Friday, 31 August 2012

Rarity Alert

The morning of Tuesday 28 August saw me driving to Cho Lae for the first time in many weeks. My initial intention was actually to check if the snipes have already arrived yet. While I was almost arriving at my usual birding spot, I located a flock of about 20 egrets feeding in a rice field by the roadside. I stopped the car and gave a quick scan of the flock. I then spotted a single blackish bird, about the same size of the egret, walking within the flock. I was a little puzzled at first, but after looking at it closely, I was amazed to see that it was a non-breeding Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), a true vagrant of northern Thailand.

Glossy Ibis in non-breeding plumage

Feeding among Little Egrets

A little birdscaping

After taking some photos from the distance, I decided to try to approach the bird. As expected, it was impossible to get close to it. The surrounding egrets quickly flushed up as I made an appearance. At least, the ibis seemed to be so concentrated on feeding that it was the last one to flee from the rice field. I later watched it landed into a distant field and started feeding again with all the egrets. This is my only second sighting of this species. The first time was more than 5 years ago in Chiang Saen, Chian Rai, where a flock of  about 14 birds was seen circling briefly before disappearing into the distance.

Showing slightly green and brownish glossed upperwing feathers


Exodus of Asian Openbills from their roosting site

While watching the Glossy Ibis, I was again amazed by a flock of approximately 100 large birds flying in from the north. They were Asian Openbills (Anastomus oscitans), a species that has just recently established a strong population in Chiang Mai area. I first saw it in Cho Lae just March this year and only 2 individuals that time! They are the most numerous large water birds in Thailand. Being almost overpopulated in the central plains, they have spread up north and down south. It felt slightly strange but in a good way though, to see large water birds in the fields of Chiang Mai, as the largest one that we'd normally get would be just the Great Egret.


  1. Nice find, I saw a Glossy Ibis in the UK in the late 80's and again in Australia in the mid 90's, only 2 in my life........

  2. Great find, Ayuwat. I can only hope that one day I will be able to record this species Malaysia.

  3. Super find and great work to get these shots. I've just seen one glossy back in oz in 2008 but it was too far away for photos and I didn't make such an effort. I really like the shot with the egrets and the rice fields.

  4. Well done Tun, an absolutely superb find. Saw a small flock of them a couple of years back at Bueng Boraphet. Beautiful birds. Well done.

  5. I have never seen Grossy lbis before. Thanks for sharing!

  6. That was a really good find to spot the ibis in that landscape and habitat when it would have been easy to skip over the birds. It seems strange to think I've seen a Glossy Ibis locally when I think of it as an exotic species.

  7. Wow that was a good day, the ibis plus the openbills. Guess you were happy and you got nice pictures too! Well done...