Thursday, October 31, 2013

Mr Blue Sky

The Temple Steps Chiang Dao
At last the cloud has lifted the sky is blue and the sun is out for the first time in ten days, it could be the last of the rain for the next five months as hopefully the dry season begins. Making the most of the good weather I headed to the temple at dawn, lots of birds around, including several big feeding flocks. Lots of additions to the list which included two superb Red-headed Trogons and three Sultan Tit. Also new for the list were 2 Bay Woodpecker, 2 Brown-rumped Minivet, 4 White-throated Fantail, 2 Great Iora, Thick-billed Warbler, 4 Buff-breasted Babbler, 4 Rufous-fronted Babbler, 2 Grey-throated Babbler, 2 White-bellied Erponis and 2 Ruby-cheeked Sunbird.

A very distant Maroon Oriole
Also present were several calling Green-legged Partridge, 2 Orange-breasted Trogon, 4 Blue-bearded Bee-eater, 2 Banded Bay Cuckoo, Violet Cuckoo, 5 Collared Owlet, 4 Mountain Imperial Pigeon, 10 Thick-billed Green Pigeon, 2 Grey-backed Shrike, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Maroon Oriole, 14 Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike, 3 Asian Paradise Flycatcher, 20 Large Woodshrike, 12 Oriental White-eye, 4 Grey-crowned Warbler, 3 Marten's Warbler, 6 Puff-throated Babbler, 30 Striated Yuhina, 15 Brown-cheeked Fulvetta, 2 Purple-naped Sunbird and 2 Black-throated Sunbird.

A record shot of one of this mornings Sultan Tits
Lots of bulbuls around including a flock of 28 Black Bulbul which contained six white-headed birds, probably of the race stresemanni, with the white not extending onto the breast. A few raptors south this morning with 8 Black Baza, 3 Grey-faced Buzzard and an adult male Pied Harrier.

Odd records in the last few days included 2 Dollarbirds ( a species I have seen only once before at Chiang Dao) and the first Marten's Warbler at the temple on the 29th, a flock of 18 Large Woodshrike in the garden and 3 Kestrels overhead 30th. Spot-bellied Eagle Owl calling most nights from tall trees around the garden most nights and last night a Collared Scops Owl showed well in trees around the swimming pool.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October moths

Attacus atlas
probably a female with a wingspan of  25cm!

Though it has been wet day after day recently, there has been good numbers of moths attracted to light around the resort and along the road. The wet days have also given me a chance to try and identify some of the moths photographed over the last couple of weeks.

Attacus atlas
freshly emerged probably a male as only has a wingspan of 20cm!
Samia canningii
currently very common
Loepa diversiocella
Circula jordani 
Ambulyx canescens
Ambulyx tattina
Comostolodes dialitha
Bocula divergens
Kunugia placida
Phalera parivala
Parasa darama
Parapoynx fluctuosalis
And some yet to name:-

Monday, October 28, 2013

More Amurs

Despite overcast conditions and low cloud yesterday, there was an initial early burst of Amur Falcons moving north with 63 through by 930am and then nothing. Little else on the move apart from a steady passage of Indochinese Swiftlets south, with 3750 by mid day.

The temple was busy and noisy yesterday morning and perhaps as a result birds kept a low profile, however in scrub and trees between the temple and Malee's a flock of 18 Rosy Minivet was noteworthy, around the temple car park an Orange-breasted Trogon showed briefly and two Speckled Piculet were also present. Species that seemed to have increased in recent days include Grey-crowned Warbler with two around the temple and a further two in scrub at the back of the garden and Spangled Drongo with at least 50 in three flocks in tall trees around the temple and Malee's.  

Not much chance of any passage today, rain, low cloud and visibility of just a few hundred meters.

Have attached a link to a short talk on the amazing migration of globe skimmer dragonflies across the Indian Ocean, timings and route mirror that of Amur Flacons and no doubt explain the incredible migration of this bird of prey.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Chestnut-headed Bee-eater

Lots of Chestnut-headed Bee-eater on the move yesterday morning with a total of 178 south between 0830-1100hrs, with several other high flocks heard but not seen the total was probably over two hundred. Each year when at Chiang Dao I record a southward passage of the species during October and early Nov, with the species being largely absent in the area during Nov to Feb, birds beginning to reappear during the second half of February. Very little else moving yesterday with a single Amur Falcon north, 3 Oriental Honey Buzzard and 2 Grey-faced Buzzard south. The local Oriental Hobby was seen several times during the morning as well as 20 Brown-backed Needletails.

