Wallcreeper

Wallcreeper is undoubtedly among the most unique birds of Asia and Europe. Being so different from any other birds, it is placed in its own family Tichodromadidae. In Thailand, it has only been recently found in 2012 at Phu Chi Fa, Chiang Rai by Thanarot Ngoenwilai and Manod Taengtum. This year, Rick Jacobs, a Belgian birder who lives in Chiang Rai encountered another bird at a road-side quarry on Highway No. 1129 connecting Chiang Saen and Chiang Khong district in January.

IMG_5299

IMG_5292

It was very actively feeding throughout the morning. Preys were mainly small insects living along the cracks.

IMG_5260 IMG_5306

IMG_5217

The brightly coloured wing patches are flashed constantly while foraging.

I was able to go and look for the bird on April 4th, almost 4 months after it was first seen. It was amazing and quite unexpected that the bird was still staying in the same area. Birders who have been there and saw the bird all mentioned about how friendly it was. This made me feel even more anticipated to see the bird even though I have seen it several times before in India.

IMG_5129

It clearly didn’t care much about human presence!

IMG_5133

IMG_5187

In flight, it shows very broad and rounded wings with rather slow and graceful wing beat. The bright scarlet upperwings make it look beautiful and almost moth-like in flight.

IMG_6006

A view of the quarry where the bird was found

IMG_5116

IMG_5122

It constantly flashed the bright wing patches while foraging.

IMG_5117

I reached the quarry around 7.30 AM and met 2 other friends who were already there photographing the bird. It was first seen climbing really high up on the western slope of the quarry. We waited and the bird decided to fly down to the ground behind us. I was amazed by how confiding it was. It allowed us to approach and photograph at really close range, just like what many other birders said.

wiroj01

Behind the scene: In order to get these shots, I ran uphill and waited for the bird to climb up to me and it really was worth it. Photo © Wiroj Onganunkun

IMG_5344

Looking for insects under the rocks and along the cracks

IMG_5358 IMG_5364

IMG_5379

It sometimes even cling along branches.

IMG_5427

IMG_5365

Enjoying an unidentifiable meal

IMG_5405

IMG_5478

I really like how it flashes the wings, looking very insect-like.

IMG_5470 IMG_5522

It foraged on the western slope of the quarry under the warm morning light for about 15 minutes then flew off to the shady eastern slope. We then temporarily lost track of the bird. After a quite time-consuming scan through the eastern slope, I finally relocated it hopping along the open rocky ground. As earlier, it allowed me to approach and follow it while it’s creeping up the slope.

IMG_5656 IMG_5438 IMG_5443 IMG_5551

IMG_5565

Very moth-like both in shape and pattern

IMG_5577 IMG_5671 IMG_5665

Some people have been speculating on whether this bird can be aged or sexed. Phil Round suggested that it’s a first-winter bird judging from the heavily worn tertials (adults should be slightly less worn, but the difference may be difficult to judge). Hayman & Hume’s Complete Guide to the Birds Life of Britain & Europe (2001) mentions that female has slimmer bill than male’s. However, after going through photos on the net, I still don’t think it is very useful for the identification.

IMG_5774 IMG_5727 IMG_5728

IMG_5748

Showing the normally hidden outer tail feathers which has the same pattern as what is labelled as “outer tail of adult male” in Hayman & Hume’s guide.

IMG_5732 IMG_5679 IMG_5690 IMG_5770

At one point, the tail was spread and showed the normally concealed outer tail feathers with broad white tips. The pattern fits to what is illustrated and labelled as “outer tail of adult male” in the Hayman & Hume’s guide. The plate, however, doesn’t go on and say if female’s would be different. I guess we would have to leave the sexing and aging of this bird inconclusive for now, until we know more about it.

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Wallcreeper

  1. Fantastic pictures of a fantastic bird, congratulations !
    I went there on 15th and 18th April but could not see it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s