Monday, 17 May 2010

Recent Roundup: Heat & Drought

A part empty reservoir
Ratchaburi Province

The real story here is the heat and accompanying drought. I think 53 provinces are bow officially "drought" zones. The day time high in many parts of Thailand these last few days has been around 40 º C; higher in some places. By now the rainy season should have begun but it hasn't although there is rain around and hopefully it will swiftly replenish reservoirs like the above. Now this time last year I was only getting into birding so I hadn't yet visited this park but I think I made it in August for the first time and the reservoir was full. In view of the weather, especially the heat, I have only done little bits of birding since returning from the Philippines.

Saturday 8th May I spent a couple of hours in the afternoon at Huay Mai Teng Reservoir, about 30 km west of Rachaburi town. The water level here is incredibly low and this reservoir covers a huge amount of land. The highlights were three pied kingfishers noisily flying overhead; also a good number of bronze-winged jacanas, including juveniles, a female watercock and juvenile and all the usual commoners - red-wattled lapwing, little ringed plover, little egrets, cattle egrets, openbills, black-winged stilts, green bee-eater, barn swallow, paddyfield pipit and so on; it is noteworthy that I only observed one chinese pond heron, normally here in abundance.

During the week I had a very happy hour or so in the large rice paddy near to where I live in Don Tako: highlights being a cinnamon bittern, two yellow bitterns and a good look at a very noisy male watercock.   Ah, I mustn't forget, the weavers are back: Golden and Baya, with their distinctive yellows clearly in evidence, not to forget their very obvious nests.

Asian Golden Weaver,  ploceus hypoxanthus,Ratchaburi, 12.05.10

Saturday afternoon at home the garden produced a common tailorbird and a streak-eared bulbul.
Common tailorbird, orthotomus sutorius, Don Tako, 15.05.10
streak-eared bulbul, pycnonotus blanfordi, Don Tako, 15.05.10

On Sunday I headed to Chaloem Phrakiat Thai Phrachan National Park, once more west of Ratchaburi, and leading to the Thai-Myanmar border, near Phetchaburi province. I was shocked by the water level in the reservoir but their were plenty of good birds: highlights were undoubtedly a small flock of 5 blue-winged leafbirds, 7 lesser necklaced laughingthrush, lots of scarlet-backed flowerpeckers, a male olive-backed sunbird, 2 stripe-throated bulbuls, 2 black-crested bulbuls, 1 red junglefowl ......, what a beautiful bird sporting very prominent yellow hackles, 1 greater racket-tailed drongo and several very melodious white-rumped shamas, the usual commoners, cattle egret, white-throated kingfishers and a fair few unidentified birds.

scarlet-backed flowerpecker, dicaeum cruentatum, Chaloem Phrakiat Thai Prachan NP, Ratchaburi, 16.05.10

white-rumped shama, copsychus malabaricus, Chaloem Phrakiat Thai Prachan NP, Ratchaburi, 16.05.10
Nice to be back birding on local territory. I hope we get lots of rain soon because it is badly needed.

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