Usual species present around the temple car park, with five White-headed Bulbul the only new species.

This morning cloudy and grey, but it did not stop Amur Falcons heading north with 52 through by 1200hrs. Little else of note apart from 470 Indonchinese Swiftlet south and a fast moving flock of 35 Striated Yuhina through the garden.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thick-billed Pigeons

Thick-billed Green Pigeon
by Fred Rowe
For the first four hours of today it was dry so took the opportunity to get out and headed to the nearby temple, lots of birds around many drying themselves off in the sun. Around the temple car park a large flock of at least 35 Thick-billed Green Pigeons were present in dead trees. Lots of birds were coming in and out of the same tree including Maroon Oriole, four Greater Racket-tailed Drongo and an Oriental Hobby which scattered all the pigeons.

A fast moving feeding party along the temple steps, included at least two Sulphur-breasted Warbler, 3 Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Lesser Racket-tailed Dronge, 3 Yellow-bellied Warbler and at least a dozen Striped Tit Babbler. From the lookout at the highest point of the temple two Amur Falcons headed north, six Mountian Imperial Pigeons flew over and a distant Great Barbet was scoped up. Also present around the temple were calling Drongo and Banded Bay Cuckoo, two Blue-bearded Bee-eater, 4 Violet Cuckoo, Grey-crowned Warbler and four Grey-backed Shrike.

Very little on the move yesterday with 8 Amur Falcon north, 5 Black Baza, 3 Grey-faced Buzzard and an Oriental Honey Buzzard south. Nothing on the move this morning with heavy rain again starting by 1030am.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

October 22nd

Today's totals 7 Amur Falcons north and moving south 1620 Indochinese Swiflets, 7 Grey-faced Buzzard, 4 Oriental Honey Buzzard and an Eastern Buzzard. Also 3 Black Bulbul over the garden. Weather, rain at dawn, low cloud and occasional rain til mid day, drier and brighter late afternoon.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Grey-faced Buzzards

After four days of heavy rain , frequent power outages and long spells of no internet this morning dawned drier and brighter with the electricity on, but by 1030am the rain had begun again and continued till late afternoon. Whilst it was dry and almost sunny there was a steady passage of birds south, and I am sure had the weather been better some good totals would have been recorded. Grey-faced Buzzard was the commonest raptor with a total of 42 south, along with 12 Oriental Honey Buzzard, 8 Chinese Sparrowhawk, 2 Eastern Buzzard, single Crested Serpant Eagle, Black Baza and 3 accipter species. There was a steady passage of Himalayan Swiftlets moving through with at least 2340 noted. Also on the move were 59 Eurasian Swallow, 34 Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, 19 Little Green Bee-eater and 63 pipit species presumably Red-throated or Olive-backed all of which were high and none of which called.

There appeared to be a fresh influx Two-barred Warbler with at least 9 calling around the garden. Also in the garden was a Grey-crowned Warbler and 5 Velvet-fronted Nuthatch.

Mid afternoon I had to take the wife into Chiang Dao, just a few kilometres away, bizarrely it was dry bright and sunny! Whilst waiting for the wife to complete her massage I drove around the nearby rice paddies. The whole area was covered in waist height rice and the only bird of note were two Wire-tailed Swallow. Abandoning the paddies I headed to the hot springs where there was a few more birds around including a very obliging Oriental Hobby perched on a dead snag next to a  Rufous-winged Buzzard.  Also around the springs were a  male Siberian Rubythroat, Long-tailed Shrike, 2 Black-collared Starling, 5 Grey Wagtail, 18 Cattle Egret and a Lesser Coucal. Left Chiang Dao town in the sun and arrived back at Malee's where it was still raining and no electricity again.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Prize Fighter

Very little birding and few birds seen over the last couple of days, due to heavy continuous rain, the poor weather did force several thousand Himalayan Swiftlets down low to feed and yesterday at least three flocks of Ashy Minivet were seen in the area totaling around 75 birds.

