Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sooty-headed Bulbul, Asian-barred Owlet and Brown-throated Sunbird

Sooty-headed Bulbul
Monday afternoon/evening we visited some friends at Sri Prachan just 20 kilometers north of Suphanburi, whilst enjoying a beer and some great Thai food, I was surprised how common Sooty-headed Bulbuls were around the area, though just 20 kilometers away I have never seen this species around Suphanburi or the Bangkok basin their range not reaching this area. The habitat at Sri Prachan looks broadly similar but perhaps a little drier with more scrub. Another species common at Sri Prachan but absent from Suphanburi is Asian-barred Owlet with one obliging individual seen well and several more calling. Also seen were two Brown-throated Sunbird which should also occur at Suphanburi but I have yet to record it here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Pond Heron sp
Will have to wait a few months to know which pond heron

No new posts for a few days as internet has been out of action for five days, combined with celebrating our wedding anniversary, wife's birthday and nursing a hangover (rare these days). On both Saturday and Sunday morning I wandered around the local patch, the biggest surprise was shortly after arriving on Saturday morning a Flamingo flew over high heading south, it looked like a greater but views were distant. I do not know what the origins of the bird is, I don't think it is on the Thai list and it is most likely an escape, though it was fully winged and looked in good condition, I am sure many of the zoo's and bird parks in Thailand keep them, the nearest ones to Suphanburi I am aware are held at the bird park in Chai Nat.  

Otherwise birding around the local patch seem to have settled into fairly standard winter birding (though it is still 30 degrees or more daily), but with waters levels constantly changing throughout the winter no doubt a few surprises will appear. Best sightings over the two days were on Saturday two Freckle-breasted Woodpeckers, Watercock, Baillion's Crake, two Bluethroats and a two Red Avadavat and on Sunday three Painted Storks, four Painted Snipe, two Grey-headed Lapwing, Watercock and five Golden Weaver. Highest counts of commoner birds over the two days included three Black-caped Kingfisher, 5 Ruddy-breasted Crake, 13 Pintail Snipe, 11 Wood Sandpiper, two Green Sandpiper, eight Little Ringed Plovers, two Eastern Marsh Harrier, Bhraminy Kite, Siberian Rubythroat, four Yellow-vented Bulbul, 11 Pallas's Grasshopper, 30 Dusky and 35 Oriental Reed Warbler and 100 Baya Weaver.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sailors, Sergeants, Knights and Emperors

Common Commander
Chiang Dao
A selection of Sergeants and Sailor and related butterflies from recent trips

Black-veined Sergeant
Mae Ping National Park

Common Jester
Chiang Dao
Common Lascar
Chiang Dao
Common Sergant
Chiang Dao

Indian Purple Emperor
Mae Ping National Park
Mae Ping National Park
Plain Sailor
Chiang Dao
Short-banded Gray Sailor
Mae Ping National Park

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Acherontia lachesis
Having finally invested in all the so far published volumes of the moths of Thailand, I have started the huge task of putting names to some of the hundreds of photos which I currently have on file. I started with the hawkmoths believing these would be straight forward, they were a bit more of a headache than I imagined  but managed to name most. All photos are of moths attracted to light at Chiang Dao. Any identification mistakes are my own, if anyone has any identification comments I am more than happy to receive them.
Agris convolvuli
Daphinis hypothous
Ambulyx clavata
Ambulyx moorei
Hayesiana triopus
Found dead on road
Macroglossum sitiene
Megacroma obliqua
Poliana leucmelas
Psilogramma increta
Theretra clotho
Theretra nessus
Angonyx testacea
Acosmeryx shervilli

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler

Red-wattled Lalwing

This morning visited the local patch for the first time in nearly a month, there was very little standing water left on site apart from one large fish pond, the site being dominated by a mono culture of waist high rice. There had clearly been an increase in the number of warblers, especially Locustella warblers with at least 12 Pallas's Grasshopper and 4 Lanceolated Warblers seen some of which were almost trodden on before flushing. Other warblers present included 20 Oriental and 8 Black-browed Reed Warbler, a Thick-billed Warbler and at least a dozen Yellow-browed. A few damp corners and ditches remained where there were still a few waders including 8 Pintail Snipe, 22 Common Snipe, 5 Wood Sandpiper, 30 Black-winged Stilt, single Little-ringed Plover and Common Sandpiper. Other notable counts and species included 15 Common Kingfisher and 7 Black-capped Kingfisher, 3 Ruddy-breasted Crake, Whiskered Tern, 12 Yellow and 7 Cinnamon Bittern, 12 Plain-backed Sparrow and 8 Asian Golden Weaver.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mae Ping National Park

