Huai Mai Teng Reservoir, Ratchaburi
12th March 2011
Fortune certainly favoured me yesterday as I cleared Narita Airport, Tokyo before the earthquake and tsunami struck. I rather fear I might still be in Tokyo had I been any later in leaving. My thoughts and prayers are with the people affected.
So as a result of this good fortune I was able to head out to the reservoir this afternoon and had a great afternoon's birding. I saw three important species today but only managed to photograph one: the Burmese Shrike featured here. However I observed a Bluethroat, a lifer, and a number of Small Pratincoles but neither species would perform in front of my rig. I need to express my gratitude to Luna, my wife, for spotting the shrike - in her deprecating way she added it was just a small brown bird!
I got involved in a bit of row about this species last year. I reported an observation of it to a website over a year ago and the owner of that site "challenged" it, saying it doesn't come this far south. I was most put out! But what do I know?! Seriously I know zero about bird ranges and distribution. I was pretty sure at the time that I had called the species correctly. Anyway the experience left me feeling a little angry and annoyed but it was a useful introduction to some of the issues involved in being a birdwatcher and submitting records.
Anyway I got over it and I decided to go out and buy a camera as I didn't want to be in this position again. So the abundant crap photographs can be attributed to this experience! And once I started shooting with a basic DSLR I realised I was not getting very many decent shots so I then ventured into digiscoping. I am pleased to say this is beginning to enable me to get some decent shots of birds and I feel comfortable that this is a Burmese Shrike. I can also confirm it was shot about 15 km from the location of the "challenged" bird.
Now I make mistakes. I have made some howlers in my short birding career, and I have little doubt I will do so again. I am happy to acknowledge this. I am very clear about this: I really don't want to get it wrong and I don't want to purvey unreliable information. I am more than happy to correct any errors I may make. I think I have also learned to be a lot more cautious about calling a species and I do let a bird go if I can't get a good ID/description of it. If I am in the unreliable pigeon hole, (a good,unintended pun huh!) I can live with it.
Back to today. I really wanted to shoot the Small Pratincoles but unfortunately too much human activity. And with the Bluethroat I initially thought I was looking at a Small Pratincole but it was only when I got it into the bins that I realised it most certainly wasn't a pratincole. I wasn't properly set up so alas no shot of this very photogenic species.
I am so grateful to be safely back in Thailand on familiar terrain.