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BANGKOK 25 March 2019 04:07

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isanbirder

Birdwatching In Isan

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More and more birds around me as well, but I don't know too many names....... :)

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I have a bird question. I am a novice bird enthusiast and I live on Huay Senang Reservoir just outside Surin. Birds that I am fairly sure I’ve seen here include:

Coucals (Greater, I think), Common Hoopoe, Painted Stork, Common Myna, Crow (?), Great Bittern, Green Bee-Eater, Fulvous Breasted Woodpecker, Peaceful Dove, Pied Bushcat, lots of others I have yet to ID.

Here’s my question. In mid August, a parakeet landed on my kitchen window sill and stayed there for nearly two hours allowing me and my wife to walk right up to it. It wasn’t startled by our presence at all, and my wife was able to put a tomato slice right next to it without it flying away. Camera was out of batteries and I was sure if I went to get more it would be gone when I got back. We were cleaning and banging stuff around and still the bird just sat. I am fairly certain it was a juvenile Grey-Headed Parakeet (using Craig Robson guide). Has anyone else seen these in the area? Has anyone seen this kind of behavior in any other parakeet in these parts? Are these commonly kept as pets here?

Eventually, it flew off (of course), but because it was so comfortable with our presence I was left wondering if it might not have been an escaped pet.

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Hi AjarnNorth, welcome aboard.

I live about 30-40 km SE from you. I'm guessing about March this year on a country road returning from Huay Senang Reservoir (maybe +/- 10-15km) I saw my first parrot in the area. Too quick for a pic, but I am sure it was a Red-breasted Parakeet.

About June, a flock of these (maybe +100 birds) took up residence in some trees 250-300m from my house. They were shy and too hard to approach for a good pic. They stayed very active feeding daily within a couple of kilometers radius until end of September, they have since moved on. Mid-September, one did me the honors of spending 1/2 hour 30m from the house. A few days later the whole flock did a couple of close flybys the house. Beautiful birds, still the only parrot I have seen here.

Interesting time of year with lots of changes of behavior of resident and migratory birds. I notice the Lesser Whistling Ducks are starting to flock (they have been 1-3 groups for months) and I guess they will move on soon. Anyone know where to? A few weeks ago, I saw probably +/- 1000 Green Bee Eaters together at dusk, some kind of food bonanza on the ground I think. The Herons and Egrets (not my strong ID area) are increasing daily and forming into larger flocks, but they go in all directions. By year end, it will be an organized daily migration of formation flying.

Here is the Red-breasted Parakeet.

post-66519-1255404254_thumb.jpg

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I haven't seen any parakeets in my area, nor do I expect to (too deforested). But you never know. Anything is possible here! Having said that, I would doubt, Ajarn North, whether you saw a Great Bittern; all the rest sound more than likely.

My latest excitements were the three Red-necked Phalaropes I saw swimming on a bit of flooded paddy, and the Red Avadavats which have started nest-building less than a km from my house.

Egrets:- Great and Little Egrets are numerous... and my local paddy was flooded with Chinese Pond-Herons suddenly a couple of weeks ago. Most winter visitors come in dribs and drabs; these came all at once.

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I tend to favor Red-breasted Parakeet. Great Bittern, whilst not impossible, is extremely rare in this part of the world. One of th Pond-herons perhaps.

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Thanks all for the input. As I said, I am a complete novice. I have been carrying around a Robson guide for a few years now, but have just started trying to actually ID birds in the last few months.

Isanbirder and Hanno, based on your input I am scratching "Great Bittern" until I can get a better look. Whatever it is I am seeing there are a fair share nesting in reeds near my house so I ought to be able to get a better look soon.

Chinavet, I haven't seen any of the Red-Breasted Parrots that you saw in the area. The bird that sat on my window ledge was 15 centimeters at most and had a blue crown and a green breast which is why I was going with juvelile Grey-Headed, but as I said its behavior was so odd that it may have been an escaped pet.

I was out on the lake in the evening yesterday and saw a dozen or so Painted Storks as well as some Egrets and a few passing flocks of ducks too distant to ID. If any birders find yourself in the area and would like to take the boat out and see what is to be seen you are welcome to it.

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Grey Heron? Anyone else seeing these? The Robson guide has it as a resident of Cambodia and former resident of C. Thailand. Absolutely saw one adult this morning along with what I believe were some juveniles nearby. Had a good 20 minute look through telescope.

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Grey Herons winter in large numbers in Northern Vietnam and I am sure they are winter visitors in Thailand as well. My software is on another PC but I am sure I have seen them in Thailand. Robson: "Uncommon to fairly common winter visitor.

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I had a couple of Grey Herons wintering on my local area of paddy last year, and saw two a month ago but not since. Don't trust the distribution details in the books too much; they have to cover a country with a wide range of habitats etc, and Isan in particular is still very little known.

Back to your Bitterns, Ajarn North, if they're breeding they can only be Cinnamon Bitterns or Black Bitterns, though both are much smaller than Great Bitterns; Chinese Pond-herons are winter visitors (at least in my area, between Surin and Buriram), and you needn't worry too much about the other pond-herons unless they're in summer plumage.

