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More birds

January 21, 2012

Yesterday we made an experiment. We bird-watched at Dokmai Garden in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand at sunrise 06.30-08, and then again around noon and then again around 17.00 in the afternoon. The aim was to see if we saw different birds during different times, to compare with the previous day and also, as always, look out for new species.

Results: we saw and heard 36 species of wild birds. Early morning species were for instance Common Koel, Asian Barred Owlet, and Red-wattled Lapwing. Even at 08 birds like Green Bee-eater, Hoopoe, Palm swift, House swallow and Richard’s Pipit were still absent. Around noon many species could be found, but in the late afternoon not many species were observed. The absence of many species during the early morning might be an effect of the cold season, while bird-watching in the warm season March-April may be different. This night the minimum temperature was 16.4°C, much warmer than the previous nights where minimum were around 10-11 °C.

The previous day’s new sighting of the Grey-chinned Minivet was repeated. That female sat in the same mango. However, many birds which we saw the day before, we did not see yesterday: Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Olive-backed Sunbird, Purple Sunbird, Coppersmith Barbet. Species we did not record yesterday, nor the day before with the English bird-watchers, we heard or saw in the morning before the English arrived (wood peckers and Black eagle). It clearly shows that one can not expect to see everything in just one short visit.

Yesterday we also documented two new species to Dokmai Garden: Red-rumped swallow and long-tailed shrike. The latter one had a call like the European Fieldfare, and although loud it could move inside a hedge without shaking the branches to reveal itself. While writing this I observed a third new species: Asian Brown Flycatcher. The total list of wild birds observed at Dokmai Garden is now 85 species.

Birdwatching and orchid watching are somewhat similar in that you need binoculars and you need to bend your neck to look up into the trees. Thanks to this activity we discovered a hitherto overlooked and big specimen of the wild orchid Cymbidium aloifolium (Orchidaceae) up in the ancient Dokmai Garden forest mango (Mangifera caloneura, Anacardiaceae). The first admirers arrived not long after, four tourists and orchid lovers from Cordoba in Argentina (our first visitors from that country).

Eric Danell and Emily Driskill

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