On 26 August 2015, I decided to go and twitch for the Blue-breasted Quail, a very scarce bird that recently showed up in Suphan Buri. Unfortunately, I wasn’t lucky enough. The bird didn’t show up at all at the stake out from dawn to dusk. At least, I’ve got photos of some nice birds that I haven’t photographed before.
The area was largely corn and sugar cane plantation with Kraseo Reservoir in the east. It was actually quite birdy in the morning. Before sunrise, many Large-tailed Nightjars were seen along the way into the plantation. Rain Quails were literally calling from every direction. The first male that I saw was even standing and calling from an open dirt track in the middle of corn plantation.
There were more than 10 Rain Quails in just a small area where I parked my car. One of the males were more cooperative than the others. It showed up very well and even called in the open for few minutes. I didn’t take any video of the bird since I was photographing it hand-held, but you can see how it’s like when calling in this video taken at Huai Mai Teng Reservoir, Ratchaburi. Seems like this species strongly prefers grasslands near large water bodies.
Other birds that were also seen including a noisy flock of Yellow-eyed Babblers, lots of Red Avadavats, Paddyfield Pipits, 2 Black-winged Kites, Golden-headed and Zitting Cisticolas, Plain and Yellow-bellied Prinias, Blue-tailed Bee-eaters and a Long-tailed Shrike (subspecies ‘longicaudatus‘).
The subspecies ‘longicaudatus’ of Long-tailed Shrike is an endemic to the central plains of Thailand. It is recently going through a serious decline due to an unconfirmed cause, most likely habitat loss. In the past, it can be found throughout Bangkok but has now become nearly extinct. Every record of this subspecies is now being collected, so I was very glad to see one in this area.
There was almost no bird coming to the stake out except for one female Rain Quail which showed up for several minutes at noon before, as the name suggests, heavy rain arrived. It reminded me of why I like the name “Rain Quail” a lot. It implies so much about this bird. In places where this remarkable species is found, they start to appear as soon as the monsoon season starts. Under the overcast weather, their unmistakable calls can be heard throughout the day like insects. Females can be more tricky to see and photograph because they don’t come out to call in the open. At least, I got to photograph both sexes nicely so it wasn’t a completely waste of a trip.