Saturday, June 26, 2010

One of those moments

I don't have any more news to update about nor any new pictures to post, so here I'll start posting something I took years ago back in my hometown in Thailand. The city where I lived is called Chiang Mai (เชียงใหม่). It is located in the North-Westernmost part of the country, and it is a landlocked city. The city is surrounded by high mountain ranges on every side and has a much lower average temperature in winter than other parts of the country. The city also holds many top birding spots where lots of rarities can be found. One of the places being Doi Angkang (ดอยอ่างขาง), which I used to visit almost everyweek. It's a series of high mountain ranges which contains a pocketful amount of rarities which cannot be or rarely found anywhere else. Among all of the rarities that can be found here, Mrs Hume's Pheasant (Syrmaticus humiae) definitely ranks on the top.

The bird is a member of Syrmaticus pheasant family which all species have impressive elongated tail feathers and beautiful metallic colouration. I have seen the species many times but never succeeded in taking photos. However, one cold day in February 2007, as my father drove slowly through a mixed oak and pine forest where the bird is normally spotted, I then noticed a large bird standing still on the right side of the road. I knew right then that it couldn't be anything else but the magnificent Mrs Hume's Pheasant which I always looked for everytime I came here. We then stopped the car and I carefully took photos of the bird from the car window. The speed shutter was horrible, since it was still very early in the morning but I finally managed to get few satisfiable shots. The bird stayed there for few minutes, feeding and displaying. Its display was similar to other Asian pheasants with its wing-whirring display to attract females. It then walked uphill and slowly merged into the thick vegetations leaving me with a big big smile on my face. It's definitely one of those moments in my birding life which I won't be able to forget.
Too bad I couldn't get any decent shot of the bird while displaying.
This one was shot at 1/25!

One of my photos was even chosen as the cover of the 1st volume of the new BCST (Bird Conservation Society of Thailand) monthly bulletin.

10 comments:

Stu said...

'Mrs Hume's Pheasant'?!?

Seriously, is that its name? Who was Mrs Hume I wonder.......

Great stuff, nice to be on the cover of a magazine (not that I'd know about that though!).

Unravel said...

Thanks Stu for your comment!
Formerly the bird's name was just Hume's Pheasant which commemorates a famous British naturalist in India named Allan Octavian Hume, but for some reasons the name changed into "Mrs Hume's" to commemorates his wife Mary Ann Grindall Hume.

An interesting story isn't it?

Ryou said...

Wow. Definitely a memorable experience. And it was displaying too!
Great shots! Especially in such dim lighting. Have you managed to see it again since that day?

Unravel said...

Hi Ryou, thanks for the comment!
Yes I sometimes came across one or two birds around the same area but never managed to get any photo since then. There seems to be a small population, maybe 2 or more males and their families residing around that place but these birds are very secretive and are also threatened by heavy hunting by local people.

Phil said...

Some of the pheasants are pretty stunning but they get thought of as "zoo" birds which of course isn't true when you come across such a fantastic find and also manage to get good shots of it. Love the name though - it could only be an old time Brit in the Victorian era I guess!

Chris said...

I agree with Stu, his name is very funny... The pictures are wonderful and no wonder you got one on the cover of this magazine!!! Congrats, it is quite well deserved.

Unravel said...

Thanks a lot Phil and Chris!
I also agree with you, Phil. It's truly fantastic to see these gorgeous birds out in the wild!

Ryou said...

What a pity that such beautiful birds are gradually disappearing due to much hunting. It makes each picture of them ever more valuable! Well done. Hope you'll continue to see them every now and then.

John said...

(Mrs.) Hume's Pheasant.. what a great bird. Well Done to get it on the cover of the BCST bulletin !

Unravel said...

Ryou> Yes, it's such a sad thing. Hunting for food is still somewhat acceptable but most of hunting nowadays is just for fun. Hope the trend disappears very soon.

John> Thank you! There're also lots of incredible pheasants in China. I wish I can make a trip over there once......