Chiang Saen: 17-18 January 2012


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17-18 January 2012.
Sunny and warm, cloudless sky and cool overnight.
Chiang Saen.

17 Jan. With Mick Davies. Several rare duck sightings over the last month from the Chiang Saen area were the spur for this exploratory visit. After a four hour drive from Chiang Saen, met up with Mick, and proceeded to various observation points along the south side of the lake.

Burmese Shrike
Burmese Shrike

Green Bee-eater
Green Bee-eater

Red Avadavat
Red Avadavat

The viewing situation constantly changes at Chiang Saen. More agriculture, more fences, changed access and areas now overgrown with Mimosoa are a constant headache to birding this area. We started with a scan from pineapple fields in the eastern corner of the lake, but other than distant ducks found little, so moved along the southern side a little to try from from an area now home to a young rubber plantation nursery. An initial scan found a small number of Indian Spot-billed Duck plus distant Eurasian Coot and very distant Tufted Duck. After 20 minutes or so of scanning we were surprised to see a male Red-crested Pochard suddenly appear with some spotbills a couple of hundred metres from the shore. On walking down to the shore from our viewpoint it promptly disappeared, never to reappear again during a 45 minute wait.

Following this success we drove to the northern edge and scanned for diving ducks from the temple and adjacent hilltop and in an hour found Mallard, a single Eurasian Teal, about 20 Ferruginous Duck and the Red-crested Pochard put in another appearance. On leaving a single Barred Buttonquail was flushed. Around 16:30 we arrived at the harrier roost. Good numbers of both Pied Harrier and Eastern Marsh Harrier coming in from around 17:30 and by the end had around 150 birds circling at once. Impressive. Collared Scops Owl and Asian Barred Owlet calling from the temple complex after dark.

18 Jan. A non too early start as fog along the river and rather cool temperatures limit birding early morning along the Mekong. Headed east down river and from 09:00 - 11:00 worked a couple of scrub edges up to 20 kilometres from Chiang Saen town. Birds of note included Black-faced Bunting, Red Avadavat, Baya Weaver, Mallard and Ruddy Shelduck. Following a simple lunch at a local kiosk,, headed back to Chiang Saen to check the river west of town. Very disappointing. The extensive, ongoing construction works, dredging, sand extraction and general building mayhem along here is really taking it's toll on the birding. A four hour drive back to Chiang Mai.

Species List

  Common Name Count
  Chinese Francolin 1
  Ruddy Shelduck 4
  Mallard 4
  Indian Spot-billed Duck 400
  Northern Shoveler 3
  Eurasian Teal 1
  Red-crested Pochard 1
  Ferruginous Duck 20
  Tufted Duck 9
  Little Grebe 20
  Yellow Bittern 1
  Black-crowned Night Heron 1
  Chinese Pond Heron 20
  Grey Heron 25
  Purple Heron 2
  Great Egret 10
  Intermediate Egret 2
  Little Egret 10
  Great Cormorant 2
  Eastern Marsh Harrier 150
  Pied Harrier 250
  Common Kestrel 1
  White-breasted Waterhen 2
  White-browed Crake 2
  Grey-headed Swamphen 20
  Common Moorhen 5
  Eurasian Coot 90
  Barred Buttonquail 1
  Eastern Little Ringed Plover 4
  Pheasant-tailed Jacana 2
  Small Pratincole 2
  Spotted Dove 20
  Greater Coucal 7
  Lesser Coucal 1
  Collared Scops Owl 1
  Asian Barred Owlet 2
  Asian Palm Swift 20
  White-throated Kingfisher 3
  Common Kingfisher 2
  Green Bee-eater 10
  Eurasian Hoopoe 1
  Lineated Barbet 4
  Coppersmith Barbet 3
  Brown Shrike 5
  Burmese Shrike 4
  Long-tailed Shrike 6
  Black Drongo 20
  Racket-tailed Treepie 4
  Sooty-headed Bulbul 20
  Streak-eared Bulbul 10
  Grey-throated Martin 10
  Pacific Swallow 300
  Dusky Warbler 40
  Yellow-browed Warbler 15
  Lanceolated Warbler 4
  Grey-breasted Prinia 6
  Yellow-bellied Prinia 4
  Plain Prinia 10
  Chestnut-capped Babbler 4
  Japanese White-eye 4
  Great Myna 50
  Common Myna 40
  Black-collared Starling 20
  Oriental Magpie-Robin 10
  Stejneger's Stonechat 6
  Taiga Flycatcher 3
  Purple Sunbird 2
  Eurasian Tree Sparrow 20
  Baya Weaver 40
  Red Avadavat 30
  Scaly-breasted Munia 20
  White Wagtail 2
  Olive-backed Pipit 20
  Red-throated Pipit 2000
  Black-faced Bunting 2