Sunday, 2 October 2011

Raptors at The Reservoir

Black-shouldered Kite

This afternoon there must have been a passage of somewhere in the region of 400 raptors, all in the space of about an hour, at Huay Mai Teng Reservoir, Ratchaburi. Passage is probably inaccurate as many of these birds were coming down to roost in the nearby plantations but most of these birds are undoubtedly migratory and are headed south. I was here specifically for this but I did not expect these numbers. This follows yesterday when I observed a first harrier (female pied) and possibly a first aquila eagle (Greater Spotted Eagle?) of the winter. Both were in the distance so I only really feel comfortable with calling the harrier.


Now raptors terrify me because I am really useless at identifying them, especially when they are high in the sky; I wouldn't want to suggest either that I am much better at it when they are on the ground. The digiscope rig is not ideal for photographing aerial birds. So I don't have a lot to show for what I saw. First of all a distant kettle of approximately 130 Black Kites. No real surprise as the reservoir is about 50 km from a major winter roost in the Khao Yoi area, Phetchburi province. (There have been reports of up to 5,000 Black Kites at this roost!)  However I have never seen so many kites at the reservoir, usually a solitary bird here at the reservoir, here and there, and once, there were four having a stroll in the launch area; three of those feature as the strap for this blog.

Oriental Honey Buzzord

Then in came a mixed group of raptors from a northerly direction blown in by a helpful wind. The dominant species in this gaggle of about 270 birds were Oriental Honey Buzzards. (Ed: Thanks to Tom Bucklund who kindly corrected my original call of Chinese Sparrowhawk  - I told you I was useless! ) However there were other species in this group. They came in drips and drabs over a period of about 45 minutes and most of these birds headed for the woods. A few crossed over the reservoir and I managed a couple of shots, including the Osprey, who came in with the other birds. I wouldn't want to make any other claims beyond numbers.

Green Bee-eater
Otherwise I love this Green Bee-eater;  this species abounds at the reservoir and the Black-shouldered Kite posed a little for me and allowed me to get closer than I expected.

Now I was planning to take off to Kanchanaburi province tomorrow for a couple of days to do some birding up near the Myanmar border. But I am going to delay that trip and head back to the reservoir and see what else comes in tomorrow.

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