Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Plain-backed Sparrow: A Misnomer?

Plain-backed Sparrow

I have to say how much I am enjoying snatching an hour's birding here and there in my neighbourhood and being able to look more closely at the more common birds. In and around the local rice paddy there is an abundance of these plain-backed sparrows and surely no bird would be more entitled to feel resentful at being given such a misleading name. Plain it ain't! I have to say the field guide drawing doesn't really do these birds very much justice! A real beauty in fact with a degree of considerable subtlety in its plumage.

I did my bit for the kingdom of birds this morning. We found two Scaly-breasted Munia fledglings on the ground close to their nest in our pomegranate tree. I suspect there was nothing more to their presence there than an unsuccessful attempt at flying, as opposed to a predatory attack. So I picked them up and returned them to the nest. I didn't photograph them as it was still dark but they were really tiny but didn't appear too distressed by being handled. I am glad to say just before we left to go to work Mummy flew in hopefully with some breakfast for her cares. Elsewhere we have a Red-collared Dove nicely settled in a lamp holder on our upper balcony and no doubt she will produce a few fledglings in due course.

There is an amazing spectacle to behold on the local rice paddy and no doubt everywhere else in Thailand at the moment. Thousands of domestic ducks are being fattened up on the remnants of the recently harvested rice crop. There is a major increase in the demand for duck during the period of The Chinese New Year which begins on 3rd February this year. (The Chinese New Year is a big event here in Thailand and many businesses will be closed for instance.) The ducks make an amazing sight and indeed sound and sometimes there can be upwards of 10,000 ducks in one flock. I suspect their presence and particularly that of their human minders keeps away the raptors; no doubt one of the key responsibilities of the minders is to chase off birds of prey.

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