Where have The Rain Quail Gone?

On Sunday morning I managed a couple of hours at Huay Mai Teng Reservoir. I really wanted a walk and I chose the south side, a large flatland area of grass,vegetation and swamp. Over the last year this has thrown up some great birds including loads of Rain Quail and other quail. At this time last year, however, most of it was under water. There was not so much as a whisper of a Rain Quail on Sunday. They do have a very distinctive and easy-to-recognise call. This time last year these quail were on the northern side of the reservoir and were present in numbers. I need to make an early morning visit to check if they are present again on this northern side. They weren’t there the last couple of times I checked. There was a flash of light yellowish quail which I suspect was a Small Buttonquail, but no claims as it was too quick for me.

But a stellar morning, beautifully bright with a breeze and the unmistakeable call of Chinese Francolin reasonably nearby. I am in the privileged position of being able to be indifferent to this other than for the record. I set forth with a spring in my step and was greeted by most of my friends: a few Richards Pipits, about 10 Oriental Skylarks, an Oriental Reed Warbler, lots of promising noises from the scrub; I rather fancy I heard a Siberian Rubythroat but it didn’t come out. There were heaps of Zitting Cisticolas, a solitary Small Pratincole announced itself from the air and I fancy a couple of Greater Painted Snipe flew over too. However the highlight was a count of 31 Pheasant-tailed Jacanas near the water edge, in swamp type habitat. The males were starting to show breeding plumage, bold yellow on the upper neck, with the Pheasant-tail still to emerge; I imagine in the next few weeks they will become the picture of sartorial elegance. The very common Little Green Bee-eater was also looking very elegant.

I hope to solve the mystery of the Rain Quails’ whereabouts in the next few days. I am sure they are present and in numbers. I just wish I could walk into them so to speak. Nevertheless a very pleasing trip.

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