The Acrocephalus Issue

When talking about Little Brown Jobs or those small birds that are difficult to identify, most birders in Thailand would immediately think of the Phylloscopus warblers because there are so many species of them. They’re definitely one of the birders’ ultimate nightmares. But for me, I’d say there are something even more frightening than identify the Phyllocs, the Acrocephalus warblers!

IMG_5064

Oriental Reed Warbler is the commonest and most widespread Acros in Thailand.

IMG_4917-1

Mostly seen foraging along scrubs and grassy area near water.

IMG_5100

IMG_0155

Frequents perching in the open to dry itself up in the morning. Note pale tip to tail feathers.

IMG_5125-1

Can be rather showy and perch on grass top for a look out or to sing before spring migration

IMG_4988

Note long and pointy primary projection

IMG_5136

Often shows hint of greyish streaking on breast (more prominent in spring)

There are 8 species of Acrocephalus warblers, or generally called “reed warblers”, in Thailand. They can be divided into 2 main groups, the large and the small reed warblers. Only 2 species are considered as large reed warblers; the Oriental Reed Warbler and the Clamorous Reed Warbler. These two are approximately 20 cm in length or about the size of a bulbul. The latter is an extremely rare vagrant OR a highly overlooked species in Thailand with very few accepted records, while the former is the commonest and most widespread reed warbler in the country. The identification of these two species is extremely challenging (definitely more challenging than what it seems in the guide books!). I still haven’t been able to scrutinize all the large reed warblers that I’ve seen, so I assume that all of them are Oriental Reed Warbler for the meantime.

IMG_3315

Among the small reed warblers, the Black-browed Reed Warbler is the commonest species.

IMG_4035

It’s about the same size and at times can resemble a Phylloscopus warbler like Dusky Warbler or Radde’s Warbler.

IMG_4053

Most of the time, the black eyebrow is thick and obvious enough to separate it from other similar species.

IMG_9411

But other times, the black eyebrow can appear faint and thin.

IMG_9406

But that might depend on the angle!

IMG_9396

Or the angle plus lighting

What about the other 6 species of reed warblers in Thailand? They’re all small-sized reed warblers which are approximately about the same size as a sparrow, or just a little larger than most Phyllocs. The commonest and most widespread species among these small reed warblers is the Black-browed Reed Warbler.

With a prominent black eyebrow over the pale supercilium, you might think that it’s quite straightforward to identify this species. Most of the time, it is indeed, but every once in a while, you’ll come across odd individuals that look like it might be a different species.

DSCN5962

Manchurian Reed Warbler is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. I photographed this bird in my local patch in Mae Taeng, Chiang Mai on 18 September 2004. It is still by far the only record of this species in the north.

DSCN5959

DSCN5976

Note completely pale tip to lower mandible (mostly blackish in Black-browed RW). For Manchurian RW, this can turn blackish only in spring and summer.

DSCN5977

Structurally, it is more similar to Paddyfield Warbler (which was once treated as the same species) than Black-browed RW. The tone of plumage is also warmer and more rufous-tinged like Paddyfield Warbler rather than Black-browed RW as well.

The species that is most often confused with Black-browed RW is the globally threatened Manchurian Reed Warbler. It is a  range-restricted breeder in China that winters in South-East Asia. In Thailand, it is reported to be a passage migrant in the north and central part of the country and spend winter along the eastern coast of southern Thailand. Recently, it was also found to be wintering in Malaysia and Cambodia too.

When compared to Black-browed RW, the Manchurian RW generally shows a different structure by having longer tail and longer bill. The lower mandible also lacks dark tip unlike in Black-browed RW which shows dark tip to lower mandible throughout winter. In Manchurian RW, the dark tip is only developed in spring and summer. The plumage is also warmer and more rufous-tinged similar to Paddyfield Warbler, which it was once treated as the same species. The black eyebrow is often faint and thin and the pale supercilium tend to be thinner and more pointy at rear end than in Black-browed RW.

Note: be aware that some Black-browed RW can also show faint/thin black eyebrow too! Better photos and more identification notes on Manchurian/Black-browed RW can be read from Dave Bakewell’s post here.

