Sunday, 2 September 2012

Laem Pak Bia

Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler

A thoroughly enjoyable day in Laem Pak Bia. My Saturday class was cancelled which freed me to join Phil Round and his team for a morning of bird ringing at The King's Project. There can obviously be no other way of getting so close to birds as having them in your hand! It really is great experience for a novice like myself and it is particularily good to connect so directly with the science of ornithology. The highlights today were 5 Yellow-rumped Flycatchers and 2 Pallas's Grasshopper Warblers. I banded a number of Baya Weavers, Asian Pied Starlings, and Collared Kingfishers. I have to say I felt much more comfortable handling the birds this time. The most difficult part of the whole process is removing the birds from the mist nets. They do get tangled up. However it becomes easier with practise and more importantly the bird can be removed much more quickly.

Cinnamon Bittern - female

We ringed 50 + birds today and recorded simple vital statistics for the more common species: weight and the  length of the leading wing. A much more detailed analysis is made of the Warblers and Flycatchers including the removal of feathers for possible DNA analysis. Phil keeps a large database of all ringed birds; retraps and recoveries combined with sharing information with other ringers enable field biologists to provide answers to some of the many questions we have about birds.

I need to say that in all of this the welfare of the birds is of the utmost importance. The objective is to get the birds out of the nets, processed and released as quickly as possible. It was therefore sad to see a dog attacking a pond heron in one of the beds. I hasten to add this was not a trapped bird. I was having a wander around after we had finished ringing and the hound was in one of the grass beds and had managed to disable the bird so it could not fly. I scared it off but I rather fancy that having disabled the bird it went back later to finish off the job.

Immediately prior to this I managed to photograph this Cinnamon Bittern but it too took off when the dog appeared on the scene. I think it is a female, a beautiful bird and it becomes even more beautiful when it elongates its neck. There are a lot of good birds in and around the Kings Project.

Mid-afternoon we had a spin aroud Laem Pak Bia. We chanced upon a flock of approximately 1,200 Great Knot which according to Phi is unusual so early; we could make out a solitary Red Knot in this flock. In or nearby we counted about 450 Whimbrel, 30 Bar-tailed Godwit, 11 Terek Sandpiper, 1 Asian Dowitcher, 1 Milky Stork, 2 Spot-billed Pelicans.....Laem Pak Bia is starting to happen.

The only bummer was we failed to see either the Great Thick-knee or the Indian which have been reported recently. However little to be down about, a truly memorable day.

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