Benedict and I had a great afternoon at Huay Mai Reservoir on Sunday in radiant sunshine and heat, tempered a little by a pleasant breeze. Some important birds too. First up I stopped for a bird perched on overhead cables, a brown job but just a little too big to be one of the usual suspects. Worth a look! I rather fancied a female Plaintive Cuckoo from my initial glimpse. I decided to drive past the bird and walk back in order to avoid startling it and scaring it away. I parked and got the scope on it and saw a pipit immediately and then two prominent features – very pale lores and most striking of all, a really long hind claw which was dangling from the wire: undoubtedly a Richard’s Pipit.
I need to thank Tom Backlund for correcting my latest error. When I published the above shot I decided that it was a Burmese Shrike. I should have known better – it is a Long-tailed Shrike about which I am equally happy. This is often considered as a common bird but it must be the first I have seen in over two years. Burmese Shrike does show up here but not today.
Onwards to the reservoir proper where there were in excess of 200 Small Pratincoles taking it easy in their usual zone. I was relieved to see the pratincoles as I had received a message from a birder earlier in the day who hadn’t seen any.A Common Kingfisher and then a Pied Kingfisher flew into this area but didn’t linger.I then decided to head into the western part of the site to check that out. Glad I did as it produced two Oriental Darters perched high on trees; I have never seen more than a single darter here on any previous visits so I was thrilled. The drive round produced a couple of Indochinese Bushlarks and Oriental Skylarks and lots of Rain Quail could also be heard.
To the south side of the reservoir and the story there as dusk settled in was raptors, at least three Pied Harriers, (male, female and juvenile), one Eastern Marsh Harrier and for good measure a Black-shouldered Kite. There was also flock of noisy Richard’s Pipits too, I would estimate at least 100 birds; lots of Small Pratincoles were performing in the sky. We walked back to the car in the dark and on the exit track to the main road we managed one Indian Nightjar to end our day. What a great couple of hours!