteration of the Thai name, is next to Khao Yoi in Phetchaburi province and I reckon I am going to spend a fair amount of time there over the next few weeks. I saw more eagles and other raptors today than I have ever seen with the exception of the Raptor Watch. Today's eagle count: greater spotted, steppe, imperial and a possible booted eagle; other raptors: common kestrel, male & female, pied harrier, black kite, brahminy kite, black shouldered kite. All this about 40 minute's drive from home.

There were a fair number of photographers out with long lenses as the location provides excellent opportunities for photographing these spectacular birds. I have to say the bird that impressed me most was the common kestrel. It really is a work of art. I managed to get a reasonable shot of the female which is below. But as this is the avian world, it is the male who is the work of art, but my pics of the male are just not good enough! They are too indistinct. The real point is that as that I am getting to see these types of birds a wee voice is continually saying: "You need a 400 mm lens to do justice to these birds!"

Common Kestrel, female, falco tinnunculus, Wat Norng Bla Lai, 24.01.10

Ok,then, here is the male. Unfortunately he wouldn't look at the camera and his face is really well worth seeing!

Common Kestrel, male, falco tinnunculus, Wat Norng Bla Lai, 24.01.10

The eagles......what can I say? Well first of all a big thanks to Mr Parn, the local raptorologist, who drove me into the fields and acted as a guide. He's also armed with a 500 mm lens and you can check out his work on his web site Discovery Thai. Even though it is in Thai language, click on some of the links, you will see some great photos.

greater spotted eagle, aquila clanga,Wat Norng Bla Lai, 24.01.10

I believe the diagnostics are shortish wings and slight neck. You can also see the "landing lights" particularily on the higher wing, the visible white spot.I don't know how many different greater spotted eagles we saw but of all the eagles throughout the day this was by far the most common species.  I wish I could show you more detail but alas my photographic equipment limits me. I have done a little research as I have been writing this blog and I rather fancy it might be the Canon 300 mm f/4L IS USM. 

Next up is the impressive sounding steppe eagle, all the way from the Russian steppes, showing astonishing good judgement in a winter destination far away from the inhospitable cold of Siberia. 

steppe eagle, aquila nipalensisWat Norng Bla Lai, 24.01.10

The "nipalensis" in the taxanomic name must mean "Nepalese". Mmmmmmm. 

Finally the imperial eagle, the biggest eagle in Thailand. I have been looking at pics from other photographers. Mmmmm I am sorely tempted to go out and buy that lens. The diagnostic here is the size of the wing span. This becomes rather more obvious when you see it with a large-billed crow. Parn reckons he saw a booted eagle but I really wouldn't know and I have nothing to offer up to support the claim. From what Parn said it would be only the third sighting of the bird this year so I shall no make any outlandish claims! 

imperial eagle, aquila heliaca,Wat Norng Bla Lai, 24.01.10

Here are some random shots of other birds seen today. There were a few pied harriers in attendance but no males. I am particularily pleased with this one as it has cropped reasonably well. I reckon this is a female due to the  visible white uppertail covert band. But, hey, I get them wrong so please feel free to correct me!

pied harrier, circus melanoleucosWat Norng Bla Lai, 24.01.10
pied harrier, circus melanoleucosWat Norng Bla Lai, 24.01.10

This is the same bird before I opened the car door and it flew off to give the above picture! Finally a black kite.

black kite, mulvus lineatusWat Norng Bla Lai, 24.01.10

We also saw a lesser coucal, alas no photograph, but for me this is another new species to add to the list. Earlier in the day I had a good view of a brahminy kite and a juvenile of the same species. Too far away to photograph but I had them in the scope and good to see them side by side.

Not a bad day's work!

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