Siamese Rhinoceros Beetle
Xylotrupes gideon
In addition to moths being attracted to the light, a fantastic selection of other insects are often drawn in, a few nights ago a male Siamese Rhinoceros Beetle Xylotrupes gideon crashed into the light. Males are much prized by the locals who hold beetle fights, where large sums of money are often exchanged as males fight over females! 

lamiinae sp
The above yet unidentified beetle was small but brilliantly colored. Whilst cutting the grass an amazing katydid Sanaa intermedia was flushed.

Sanna intermedia
On days when the weather is much better, several Green Dragontails are usually present around the garden.

Green Dargontail

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Amur Falcons

A full day in the field yesterday, with the first four hours of the day birding around the temple, middle of the day looking for raptors and late afternoon birding along the checkpoint road. A reasonable number of birds seen, with the best probably the 73 Amur Falcons which moved north during the morning. On the move in the opposite direction were 23 Black Baza, single Common Kestrel, Grey-faced Buzzard, 19 Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, 24 Little Green Bee-eater and at least 1500 Indochinese Swiftlets.

Black-headed Bulbul
Currently very common locally and one of the better looking bulbuls
Birding around the temple was much better than of late, best birds being a Sulphur-breasted Warbler, several Silver-breasted Broadbill, 2 Speckled Piculet, Orange-breasted Trogon and a Claudia's Leaf Warbler. Other species present included at least 6 Violet Cuckoo, 2 Mountain Imperial Pigeon, 2 Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Lesser Racket Tailed Drongo, 5 Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, 4 Asian Paradise FlycatcherGreat Barbet and Green-legged Partridge calling from at least three different localities. Very many bulbuls were also noted including good numbers of Black-headed.

The checkpoint road was much quieter, best birds along here single Dark-sided Flycatcher, male Grey Bushchat and Black-backed Forktail.  Also 2 Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, 3 Violet Cuckoo, 4 Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, single Grey-backed and Brown Shrike, Blue-winged Leafbird and 3 Olive-backed Pipit.

At dusk outside the wildlife HQ entrance, the Spot-bellied Eagle Owl was very vocal but failed to show, at least 5 Asian-barred Owlet and a single Collared Owlet were also heard.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Hainan Blue Flycatcher

Late afternoon  I walked the checkpoint road as far as the barrier, best birds by far were two  Hainan Blue Flycatcher just before the checkpoint. Two Claudia Leaf Warblers and a Raddes Warbler were the first i have seen locally this winter. Also present along the road were a single Oriental Pied Hornbill,  2 Blue-eared Barbet, 2 Thick-billed Green Pigeon, 3 Blue-winged Leafbirds, Blue Rock Thrush, 2 Grey-backed Shrike, 3 Brown Shrike, 4 Hill Blue Flycatcher, 8 Taiga Flycatcher, 2 Puff-throated Babbler, 4 Grey Wagtail and 8 Oriental White-eye.

Very little on the move this morning with just 2 Eastern Buzzard, a Black Baza, 8 Spangled Drongo and 3 Ashy Minivet south.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Spot-bellied Eagle Owl

Yesterday evening at the dusk, one of the local Spot-bellied Eagle Owls was calling from tall trees around the garden, before flying across the road into the forest. Chiang Dao, especially along the road between the temple and Malee's must be one of the best places to see this species in Thailand. The best strategy to see them would be to wait at dusk by the turning to the Wildlife Sanctuary Headquarters, when birds can usually be seen flying between the very tall trees, before disappearing of into the forest to feed. These trees are also worth checking during the day, as on at least one occasion I have found one roosting during the day.

Also calling just after dusk yesterday were both Mountain and Collared Scops Owl and Brown Boobok.
male Asian Paradide Flycatcher
Spent several hours at the temple this morning, for little reward, there were plenty of common species around such as Asian Fairy Bluebird, Hill Blue Flycatcher and common bulbuls. New birds for the list did include Brown Cheeked Fluvetta, Yellow-bellied Warbler and Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike. Lots of  warblers around with both Yellow-browed and Two-barred both being very common, but no sign of any Claudia's Leaf Warblers yet. Species currently being seen daily at the moment include Blue-bearded Bee-eater with two pairs in the area and Violet Cuckoo usually being seen as the call and fly between the tall trees.

