Thursday, 10 December 2015

10th December Nam Kham Nature Reserve and Chiang Saen Lake

Awoke early so checked Dave Sargeant's excellent website that carried the news that the Firethroat had returned to Nam Kham Nature Reserve for its second winter having been seen the day before! Unbelievably good timing as we were intending visiting Nam Kham Nature Reserve from dawn this morning. Fearing there might not be anyone on site who knew where to look for the Firethroat we made our way to the small Reserve car park pre-dawn to find a couple there getting out of their car. After quickly accosting them, asking if they knew where the Firethroat was, they were happy for us to join them as they were to meet Madeaw on site who was spending a few days ringing there and had seen the Firethroat yesterday. We were soon being introduced to Madeaw who was confident we would see the Firethroat as he had seen it several times the day before feeding along the edge of the reedbed next to a boardwalk where he was ringing. As an added bonus, he was more than happy for us to spend time with him whilst he was carefully ringing the birds that he was mist-netting, in fact, he couldn't have been more welcoming or accommodating. Chintana was soon sharing her breakfast and just after they had crossed the boardwalk to check the mistnets, a bird called a deep 'tuck' similar to Siberian Blue Robin, flew under the boardwalk and started to hop away from us flashing white bases to its outer tail feathers - Firethroat! Madeaw returned several times with a good number of birds caught before the sun rose and the nets became too obvious. The Firethroat put in another performance as the nets were being closed this time hopping towards us. Chitana and her husband then very kindly invited us to join them on a boat trip onto Chaing Saen Lake from 1pm. We dashed back to Chiang Saen to vacate our cabin, enjoyed a Magnum overlooking the Mekong and Laos, and made our way to the lake. We enjoyed a couple of hours on the lake seeing a good assortment of Wildfowl. We said our reluctant farewells to Chintana, her husband and Madeaw and returned to Nam Kham Nature Reserve in case the Firethroat was showing in the late afternoon but there was no sign of it. We then made the drive to Fang, much of it after dark, being enlivened by armed police stationed at about every 100m frequently blowing their whistles due to a Royal Princess being about to make a journey along the road. We eat in the Tesco Lotus store in Fang.

Eurasian Wigeon 1 female
Mallard 1 drake
Spot-billed Duck c.300
Pintail 12
Garganey 1 female
Eurasian Teal 2
Common Pochard 1 female
Ferruginous Duck 38
Tufted Duck 4
Little Grebe 30
Asian Openbill c.50
Grey Heron 2
Purple Heron 2
Great Cormorant 2
Osprey 1
Eastern Marsh Harrier 2
Pied Harrier 2
Moorhen 1
Coot c.60
Spotted Dove 6
White-browed Piculet 1
Brown Shrike 5
Long-tailed Shrike 1
Swallow 100
Dusky Warbler 20
Yellow-browed Warbler 10
Two-barred Greenish Warbler 1
Black-browed Reed Warbler 1
Thick-billed Warbler 1
Yellow-bellied Prinia 1
Black-collared Starling 2
Oriental Magpie-Robin 4
Siberian Rubythroat 1
FIRETHROAT 1 non-breeding male
Siberian Stonechat 1
Red Avadavat 1

Madeaw's ringing site in the reedbeds of Nam Kham Nature Reserve

Madeaw returning with plenty of birds to ring at Nam Kham Nature Reserve

Dusky Warbler at Nam Kham Nature Reserve
The commonest species caught although Madeaw still awaits a recovery from elsewhere so here's hoping a northbound migrant is retrapped in China or Russia this coming Spring...
Black-browed Reed Warbler at Nam Kham Nature Reserve
First-winter Thick-billed Warbler at Nam Kham Nature Reserve
First-winter male Siberian Rubythroat at Nam Kham Nature Reserve

Yellow-bellied Prinia at Nam Kham Nature Reserve
Common Kingfisher at Nam Kham Nature Reserve
White-browed Piculet at Nam Kham Nature Reserve
Male Red Avadavat at Nam Kham Nature Reserve

Non-breeding plumaged male Firethroat at Nam Kham Nature Reserve
Back for its second winter this first for Thailand was first seen this Winter yesterday and we learnt of its presence this morning that saved a restless night wondering if it would show today which thankfully it did albeit we were the only observers to see it. On our arrival at dawn a couple we met seemed surprised we should know about the Firethroat and even more so when I jokingly told them that we had flown in overnight from London to see it!! With many thanks to 'Madeaw' the ringer present who kindly showed us where to look and also showed us many great birds in the hand including a first-winter male Siberian Rubythroat, Thick-billed Warbler, White-browed Piculet and Dusky Warblers etc.

Rubythroat... Firethroat... will Blackthroat be next for Madeaw at Nam Kham?
We thoroughly enjoyed our time with Madeaw freely sharing his in-depth knowledge with us. He's one of the fortunate few to have seen Large-billed Reed Warbler in the hand that's been dubbed 'the World's least known bird'. We just wish that we could have spent a few more days ringing with him.
Large Hawk-Cuckoo at Nam Kham Nature Reserve

Mekong River with Laos in the background

Chiang Saen Lake

Osprey and Black Drongo at Chiang Saen Lake

Spot-billed Duck at Chiang Saen Lake

Female Common Pochard at Chiang Saen Lake
Whilst failing to see either the two Baer's Pochard or the Baikal Teal seen on the lake in previous days we proved popular on finding this rarity for Thailand!

Great Cormorant at Chiang Saen Lake
of the form sinensis

A very colourful Lizard at Chiang Saen Lake

Chintana and her husband at Chiang Saen Lake
A really nice friendly couple that we met at dawn at Nam Kham who not only were happy for us to accompany them at their ringing session with Madeaw but then shared their breakfast and then invited us on their pre-arranged afternoon boat trip onto the lake. Here saying our farewells little did we know that we would then bump into them again at Doi Ang Khan and then yet again at Mr. Deang's at Doi Inthanon!