Vol. VIII No. 46 - Tuesday
November 17 - November 23, 2009



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FEATURES
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Play celebrates 600th anniversary of Lanna King Tilokarat

Time to get out your binoculars!

 

Play celebrates 600th anniversary of Lanna King Tilokarat

 

Time to get out your binoculars!

Bird Watching in Chiang Mai

by Mike Gilman
By way of self introduction and in expectation of future bird-watching forays, some personal background knowledge might be of interest for Chiang Mai Mail readers to more fully understand and perhaps share my deep rooted interest in the pleasurable, naturalistic pursuit of bird-watching, of which Thailand has much to offer.

Get out your binoculars for bird watching in Chiang Mai

Tucked away in North Staffordshire, England, is the quiet and rural landscaped village of Stockton Brook. Set in a green wooded valley and surrounded by hilly farm land, the area has changed little in recent years. It’s once busy railway station and single line track are sadly no longer used. In the 17th century horse drawn long boats carrying coal, ceramics and other commodities used the James Brindley canal, which was cut through the heart of the village. Today, walkers, artists,anglers and pleasure boats enjoy the waterway’s romantic locations.
The word ‘Brook’, in the village name derives from a stony stream which divides the 1st, and 18th holes on the local golf course. Errant shots usually roll into the clear, silent brook, with unplayable lies. Yet another score-card ruined. This tranquil arena and wild life habitat was my backyard, the place where my two brothers and I were born, and enjoyed a most happy childhood.
My parents home had gardens which backed onto the golf course, brook and canal, it’s location realised an abundance of bird life. As well as everyday garden species, Herons, Hawks, Kingfishers and Woodpeckers were commonplace. Their ornithological knowledge and enthusiasm whet my novice birding appetite, which in due course formed an ingrained rooted interest.

Artist rendering of a white throated kingfisher

My father, a businessman, and my mother, an accomplished ballerina, had a passion for music. They also loved the outdoors, and often took us walking, both locally and further afield. The volumes of books in our home can best be remembered as the ‘classics’, and ‘naturalistic’. Whether digesting Tolstoy, Kipling, Hardy, or the diverse ornithology collection, they all made good reading, especially the latter ones, with their many coloured bird photographs.
From an early age the Hoopoe (nok ga rang hua kwaan) (’#0#2+1'’2’) bird has always stayed in my memory. This unique species,with its’ pink colour and head crest shape, always reminded me of the Native Americans’ feathered headdresses. For the first time, and by good fortune, this bird was seen feeding several times by my wife and I at Hua Hin, four months ago. Simply amazing, and unforgettable.
The Welsh island of Anglesey was a favourite family holiday destination. This island boasts a famous lighthouse, South Stack, completed in 1809. Here sheer cliffs and huge swells are a bird watchers paradise. More than four hundred steps take visitors down to a narrow bridge, which, providing the winds are not too strong, enable them to more closely photograph the birds, and the vertical beamed-flashing tower.
This outdoor pursuit is a wonderful legacy from my parents, their foresight cannot be understated. Indeed, my twin brother and I still use the binoculars as given by them, on the occasion of our 21st birthdays.
 Coming to the present day, the bird depicted within the title’s artwork is a species of the Kingfisher family. It seems appropriate to conclude this article by telling you about the White Throated Kingfisher. (nok kra ten ock kow) (’#[email protected]’-2')
 Our daily route takes us alongside paddy fields and an assortment of ponds. Whilst Thailand boasts up to 14 species of Kingfisher, to date we have only seen three. The Common,(nok kra ten noy tam ma daa) (’#[email protected]”I-”‘##!—2), Blue Eared, (nok kra ten noy lang cee nam ngun) (’#[email protected]”I-”+%1*5’[email protected]’), and the White Throated. Of these, the most frequently seen and heard is the 27cm long White Throated. It’s chocolate coloured head and neck contrast well with it’s white throat and breast. In good light the long, strong, red bill is clearly seen. This tool is put to expert use on it’s fishing sprees, when it becomes a lethal weapon. To avoid the aquatic snack from getting stuck in it’s throat, fish are swallowed head first, one of nature’s wonders. The voice is a piercing staccato laugh, which can be heard at a distance, and in flight the turquoise / blue plumage easily identifies the family.
 Enjoy the gifts of nature.



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