I've been feeling under the weather these last few days and awoke this morning with both nostrils blocked with the cold. So on my first day of leave I was more than happy to spend a few hours birding in the rice paddy in Ratchaburi, as opposed to a longer drive to the main action areas - that is after dropping my son at nursery and my wife at the hair dresser! This morning the sun was shining brightly.
I drove into a small mixed flock of Little & Great Egrets and some of the latter were still sporting that very distinctive aquamarine colour at the base of their bills normally present in the breeding season. I decided to head to my usual haunt which has yielded Grey-headed Lapwing, Common Snipe, possibly Pintail too, Woodsandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper but today not offering much in terms of diversity: Red-wattled Lapwing, Chinese Pond-Herons and Streak-earred Bulbuls , the latter darting about the border trees and shrubbery. I stopped to admire a solitary Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker and a closer look at the pole shows it ( and others) are probably residing there.
I have little doubt that the next bird up was a Shikra, light grey colours with black primary tips, and dark undertail bands: in the air and heading away from me. Then in the same area I espied a Barbet high on a bamboo tree....a little distant, but my bins confirmed a barbet and rather a lot of red on top. My instinct was Coppersmith but I had doubts because it looked bigger. I had a look at the field guide which raised more issues: for a Coppersmith this had a distinct lack of yellow around the eyes. And so it remains as a mystery as the bird duly legged it before I could do anything else!
Then I had a virtual point blank on a Thick-billed Warbler whose presence in the shrubbery I noticed from the movement of leaves it was causing, then out popped its head and then everything else and it saw me and my bins about 6 feet away and not surprisingly legged it or rather winged it! In compensation an Indian Roller perched up on the other side of the irrigation canal and I was lucky enough to see it and to be able to photograph it.
With no time pressure on me I drove to another part of the rice paddy where last year I saw some Pied Kingfishers. Well they were there for me today and I managed to get a shot of one who was more interested in his prey than me, but not for very long! No these guys do it for me. They really strike me as extraordinarily beautiful and I doubt I could ever tire of them. I think I'll be out tomorrow with the hide to see if I can really get in close and get some shots of these spectacular birds.
Finally at least three Black Kites were soaring in and around the rice paddy during my visit. No sign of harriers, however.