Pleased to hear you're seeing Painted Storks; these seem to have spread from Cambodia in the past few years. I had them December to January and May to June in the past year, and a friend actually saw them in Swampy Airport. Most of my birds were adult, except for three juveniles at the end of May, which presumably means post-breeding dispersal. Don't you also get the much commoner Openbills?

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Funny you should mention Openbills, Isanbirder. No less than 25 this morning! I was out for a run and saw them in flight and then landing. At this time of year at Huay Senang, there are large islands of floating vegetation that, I think, are a result of the water levels rising so dramatically. At present, there is a large island near the center of the lake in front of my place and at the end of the road (in front of Chai Nam restaurant in case anyone is in the area) a lot of floating vegetation. The later is where I saw the Openbills. After my run I drove back with my telescope and was able to get very good looks at a number of them. I have a fairly good Meade telescope that is heavy and impractical, but great for my porch and the occasional car sojourn. Not something you would carry on a hike!

Yesterday afternoon/evening, after posting here, I was again able to get very good looks at the Grey Heron via telescope from my porch, of which a dozen or so can be seen in the center island of floating vegetation. They perch on the floating veg and feed and they don't move much (unless startled by para-gliders as they were yesterday evening). They were there again this morning.

Also yesterday afternoon, a Purple Heron in among the Greys (on the same island of veg anyway). Anybody seeing these? I only saw the one. And a number of very large Egrets, but these seem to favor the far side of the lake so I will need to get over there for a better look sometime over the weekend.

The painted storks I saw were in flight when I was out on the boat. My presence startled them and so no good long stationary look, but as they passed they seemd a dead match for the illustration of same in flight in Robson. I haven't seen them since with the telescope so I'll keep an eye out for them and post again.

The Great Bittern was absolutely not, as you more experienced birders already knew, a Great Bittern. Somehow between flicking back and forth between the color plates and the notes in the back, I misread the size. I didn't realize until after you all had commented on the unlikelihood and I had a chance to check the guide again. Whatever I saw/am seeing was not even close to 70-80 cm. Maybe half that. My Gaffe! When I get a good look, I'll post about it. Thanks for setting me straight.

Chinavet, I had a chance to look at your bird pics yesterday. Great pics and looks like you have a great set up where you are. I have a question, though. In your September 5 album, picture number 322, yellow head, white breast, dark brown back with some white on wings and tail? I have been seeing a lot of these but can't find it in my guide. Anyone?

OK. That's all from me today. Excuse my enthusiasm.

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Ajarn North, it is a Black Collared Starling. I have a pair that are fairly regular visitors and I see them occasionally around the region.

I would like to pop up and see your views sometimes (I like the water country). Maybe we should go visit Isaanbirder and try to learn a few things?

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Aha. Thanks, Chinavet. The illustration of the Black-Collared Starling in my Robson guide has a small fleshy yellow patch around the eye that seems much less prominent than what I have been seeing. Maybe because I am often looking up at them, I was looking for a more prominent yellow head and kept passing over that illustration. Also, the head in the illustration looks a little bigger than I have been seeing. When I saw your picture, I knew absolutely that's what I have been seeing. Saw a few this morning in fact.

You are more than welcome to pop around here anytime. Weekends are best. I'll PM you contact info. And yes, I've a lot to learn and would certainly be up for a road trip over towards Buriram sometime. Also like to come by your place sometime.

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Aha. Thanks, Chinavet. The illustration of the Black-Collared Starling in my Robson guide has a small fleshy yellow patch around the eye that seems much less prominent than what I have been seeing. Maybe because I am often looking up at them, I was looking for a more prominent yellow head and kept passing over that illustration. Also, the head in the illustration looks a little bigger than I have been seeing. When I saw your picture, I knew absolutely that's what I have been seeing. Saw a few this morning in fact.

You are more than welcome to pop around here anytime. Weekends are best. I'll PM you contact info. And yes, I've a lot to learn and would certainly be up for a road trip over towards Buriram sometime. Also like to come by your place sometime.

The head of the Black-collared Starling can look almost completely yellow; staining from pollen, I guess, but anyway, staining of some sort.

I'll pm you with a list of my sightings here.

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Thanks for this thread - it has really enthused me, after four years of birding of a different kind, to dig out the Leica binocs and Canon camera gear of a former life (lying moribund in the UK waiting for me to get an extra luggage allowance) and get out there.

Anyone got suggestions for Ubon province. No forget that - have lakes and Cambodian border hills and jungle within 30k - should keep me happy exploring for a few years. Some poster's comment about land mines above was a useful reminder though!

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Thanks for this thread - it has really enthused me, after four years of birding of a different kind, to dig out the Leica binocs and Canon camera gear of a former life (lying moribund in the UK waiting for me to get an extra luggage allowance) and get out there.

Anyone got suggestions for Ubon province. No forget that - have lakes and Cambodian border hills and jungle within 30k - should keep me happy exploring for a few years. Some poster's comment about land mines above was a useful reminder though!

Hi SantiSuk,

The camera and binoculars are still good for the two legged variety. Ubon will have most of what we are seeing in Surin & Buri Ram but because of the more diverse habitats, you should be spoilt with more variety. Ubon is great and I have made 6-7 trips this year. A lot of National Park area along the Cambodian border is still closed though.

If you are driving to Ubon, PM me and we can arrange for you to break the trip up.

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