Saturday, January 10, 2009

The "Black-tailed" Family

If asking about my most impressive moments in wildlife career, I would say one of them is photographing this Black-tailed Crake(Porzana bicolor) family at Doi Inthanon, Chiang Mai, Thailand, my hometown. The Black-tailed Crake is an endangered species, which can be found only in Himalayas regions, from Indian Subcontinent, to China, Myanmar, and northern Thailand. I can even remember the exact date! It was 7th July 2007(that's why I can, lol..) The same day that I finally managed to see one of my long-time wishlist species, the Brown Wood Owl, at the 2nd Checkpoint. Although, I was able to photograph only 3 species of birds that trip, but it was certainly memorable, since another one was a Mountain Bamboo Partridge, an (also) uncommon bird of northern Thailand.

An adult Black-tailed Crake drying its wings

I arrived at Doi Inthanon on 6th July and stayed overnight at Mr.Daeng's house. It was raining all night long and still continued in the early morning. I thought I wouldn't have any luck in birding for that whole day, but then I was thinking about this rare crake that usually shows up at the campground. Finally, I decided to give it a try. Even if the crake didn't come, it'd be okay cause I wanted to find a place to take a nap also. I sat there at the campground area, with my jackets covering my head, body, and camera(since I did not have a blind). I can't remember how long I'd been sitting there, but I'd slept for a few moment for sure. Then suddenly, the clouds had gone away and the sky became clear. The sun started to dry the grass up. Then I noticed some trembling grasses on the right side. Suddenly, an adult Black-tailed Crake showed up its head from the thick bush, and frightfully walked out to get some food I put on the ground, then quickly ran into cover. I waited for it again to feel more comfortable. After few minutes, it showed up again, but this time there were 2 of them. Both Black-tailed Crakes walked out from the grass slowly, then picked the food up and ran back to eat in the bush. After 4 or 5 times, they've become tamer and finally ate the food on the open ground. I had a happy time photographing them. Focusing only in the view finder, I was surprised to find out that there were actually other two of their chicks standing at the edge of the grass!

The Black-tailed Crake chicks

Parent bird brought food for the chick

The chick already had some resemblances of adult, chestnut upperparts, and reddish legs.

After seeing the chicks, I changed my attention. It was the first time for me to see this rare crake's chicks. To see the whole Black-tailed Crake family walking, feeding together at the same time would be the experience which I would never have twice. The birds came closer and closer, and finally, even as close as I couldn't get full body in one frame! Remind you again, my gear is only a 300 f/4 with a 1.4x teleconverter. Imagine how close it was! The birds stopped feeding when the sun was fully shone. They started to spread their wings and let sunlight dried them up, both the chicks and adults. The birds came and went to pick up foods until there was nothing left on the ground, then finally, they walked back into cover, and stopped coming out again. They had left me with a huge smile on my face. It was (again) worth waiting for! Thanks to my, thanks to the nap!

That's why they gave you the name!

Fluff it up!

What a rare moment.

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