Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Huay Mai Teng Reservoir, Ratchaburi Province

We took a drive out to this reservoir Tuesday afternoon in the heat and I wasn't expecting much. I don't know why as I have seen great birds here and I can't recall ever coming away feeling that this is not a very good place and that I would be better going to the more obvious local attractions.

I am pretty sure I saw a greater spotted eagle high in the sky with possibly a pied harrier nearby. It seemed as if they knew I was on their case as they soared higher before I had the camera on them. I managed one poor shot of the eagle. All I will say is I think it was a greater spotted but I am  not sure so I have sent the picture to a raptorologist friend.

On the ground there were a couple of yellow wagtails. These birds were unmistakably wagtails because they wagged their rears but they seemed very different from the specimen I saw at Khok Kam last week. I have had a look at the field book and there are two yellow wagtails listed, a Western and an Eastern Yellow wagtail and they are listed as separate species. Oh dear, more identification problems!

Paddyfield pipit, anthus rufulus, Huai May Teng Teservoir, Ratchaburi, 16.03.10

This little paddyfield pipit troubled me. Look at its legs. They appear to be deformed so I have sought an opinion from the professionals. It may be this bird is recently fledged and this is some sort of after birth thing which eventually disappears. I really don't know but whatever it is it did not appear to hamper the little bird's mobility and flightiness. Nearby there were a couple of gorgeous little-ringed plover, sporting a huge yellow eye ring wholly out of kilter with their otherwise dainty proportions.

The water level has dropped considerably at the reservoir and this means the road across can be used. It also means a strip of rich grass has been exposed and this will attract some interesting birds in the next few months. Last year I saw 4 river lapwings here and this was a great moment for me as I knew I was looking at something of a rarity. The first arrivals would appear to be oriental pratincoles which were a regular fixture here last year. According to the field book they are breeding visitors. I was wondering where they come from and the taxonomic name probably gives the answer: the Maldives. There were about 25 of them but they were difficult to count as they were flying in and then flying on.

oriental pratincole, glareola maldivarum, Huay Mai Teng Reservoir, 15.03.10

This wood sandpiper hung around for a while. This is a regular here. I didn't realise it has a connection with the pratincole: they both contain "glareola" in their taxonomic names. Identification is made easier by the supercilium, the eyebrow, which extends beyond the eye plus I have a couple of bad shots of the same bird in flight and they reveal full visibility of the legs and its white rear. This enables it to be distinguished from the very similar green sandpiper.

wood sandpiper, tringa glareola, Huay Mai Teng Reservoir, 15.03.10

With the reservoir level down I must remember to make a weekly run up here. I really hope the river lapwing return as well as a few other interesting species.

Today we went to Bang Pra non-hunting ground in Chonburi province east of Bangkok. We took some friends to the airport today so I thought I would check this out. We followed the directions in Nick Upton's and reached the wildlife sanctuary where we were advised that there were no birds! When we asked if we could look, we were told no. Strange, I thought. For whatever reason I sensed the good lady wasn't going to let us enter for whatever reason. So we entered further up the road but I must confess I was in no mood for it. I think it looks as if it is an area of enormous potential and possibly to do it justice we would need an overnight stop. Anyhow I picked out this lesser coucal in the trees.There were plenty of other birds including lineated barbet, yellow-vented bulbul and lots of small, fast moving birds and many unidentifieds. I was just not in the mood!

lesser coucal, centropus bengalensis, Bang Pra, 15.03.10

I also like this dragon fly which I had never seen before and which stood still enough for me to get the camera on it.

My day wasn't helped by leaving my spectacles at home. I cannot read without them . Then I thought I had lost my favourite pencil, which I hadn't because it felt out of my trouser leg later in the evening! Plus My scope tripod has a problem; the screw that holds the scope in place has sheered off so I cannot steady the scope. A frustrating sort of day so we drove home. However I will do a bit more research and I will be back.

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