Well my Hen Harrier was probably a flight of fancy! All my birding over the last week has been in the local rice paddy in Ratchaburi. I’ve really enjoyed every minute of it. But I can say with certainty that there has not been anything resembling a Hen Harrrier. I suspect what I saw was an Eastern Marsh Harrier with white/pale undersides.
Eastern Marsh Harriers have very much been to the fore – up to six were present last Wednesday when a group of five, probably a mixture of female and juveniles flew over and then flew back and settled down near the railway line; a little bit earlier another juvenile had been quartering the rice paddy and I don’t know for sure if this was one of the five that returned. I got reasonably good views of one of these birds on the ground and it was clearly a female juvenile with lots of buff around the face and a dark brown mesial streak separating the lighter streaking on both sides of the birds face, nape and crown.
The highlight was on Sunday afternoon when a male Pied Harrier flew over, its black face very prominent. I cannot describe the pleasure this bird gives me; later a female appeared and there was also one male Eastern Marsh and a couple of the juvenile Eastern Marsh Harriers perched in the top of one of the trees. As a general rule the harriers in the rice paddy are on the ground or in the air but these are the first two I have seen perching. Whatever, great to note the return of male Pied Harrier.
Also noted a lot of Black-shouldered Kite activity – there were a very lively pair putting on a very flamboyant show. Great fun to watch first of all the hover show, as the birds take aim, and then watch the bird almost join its wing tips above its head and rapidly plummet down talons first in pursuit of its unsuspecting prey.
I’ve also been taking a close interest in reed-warblers : Oriental Reed has been reasonably common, there were a few Black-browed and there was at least one Thick-billed. I rather fancy there was a Blunt-winged in there too, not nearly as big as the Oriental, showing almost a white gorget, and with more of a rufous wash to its underparts. Absolutely intriguing, but no claims!
This inactivity is agreeing wonderfully with my foot and I have even managed a few images, notably a very late evening shot of Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, with a shutter speed of 1/13 second! The Pied Fantail posed a little, but still incredibly difficult to digiscope.