Black-headed Woodpecker
Mae Ping National Park
by Michael Rooney

On Tuesday and Wednesday (November 13th and 14th), we spent two full days birding and butterfly watching in Mae Ping National Park mostly along the Thung Kik campsite road. On both days birding was often slow but over the two days we did manage to see most of the key species, one of the commonest birds was the stunning Black-headed Woodpecker, with around 25 noted on both days and many more heard. Grey-headed Parakeets were also fairly common on both days, especially along the first two kilometers of the road with around 20 noted, though getting good views was very difficult as birds zipped through the trees at a hundred miles an hour. Also seen along the Thung Kik road on the first day included two White-bellied Woodpeckers, Lesser Yellownape, Greater Flameback, two Red Junglefowl, three Thick-billed Green Pigeon, five Oriental Turtle Dove, two Rufous Treepie, three Red-billed Blue Magpie, several White-crowned Laughingthrush and three Black-winged Cuckooshrike. Mid day we spent a couple of hours at the campsite and track beyond, where two Burmese Shrikes, an Oriental Honey Buzzard and a Oriental Hobby were seen. Mid afternoon we decided to check out the Kor Luang Waterfall, though birding here was poor roadside birds on the way included three Rufous-winged Buzzard, a Collared Falconet and a group of four Crab Eating Mongoose crossed the road.    

Kor Luang Waterfall
Mae Ping National Park

Wednesday morning we were back in the park by dawn, just after the HQ three Red Junglefowl quickly crossed the track. We spent the entire day birding the Thung Kik Road and the side track to the Padam Padeang Ranger Station, a similar mix of birds to the previous day were noted, with a few additions, three Black Baza were in a dead tree at the start of the road, with a fourth a little further along and five Collared Flaconet were huddled together on a dead tree. Not far from here a group of around 15 Common Woodshrike were seen, along with a similar sized group further along the track. Three Burmese Nuthatch were seen at two stops and three Greater Yellownape were amongst a mixed group of woodpeckers which included two White-bellied Woodpeckers. Once again several Red-billed Blue Magpie and Rufous Treepie were seen along with good numbers of White-crowned Laughingthrush.

Tung Kik Campsite Road
Mae Ping National Park

Collared Falconet
Mae Ping National Park
by Michael Rooney
Additional species noted over the two days included Linneated Barbet, Banded Bay Cuckoo, Green-billed Malkoha, Blue-winged Leafbird, Greater and Lesser-racket Tailed DrongoBlack-hooded Oriole, Black-naped Monarch (very common), Velvet-fronted Nuthatch and Rufescent Prinia.

Mae Ping was also an excellent site for invertebrates with at least a dozen species of grasshoppers and crickets recorded and 60-70 species of butterflies including a bewildering number of blues.

Long Horn Grasshopper
Conocephalus melaenus
Mae Ping National Park
Blue Admiral
Mae Ping National Park

Monday, November 12, 2012

Black Stork

Sunday late afternoon whilst driving out of Chiang Dao we had two Black Storks fly low over the road just to the west of the town. These may have been the same two birds seen over Doi Lang earlier in the month and were an unexpected Thai tick. This morning we left Chiang Dao and headed towards Li and Mae Ping National Park, en route three Red-billed Blue Magpie flew across the road near Mae Ngat.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Grey-headed Lapwing and Oriental Skylark

White-vented Myna Chiang Dao

Yesterday spent the final couple of hours of the day, birding around the paddies south of Chiang Dao, all the usually species were seen including 9 Grey-headed Lapwing, two Oriental Skylark and half a dozen Wire-tailed Swallow. Also recorded were four Richard's, a Paddyfield and six Red-throated Pipit, Bluethroat, 15 Common Snipe, four Pintail Snipe, Common Sandpiper, Dusky Warbler, Wryneck and 30 Chestnut-tailed Starling.

