A couple of hours at Huay Mai Teng Reservoir this afternoon provided lots of nice birds. The surprise was I saw one solitary raptor all afternoon and that was away from the reservoir as I was driving home – another huge Oriental Honey Buzzard crossing the main road. However i was far from disappointed by my rain affected afternoon.
I can report at least 27 Small Pratincoles, the first I’ve seen for a while. Due to my “immobility” I really don’t know if any stayed over during the last few months as they have done in previous years. They are among my favourite birds and their numbers should increase significantly over the next few months.
I can also report the presence of Richard’s Pipits for the first time this year too : I picked out a number of these today at three different locations around the site. I made the ID on call, flight and behaviour and then it’s easy to match up what you see with what the field guide says! The Richards were making a clearly discernible “scheeeep” call. Their behaviour on being disturbed is quite different to Paddyfield Pipit: the latter tends to “skip” away, not going very far but just enough to feel safe, and definitely not trying to hide itself; the Richard’s tends to fly off and also jumps into the scrub to hide itself. Then, when it returns, the stoutish bill stands out, the more heavily streaked breast is much more visible and even the erect, upright stance is almost winking at you. So great to see these two species back at the site.
Among the more common species, a male Pheasant-tailed Jacana, sporting its breeding plumes, and a beautiful Purple Heron stood out. Brown shrikes were well represented and there was a Long-tailed Strike. It was also easy to see Grey-breasted Prinia today which makes me wonder if this is a visitor. This is based simply on not seeing it on recent visits. In the same way Black-winged Stilts have not been present at the reservoir these last two visits and this too makes me wonder where they have gone to and what there precise status is. Perhaps the former breeds elsewhere and the Stilts breed at the reservoir and then move on.
Finally a short spin on the south side of the reservoir produced a Taiga Flycatcher and a female Yellow-rumped Flycatcher flashed past; that yellow rump is such a helpful feauture! Small, drab green with a prominent yellow bum – what else could it be?!