The local rice paddy in Ratchaburi covers a substantial area of low, flat terrain with Thailand's southern railway line running through it. The powerful thrust and vibration of the diesel locomotives add atmosphere to this very verdant setting. The flatness allows a gentle and welcome breeze to provide a little cooling. Like much of Thailand we are inundated with rain at the moment but unlike Bangkok and the Central Plains we are not flooding. However it is very wet and very green, much more so than normal.
I have had a lot of fun birding this rice paddy over the last couple of years: it is quite literally on my doorstep so it provides an opportunity to grab a quick hour or so at the end of the day. During the past week I have seen some good birds here: pied harrier, common and painted snipe, wood sandpiper. In view of this I had made a mental note to spend a little bit longer here this weekend.
After completing my domestic duties I made it out just after 3:00 pm today and the rice paddy didn't disappoint. For me the bird of the day was an Eastern Marsh Harrier, a male, sitting in field. He allowed me to get set up and then went in pursuit of some doves before I could manage a shot; it would have been a marginal shot as the bird was some way off; anyhow that was the last I saw of him! I also had a good view of an aerial Pied Harrier juv and a Black-shouldered Kite which was doing a bit of hovering in the distance. I reckon the Eastern Marsh Harrier has taken up residence in the area so I expect to be get some shots of him in the next month or so.
Lots of birds, all the commoners, including abundant Barn Swallows, Openbills, Drongos, Red-wattled Lapwing, White-throated Kingfisher, a Common Kingfisher, Pied Starlings,White-breasted Waterhen, Eastern Stonechants, Plain Prinias, Plain-backed Sparrows, Chinese Pond Herons, and so on. The birds I wanted to shoot were Wood Sandpipers and Snipes. The Wood Sandpiper obliged but the Common wouldn't come out into the open for the lens; a beautiful male Painted Snipe broke cover briefly. In the fading light of the day, after yet another shower, an Oriental Reed Warbler slid up and down the reeds.
I think I'll be back for another attempt at the Snipe tomorrow!