Like Clockwork

A first male Eastern Marsh Harrier of the winter appeared last night in the rice paddy here in Ratchaburi. Sporting a very pronounced white rump with “salt and pepper” uppers, the harrier was happily quartering the rice paddy in search of prey. A few moments later I got a view of possibly a different harrier flying away from me, this one appearing bigger sporting a white rump but lacking the streaking. It might have been the same bird with my view distorted by light and position but it may also have been a female Pied Harrier. Whatever, it is wonderful to welcome harriers back to the rice paddy and their arrival comes at roughly the same time as previous years. This timeliness never ceases to amaze me.

Not to be outdone there were also a number of Black-browed Reed Warblers in the scrub and reeds which align both sides of the rice paddy’s irrigation canals. I sighted two but there were definitely more distinguishable by their short, monosyllabic, punctuated chirp.

As I strolled along in the late afternoon warmth, a pleasant change from the recent, abundant rain, my movement flushed a Black Bittern from deep inside the scrub – black body with long, yellow throat streaking clearly visible, a  rare sighting of this skulker. A number of Yellow Bitterns showed briefly and more could be heard. There were also large numbers of Blue-tailed Bee-eaters whose call provided the acoustic background.

Elsewhere, on Monday, a brief trip to Pala-u Waterfall, the southern extremity of Kaeng Krachan National Park in Phetchaburi province, produced a Crimson Sunbird and a Orange-breasted Trogon. I don’t know if either is a lifer as my notebook crashed a few weeks ago and so I have been without access to my files.

NB: 26.10.14 My thanks to Dave Sargent for pointing out my latest attempt to introduce new species: it was an Orange-breasted Trogon not Yellow as I originally said! And both the Orange-breasted Trogon and Crimson Sunbird were lifers so a wonderful result.

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