Friday, February 27, 2009

Birding with Tony Ball

Warning - no really good bird shots. But we did see lots of interesting birds.

G & W had told us about going out birding with Tony Ball (the blog's not current, but there is a lot in the archives and the contact info is current) and after looking him up on the internet, I knew this was the right person to go out with. He's been in Chiang Mai studying birds for 17 [20] years. And G had sent my Crested Serpent Eagle picture to Tony for verification.

Birding guides change everything. They know the spots where the birds are most likely to be, they know the names of the birds. Otherwise, we're wandering hit and miss, thumbing through the bird book trying to figure out whether it really was a kind of bulbul, and if so, which one. That's not to say all our unguided birding in Chiang Mai has been a waste. Not at all. Today we already knew a fair number of birds, but Tony confirmed some things and expanded our knowledge and sightings enormously. And he was identifying so many by their calls as well.

We got picked up at 6:30 - after getting a call through on skype to wish my mother a happy birthday - by Tony and his driver for today, Tik (I think - correct me Tony if I got it really wrong.) And about 15 minutes later we were on the side of the road looking at birds. We walked down the path above a ways. We saw lots of birds, few that were close enough to even try to get photos off. Besides, I was so busy with my binoculars.

One of the highlights of the morning was the hoopoe. When we spent the year in Hong Kong 20 years ago, the Hong Kong bird book had a hoopoe on the cover, but I didn't really believe that they really existed. They are so bizarre looking. But we did eventually get to see some live hoopoes in the grass at the Taj Mahal. So it was a surprise pleasure to see another hoopoe today. There's a dot a little more than halfway between the sun and the bottom of the picture above. It's a speck really. That's the hoopoe flying off.

This is why I didn't take too many pictures. You really can't tell that this is a green bee eater, with a long extra feather sticking out way past his tail. But it is.

Then after a while, we ended at Tony's breakfast tree where the table was set and we had breakfast watching - Tony don't read this, they're all jumbling together - the tailorbird, the yellow vented flower pecker, and I think this is also where I got a second look at the . . . uh oh. I can't find the name of that green bird with the orange above the bill. (Found it copying from the bird list - Golden-fronted Leafbird.) Among others.

Here's another spot we watched for a while.

Then we headed back to Tony's clubhouse where we had some water by the pool while Tony went through the bird list and ticked off the birds we saw and also marked which ones we only heard. You can double click on the pictures of Tony to enlarge them. The barn swallow and its reflection is from today. The drongo in the lower left, well we saw some, but this picture is from India.

OK, for Catherine, Dianne, and the other birders:

  1. Little Heron
  2. Shikra
  3. Rufous-winged buzzard
  4. Chinese Francolin (heard only)
  5. White-breasted Waterhen
  6. Common Moorhen
  7. Red-wattled Lapwing
  8. Spotted Dove
  9. Zebra Dove
  10. Plaintive Cuckoo
  11. Common Koel
  12. Greater Coucal
  13. Asian Barred Owlet (heard)
  14. White-throated Kingfisher
  15. Green Bee-eater
  16. Hoopoe
  17. Lineated Barbet
  18. Coppersmith Barbet
  19. Rufous Woodpecker (heard)
  20. Asian Palm-Swift
  21. Barn Swallow
  22. Wire-tailed Swallow - very cool
  23. Rufous-winged Bushlark
  24. Richard's Pipit (Paddyfield Pipit)
  25. White Wagtail
  26. Common Iora - also neat little bird
  27. Golden-fronted Leafbird (ah, this is the one I was looking for above)
  28. Black-crested Bulbul - always a favorite with its black crested head and bright yellow body
  29. Red-whiskered Bulbul - these are really very common, but still strking birds
  30. Sooty-headed Bulbul
  31. Stripe-throated Bulbul (heard)
  32. Streak-eared Bulbul - I'm pretty sure these are the ones we've been seeing from our balcony but couldn't identify for sure
  33. Black Drongo
  34. Rufous Treepie (heard)
  35. Striped Tit-Babbler
  36. Chestnut-capped Babbler (heard)
  37. White-crested Laughing Thrush (heard)
  38. Inornate Warbler (Yellow-browed Warbler)
  39. Plain Prinia (heard)
  40. Common Tailorbird
  41. Oriental Magpie-Robin
  42. Stonechat - another neat little bird
  43. Pied Bushchat
  44. Red-throated flycatcher
  45. Ashy Wood-Swallow
  46. Burmese Shrike - striking little bird Tony knew just where this one was hanging out
  47. Black-collared Starling
  48. White-vented Mynah
  49. Common Mynah
  50. Olive-backed Sunbird
  51. Purple Sunbird - another of my favorites today
  52. Yellow-vented Flowerpecker
  53. Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker
  54. Plain-backed Sparrow
  55. Scaly-breasted Munia
So that's 47 seen and 8 more heard. We couldn't resist buying Tony's two CD's of Birds of Thailand Songs and Calls. All in all, a very satisfying day. Makes us eager to get out there again and see what we can see on our own.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this post!
    Hoopoe are common birds in so many places, but I like them, too. When I was in Kazakhstan birding, there were many Hoopoes around that I would exclaim about every time I saw them, to the dismay of the local guide who was trying to find more rare birds! Most of the other people on the tour had been to Europe birding where there are Hoopoes, so they were not impressed either. Glad you are!

    Treepie - maybe that is what is pictured in your book that I thought was a Cuckoo. I love Treepies! Dianne


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