Reservoir Blues

The tracks in the southern Huay Mai Teng reservoir area were sufficiently dry to allow me to drive in today and get right out into an area where River Lapwing have been hanging out in recent years. Alas no sign of them today there or in any of the other areas I checked on my visit. While I am not writing them off for this year yet, I am saddened because I do believe I won’t see River Lapwing here this year. This is a species that has recently had its status changed to “near threatened” and the scientists believe its numbers will undergo a fairly rapid decline over the next few generations. Full details can be found here at Birdlife International. Of course I still need to make an early morning visit to the reservoir as they could be reliably seen in the gravel of the launch area at this time; I will endeavour to do this soon and if they are not present then it looks as if they have gone.

I was actually quite sad as I did my rounds today. In the handful of years that I have been birding at the reservoir a staggering amount of wild habitat has been lost to agriculture. I do wonder if species like Blossom-headed Parakeet, Chinese Francolin and Yellow-eyed Babbler will also vanish. There is also much more human disturbance than before – leisure activities like fishing, jet skiing, barbecues, etc. And there appear to be a lot more dogs roaming freely. These are all factors which are contributing to the loss of biodiversity in this area.

I visited the northern part of the site today which in previous years has been home to many Rain Quail and lots of Small Pratincoles; today I heard one Rain Quail in this area but not a sign of a Pratincole, Small or Oriental; otherwise a few Plain-backed Sparrows, a couple of Green Bee-eaters and some egrets.

On a positive note I saw one Darter, two Rain Quail, (many more heard ) and lots of Zitting Cisticolas and Indochinese Bushlarks. But I am concerned about the absence of River Lapwing and the wider implications for this site.

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