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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.