Early afternoon the Chestnut-winged Cuckoo was again in the garden.  

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Garden Visitors

The best birds today were both in the garden, the first a fine male Crimson Sunbird and at lunch a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo in the hedge by the restaurant, which was the first time i have seen this species at Chiang Dao at this time of year.

No raptors on the move today with just a local Oriental Honey Buzzard and a Crested Serpant Eagle a species which is often conspicuous by its absence at this time of year, but surprisingly common by the end of December once birds are vocal and displaying. Bee-eaters however were on the move south this morning with 65 Little Green and a flock of 27 Chestnut-headed.

Lots of Grey-backed Shrikes  around currently with 2 around the garden, 2 along the road to the temple and a further one in the temple car park. The pair of Blue-bearded Bee-eater were once again in roadside trees as well as 8 Thick-billed Green Pigeon.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Moths Chiang Dao - Early October 2013

Numenes siletli
Over the last few nights I have once again been running a light to attract moths at Chiang Dao, catches have been fairly poor, due to cool nights, despite this there has been more than enough moths to give me a headache. Around a third have so far been identified, the rest sit in an ever growing file of ones still to name. 

toccolosida rubriceps
Gastropacha xenaptes
Rajendra tripartita
Asota producta
Asota ficus
Cyana catorhoda
Cyana bianca
Cyclosia panthosa
Theretra nessus
Barsine euprepioides

Black Baza

Have been confined to barracks for the last couple of days, though did find some time today to look for raptors, it was the best morning so far, Black Baza was the commonest species with a total of 34 south in four groups. Also heading south were 6 Oriental Honey Buzzard, 3 Chinese Sparrowhawk and single Eastern Buzzard, Grey-faced Buzzard and Common Kestrel. Other species moving south included 30 Chestnut-tailed Starling, 12 Spangled Drongo, 8 Ashy Minivet, 7 Olive-backed Pipit and at least 550 Himalayan Swiftlet

There were many hirundines and swifts feeding over the garden throughout the day, including at least 60 Striated Swallow, 60 Crested Treeswift and once again around 20 Brown-backed Needletail.

Early yesterday morning manage to squeeze in a quick visit to the temple where there was a White-crowned Forktail feeding in the corner of the car park briefly, two Black Bulbuls and a Drongo Cuckoo. There did not appear to be any raptors on the move yesterday though a local Oriental Honey Buzzard and Oriental Hobby were noted.  

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bamboo Woodpecker

Just after first light I headed up the road to the nearby temple, just off the steps in some bamboo a woodpecker was drumming loudly and persistently, after around 20 minutes I managed brief views of a Bamboo Woodpecker, a species not that uncommon around Chiang Dao but is often difficult to get views of. In trees around the car park an adult Oriental Cuckoo showed well, as did several Violet Cuckoo. There was a constant stream of birds in and out of a small fruiting tree, which included Blue-throated and Blue-eared Barbet, six species of bulbul, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Thick-billed and Yellow-vented Flowerpecker and a male Black-throated Sunbird.

Blue-throated Barbet
Other species recorded around the temple included calling Green-legged Partridge and Red Junglefowl, Great Barbet, at least 10 Black-hooded Oriole, Plaintive Cuckoo and Purple-naped Sunbird.  In tall trees back along the road just outside the entrance to Malee's a pair of Blue-bearded Bee-eater showed well, the tall trees along the road to the temple seems to be a fairly reliable site for this species. 

From mid morning until mid afternoon time was once again spent looking upwards for raptors, there was nothing on the move until early afternoon when 3 Oriental Honey Buzzard, 3 Black Baza and single Eastern Buzzard and Grey-faced Buzzard headed south. A pair of Oriental Hobby were also around for much of the afternoon. 

Late afternoon I headed into town and the market, taking small back roads I added several new species to the list, such as Pied Bushchat, Little Green Bee-eater and best of all 40 Open-billed Stork which was a new species for myself at Chiang Dao. 

