Friday, September 2, 2011

Morning Waterhens

The White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus) is a very common crake that can be found throughout Thailand. I was kind of surprised when I found that it can also be found in Japan as well, though only in Okinawa. I didn't expect this species to spread all the way up to the northern hemisphere. Its dark slaty back quickly disappearing into the grass is a common sight I often see whenever I go out riding through the fields. Even though it is so common, I've still never got any good photo of it. Two days ago, I went riding through the same route checking my local patch. I decided to ride a bit further and explore more suitable sites for birding. I ended up in a small muddy road leading into the rice fields, and found a pair of this black and white crake busy looking for food.

White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus)

At first, there were 2 birds walking together on the road. One was presumably male with brighter coloured bill, and another one was presumably female with duller greyish-green bill. The one being shown here is the female. The male was much shyer and didn't return to the same spot after disappearing into the grass, unlike the female which came back to the same spot repeatedly, and didn't care much about my existence. I slowly crept towards the bird, and though it might be walking away, I'd wait until it came back to the same spot again. I enjoyed shooting photos of this relatively tame bird for about 10 minutes until it slowly disappeared into the thick vegetation on the roadside. On the next day, I discovered that the pair was actually raising 2 fluffy chicks which were both too fast for me to snap any record shot. Both of the chicks were already quite grown up and developing some white feathers on its neck and belly. I also came across another lone chick further on the road. This one was much younger and still fully covered with black downs feathers.
Presumably male bird in the back (with brighter red knob)
I observed it feeding on earthworms and grass seeds.

At times it came really close to the camera.
My favourite shot to end this post. I just love those dewdrops on the grass.


Stu said...

Definitely don't see those up here..............

Phil said...

Very nice shots Ayuwat. I guess they are fairly common and neglected by most birders as a photo subject. I think I saw them in India many moons ago.

Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok said...

Thanks Stu and Phil!
Yes, they're also common in India.