Saturday, 20 November 2010

Grey-breasted Prinia at the Reservoir

I was thinking that my trip to Huai Mai Teng Resservoir this morning was a bit disappointing. However this little chap is a grey-breasted prinia and he is a lifer! I must also say that the digiscoped pictures have been a great assistance in the identification and of course Craig Robson's A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South East Asia (Asia Books, Bangkok, 2008) provided the description. I am really in awe of Mr Robson right now. Let me quote his description of the adult non-breeding :"Difficult to separate from Rufescent Prinia but has slightly thinner bill, little (typically pre-ocular only) or no supercilium, less rufescent upperparts and tail and often a greyish wash on sides of neck and breast. Note distinctive voice. " Now I knew it wasn't a plain prinia because of its voice, plus it appeared to be a bit smaller, in fact, tiny. On the above photo it is difficult to separate without the call. However the picture below shows a very slight eye brow ("supercilium") between the eye and bill, which is what "pre-ocular" must mean! Note the eyebrow does not extend back behind the eye. This bird was in a very active small flock moving rapidly through the scrub. I was lucky to capture it. 

I suppose I felt disappointed because my access to the far side of the reservoir was blocked due to Loy Kratong festivities. This is a big nationwide celebration and there is a four day festival taking place at the barrier side, the side nearest to Ratchaburi. The reservoir will be a popular place as water and floating kratongs are major parts of it. The bright lights and noise would have scared off most birds.

I had a bit of a recconoître in view of this disturbance and lack of access. I went into some dry scrub areas and I reckon these will yield some good birds in time to come. This is where I saw the grey-breasted prinia and while there were abundant streak-earred bulbuls, yellow-vented bulbuls, green bee-eaters, pied fantails and drongos, there were other birds which were not as obliging as the prinia. Sadly these were unidentified as they were just too quick for me and had this ability to get deep into cover and stay there.

On my way out with the digiscope packed up I snapped this long-tailed shriked with the DSLR. A nice bird and a first for the patch.

In the afternoon I had a brief look in the local rice paddy and espied her ladyship the female pied harrier and another bird which may have been a juvenile but I am not sure. Loads of Siberian stonechats, drongos, egrets and hundreds of plan prinias dropping out of the sky with their very distinctive voice and a solitary asian brown flycatcher and white-throated kingfisher;  I did not photograph the latter and I had not set up my rig in time for the former. I was feeling knackered so I quit early and had a little drive around and discovered a few possible sites which I may try to investigate some time soon.

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