Red Alert.. Strawberry Fields. January 25, 2016
Well, after seeing my first Red Avadavat at Pak Phli a few weeks ago, I ventured out for a bit of local birding as the end of month bank balance wouldn’t allow me to go any further afield. I headed for my usual Kingfisher site to see if much was about. The water level had really dropped, with some parts reduced to just puddles!! Not much here then. On the way back I remembered an old farm track I had visited a long time ago. The red gravel surface kind of reminded me of Pak Phli, so I got to wondering if it could produce anything similar. In my mind were Bluethroats and Pipits, but as I parked up and had a scan around with the binoculars, the first birds I saw were two bright red spectacles… Red Avadavats!!!! I had never dreamt of seeing them here in Patthumtani especially as the one I had seen at Pak Phli had been a first for me. I managed a few terrible shots before they were gone. This track looked promising!! Throughout the morning I didn’t see them again, but there were plenty of other birds about. Munias, Stonechats, Plain Prinias, Zitting Cisticolas, Grey Wagtails, Streaked Weavers, Brown Shrikes, 5 – 6 Black Shouldered Kites and a single Paddyfield Pipit completed that morning’s trip.
I decided to make the trip again the following day, but this time to arrive just before sun rise. Sunday morning, I parked up in the darkness just before sun-up. As soon as the sun broke, those little red sights started to appear. It really was difficult to keep count with them as they flitted to and fro in the scrub field. There were definitely over a dozen of them, but still too far to get any decent shots. It was only when I drove a little further along the track, I found the perfect spot where they seemed to congregate.
In an instant, everything seemed to up and fly in a panic, which was when I saw it!! As I looked up I was suddenly aware of a female Pied Harrier no more than 10 metres from me. “Damn! Damn!! Focus will you!!” The camera (or me) seemed to freeze and focusing seemed to take an absolute age!! I did manage to get off a few half decent shots, though. The Reds didn’t hang around after this and I didn’t see them again. Mostly the same birds were seen again after that with the addition of a snipe bobbing his head up and down in the rice field.
I will take another look in again next week to see if I can get some better shots of the Reds and hopefully the male Pied Harrier will put in an appearance….