Chiang Saen: 6 March 2014

On the next morning, we visited Nam Kham Nature Reserve once again but a little earlier than the first visit because I wanted to photograph the Brown-cheeked Rails before the light gets too strong. The bird was already there when I entered the hide and the mission was accomplished without much effort.

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According to Tavares, Kroon & Baker (2010), the race ‘indicus’ which was formerly considered as a subspecies of Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus) has been split into a monotypic species Rallus indicus, commonly called either Brown-cheeked Rail or Eastern Water Rail according to the characteristics of having brown cheek patch and distribution range from East Siberia to South-East Asia.

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I was done with the rails just within about half an hour. Other birds seen from the hide on that morning included a male Common Kingfisher which posed as a nice foreground for the rail. A Black-browed Reed Warbler, the same Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler and the same Siberian Rubythroat also showed up briefly as well as a flock of about 10 Greater Painted-Snipes of which 2 of them were females.


As we were leaving from Chiang Saen Lake, we spotted this female Spot-breasted Woodpecker with a mouthful of food. The nest must be somewhere nearby but we didn’t have the time to follow up.


Where else can you see a Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler together with a Brown-cheeked Rail!?


The rail just couldn’t stop photobombing other birds.


A moulting Black-browed Reed Warbler which showed up briefly.


The only Common Snipe at the pond


The same Green Sandpiper was still showing well. Some new breeding feathers were already visible.

I got out of the hide and decided to take a walk in the reed bed. While walking towards the main shelter in the middle of the reserve, I heard a familiar song which was very similar to the song which I used to hear very often when I was in Japan. I knew right then what it was, the rareĀ Manchurian Bush Warbler. Even though the song was not exactly the same as the Japanese Bush Warbler, it sounded very similar. I followed the song and could finally catch a glimpse of the male bird singing through the bush. It was surprisingly large, much larger than the Japanese Bush Warbler.


I didn’t have the time to grab any photo, so here’s a sketch of the scene when I saw the Manchurian Bush Warbler.


I also came across a singing small Acrocephalus reed warbler in tall reed. Even with a couple of recordings of the song and a very brief glimpse of the bird, it still can’t be firmly identified. The closest guess is Blunt-winged Warbler.


The same male Common Kingfisher in better light


Despite being very common, it’s hard overlook such beauty.


A different male Siberian Rubythroat from yesterday. It was ringed and feeding along the water edge.


The ‘ruby’ throat really stands out among the mud.

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I spent the last hour at Nam Kham in a different hide on the other edge of the pond. There was a different male Siberian Rubythroat constantly showing up around the water edge. Another Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler was also seen but was too fast for a photo. Around 11am, I left the area and had a nice lunch by the Mekong River in Chiang Saen then take a ride back to Chiang Mai.