Laid Back

My laid back, lackadaisical approach to birding might cost me a Hen Harrier. My mindset restricts possible harriers species in the local rice paddy in Ratchaburi to two species: Pied and Eastern Marsh. I would allow Western Marsh if something totally unexpected appeared.

Last post I mentioned a mystery raptor, a harrier of some kind or possibly even a baza as it appeared to have rounded wings. On Wednesday I saw a harrier with white/buff underwings and black primaries; it was the gloomy end of day and hard to make out  much more; its movement appeared familiar and to be that of a harrier. I assumed it must be either Pied or Eastern Marsh. When I checked my field guides Wednesday night at home I realised white/buff underwings with black primaries didn’t fit with any of the male, female or juvenile descriptions of either Pied or Eastern Marsh. I regret to say I didn’t give it much thought at the time.

This afternoon I noted a harrier with the same underwing pattern, basically white with black primaries. It was soaring high and circling but I could make out a prominent white patch on its upper-tail coverts and a lot of gray on the upper wings, but also thought there was some brown. Certain it wasn’t Pied and still am, but thought it was Eastern Marsh. However having had a look through the field guides Hen Harrier now jumps off the page at me. That large white rump patch really makes me think it can’t be Eastern Marsh. If only…….

Well if this is the same bird then in all likelihood it is going to be there tomorrow and now I know what I am looking for. So I know where I am going to be tomorrow.

It was very pleasant in the rice paddy this afternoon: a juvenile Cinnamon Bittern, a Yellow Bittern, a few Oriental Reed Warblers, two Black-browed Reed Warblers, the chack of a Thick-billed Warbler revealed its presence but it didn’t show and lots of Zitting Cisticolas; a Common Kingfisher periodically darted across, a Black-shouldered Kite hovered nearby. Very pleasant, almost cool.

I took a spin on the west side of the paddy this afternoon and was rewarded with a Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, the first I have seen here for a long time. On exactly the same wooden pole as I saw it before. A real beauty. Ironically I took a full description down as I was able to get the bird in the scope and I thought it would be a good exercise to compare my notes with the descriptions in the field guides. If only I had been as careful with the harrier!

Fascinating really. Here’s hoping the bird is there tomorrow and that I can get on it. That’s why I said “might” – I haven’t given up on this bird yet and I think I’ll be a bit focused tomorrow!

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