There and Back Again

White-headed Bubul
Chiang Dao
Having been visiting Chiang Dao since 2000, it was becoming embarrassing that I had never climbed the mountain, Friday was the day this changed. Three of us set of at 6am and returned at 4pm, taking 6 hours to reach the summit and four back down, with lots of birding breaks along the way. The higher areas of Chiang Dao are seldom visited by western birders and having spoken to a birder who had done the trip the previous day there was obviously plenty of birds up there.

The first part of the trail was very steep and slippery, birds along this section included two Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, three Grey-headed Parakeet, 30 Striated YuhinaOriental turtle Dove, Grey Treepie, a flock of 30 Long-tailed Minivet and a male Large Niltava.

The rest of the trail passed through a mixture of forest and open scrubby grass covered slopes. Black Bulbuls were very common in fruiting trees with around 300 present along with smaller numbers of Mountain Bulbul, two Maroon Orioles, several Orange-bellied Leafbirds and many Spangled Drongo. Higher along the trail relatively few Black Bulbuls were seen, instead higher altitudes bulbuls dominated with Crested Finchbills seemingly everywhere with at least 100 noted, also present were half a dozen Brown-breasted Bulbuls, several Straited and near the summit at least 60 White-headed Bulbuls all of which were flycatching from treetops. Seven White-bellied Redstarts were either seen or heard, Hill Prinias were abundant in tall grass along with four Abberant Bush Warblers, several Grey Bushchats, two Spot-throated Babbler, three Chestnut Buntings, up to a dozen Buff-throated Warblers and seven Grey-crowned Warbler. In the same habitat there was also three species of scimiters babblers, with many White-browed, four Rusty-cheeked and two Red-billed seen along with 15 Spectacled Barwings and several Silver-eared Laughingthrush.

Where the trail passed through patches of forest, several large feeding flocks were encounted with Rufous-winged and Grey-cheeked Fulvetta being common and one large flock included 20 Silver-eared Mesia, four Yellow-cheeked Tit, a Yellow-browed Tit, several Buff-barred Warblers and a Pallas's Warbler. Also recorded in these forest patches were two Pygmy Wren Babblers, a Slaty-bellied Tesia, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Little Pied Flycatcher and a Slaty Blue Flycatcher. Gould's Sunbirds were everywhere especially near the summit, where many Straited Swallows fed overhead along with a few Cook's Swifts and hundreds of Himalyan Swiflets.

Others species seen along the trail included two Mountain Bamboo Partridge, several Bay and Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Great and Golden-throated Barbet, Collared Owlet, a Slender-billed Oriole, White-throated Fantail,Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, several Hume's Warblers, three Mountain Tailorbirds, hundreds of White-eyes with those seen well all appearing to be Japanese and both Rufous-fronted and Grey-throated Babblers.  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Open-billed Stork

Yesterday had various things to do in Chiang Mai, but before leaving Chiang Mai did have an adult male Amur Falcon over the garden again and a Crested Goshawk. I was surprised to see a flock of 50 Open-billed Storks over paddies on the edge of Chiang Mai the first time I have seen this species in the north. Open-bills are increasing in Thailand but are generally scarce if not rare in the north but this year has seen many more than usual around Chiang Mai, with up to 600 recorded one day in October. Also Common Buzzard in the same area and a male Eastern Marsh Harrier across the road near Chiang Dao.

Hume's Pheasant and Giant Nuthatch

Puff-throated Babbler
Chiang Dao
by Michael Rooney

Tuesday made the pre-dawn pilgrimage up to the DYK sub station at Chiang Dao, the first bird of the morning was a Blue-whisting Thrush which called from alongside the track. Just before the substation after the last of the switchback bends, a stunning male Hume's Pheasant walked down the track in front of the truck. We were then joined by three other birders who were delighted when within a few minutes I pointed out two Giant Nuthatch on a dead pine tree and it was still not even 630, we would later go onto see a total of four Giant Nuthatch and hear at least another four. One of the birders whom had joined use was from Turkey and he thought it likely that he was the first Turkish birder ever to see Giant Nuthatch!!.

