When I left Huay Mai Teng Reservoir on Sunday evening at 1800h there were three male Pied Harriers in the “roost”. At 1640h there were none so I was very pleased with this tally. I watched the first one fly in low head on at about 1655h and when he sensed me the harrier diverted to the left with a minimum of fuss. In doing so the harrier put up a large number of Oriental Pratincoles who had been on the ground and clearly understood the raptor’s potential threat.
The afternoon started out with scattered showers, reminiscent of a Scottish summer day. From the north side of the reservoir looking south I thought I could make out a flock of Small Pratincoles on a small piece of land close to the road that cuts through the reservoir; this road is still covered but is progressively emerging from the water and the birds were on a piece of bare gravel. Mental note to check later from the better vantage point of the reservoir’s south side. A Rain Quail nearby was loudly calling but did not reveal itself from the scrub and there was no visible movement to assist with location.
A number of Richard’s Pipits, some Paddyfield Pipits and a couple of Olive-backed Pipits were nearby and a Yellow Wagtail dropped in. Over in the direction of the putative Small Pratincoles I observed a Pied Kingfisher perched on a pole. A detour to the reeds produced an Oriental Reed Warbler and an elegant Common Kingfisher.
I made it to the south side of the reservoir for about 1630h and confirmed the presence of 52 Small Pratincoles as indicated above. They were almost bookended by two Grey Herons; a number of Little Cormorants were present plus a few Wood and Common Sandpipers.
On to the “roost” where I was almost disappointed by the absence of any Pied Harriers. But they did come in eventually and it remains to be seen how this will develop over the next few months. A Black-shouldered Kite perched up on a nearby tree and between 30 – 40 Oriental Pratincoles also came in to the roost though keeping a very wary eye on the harriers. Then at about 1740h I heard a distant Chinese Francolin calling which gave me no end of pleasure – this must be one of the most vulnerable species at the reservoir so great to be able to confirm it is still here.
In the end it had become a beautiful, sun drenched evening as the sun set behind me and it felt good to be in the middle of it all observing the three Pied Harriers on the ground.