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Birding Day at Oare Marshes – British Birding

On a day as pleasant as today it is hard to stay indoors so I jumped into the car and headed to Oare Marshes where there are always lots of birds. Today turned out to be a one with huge numbers of waders resting and feeding on the East flood with well over 1000 Black-tailed Godwits and Dunlin, Common Redshank, Common Ringed Plover, Golden Plover and Northern Lapwing in the hundreds. However, perhaps the most notable sightings were numbers of Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint higher than I have ever seen in UK; at least 29 Little Stints and 25+ Curlew Sandpipers. Read more »

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Shorebirds in North Kent – British Birding

One of the things I enjoy most when I am back home in Kent is visiting a few sites where there are large numbers of shorebirds that can easily be seen at close range; my two favourite sites for this are Oare Marshes and Shellness although there are plenty of other places such as Cliffe, Funton Creek and Elmley which also have good numbers of waders too.

Over the last few weeks I have visited these sites a few times and seen a good variety of species including Little Ringed Plover, Little Stint, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Pied Avocet, Whimbrel, Green Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Sanderling as well as great congregations of Oystercatcher at Shellness. This site is excellent for photographing shorebirds as they move fro their high-tide roost to feeding areas, although the light can be difficult to deal with; the following are photographs of shorebirds taken at Shellness and Oare Marshes over the last few weeks. Read more »

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A Ringed Herring Gull – British Birding

This morning I was photographing gulls roosting on a field at Leysdown, Kent, attempting to get good images of the two Mediterranean Gulls that were among the flock, when a Herring Gull with a very bright orange leg ring caught my eye. I could not read the code on the colour ring through binoculars so I tried to get some photographs of the ring. The first few photos I took of the bird did not show the code on the ring very well but fortunately it decided to move around a bit allowing me to get some images in which I the code can easily be read – S4MT. You can also see a metal ring on the bird’s right leg. Read more »

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Phang Nga Mangroves – Thailand Birding

Over the last few months I have made several visits to two mangrove sites in Phang Nga province; Ao Phang Nga National Park HQ and Ban Bang Phut.  On both occasions the birding has been very rewarding and I have been able to find most of the species that occur in this habitat quite quickly, getting good views of them all. The unusual thing about these visits is that I have been able to find birds at any time of day, on my most recent visit on 2nd July I was able to find Mangrove Pitta a little after having lunch at around 1.45pm in extremely hot and humid conditions. Mangrove Pitta was followed by several other target birds including White-chested Babbler, Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Ruddy Kingfisher, Black-and-red Broadbill and Streak-breasted Woodpecker, all between 1pm and 4pm.

I have found the birding and photographic opportunities at these sites between April and July to be very good, some of my photos, some more comments and checklists follow for these two mangrove birding locations.

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Bala Wildlife Sanctuary Wet Season Birding: Thailand Birding

I recently spent 4 nights at the Bala sector of Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary in Narathiwat province on the Thai-Malaysia border. This is probably the best birding site in Southern Thailand but I have made very few visits due to the long distance from Bangkok, where I live, and the ongoing violence in the area that makes one think before going there.

In truth there has never been any violence in the immediate area of the wildlife sanctuary and although one has to travel through area where shootings and bombings do occur, the chances of being caught up in them are very slim, although it remains that there is some element of risk and on my recent visit there was a motorcycle bomb on the main highway just a few hours after I had passed through.

This wet season visit proved not to be too wet, with thunderstorms confined to the late afternoon and evenings, allowing myself and Jan Hillman to enjoy many excellent species with highlights including Rhinoceros Hornbill, Malaysian Honeyguide, Green Broadbill, Scarlet-rumped Trogon, Red-throated Sunbird, Buffy Fish Owl, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher (Rufous morph), Helmeted Hornbill, Finsch’s Bulbul, Checker-throated Woodpecker and Rufous-chested Flycatcher.

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Birding Petchaburi Province for the Day: Thailand Birding

On 20th May myself and Tom Wilson spent a day visiting various birding sites in Petchaburi province, leaving Bangkok at 5am and returning at around 6pm. It turned out to be a really good day with a large number of species and a wide variety of birds including Black-headed Woodpecker, Milky Stork, Indian Thick-knee, Slaty-breasted Rail, Grey-tailed Tattler, Blue-throated Bee-eater, Indian Pond Heron, Black Bittern, Freckle-breasted Woodpecker and thousands of nesting weavers. We started the day at Wat Khao Luk Chang, moved on to Laem Pak Bia, then Pak Thale and after lunch checked out the fish ponds at Wat Khao Takrao before finishing the day in the rice fields near Petchaburi town; our favourite sightings and some photos follow.

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Bird Persecution Using Mist Nets: Thailand Birding

A couple of days ago on 20th May I was birding in the rice fields near Petchaburi, enjoying the spectacle of Weavers nesting. Baya Weaver colonies seem to be in every small tree, their complicated nests apparently in a constant state of construction, and plenty of small colonies of Asian Golden Weaver are in beds of Typha along drainage ditches. Added to this are less frequent colonies of Streaked Weaver in emergent vegetation and all together there is quite an entertaining level of activity to watch, making for a lot of photo opportunities. However, an extremely upsetting sight was about 20 Weavers (both Baya and Asian Golden) trapped, dead and dying in two mist nets erected next to a small rice field. Alongside a dead Cinnamon Bittern and a White-rumped Munia this tragic scene was not what visiting birders from Australia, who were with me, were hoping to see in Thailand.

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