I really want to tell you all about the trip to Laem Pak Bia on Friday, a public holiday here in Thailand. It was a sensational day and I will write about it during the week but I did a little bit of birding on Saturday and on Sunday and in their own way, especially Sunday, they were sensational too. One significant omission from Friday's brief report was the three Heuglin's Gulls we saw. A big bastard! As you can see it dwarves the Brown-headed Gulls, big gulls too, in the photograph.
Thursday night we saw Pied Harrier, male, female and juvenile in the local rice paddy and my friend Brian managed some shots of an unusually obliging Yellow Bittern as well as the usual suspects. Saturday afternoon I explored Huay Mai Teng and found a pool with little grebe, lesser-whistling duck and this very demure female Cotton-Pygmy Goose.
Elsewhere this Pied Kingfisher hung around for long enough in the fading light to let me get a few shots. You can see how hard it is to get a clean shot of these birds. There is always some branch,twig or stem getting in the way!
A little bit later in the final light of the day this Pied Harrier almost landed on the cab of my pick up! I snapped him with the DSLR. What a stunning bird!
On Sunday I had a quick scout around Wat Norng Blah Lai in Petchaburi and espied an Imperial Eagle in the distance, big bird, big neck, streaked upper wing coverts, very far away but visible. A number of harriers too and a brief view of a Greater Spotted Eagle, which provides the silhouette below, also snapped with the DSLR.
As I was in the area I thought I would head over to Wat Khao Takrao to check out the Black-headed Ibises. Well I drew a blank on these but I found 4 Ruddy Shelduck and 20/21 Northern Pintail.
Unfortunately I was shooting into the sun and the birds were about 1 km away but the RSDs are quite distinct. I had to send a photo to Tom Buckland for an ID on the Northern Pintail. A lifer no less but a good record for this species this far south.
The final part of the day was the drive home through Khao Yoi and I decided to take a right before the crags and join the main road from the bridge to the north as opposed to the dangerous u-turn to the south. I knew there was a Black Kite roost in the area and on this new route home I discovered it. In 20 minutes or so I must have seen about 400 Black Kites either in the trees or coming in from the north-west. They were flying in over the Petchkasem Highway. The trees were covered with them - an amazing sight in the fading light of the day.
What a weekend!