Twitcher Mode: Activated

Four days ago, we had Thailand’s fourth record of Red-billed Starling just within Chiang Mai city area. This morning I went to twitch this rare vagrant which was first recorded in Chumphon, southern Thailand, then in Chiang Rai and Rayong.

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Male Red-billed Starling; fourth record of Thailand

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The common Sooty-headed Bulbul which came to the same tree as the starling.

I arrived at the place, which was a small home-coffee shop with a fruiting tree in front around 8:30 AM. There were already few birders there. They said the bird showed up twice but was so skittish that they couldn’t manage to get any photo. I waited for about an hour staring at the fruiting tree then finally the bird came dashing in! It perched on the rooftop for about 3 seconds then quickly fled as it noticed us. It came back again just before 11 AM but was so skittish again that no one could get any photo, so I decided to leave after that. Even though I’ve seen this species several times before in Japan, it’s my first time to see it here in Thailand.

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One of the abundant Asian Palm Swifts

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Juvenile Oriental Honey Buzzard

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Another juvenile Oriental Honey Buzzard with a different plumage pattern

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Unidentified harriers; probably juvenile Eastern Marsh Harrier (left)

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Most likely Shikra

After leaving the coffee shop, I paid a short visit to Doi Kham Temple where many birders in Chiang Mai go to see raptors migration. Earlier in the morning, 8 Amur Falcons were reported, as well as an Osprey, Peregrine Falcon, Black Bazas, Pied Harriers, Chinese Goshawks and Japanese Sparrowhawks. It was already a bit too late for raptors when I arrived but at least I managed to see 2 juvenile Oriental Honey Buzzards, 2 Japanese Sparrowhawks and 2 unidentified harriers which were soaring way too high up in the sky.

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Richard’s Pipit

On my way back from Doi Kham, I briefly checked the fields of Mae Hia Agricultural College which was in the same route. Apart from several White Wagtails and some Little Ringed Plovers which were feeding in the recently ploughed and flooded fields, I also came across a nice Richard’s Pipit feeding just by the roadside.

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Red-whiskered Bulbul is a smart city bird and an icon of Chiang Mai.

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I wish the Red-billed Starling was half as showy as this Chestnut-tailed Starling.

I went back to the coffee shop in hopes of getting better shots of the Red-billed Starling in the afternoon, but after hours of waiting, the bird was still nowhere to be found. At least, I could get the best photos of Red-whiskered Bulbul and Chestnut-tailed Starling I’ve ever taken.

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