The Firethroat Tetralogy (2): 4-5 April 2015

After the successful visit to Nam Kham Nature Reserve on 4-5 March to photograph the first-winter male Firethroat, I didn’t think I would revisit the place to see the bird for the second time. However, on 27 March, Phil Round posted a couple of photos of the bird showing some signs of breeding feathers on the breast!

After that, birders continued to visit Nam Kham day by day posting photos of the bird showing its moulting progress. I was all hyped up and tried my best to find the time to visit the bird again. Finally, I could revisit Nam Kham on 4-5 April with my mum who recently started birding.

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We arrived at the hide around 11am and waited for the bird for about an hour when it finally hopped out from the dark undergrowth behind the waterhole and stayed around for few minutes before disappearing into the bush. It didn’t come out again for the next hour so we decided to leave for lunch instead. It looked totally different from when I last saw it just a month ago. The breast was fully on fire!

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The male Siberian Rubythroat was still showing as well and probably a bit too well. It came around to check the waterhole area more frequently than on my last visit. I guess meal worms were regularly put out making the rubythroat become more dominant in the area. It was also very actively singing both while perching in the middle storey and while standing on the ground.

What’s interesting was that on the next day, we didn’t see or hear the male rubythroat at all. Seems like it decided to migrate back to its breeding ground on the same day that we were watching it. It was quite a strange feeling to me to have watched it and then knowing that it has taken on its long journey on the very next day.

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On the following morning, we visited Nam Kham around 9am after some birding around Chiang Saen Lake. As we entered the hide, we were joined by two more birders who had never visited the place before. We chatted a bit and waited in silence for the Firethroat to come out. It was strangely quiet without the presence of the male Siberian Rubythroat. After a while, the Firethroat finally came out from behind the waterhole as usual. This time it decided to stay around in the open area in front of the hide for almost 5 minutes.

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Showing the white tail patch

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The bird seemed to visit the hide more often during late morning. It showed up several times afterwards and stayed around longer than it did on the day before. It would either come out from behind the waterhole or fly in from behind the hide where it might be foraging along the track which leads to the hide. It also occasionally visit the waterhole to bathe but we were not lucky enough to see it bathing. At one point it was already sitting in the water but then decided to jump out instead. People told me that it would only begin to bathe when there were not too many people and not too noisy. We left the hide before 11am feeling satisfied with the result. Again, I thought that I wouldn’t have to visit the place again but as usual, I was wrong.

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