IMG_0552

Paddyfield Warbler is a rare winter visitor to small areas of northern Thailand.

IMG_0474

This adult bird was ringed at Nam Kham Nature Reserve in February 2014 and was found to be a regular visitor at the Rubythroat Hide in 2016.

IMG_0401

IMG_4056

Bill is rather short and shows prominent dark tip to lower mandible throughout winter.

IMG_4093

Plumage is warm rufescent-brown with rather short primary projection

Things get even more confusing with the small reed warblers that lack black eyebrow. Let’s start with the Paddyfield Warbler, a bird that is quite widespread in Europe and Asia but is a rare winter visitor in Thailand. The Manchurian Reed Warbler was once treated as a subspecies of Paddyfield Warbler and it’s no surprise. They share many similar characteristics like warm rufescent-brown plumage and very similar wing formula and length of primary projection. The Paddyfield Warbler can often show a hint of dark eyebrow over the pale supercilium as well, but never as black as in Manchurian/Black-browed RW. However, unlike in Manchurian RW, the Paddyfield Warbler always shows dark tip to lower mandible throughout the winter. The bill is also shorter and more pointy at tip than in Manchurian RW. In Thailand, it can only be found in several locations in northern part of the country including Nam Kham Nature Reserve in Chiang Rai where these photos were taken.

IMG_9469

Blunt-winged Warbler is one of the trickiest birds to see and even trickier to identify!

IMG_9472

It’s one the small reed warblers that lack any trace of dark eyebrow, which makes it look rather plain-faced.

IMG_9478

I probably wouldn’t be able to identify this bird without this lucky, even though blurry shot that shows the wing formula.

IMG_9463

IMG_7596

Note the long P1 that extends beyond primary coverts

IMG_7594-1

Structurally, it’s a small Acros with long tail.

IMG_7584

Supercilium is short and not as prominent as in Paddyfield Warbler.

But the most challenging group of all reed warblers, or probably all LBJs, is the plain-faced small Acros! There are 3 species recorded in Thailand; the Blunt-winged Warbler, Blyth’s Reed Warbler and Large-billed Reed Warbler. All three species share some very similar characteristics including the lack of dark eyebrow, long bill and shortish supercilium which is not so prominent making them look rather plain-faced.

The commonest and most widespread species among the 3 is the Blunt-winged Warbler which is a winter visitor to wetlands throughout northern and central Thailand. Despite its abundance, it’s never easy to see one because it’s a very shy and skittish bird. Even though you finally get to see it, the bigger challenge would be to identify it!

It’s almost impossible to identify these small plain-faced reed warblers without seeing the wing formula.

IMG_7514

Left: Blyth’s Reed Warbler; Right: Blunt-winged Warbler

IMG_7553

Left: Blunt-winged Warbler; Right: Blyth’s Reed Warbler. Note the short and blunt primary projection as suggested by the name in Blunt-winged Warbler.

IMG_7564

The long P1 which extends beyond the primary coverts is another main ID feature for Blunt-winged Warbler.

IMG_7487

Blyth’s Reed Warbler is a rare winter visitor in Thailand. Note the much shorter P1 and shorter tail than in Blunt-winged Warbler.

IMG_7484

Primary projection is much longer and more pointed than in Blunt-winged Warbler.

IMG_7503

Blyth’s Reed Wabler (left) tends to have colder brown and often grey-tinged plumage than in Blunt-winged Warbler (right). The supercilium is also more obscured in Blyth’s RW.

IMG_7533

Blunt-winged Warbler in profile; note rather warm brownish plumage and short but distinct supercilium.

IMG_7477

Blyth’s Reed Warbler in profile; note cold greyish-brown plumage and less prominent supercilium

IMG_5334

When seen in the field, the Blyth’s Reed Warbler is generally a long-billed and short-tailed bird.

