Friday, 31 December 2010

Bueng Boraphet Part 1

Siberian Rubythroat - Canon EOS
Bueng Boraphet

About 20 minutes into our day out on Bueng Boraphet Monday, 27th December 2010, Mr Phanom's boat chugging along through the reeds as we made our way out into the lake proper, I told my companion Brian that at times I find birds quite overwhelming and that this was one of those moments. The words of the great English poet and Jesuit priest, Gerard Manley Hopkins, sprung to my mind: "The world is charged with the grandeur of God, It will flame out like shining from shook foil; It gathers to a greatness...." .

Lesser Whistling Duck - Canon EOS
Bueng Boraphet 27.12.10

There were thousands of birds, mainly ducks, flaming out everywhere in chaotic flocks, big, small and inbetween as far as the eye could see. Brian said the only beings that could not be happy with the spectacle as the morning sun slowly rose were the fish! At 0630h it was decidedly cool and breezy out on the lake.

Common Coot
Bueng Boraphet

As I write about this wonderful day's birding I recall that I got news as we drove north to Nakhon Sawan province of a Cinerous Vulture dropping out of the sky in Phetchaburi Province. For a moment I wondered if I was going in the right direction. Cinerous Vulture or no I am very glad I pressed on to Bueng Boraphet!

Little Egret
Bueng Boraphet

In the first hour of light what impressed me most was the myriad flocks of ducks cascading in all directions:mainly Lesser Whistling Duck, distinguished by their brown bodies and contrasting dark wings, but also some flocks of Garganey, with quite visible white underparts. If the Lesser Whistling Ducks were in tens of  thousands then the Garganeys were in thousands. I was also impressed by the large numbers of Common Coots sitting on the water in their hundreds and much more prominent to my mind than the Purple Swamphen.

Sunrise, Bueng Boraphet, Nakhon Sawan

As daylight came there were additionally huge numbers of Little Grebes and Cotton Pygmy Geese to be seen. Both species are pretty common in my locale but it was the sheer numbers of them on Bueng Boraphet that impressed, in their thousands.

Little Grebes
Cotton Pygmy Geese

Spot-billed Pelican (EOS Kiss)

The first significant sightings of the day were a distant but distinct 4 Spot-billed Pelicans, unexpected. Soon after we started to see a few ducks in among the more common birds notably 3 Northern Shovellers and 2 Tufted Ducks  .......  a
nd a Ruddy Shellduck flew in briefly. Seemed strange to see just one of these as I have been seeing them in fours and eights recently. 

Barn Swallow

Alas no photographs of the ducks. They were a little distance away and hard enough to view, let alone photograph, from a boat. You will see that many of today's shots are taken with the Canon as digiscoping was simply too hard on account of the boat's movement even with the engine off.

Intermediate Egret (EOS Kiss)
Bueng Boraphet, 27.12.10.

Mr Phanom steered us to land where he took us to Siberian Rubythroat, absolutely beautiful birds with their deep red throat. En route an unexpected Peregrine Falcon crossed our bows and Brian managed to snap it up. He simply walks up to the scrub bushes, opens them up and points to the bird - as easy as that. In the same area we saw some Nightjars which we were told were a Savannah and a Large-Tailed but I am not making claims for either as I wouldn't stand a hope in hell of calling either in the future. In the same area we saw a Crow-billed Drongo, a Long-tailed Shrike, flocks of Baya Weavers and Scaly-breasted Munias and a good number of House Sparrows, the latter a lifer for me!

Peregrine Falcon

At this point we were joined by Bill Clarke from Dublin, Ireland and Khun Nang his guide. Unfortunately Bill's boat broke down so he joined us and I am working on him to give us some photographs of the ducks! At about 11:00 am we headed back to land for lunch and a nap. Not a bad morning!

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