Monday, 30 April 2012

In The Hide

These photos were taken back on March 31 from a small patch of reedbed near Mae Taeng River, my local patch. I discovered the area just the day before and thought that it looked pretty good for photography. There were fallen branches on the edge of the reedbed, looking like nice perches for birds from the reeds. I arrived at the area just a little after sunrise and set up thr hide next to the nearby grassy area. I sat there and waited for anything to show up and by 10am, I could leave the area with lots of decent photos of birds in the bush.

Chestnut-capped Babbler

Probably doing its courtship display

Love its little black mask

The first birds to show up were the colourful Chestnut-capped Babblers (Timalia pileata smithi). They are numerous in this area and their sweet thrilling songs can be heard throughout in early morning. A pair came showing up in front of the hide, sneaking out from the reeds and jumped down to the fallen branch. They stuck around long enough for me to take a short video clip as one of the birds perched nicely on the exposed branch. Another pair also came calling from behind and later came really close to investigate the hide.

A Chestnut-capped Babbler fluffing on the exposed branch

Another curious one

Male Red Avadavat or Strawberry Finch

And his girlfriend

A restless Grey-breasted Prinia in breeding plumage

White-breasted Waterhen walking across the field

As I was taking photos of the babblers, I heard the high-pitched tzit-tzit call coming from my right. I could immediately recognised the call, as I've been after it for quite a while. It was the tiny but stunning Red Avadavat's call. I looked outside and was surprised to see a male bird perching just a few metres away from the hide. The male Red Avadavat (Amandava amandava punicea) has bright scarlet red plumage with white spots all over in its breeding plumage, making it look somewhat similar to a strawberry. That's why some people also like to call it Strawberry Finch. Unfortunately, their breeding season has already passed and the male bird that I saw has already begun to moult back into its drab non-breeding plumage. There was also a female bird hanging around near the male, but it seemed to be much shyer and didn't come out to the open at all.
Several Dusky Warblers constantly popped up here and there

An easy bird to see but not so easy to photograph

The real surprise came when I glanced outside and saw a Javan Mongoose (Herpestes javanicus) coming out to forage among the open corn field nearby. Even though it is quite common in lowland cultivated area, it is extremely difficult to observe and take photos of it in the open and for a long period of time. Thanks to the blind, the mongoose didn't notice that there was a human being nearby, so it took its time searching for food outside the coverage for almost 10 minutes. It was interesting to see how it searched for food. It would dig into the soil and catch its preys, probably earthworms. I also took a video clip of it while feeding, but unfortunately it was already quite far from me by that time.

The Javan Mongoose with its curious look

Reminds me a lot of the Japanese Weasel

Licking its long slim tail

Checking the smell to see if there's any danger

A footage showing the mongoose while digging for its prey

This is how my local patch looked like.


  1. You are so lucky to have such a "hot" local patch. Wonderful images.

  2. Great shots of the babbler.... and nice to see the Javan Mongoose, an introduced species here in HK. The JMs are quite short-sighted.... I've sat in the car while they walked past me.

  3. A pure beauty this bird and excelletn pictures. Sometime it pays to be patient ;-) Well done!