The Blyth’s Reed Warbler is a rare winter visitor that has only been recorded several times from 2 locations in Thailand; i.e. Nam Kham Nature Reserve in Chiang Rai and Bung Boraphet in Nakhon Sawan. Compared to the Blunt-winged Warbler, it has colder and overall more greyish-brown tone to the plumage with much longer primary projection and shorter tail. Its P1 is also shorter and doesn’t markedly extend beyond primary coverts like in Blunt-winged Warbler. Behaviour-wise, the Blyth’s RW prefers dryer areas with scrubs or forest edge near wetlands, while Blunt-winged Warbler is a strictly wetland bird that can only be found in reed beds.

Finally, the most challenging identification among all reed warblers (and LBJs, in my opinion) is between the Blyth’s and Large-billed RW. The Large-billed Reed Warbler is an extremely rare and very little known species which has only been recently rediscovered in 2006 by Philip Round at Laem Phak Bia in Phetchaburi and followed by another record from Nam Kham Nature Reserve in 2008. Basically, the Large-billed RW has longer bill and warmer tone to the plumage, but these two can overlap in almost every morphological aspect. There was even one bird at Nam Kham Nature Reserve that we weren’t able to identify even after measuring it in hand, so DNA test was required! In the end, the DNA result revealed that it was a Blyth’s Reed Warbler. I’m not going to touch on how to identify these two, so here’s a photo of a true Large-billed Reed Warbler from Nam Kham Nature Reserve instead.

IMG_5352

The second record of Large-billed Reed Warbler in Thailand from Nam Kham Nature Reserve. Photo by Woraphot Bunkhwamdi.

The Firethroat Tetralogy (4): 22 April 2015

It’s been a long while since the last post for this series, so here’s the final post. After my last 4 attempts to visit the male Firethroat at Nam Kham Nature Reserve, little did I know that I’d be heading for the fifth one! After coming back from my trip to Nam Kham on 12 April, photos of the bird kept coming up daily on the internet showing continuous moulting progress. By 19 April, the bird seemed to have fully completed its moult into its first breeding plumage (or first-summer). Without conscious, I had already booked another flight to the north!

IMG_6446

Huge flock of Asian Openbills roosting at Nam Kham Nature Reserve

B19A9797

Just about 10 years ago, there was completely no Asian Openbill in northern Thailand.

IMG_6152

A view from the Cettia Hide where the male Firethroat showed up

IMG_6153

Waiting for the bird to show up in the middle open area

By the morning of 22 April, I found myself arriving at Nam Kham Nature Reserve as early as 6AM. It was a very quiet and peaceful morning. There was no one to be seen but hundreds, maybe thousands of Asian Openbills were roosting on large bare trees all around the reserve. They noisily flushed with their heavy wing beats as I walked in along the narrow path through the tall reed bed leading to the Cettia hide where the male Firethroat had been staying.

I waited and waited inside the dark hide, listening to songs of birds which were starting to become more lively. There was, however, no song of the Firethroat to be heard! I began to feel very frustrated since the bird was very actively singing on my last visit. It’d be a huge waste of time and money, if the bird doesn’t show up. The bird still didn’t show up at 7:30AM when I checked for the time. I continued to wait and wait. Then around 8AM, I spotted something glowing and moving in the dark reeds in front of the hide. There it was, my only target of the trip! Needless to say how relieved I was as I watched the bird with its fiery throat and breast hopping out into the open as it often did to look for food.

IMG_9803

One of the first views I had of male Firethroat as it hopped out from the dark reed bed into the open ground in front of the hide.

IMG_9827

As usual, it came hopping really close to the hide.

IMG_9823

IMG_9819

It’s certainly one of the best looking birds in the world!

IMG_9844 IMG_9875 IMG_9883

IMG_9837

At times, it’d come so close to the hide that it almost filled the frame completely.

IMG_9925 IMG_9919 IMG_9913 IMG_9909

IMG_9858

I like how this shot actually shows the vegetation in the habitat where the bird was found.

After the first round, it disappeared for about 10 minutes then showed up again in the same manner. It kept coming back and forth like this for every 10 minutes or so until around 10AM when it began to show up less frequently. It would either show up by hopping out from the dark reed bed or flying in from behind the hide. The after arriving at the hide, it would hop around the open area with a small waterhole in front of the hide. At times, it would come really close to the hide and wouldn’t mind the shutter sound at all.

