Monday, 20 December 2010

A Gentle Sunday Afternoon

Ruddy Shellducks
Wat Khao Takhroa

I took a gentle drive down to Laem Pak Bia this afternoon aiming to be at The King's Project for about 5:00 pm with possibilities of sighting some rare starlings pre-roost...... I include the Common Starling which is a major rarity on these shores.

The drive almost felt nostalgic as I drove down through Khao Yoi which is were I did most of my early birdwatching just under two years ago. I drove past the reed pond which yielded some memorable birds for me: yellow bittern, bronze-winged and pheasant-tailed jacana, purple swamphen, cotton pygmy-goose to name a few. For a raw novice these were great birds as they have striking features, are beautiful to look at and with the exception of the bittern, are unchallenging in terms of identification. Alas  the pond is no longer: it is being dried out and it has no visible bird life as the plants and shrubs rot away. I also remember turning a corner in this area and seeing a raptor perched on a concrete pylon. Today I know this bird was a Black-shouldered Kite but at the time I didn't and I was abuzz at the time thinking I had seen an eagle or some such like! I remembered seeing yellow legs and thinking for some reason it might have been a Booted Eagle!

As I drove along past the railway line I stopped and looked at a pair of Ospreys, birds which would draw in the crowds in the UK, but very much taken for granted here as common. I saw four today in my travels. There were 4 Ruddy Shellducks on the big pond in the Wat Khao Takhrao area, but no signs of other ducks.  I managed to catch two of the RDSs, pictured above, as they took to the air.

Throughout the afternoon I was in contact with Phil Round by telephone as he was birding in the area and he reported sightings of two Spoon-billed Sandpipers at Pak Thale and a further two at the Abandoned Building; of equal importance he told me he had seen a Brahminy Starling in this area and he was looking for Common Starling. So I headed on through Pak Thale and made it to the Abandonned Building in Laem Pak Bia just after 4:00 pm.

From reading trip reports on I often laugh as birders talk about touring rubbish dumps throughout the world in search of birds. It makes perfect sense really as rubbish dumps must be perfect locations for opportunists like birds. So at the Abandoned Building I stopped at the nearby rubbish dump and after about 10 minutes I managed one Common Starling and even managed a bad photograph of it. The Common Starling was on the move constantly so my choice was either to look at it with my bins or to try to photograph it. I opted to look at the bird. I think I saw the Brahminy, fleetingly, as it was quite different from the birds around it, mainly White-vented Mynas, but I can't claim it. However Java Sparrow sprang to my mind which I hope was just the effect of the light in extentuating the Brahminy's black cap! I will be back, as The Terminator would say,and hopefully will see the Brahminy as I believe it has been about for a while.

Next over to the King's Project where I met up with Phil Round and the starlings finally came in, a large number of White-shouldered Starlings and three Chestnut-tailed Starlings in the gloom. Phil was very happy as the Common Starling was a Thailand Lifer for him and he doesn't get many of these any longer.

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