7 October 2007

More Night Herons and some Thai memories

It's been a quiet last couple of weeks. Perhaps a little too quiet business-wise so I've been a little stressed out so that I haven't given much thought to lofty pursuits such as taking photos of birds and putting them on the internet. OK moaning over now.

Most of my birding has been done on strolls up and down the river near my flat. Beautiful autumn weather has been nice for walking but the southbound migrants tend not to linger. The Night Herons are still present but getting more skittish every day.

Lots of small dull coloured birds flit in and out of the bushes. These are usually either Black Faced Buntings or Japanese Bush Warblers but sometimes (although not this autumn so far) they can be much more interesting. Siberian Rubythroat perhaps. Or the unidentified locustella type warbler I saw a couple of years ago that I now think was possibly a Lancelated Warbler. Is that spelt right? Not only am I unsure of the ID I can't even spell the damn thing.

What else? A few Teal, Pintail and Wigeon. Lots of Grey Wagtails and Bullheaded Shrikes. Flocks of Grey Starlings. Fishing Kingfishers. And several disturbingly large Black Rats.

I watched the Rugby last night. Still can't quite believe England managed to beat Australia. Not only that they don't even have to play New Zealand in the semi-final. I wish I'd stuck a tenner on England to win the tournament after they'd been thrashed by South Africa.

Around October 7th down the years:

1984 (Oct 6) Martonmere. Not much going on here. Peregrine was the best bird........we also missed a Red Breasted Flycatcher in Watson Rd Park.

1998 (most of October) I was travelling around Thailand.

Only a few crappy scanned holiday snaps like these remain. A weird time in my life. I'd just turned 30 and was in Asia with my ex-girlfriend. Actually she'd already decided to be my ex on the first day of the trip but we continued travelling together anyway.

The above photo is of me walking in the surf on Rayleigh Beach in south Thailand. It was a quite beautiful place I recall. I don't know what increased tourism to the region and the 2004 tsunami has done to change it since. Dope was cheap and readily available, the sea was warm and clean, the food was great and our room was surprisingly nice too. I can't remember any birds except Brahiminy Kites and some very tame Eastern Reef Egrets. Just after the photo was taken the region was hit by a huge tropical storm that showered coconuts on the roof of our beach hut.

I did a little birding on the trip. At Krabi we rented a boat but there weren't many birds except lots of Kingfishers (I saw 6 or 7 species I think), Blue Whistling Thrush, Pacific Swallow, Common Tailorbird and various Bee-eaters. We also went to a national park near Hua Hin. We had to stay in a mosquito infested hellhole with the unfriendliest villagers in Thailand and the worst food I've eaten in Asia. The park (Khao Sam Roi Yot) looked great for birds but I was too early for most of the good stuff. Birds included Black Shouldered Kite, Red Wattled Lapwing, Black Winged Stilt and lots of other waders, various Egrets, Kingfishers and Bee-eaters.

We finished up north where we took an elephant ride through the forest. It was pissing down with rain (the river flooded quite dramatically and we had to leave our hotel for higher ground). I can sum up elephant riding in 1 word. Uncomfortable. And our driver (mahout?) was FIVE years old.

2004 (first week Oct) Hakodate. A very good autumn for migrants. Siberian Rubythroat (2 males), Wryneck and Olive Backed Pipit were the pick of the stuff near my flat. A bit further away I got all 3 accipter species, Mandarin Duck, Sooty Flycatcher and Rustic Bunting.

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