Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Let's Migrate

Blogspot has been a very nice place for me for many years but I've got to admit that there are things that I don't feel satisfied with. So I finally decided to migrate to Wordpress to join some of my favourite bloggers. But of course I will surely come back and visit my old friends in Blogspot as well. So here it is, my new Wordpress blog >> http://ayuwat.wordpress.com/

See you all there!

Monday, 30 September 2013

Looking for Swinhoe

Richard's Pipit wasn't my only target while visiting Mae Hia Agricultural College during the past few days, I also looked out for the scarce Swinhoe's Snipe, which might join the flock of Pintail Snipes which was presenting in a flooded grassy plots at the college. The trick is to drive around through the plots and photograph the snipes from the car, otherwise, they'd flush very easily if you approach by foot. I came across 3-4 individuals in the morning but unfortunately couldn't quite put an ID on it due to the lack of nice views of its outer tail feathers.

Adult Pintail/Swinhoe's Snipe

Very well squared head!

You can see one of its bigger 'pin' tail feathers here.
Surely it's a male bird according to the all blackish feather with only white tip.
Female's pins would be mottled brown. But knowing this still doesn't help much with the ID!
But I'm leaning much towards the common Pintail since the feather looks quite narrow.

Then it started preening, a sign of hope!

But something caught its attention and made it become wary.
So it decided to walk up into the grass and do all the stretching and preening there!

If only it was still in the open, I would've been able to identify it with confident.

Then it finished its morning routine and flew away.........

Here's another Pintail/Swinhoe's Snipe which no one would be able to tell.
At least we can all know that it's a juvenile bird.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Looking for Richard

For the past 2 days, I've been driving around in the plantation plots at Mae Hia Agricultural College looking for Richard's Pipits which have already been reported since few days back. Despite being one of the commonest pipits in Asia, it is pretty scarce in Thailand, I think. In Chiang Mai, I've only seen it in this area and never in big number. Or maybe it is actually more widespread than I thought, but identifying it is so challenging that most people give up.

Adult Richard's Pipit
Note moulting throat and neck feathers

Adult Richard's Pipit

Not a good photo but it was the only photo that I got of this bird in flight.
To me, it is much easier to identify in flight because Richard's look much obviously heavier built
than Paddyfield while it's flying than when standing on the ground.
Also, their explosive flight call "shreep!" can immediately eliminate Paddyfield from our choices.

With an albino feral pigeon in the background

Very upright posture!

Once you get used to seeing Paddyfield Pipits, you'll notice the different shape and posture this bird.

Sometimes looking almost thrush-like

Very typical view of this species; upright posture while look out
Apart from the differences in plumage and call, both species also differ in behaviours as well. Richard's being much shyer and more secretive, mainly stays in longer grass, except when all the plots are ploughed in dry season, while Paddyfield being much more showy and approachable. The first 2 shots of Richard's Pipit were taken from a car, that's why it was relatively close. Otherwise, they would normally flush since some 30-50 metres away!

Never to be mistaken with this Paddyfield Pipit!
Note dark lores, more slender and pointed bill

Another showy Paddyfield Pipit for comparison

Thursday, 19 September 2013

On the morning of September 12 saw me checking my local patch at Cho Lae. I wanted to photograph the snipes which I've been seeing since September 2, but they proved to be much too difficult to photograph, so instead I turned my attention towards a flock of 9 Pacific Golden Plovers that were resting on the open field. I slowly crept from a distant towards the birds and when I approached approximately 20m from the closest bird, I lied down on the ground and slowly crawled with my elbows. In the end, I could get pretty close to them and I was pleased with the results.

Pacific Golden Plover moulting into non-breeding plumage

Still some black on the underparts

Pacific Golden Plover moulting into non-breeding plumage

Non-breeding bird

Pacific Golden Plover moulting into non-breeding plumage

Pacific Golden Plover moulting into non-breeding plumage

Pacific Golden Plover moulting into non-breeding plumage

View of the flock

Most of them were still moulting from breeding to non-breeding plumage showing some black feathers on the underparts. One of the birds was especially whitish due to more breeding feathers on the body which haven't been moulted yet.  I spent some 10-15 minutes photographing them as they slept and preened under the warm morning light. Then they somehow decided to fly up and move to other area in the distance.

Pacific Golden Plover moulting into non-breeding plumage

Pacific Golden Plover moulting into non-breeding plumage

Pacific Golden Plover moulting into non-breeding plumage

Curious look

This individual was the most approachable one.

Yawning! Probably it's still too early.

Guess what the bird on the left was doing>

It was pooping!

Pacific Golden Plover moulting into non-breeding plumage

Had some fun taking photos of them while preening

The one in the middle was much whiter than others.

Resting despite my existence

Another tame individual

A preening shot to end this post

Monday, 16 September 2013

Colourful Birds!

These photos were taken on September 1st at Doi Inthanon, Chiang Mai. We first stopped at the second check-point early in the morning. There were actually fewer birds than I expected. A pair of Stripe-breasted Woodpeckers and Great Barbets were seen perching and calling from distant treetops. Some Grey-cheeked Fulvettas and Chestnut-vented Nuthatcheswere also seen feeding around the check-point, but otherwise it was quite quiet. However, when we decided to walk back downhill from the check-point, we encountered a really nice bird-wave just by the roadside.

Male Clicking Shrike-Babbler

See an insect inside its mouth?

Male Clicking Shrike-Babbler

Stunning male Short-billed Minivet

Male Short-billed Minivet

An equally stunning female

Female Short-billed Minivet

Female Short-billed Minivet

We were really lucky to see it up close and at eye-level!

Female Short-billed Minivet

Davison's Leaf Warbler

Davison's Leaf Warbler

Yellowish crown stripe

Note how yellow the face, eyebrow and crown stripe are

The members that were joining the bird-wave included pairs of Short-billed Minivets and Grey-chinned Minivets, 3 Yellow-cheeked Tits, a Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Davison's Leaf-Warblers, Grey-chinned Fulvettas, Mountain Tailorbirds and the highlight, a male Clicking Shrike-Babbler. Even though not a rare bird, there is hardly any decent photo of this beautiful species. I was so happy to be able to get a few good shots of it as it surprisingly popped up from the low vegetation and stopped there for some time, enough for me to grab few shots before it moved up to the canopy where it normally stays. That morning was quite magical!

Male Grey-chinned Minivet

Male Grey-chinned Minivet

Male Grey-chinned Minivet

Male Grey-chinned Minivet

Male Yellow-cheeked Tit

Transforming into Angry Bird!

Male Yellow-cheeked Tit

It was extremely tame!

Male Yellow-cheeked Tit

Got something

Rare sight! Male Yellow-cheeked Tit eating a Lunar Moth

Chestnut-crowned Warbler; colourful but extremely difficult to photograph

Grey-cheeked Fulvetta

Grey-cheeked Fulvetta

And the wonderful trip members!