Eagles & Kites

Saturday 10th January 2016: My son’s recent interest in eagles, aroused by watching Fergus Beeley’s outstanding BBC documentary *about a pair of Harpy Eagles and their new baby in the rainforest of the Orinoco river in Venezuela, meant it could only be a trip to Nong Bla Lai to see the real thing. Amazing really to think that about 40 minutes from home we have a site where  eagles of the aquila genus can be reliably seen from December through to early March. Of course I have occasionally seen Greater Spotted Eagle in the local rice paddy and out at the reservoir and I have one record of a Steppe Eagle as well. However they take up residence in Nong Pla Lai, quite literally next to the main north-south highway and indeed there have been many sightings over the years from said highway.

There was a  lot of raptor action at Nong Bla Lai including a Greater Spotted Eagle which was being mobbed very effectively by a solitary Jungle Crow and one Booted Eagle; add in a few Black Kites and loads of harriers, mainly Eastern Marsh but there was also a female and juvenile pied. A timely reminder also about how birdwatching pays if you keep your hand in – I had a fair few birds I couldn’t call. Of note were two Bronze-winged Jacanas near the main road in a bit of bog; towards the railway line the Cheddar cheese ( Red Leicester?) of about 15 Painted Storks’ facial skin announced their presence, not a species I have seen in this particular spot though it is common enough in the surrounding area.

Benny was fairly unimpressed as one might expect of a six year old. This was not helped by there being a Children’s Day fair in the  local community association featuring a large inflatable  Ben 10 slide! So a little bit of work needed!

On the way home late evening we headed into the Khao Yoi Black Kite roost, as always an amazing spectacle, where the kites appear to be thriving not withstanding reports of the Boys in Brown using them as target practice and the presence of a construction site. What chance does our bird population have? It’s always hard to estimate the number of kites as they are spread out over a number of fields and a significant number of palm trees.  My guess would be between there were between 400 – 500 kites present. For me they remain hideous looking huge creatures but they are nevertheless very watchable and it is fascinating watching them come in from all directions.

* This documentary can be viewed in its entirety on youtube. Unfortunately its titled suggests its about the Philippine monkey-eating eagle, which is totally wrong!

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