Monday, August 23, 2010

My Place

I've been calling it 'my place' for many years now. Cho Lae is a small village located only about 15 minutes away from my house. It is a good birding place where I used to visit several times a week during my high school period. It holds a vast cultivatied area, mainly rice paddies, bordered with dry dipterocarp forest and Mae Ngat Dam. Lots of interesting species can be found here, especially in winter, where the first Red-headed Bunting (Emberiza bruniceps) of Thailand and South-East Asia was found by me and a group of Malaysian birders.

I've been back to Cho Lae again last week with A.Mark, a new and extremely keen bird photographer in Chiang Mai. There were not so many birds as we arrived there a bit too late. There were several fruiting trees including mistletoe and calabura tree. These attracted lots of small Scarlet-backed Flowerpeckers (Dicaeum cruentatum) to come and feed on the fruits. One young male was obliging enough for me to get some good photos at close range. The adult male is the one in the far right photo of the lower row. Other fruit-eating birds like Purple and Olive-backed Sunbirds, Sooty-headed and Streak-eared Bulbuls also visit these fruiting trees as well.


A large flock of about 100 Barn Swallows was also resting along the electrical wires on the roadside. Cho Lae is another place where these birds gather in large flock during winter. Barn Swallow is among the very first migrants that arrive Thailand along with the Grey Wagtail and waders. I spotted several juvenile birds perching on low wooden poles, so I walked in and grabbed few shots. These juveniles are much more obliging than the adults.

There were already lots of Wood Sandpipers (Tringa glareola) in the rice fields. These birds are super hard to photograph since they always hide within the rice fields and flush up before we even see or get close to them. I spotted a different wader which is smaller and has black line on its rump unlike the Wood Sandpiper, and I thought it was a Dunlin, which I've seen earlier many years ago around the area, but since it's a rare species in Thailand, I want to be more sure to say that. A single unidentifiable Swinhoe's/Pintail Snipe also flushed up from the rice field as I walked in as well. This might mark as the earliest record of the snipe for me.

The highlight of the day was the shy Greater Painted-Snipe (Rostratula benghalensis). We flushed 1 beautiful female and at least 3 male birds. These birds are even more difficult to get good pics than the waders. They know how to hide away from human eyes very well and I still need to get some decent shots of them. The bird in the photo is the female. Male bird is much duller with plain brown head and neck similar to phalaropes where females are much more beautiful.

Other decent birds that showed up that day included the migrant Blue-tailed Bee-Eaters ,which were all too shy for us to take some pics of them, and several singing Bright-headed Cisticola. The most common bird was the above White-vented Myna (Acridotheres grandis) which seemed to be so active in finding food along the dikes. There were lots of its relative, the Black-collared Starling, as well but they all stayed away from me and my lens.


The last species of bird that we luckily came across was the Baya Weaver (Ploceus philippinus) which was having a nesting colony near the roadside. These birds can amazingly weave their own nests out of grasses in a very neat and beautiful way. We found at least 4 nests hanging on the top of a Tropical Almond (Terminalia catappa) tree. Few female birds also came in with lots of preys in their beaks and made the alarm call as they saw us standing under their nests. We then left the area quietly so the birds could get in and feed their chicks.

6 comments:

Russell said...

Wow, that's fascinating about the Red-headed Bunting and again, a wonderful collection of species. Love the flight pic of the snipe too. Great stuff.

Phil said...

Great collection again there A. The Greater Painted Snipe looks absolutely amazing, such colours!

Stu said...

Nice shots, I'd love to see a Painted Snipe......

Unravel said...

Thanks a lot all!
The Painted Snipe is one of my most favourite birds as well. I always tried to get photos of them whenever I find.

John said...

Looks like you had a great day out. Those Painted Snipe can drop into cover very quickly, so an "in flight" shot is a prize indeed !

Ryou said...

The female Painted Snipe really looks as if someone purposely painted such markings on it... haha! Beautiful flight shot you have there! And wow, you made history with the Bunting too. Congratulations!