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Up in the sky

November 3, 2011

Most of the painting and carpentry is done at Dokmai Garden. The painters looked like big birds when crouching on their bamboo supports, which were cleverly constructed. These were not the only unusual ‘big birds’. Yesterday we had the honour of receiving Mark Bleadon and his friend from California who also spent many years in India. Late walks in the garden, after closing hours, are usually magic. Halfway back we overheard two birds calling each other. The call sounded a bit like a crow, and a bit like a duck, and it was very loud. I had never heard it before, so we stopped, puzzled. Then three large birds flew up from the Litsea glutinosa and Holarrhena pubescens trees and circled around. The time was about 6 p.m. and it was getting dark. These were Black-crowned night-herons!

I am not sure what has attracted so many new bird species to Dokmai Garden this year? Indeed, for every year there are less old-timers with their illegal guns hunting, but I also think that some birds’ normal winter hang-outs in  the plains in central Thailand are too flooded, and so they stay somewhere else. This bird is the first record at Dokmai Garden, but it does visit Chiang Mai regularly in wintertime. From a global perspective this is a common species. The funny scientific name, Nycticorax nycticorax, means ‘night raven’, and was coined in 1758 by a chap (Linnaeus) from my Swedish hometown Uppsala. He thought the call resembled a raven or a crow.

When I read about Swedish ornithologists for this blog I thought of Sweden and Europe. The Greek government wants to have a referendum about the conditions for more EU rescue loans. A series of Greek governments have cooked the books and acted in a criminal way, using other countries’ money to give their people a welfare unheard of, and now the Swedes, the Danes, the Germans and the Britons have to pay (although not all of these countries are Euro members). I think we should have a referendum too, whether we want to pay these criminals or not. Occupy Greece – demand the money back! No more tax money to people who can not run banks, can not run car companies or can not run countries.

Text & Photo: Eric Danell

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