Open-billed Stork
photo by Fred Rowe
At dusk an Oriental Scops Owl was calling near the resort and moved the list onto 94 species. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Up on the roof

Spent from dawn until midday up on the old rooftop restaurant at Malee's hoping to see some overhead passge of raptors and passerines. It was not until nearly 10:30am before the first raptors were recorded when a group of 5 Amur Flacon moved north followed over the next hour by a further six. The only other migrant raptor was a splendid adult male Pied Harrier which headed high south over the forest. Local raptors included a Shikra and at least 5 Crested Goshawk including several displaying males.  The only passerines possibly on the move were 17 Olive-backed Pipit. The surprise bird of the day was a male Grey Buschat in the garden the first time i have seen this species so low down and presumably a migrant.

Grey-backed Shrike one of two present this morning
Other species seen during the migration watch this morning included 4 Oriental Pied Hornbill, 2 Violet Cuckoo, Banded Bay Cuckoo, Black-winged Cuckooshrike, 2 Grey-backed Shrike and 20 Brown-backed Needletail.

Emarald Ground Dove
Early in the morning an Emerald Ground Dove few into a nearby window, knocking its self out, after a couple of hours rest in a cage it was later released unharmed.

A late afternonn walk up to the temple added Scaret Minivet and Yellow-vented Flowerpecker to the list moving the total on to 65 species.

Monday, October 7, 2013

An overnight visitor

Erebus hieroglyphica
Woke up in the hotel room in Lampang this morning to find the above moth at the window, it is a widespread species recorded throughout south east Asia, China, India, Indonesia and Philippines.

A few birds seen on the way up to Chiang Dao this afternoon including a Racket Tailed Treepie across the road, Oriental Honey Buzzard and a group of 50 Open-billed Stork in fields just outside Chiang Dao a species which in the last couple of years has increased dramatically in northern Thailand.

Arrived Chiang Mai mid afternoon and headed straight to Malees our home for the next three months, unless there is a family fallout! Whilst unpacking the car an Emrrald Ground Dove zipped through the gardens, many Crested Treeswift, Striated Swallow and a few Indochinese Swiftlets fed high over the garden and on one of the bungalows a Blue Rock Thrush was already in residence for the winter. By the time the car was unloaded and all the family news was caught up with, i only had time to walk up to the temple car park and back, with lots of leaves on the trees birding was hard, but i did manage to see Puff-throated Babbler, 4 Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Two-barred Warbler, Streaked Spiderhunter and a fair selection of common birds. In the evening both Asian Barred Owlet and Brown Boobok were calling bringing the Chiang Dao trip list to 34 on the first day.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Ferruginous Flycatcher

Both walks around the local patch Thursday and Friday morning had to be cut short due to torrential downpours. Best bird of the two brief walks was a superb Ferruginous Flycatcher in scrub close to the house. There seemed to be a few extra migrants/winter visitors around with increases in the numbers of Eastern Stonechat, Yellow-browed Warbler and Taiga Flycatcher. Also present were two Asian Brown Flycatchers, single Eastern Crowned and Thick-billed Warbler, 4 Black-capped Kingfisher, 2 Black-naped Oriole and the first Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler of the winter. During better weather on Friday four adult Bhraminy Kite and two Black Kite were recorded over the house.

Most of today spent driving north to Lampang, birds on the way included a Rufous-winged Buzzard  near Thoen, plenty of Black-shouldered Kite and once north of Thoen lots of Pied Bushchats on roadside wires.

Monday we move onto Chiang Dao, where we will be based for the next three months. Whilst there i hope to record the raptor migration over the area during the next three or four weeks as well as trying to see as many species as possible in the area during this time, i will keep you posted.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Red Collared Dove

Red  Collared Dove
by Fred Rowe
Sunday/Monday was spent visiting relatives in Phitsunalok, despite this did manage to jam in a quick walk around some local scrub and paddies, though not rare the most unimpressive sighting was the huge numbers of Red Collared Doves present, birds were everywhere at least 800 on roadside wires and additional birds as far as the eye could see. Also of note was an Oriental Darter over head, good numbers of Blue-tailed Bee-eater, a couple of Black-caped Kingfisher, Purple Heron, Ruddy-breasted Crake and two Grey-headed Lapwings.

Before heading back we made a quick visit to the nearby temple Doi Suthep 2, which is situated on a nearby forested covered hill. Lots of Olive-backed Subirds  in flowering trees and shrubs, as well as single Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Black-naped Monarch and a couple of male blue and orange flycatchers which i saw only briefly.