A real cracker of an afternoon at Huay Mai Teng reservoir today. Beforehand, raptors were on my mind. They did not disappoint today between 1500 -1630h a count of 207 Oriental Honey Buzzards ( including one kettle of about 120 birds) , 5 Japanese Sparrowhawks and 2 Chinese Sparrowhawks. The OHBs were flying in a near perfect North-South course with a reasonably lively breeze from the west; some were coming down for the night but most flew on. This course will ultimately take them out to the Gulf of Thailand and down the coast.
On arrival at the reservoir I headed to the north west sector where the presence of a Long-tailed Shrike in among lots of Green Bee-eaters was encouraging. I then picked up a Japanese Sparrowhawk buzzing a flock of Red-collared Dove. This got me looking eastwards where I could see raptors high in the sky, big birds even at a distance. So I headed over that way to a spot I normally associate with Rain Quail and sure enough a steady flight of Oriental Honey Buzzards passed overhead, some flying low in search of a perch for the night.
I managed to pick out a number of sparrowhawks too, really quite diminutive birds in comparison with the buzzards and I was very pleased with two Chinese Sparrowhawks, sporting prominent black underwing primary tips and apparently with a longer flutter pattern; they also appeared slightly bigger.
There was a lot of variation in the Oriental Honey Buzzards, a few were light but most appeared dark – but they were big! It appeared as if the flight was moving east so I drove to the south of the reservoir, driving over two sections of the road that are already covered by water. As I drove along the usual track I stumbled upon two juvenile Chinese Francolins. We stared at each other and I decided to get set up and try and get a shot. As you can see I succeeded. How I managed the shot I don’t know as it took me at least five minutes to get set up, I had to get the tripod off the bed, attach the telescope to it and then take the shot; at the same time my four year old son was expressing a strong wish to go play with the birds! Just as well they were juveniles. Adults would have legged it!
This was a great discovery. Two juveniles would suggest the francolin are breeding here and this bodes well for the species’ survival at the site.
A few more Oriental Honey Buzzards passed over but the main flight appeared to have ended about 16:30h.
I didn’t see any Rain Quail but heard plenty and got sight of two orange/rufous buttonquail dropping into the scrub. No sign of River Lapwing but it would be rather late for them to be present.
I think I am going to have to devote more time to raptor counting. It would be interesting to get a more detailed information about the flight over the course of the whole day. My foot is giving me grief but I decided to suffer it today and I am glad I did.