IMG_9921

Showing the white patch at tail base, a characteristic found in Firethroat and Blackthroat

IMG_9960 IMG_9954

IMG_9925

The white neck patch can be very prominent when the bird stretches its neck.

IMG_0038

Standing up straight when curious

IMG_0030 IMG_9971 IMG_0028 IMG_0005

IMG_0067

First-summer bird still retains the brownish juvenile wing feathers. Adult male would have the same shade of bluish-grey wing as the back and crown.

IMG_0162 IMG_0168

IMG_0177

The orange throat and breast was almost glowing in the dark habitat where it lived.

IMG_0063 IMG_0146 IMG_0189

No need to say how happy and satisfied I was while sitting alone in the hide watching and photographing this rare beauty for hours. Then around 10:30AM, two other birders arrived. It was getting brighter and also hotter and the bird began to disappear for a longer period. But then it came back and gave us a few more shows until I left around noon for lunch.

IMG_0244

Finally, it began to sing its unique melodious song.

IMG_0235 IMG_0215 IMG_0211 IMG_0209

IMG_0290

Also perching on low branches around the hide

IMG_0295

Hard to find a bird to beat its colour!

IMG_0407

It was more actively singing from 10:30-12:00 before I left.

IMG_0410 IMG_0278 IMG_0355 IMG_0271 IMG_0320

IMG_0458

Light became very strong around noon making the photos highly contrasted.

IMG_0454 IMG_0442

IMG_0459

Showing the back side

IMG_0462 IMG_0412 IMG_0416

IMG_0333

A kind of damselfly seen perching close to the Firethroat

Pardon me if this post contains way too many photos of the same bird, but I really couldn’t resist taking loads of photos of this wonderful bird. No one knows when will it show up in Thailand (and in full breeding plumage like this) again, so it’s better to take as many photos as I could!

After leaving the nature reserve for lunch, I drove back to Chiang Mai and took a flight back to Bangkok. On the following day, another group of birders went up to look for the bird but turned out that the bird had already left! It didn’t show up at all from 6AM to 6PM. The means I was one of the last persons to see the bird before it left. I felt super lucky for a moment but then also felt sorry for the poor guys. I really hope it would come back again to Nam Kham in the upcoming winter.

firethroat_moult

To finish this post, here’s a really nice image showing the same bird from the very first day it was discovered (7 December 2014) until the last day before it left (22 April 2015). The original image was uploaded by the official Nam Kham Nature Reserve facebook page. It’s amazing to see such transformation and certainly another reason to feel astonished by nature’s wonders.

The Firethroat Tetralogy (3): 12 April 2015

After my third visit to see the male Firethroat at Nam Kham on 4-5 April, people continued to visit the bird daily and witnessed the rapid change of the plumage. The fiery feathers on throat and breast seemed to develop very quickly each day, as well as the solid black face and breast sides. I just couldn’t help planning another trip to catch up with its new look. Finally, the date was set for my 4th trip to Chiang Saen!

On 12 April, my friends and I left Chiang Mai around 3:30am. We arrived in Chiang Rai around 6am and were welcomed with extremely heavy rain. It was raining so hard that I became worried that the bird might have left. Luckily, as we entered into Chiang Saen area, the rain had reduced into drizzle. It was 7:30am when we reached Nam Kham and was joined by Woraphot Bunkhwamdi who first recognized the bird in December. He said he just saw the bird singing loudly from the trail, so we were relieved that the bird hasn’t gone away.

IMG_7036

Our first view of the bird, hopping out into the rain and singing

IMG_7084

IMG_7267

It was very actively singing and it looked really smart! Only some white shafts left on the throat.

IMG_7416

IMG_7499

You can see how wet the day was!

I was the one who went into the hide despite the drizzling rain. It was still quite dark and extremely wet. I even had to wear boots to get through the trail. Not to mention, there were tiny leeches along the way. As I went in, the bird was already singing next to the hide but didn’t come out from the bush. I waited for about 30 minutes listening to its song and the sound of the rain, then finally it slowly hopped out from the dark and stood next to the waterhole as usual. This time it was very actively singing and looking smarter than ever!

