Yesterday’s birthday party at Dokmai Garden attracted some uninvited guests. One dandy was the Scarlet minivet (Pericrocotus flammeus, Campephagidae), the first record at Dokmai Garden ever.
Has the Scarlet minivet been overlooked before? Hardly! The male bird is brilliant scarlet red with a contrasting black head and back:
The Scarlet minivet to the left, as depicted by the eminent artist Mongkol Wongkalasin in Lekagul‘s & Round’s classic bird book. I have seen the other bird (Golden-fronted leafbird) eating banana in Mae Khanin Tai 12 km from Dokmai Garden. We hope it will make it to us some day.
My unscientific gut feeling is that the number of bird species and the number of bird specimens have increased in and around Dokmai garden in the past five years. Blue magpies were never seen until 2012, and now we have flocks of them. Occasional sightings of purple sunbirds are now daily sightings.
This is not solely due to Dokmai Garden being a refuge with water, shade, nectar plants, organic insects and fruits. Many birds cover larger territories than Dokmai Garden’s 10 acres (4 ha) and so something has changed in the larger area. I think these positive news are due to a declining trend of small scale hunting in the entire subdistrict. I hear different stories from other parts of Thailand and Southeast Asia, but with the economic boom in Chiang Mai there is no shortage of jobs and small scale hunting is largely a hobby for the elderly rather than a need for survival.
Three birds that have become rarer are: whistling duck, which is probably due to hunting but could be due to one single hunter along the ducks’ flight route, peaceful dove, which is due to competition with the spotted dove which is adapted to human dwellings, and crested serpent eagle which I think is due to a lost competition with changeable-hawk eagles which have moved in instead.
The Dokmai Garden birdlist has now reached 96 records of wild species. Help us find some more!
Pictures from the birthday party (Mika five years):
Another Swedish-Thai family: Mr Chan, Ai, Ella, Elias and Pam.
If you wish to host a party beyond traffic noise and with a private 10 acres garden please contact us!
Text & Photo: Eric Danell