Rufous Limestone-babbler – New Endemic of Thailand, New Species of the World

Rufous Limestone-babbler

Rufous Limestone-babbler taken at Wat Phra Phutthabat Noi, Saraburi, Thailand (26 Feb 2017)

In the past, Rufous Limestone-babbler had been only a subspecies of Limestone Wren-babbler (Turdinus crispifrons calcicola), despite; its colour and distribution range are obviously separated from the others in Turdinus crispifrons.

Recently BirdLife have elevated a subspecies of Limestone Wren-babbler, Turdinus crispifrons calcicola, to a new bird species of the world named as Rufous Limestone-babbler (Turdinus calcicola) which has a brown upper part and rufous brown on cheeks, breast, and belly.

Whereas the other subspecies, which has greyish brown on its body, has been renamed as Greyish Limestone-babbler (Turdinus crispifrons).

Moreover, Rufous Limestone-babbler can be found only on limestone mountain in Saraburi Province and boundaries, in NE of Thailand. Therefore it implicitly becomes a new endemic species of Thailand. Due to its extremely-narrow distribution range and trend to decrease, Rufous Limestone-babbler is also classified as one of Vulnerable Species in the IUCN Red List.

On the other hand, Greyish Limestone-babbler has more extensive distribution range on limestone mountain in West and North part of Thailand, and also in SE Myanmar, N Laos, N Vietnam, and S China.

In addition to the narrow distribution range, Habitat Loss is also a major concern for this species, due to limestone mountain is continuously destroyed for Cement Industry. In the near future, the conservative status of Rufous Limestone-babbler might become more severe unless a good area protection and conservation method.

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Nesting of Blyth’s Leaf Warbler on Doi Inthanon Summit

Mar 11-12, 2017

In the middle of March (2017), I had a great opportunity to observe nest building of a pair of Blyth’s Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus reguloides assamensis) on Ang Ka, summit of Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand. The nest was been building on a soil wall beside the car park area, found by Wichyanan Limparungpatthanakij, my senior experienced bird watcher. This is the first nesting record with photograph evidence of this species in Thailand.

Blyth's Leaf Warbler

Blyth’s Leaf Warbler – Adult with nesting material

Blyth's Leaf Warbler

Blyth’s Leaf Warbler – Adult with nesting material before jumping into the nest

From my observation, the nest looks like a small shallow scoop concaved into the soil wall. The entrance is quite open, but may be neglected unless thoroughly watch. One of the pair carries nesting material (Mostly bryophyte moss which is abundant on Ang Ka) to the nest, go inside, and decorate the hollow, while another one waits and watches on a small tree above the soil wall until the one comes out. Then both fly away to continue seeking for nesting material.

Blyth's Leaf Warbler

Blyth’s Leaf Warbler – Adult while decorating nest

Blyth's Leaf Warbler

Blyth’s Leaf Warbler – Adult while coming out of nest

During one of the mate decorates the nest, another one often sings a full song and also does a Wing Flicking Behaviour.

Blyth's Leaf Warbler

Blyth’s Leaf Warbler – Wing Flicking/Flapping Behaviour

Wing Flicking/Flapping Behaviour is diagnostic!

Blyth’s Leaf Warbler do their Wing Flicking Behaviour by flapping either of their wings up-down (just one side at the time alternatively). Whereas their couplet, Davison’s Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus davisoni) flap their wings both sides simultaneously.

By the way, it is still a question what the actual reasons of Wing Flicking Behaviour in both species are. The initial guess could be courtship or territorial behaviour. However, many times, we observe that they also do wing flicking during their routine activity, such as foraging, outside their breeding season. That could be either territorial behaviour or usual behaviour that they normally do.

Blyth's Leaf Warbler

Blyth’s Leaf Warbler – Under-tail Pattern

Blyth’s Leaf Warbler vs Davison’s Leaf Warbler

Confusion always occurs for the identification of these two species, since their physical appearance is almost the same except under-tail pattern.

The photo above shows the under-tail pattern of Blyth’s Leaf Warbler which are almost grey with the white edges. On the other hands, Davison’s Leaf Warbler have almost white on under-tail feathers (See photo below). Therefore the under-tail pattern is the most important mark for the identification of these two species.

Davison's Leaf Warbler / White-tailed Leaf Warbler

Davison’s Leaf Warbler – Under-tail Pattern

Watching Phylloscopus Warblers is always fun. There are things to learn about their characteristics and behaviours. Although they are very active and naughty, I turn that to be my challenge and acquisition of knowledge, until now LBJ becomes my favourite job!

Davison's Leaf Warbler / White-tailed Leaf Warbler

Davison’s Leaf Warbler, 20 Sep 2015

Davison’s Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus davisoni)

In montane evergreen forest of the northern part of Thailand, there are three Phylloscopus warblers in Blyth’s and white-tailed complex which look so much alike. First one is in White-tailed complex which is Davison’s Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus davisoni). Other two are in Blyth’s complex which are Blyth’s Leaf Warbler (P. reguloides assamensis), and Claudia’s Leaf Warbler (P. claudiae).

Davison's Leaf Warbler

Davison’s Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus davisoni) was photographed at Pramahatat Noppamethanedon and Pramahatat Nopphonphusiri on Doi Inthanon

Davison's Leaf Warbler

Davison’s Leaf Warbler (2016)

Davison’s Leaf Warbler is always the most common one that you would see in the montane forest. However, due to the resemblance of these three Phylloscopus warblers, the identification becomes inaccurate unless you see the under-tail part which is the best feature to classify Davison’s Leaf Warbler from Blyth’s and Claudia’s Leaf Warbler. The under-tail pattern of Davison’s Leaf Warbler is almost completely white on the outer pair of tail feathers, whereas Blyth’s and Claudia’s are mostly grey with thin white edge on the outer web. The under-tail part of Davison’s Leaf Warbler is shown in picture below.