IMG_7651 IMG_7662

IMG_7771

This seemed to be its favourite perch for singing.

IMG_7707 IMG_7458 IMG_7837

The light was terrible and I had to push ISO higher than what I normally use. Lucky that this bird was unusually confiding even on the first day it was discovered making photography more bearable. Compared to my last visit, the bird came out more often and stayed around longer probably because the Siberian Rubythroat was already long gone. My friends came into the hide about an hour later and we all enjoyed its thrilling look completely different from what we saw in January and March.

Short video clip of the bird while singing its sweet warbling song in the rain

IMG_8039

Dim light and the rain couldn’t stop the bird from singing from open perch!

IMG_7864 IMG_7870

IMG_7976

You can see how close it was!

IMG_7955 IMG_7967

IMG_8058

Among natural habitat with Khagra reeds (Phragmites karka), key plant species of Nam Kham wetlands

Rain kept falling throughout the morning while we were staying inside the hide watching the Firethroat. It began to get heavier around 9:30am and my friends decided to leave the hide and stayed inside the building at the entrance instead. I continued to stay at the hide until almost noon and was joined by Nick Diamond, a UK birder whom I’ve met once at Nam Kham last year. We both enjoyed a prolonged view of the bird after flying in from behind the hide and dropping right in the middle of the open ground as it often did. Before leaving, we saw it flying up to perch on reed top to sing then flew out.

Singing its sweet song in the middle of the rain

Funny moment when it seemed to be pecking for leftover meal worms or some other sort of food

IMG_8166 IMG_8130

The rain finally stopped as we left around noon with big smile on our faces. It’s amazing to see how drastically it has transformed in such a short period of time. It looked stunning compared to when we first saw it. Just like the last visit, I didn’t think that I’d be coming to Nam Kham again since it seemed to me that the bird could migrate back to its breeding ground anytime. It had almost completed its moult and was very actively singing, so this could be my last time seeing it, but amazingly, I was wrong. Next post will put an end to this long series of photos and notes from my visits to Nam Kham for this male Firethroat and the last visit was also the most memorable one.

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.

IMG_5875 IMG_5871 IMG_5886

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!

IMG_5950 IMG_5969

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.

IMG_6200 IMG_6215 IMG_6254 IMG_6314

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.

IMG_6323 IMG_6328 IMG_6354

IMG_6307

Showing the white tail patch

IMG_6411

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.

The Firethroat Tetralogy (1): 4-5 March 2015

Last Christmas, my friend Woraphot Bunkhwamdi made a big headline for birders in Thailand; he found what was then assumed to be a first-winter male Firethroat (Calliope pectardens) at Nam Kham Nature Reserve, Chiang Rai. Since there’s a big gap of knowledge about female and immature East Asian robins like Blackthroat, Firethroat and Rufous-headed Robin, we were not 100% sure about its identity, but experts including Phil Round and Andy Pierce who have ringed Firethroats in Bangladesh commented that it was most likely a Firethroat due to its buffish underparts including undertail coverts. If it really is a Firethroat, it would be the first record for Thailand.

IMG_3478 IMG_3487 IMG_3456 IMG_3453

However, as the news broke out, it was later revealed that the bird was actually first seen and photographed by Suwanna Mookachonpan on 7 December 2014 but thought to be an odd Siberian Blue Robin despite the obvious white patch on tail base and dark coloured legs. Woraphot then caught and ringed the bird. Measurements seemed to fit well with Firethroat even though the differences are minimal between Firethroat and Blackthroat.

IMG_3451 IMG_4422 IMG_4428

Even though Firethroat is not considered to be as globally threatened as its close relative, Blackthroat which is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN, it is considered to be Near Threatened due to habitat loss in its breeding ground in south China and is deemed to be very rare elsewhere. In south-east Asia, it was recorded from north Myanmar while majority of the population spend winter in Bangladesh and north-east India.