We then spent the next hour and a half birding the rest of the track into the sub station, it was fairly busy, best birds four Grey-headed Parakeet, two Slender-billed Orioles, Maroon Oriole, three Greater Yellownape, Striped-breasted Woodpecker, 2 Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, three Blyth's Shrike Babbler, 2 Large Cuckooshrike, Lesser Racket-tailed DrongoGrey-chinned and Long-tailed Minivet and we also heard Bay Woodpecker and Long-tailed Broadbill. We had a quick breakfast and wander around the sub station grounds where there was a Dark-sided flycatcher, three Burmese Shrikes, several Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Orinetal Turtle  Dove, Great TitGrey-backed Shrike, Gould's and Black-throated Sunbird and a flock of 15 Striated Yuhina. Large numbers of Fork-tailed Swift were noted overhead including at least a dozen of the distinct Cook's Swift. A skulking flycatcher in scrub was probably Slaty Blue but failed to show well enough to clinch id.

We then headed back down the track and arranged for the driver to meet us several hours later, by now birding was very quiet, which was not helped by low cloud occasionally drifting in. We did manage to see large numbers of phylloscopus warblers, including good numbers of Davidson's, half a dozen Claudia's and at least one Hume's. Amongst one flock of warblers we had good views of a Sulphur-breasted Warbler and during the morning we saw at least 5 Marten's and three Grey-crowned Warblers. With the sun eventually burning the cloud away the birding became even slower and our attention shifted to the good selection of butterflies present, more of these in later posts. We still encounted occasional birds including a female Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, several Little Pied flycatcher, Eurasian JayOrange-bellied Leafbirds, four Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, two Maroon orioles, Black-winged Cuckooshrike, Great BarbetFlavescent and Black Bulbul, numerous Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Gould's SunbirdRufous-fronted and Puff-throated Babbler and heard Bar-backed Partridge calling loudly from several places and up to six Collared Owlets.

Lower down the track a stop near one of the villages produced a Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Japanese White-eye, White-crowed forktail, Ashy Bulbul, a dozen Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike, White and Grey Wagtail. We returned to Malee's by 5pm having seen around 80 species, it was here just before dusk that a huge Spot-bellied Eagle Owl flew into tall trees just above the garden.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Amur Falcon

Doi Chiang Dao
Sunday and Monday I was busy doing mostly non birding things around Chiang Dao, however my bins were never very far away and I did manage to see a number of species either in the garden or over it. On Monday a male Amur Falcon headed high north over the garden, followed a little later by a Peregrine. A pair of Blue-bearded Bee-eater were present in trees by the entrance road into the resort and in scrub at the opposite end of the resort there was a splendid adult male Siberian Blue Robin. Monday morning a flock of a dozen Thick-billed Green Pigeon zipped over and in the evening Spot-billed Eagle Owl, Collared and Mountain Scops Owl were heard. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Black-backed Forktail

Orange-breasted Trogon
Chiang Dao
This morning walked the first eight kilometers of the Muang Khong Road or Checkpoint Road, the birding was hard going at times, but on the stream which passes under the road several times there were two pairs of White-crowned Forktail and surprisingly a pair of the much scarcer Black-backed Forktail, a Little Heron was also flushed from the same stream. All the way along the road numerous blue and orange flycatchers were seen or heard singing, those seen well all appeared to be Hill Blue Flycatcher with a total of around 20 along the 8km stretch. A party of three Orange-breasted Trogons showed well and a Collared Falconet was another local scarcity. Plenty of birds were heard singing or calling along from the side of the road including three Drongo Cuckoo, two Banded Bay Cuckoo and Scaly-breasted Partridge from at least four different localities. There was plenty of birds by the checkpoint and beyond including a Bay Woodpecker, ten Thick-billed Green Pigeon, 13 Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Great Barbet, three Oriental Pied Hornbill, 20 Spangled Drongo, Grey-backed Shrikes, 8 Asian Fairy Bluebirds, numerous Blue-winged Leafbirds, four Blyth's Leaf Warblers, 3 Omei Warbler, a Grey-crowned Warbler and various other common species.

Blue Rock Thrush
Chiang Dao
Back at Malee's an Arctic Warbler, Blue Rock Thrush and two Puff-throated Babblers were present in the garden.    

Friday, November 2, 2012

Moths night of Nov 1st

Ran the moth light last night at Chiang Dao, numbers were disappointing. Frustratingly only managed to identify very few to species level.
Ambulyx canescens
Creatonotos transiens
Episparis costistriga
Nyctemera coleta
Actornis sp
Barsine sp
Leucomini sp
Spilosoma sp
Some of the unidentified moths from last night