Davison's Leaf Warbler / White-tailed Leaf Warbler

Davison’s Leaf Warbler – almost completely white under-tail pattern

Davison's Leaf Warbler

Davison’s Leaf Warbler (2016)

Davison's Leaf Warbler

Davison’s Leaf Warbler – upper part

Davison's Leaf Warbler

Davison’s Leaf Wabler (Phylloscopus davisoni)

Davison's Leaf Warbler

Davison’s Leaf Warbler – singing

Davison's Leaf Wabler

Davison’s Leaf Wabler (Phylloscopus davisoni)

Davison's Leaf Wabler

Davison’s Leaf Wabler (Phylloscopus davisoni)

Davison's Leaf Wabler

Davison’s Leaf Wabler (Phylloscopus davisoni)

Cherry Blossom Time in 2015

10 Jan 2015

In the beginning of this year (2015), I went to Chiang Mai for bird watching and photographing. It was a great time for Cherry Blossom. I desired to get some good shots of birds among Cherry Blossom.

Oriental White-eye

Oriental White-eye (Typical Morph)

At the time I arrived Chiang Mai, it was raining in all area and continued everyday. I drove to Doi Angkhang while I was worried how to go out for photographing during the rain. In the first day on Doi Angkhang, it rained slightly all day. However the light condition was quite good, even speed shutter was reduced. I started photographing in late morning. Plenty of White-eyes, Sunbirds, Bulbuls and Blue-winged Siva were feeding on Cherry Tree around gardens in Royal Agriculture Station. I was very excited and impressed, since it was my first time bird watching during Cherry Blossom period. I really enjoyed photographing whole day, even if the rain still continued.

Oriental White-eye

Oriental White-eye (Typical Morph)

Oriental White-eye

Oriental White-eye (Typical Morph)

Oriental White-eye

Oriental White-eye (Typical Morph)

I walked around the gardens and followed couple waves of White-eyes and Blue-winged Siva from tree to tree. On the other hands, Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird and Black-throated Sunbird  did not move around with the wave, but they fed on their own Cherry Tree due to Sunbirds are quite territorial.

Mrs. Gould's Sunbird

Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird

Mrs. Gould's Sunbird

Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird

Mrs Gould’s Sunbird

Mrs Gould’s Sunbird

Mrs. Gould's Sunbird

11 Jan 2015 | Doi Angkhang, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Black-throated Sunbird

Black-throated Sunbird

Black-throated Sunbird

Black-throated Sunbird

Blue-winged Siva

Blue-winged Siva

Blue-winged Siva is a real climber. They climbed along little branches rapidly and never stopped.

Blue-winged Siva

Blue-winged Siva

Mountain Bulbul

Mountain Bulbul

Mountain Bulbul

Mountain Bulbul

Chestnut-flanked White-eye

Chestnut-flanked White-eye

Chestnut-flanked White-eye

Chestnut-flanked White-eye

Japanese White-eye

Japanese White-eye

Yellow-browed Warbler

Yellow-browed Warbler

D7000 + 300 f/4D + Tripod

Firethroat

The 1st Firethroat of Thailand

19 Apr 2015

“Firy” – 1st-summer male Firethroat (Calliope pectardens) who has been at Nam Kham Nature Reserve in Chiang Rai during winter period (2014-2015). Moreover he is also the 1st record of Firethroat in Thailand.

Firethroat

Firethroat

Actually I had met him one time in January before this trip, when he still had 1st-winter male plumage which his throat had not become red yet. However his plumage started changing in the end of March and continued changing. At that time, both thai and foreign bird watchers poured in Nam Kham Nature Reserve everyday. There are lots of photos of him almost everyday posted in social media, so we can see how his plumage change continuously. Therefore I had planned my trip to Chiang Rai during 18-20 April 2015 to see him again. Fortunately at the time of my arrival, Firy had already fully completed his  plumage change. He became 1st-summer male bird with beautiful breeding plumage.

Firethroat

Firethroat

On 18th April, I arrived at Nam Kham around noon time. At that time, sunlight was too strong and Firy hardly showed up. Therefore I desired to get some rest and come back tomorrow.

Firethroat

19 Apr 2015 | 1st-summer male

I knew lots of bird photographers and bird watchers planned to come to Nam Kham tomorrow, so I need to select an appropriate time to get some good shots of him. My friend from Chiang Mai told me     almost people planned to reach there in the late morning due to the light condition. That is good for me. I planned to get there in early morning to avoid a numbers of photographers.

Firethroat

This is the reason that his name is “Firethroat”

On 19th April, I woke up early, had some breakfast, and reached there almost 7 AM. No one’s there, that made me felt relieved. Even light condition was poor in early morning, it was not a problem to me. Firy was slowly out of the dark bush. the time was around 7:15 AM. Surroundings were calm. He walked around the small pool located at 4-5 meters away from permanent hide where I was sitting in. He walked down to the pool to take a bath when my eyes looked at him all the time. After that he walked around and looked for something on the ground for his meal.

Firethroat

Firethroat

He got closer to the hide without any suspicion. Maybe I used mirror locked-up mode instead of continuos shot, hence no noisy sound made him nervous. I elaborately made shots of him when he came close to the hide.

Firethroat

Firethroat

Firethroat

19 Apr 2015 | 1st-summer male

The bird was not nervous in that morning. Finally I got some good shots of him.

See you again - Before he backed into the bush, he had turned around and looked straight to me like he wanna say good bye and see you again.

See you again – Before he returned and disappeared into the bush, he had turned around and looked straight to me like he wanna say good bye and see you again.

D7200 + 300 f/4D + Tripod + Remote