IMG_3257

Male Siberian Rubythroat staying in the same area as the Firethroat

IMG_3388 IMG_3392 IMG_3304 IMG_3285

IMG_4260

First-winter male Firethroat

IMG_3362

I made my first visit to Nam Kham to twitch for this rarity on the very first day of 2015. The bird was reported to be coming to an open area in front of the “Cettia Hide” located among the dense reed bed every morning. I arrived at the place just a little after 7am and went into the hide. About an hour and half as passed and there was no sign of the bird, I then left to join a group of birders who hired a boat to go around Chiang Saen Lake looking for ducks instead.

On the next morning, I arrived at Nam Kham around 6am and it was still completely dark. I went into the hide before the first ray of sunlight broke out. At 6.45, there it was, a darkish robin flew in from behind and dropped right in the middle of the open area in front of the hide! It was still very dark and I could barely fire a shot. The bird hopped around the open area for about a minute then flew out. It later came back again after a while. Interestingly, it didn’t seem to be slightly shy and would come around just a few metres from the hide but it was too dark for my camera to get a good shot.

My friends who were waiting outside the hide told me that it was also seen hopping along the open trail near the hide, so I came out and waited outside instead. At one point, the bird came perching just a few metres from where I was sitting but it was deep inside the bush so I could barely see it, but it was giving its loud alarming whistles before flying across the open trail and back to the hide. That was all for my first encounter with the Firethroat; without a single acceptable shot.

IMG_4447 IMG_4883 IMG_4884 IMG_3258 IMG_4279

I then returned to Nam Kham Nature Reserve again on 4-5 March 2015 hoping to get better views of the bird, and of course, to get some photos of it. Since the area also holds a male Siberian Rubythroat, a bird which often dominates the area once you start giving out meal worms, Dr. Rungsrit Kanjanavanit, the owner of Nam Kham Nature Reserve, kindly asked birders not to use meal worms at the hide fearing that the rubythroat would chase the Firethroat away. That was the case for the male White-tailed Rubythroat, another rarity and an icon of the nature reserve, which was found at the very same hide. People started to put out meal worms hoping to attract it, instead, it turned out that the Siberian Rubythroat became dominant over the area and chased away any bird that came close, not only the White-tailed Rubythroat.

We didn’t want the same thing to happen again, so the use of meal worms was kindly prohibited. However, we couldn’t control everyone. Meal worms seemed to have been used from time to time making both the Firethroat and rubythroat become more showy and visit the hide much more often than on my first visit. Good thing about it was that the amount and frequency of meal worms being put out were not too much and not too often, so the rubythroat didn’t really dominate the area like it did when meal worms were not controlled. Needless to say, I got much better photos of the Firethroat than on my last visit.

IMG_4310 IMG_3314 IMG_3380

Instead of coming to the hide even before sunrise like it did during the New Year, the Firethroat first made its appearance around 10am when the light was good enough to get some nice shots. It also stayed around longer and went back and forth several times before disappearing around noon. The Siberian Rubythroat was also seen coming to the hide frequently but didn’t seem to be very dominant. At one point, it was nearly chased by the Firethroat. That was interesting since the Firethroat is actually slightly smaller.

IMG_4473 IMG_4553 IMG_4556 IMG_4574 IMG_4608

On 5 March, I visited the hide around 2pm since there was pretty much nowhere else to go under the killing sun. Interestingly, the temperature inside the hide was quite cool. I lied around on the cool ground inside the hide for a while and was disturbed by the appearance of the Firethroat which came out to sunbathe! It sat still under the sun with its body feathers all fluffed up and wings and tail all spread. The moment was just magical. It sunbathed for over 5 minutes before disappearing into the bush.

IMG_4612 IMG_4637 IMG_4870 IMG_4860

Another interesting behaviour of the Firethroat that I observed during my second visit was that it already started singing. Occasionally, it would perch on low branches and started to sing its subtle warbling song softly. I believe it would sing more loudly once it goes back to the breeding ground. It’s amazing to see how birds, particularly robins and chats, adjust the loudness of its voice while singing. I’ve also observed Daurian Redstarts singing softly during winter and much louder in spring.

Overall, it was a very successful visit and I was pleased to get these shots of the Firethroat. At that time, I thought I wouldn’t have to come back to Nam Kham again since I was pretty much satisfied with the results, but I did go back, and not just once but thrice! More to be explained in the next  3 posts.