Of storks and snails

A flock of forty or so Openbill storks treated Flightpathproject to a fly-by this morning…

Why Openbill? This is why:

asian-openbill-stork web

Openbill stork with nutcracker beak

Image: blogs.crikey.com.au/northern/files/2008/09/asian-openbill-stork.jpg

Stork colonies of Pathum Thani:

Identifying the enemy:

manandmollusc.net web
Image: http://www.manandmollusc.net

‘The golden apple snail was introduced from Florida and Latin America…in the early 1980s by private snail farmers hoping to reap big profits exporting snails to Europe. Easy to rear and fast breeding, the snail’s high protein content also apparently made it an ideal supplement to the low-protein diet of the rural poor. Unfortunately, the snails were not a success with consumers, and although they were initially expensive, their market value soon plummeted.

The escaped and discarded snails quickly spread through waterways and irrigation canals [and across borders]. When they reached the rice fields they found an ideal habitat, feeding by night and at dawn on young succulent plants such as newly transplanted rice crops and weeds. With only a few natural enemies to constrain them, the snails rapidly developed into a serious pest in many areas of cultivated rice land in Asia. Their fast growth and reproduction – females lay egg masses of up to 500 eggs once a week – leads to population levels that can destroy entire rice crops.’

golden snail phils webGolden Apple Snail with eggs

More info: http://www.fao.org/News/1998/rifili-e.htm Image:

Dealing with the enemy:

Stork shelling snails. Image: nbirds.blogspot.com

Stork snapping-up snails.
Image: nbirds.blogspot.com

Welcome, O truant stork!
And where have you been so long?
And do you bring that grace of spring
That filleth my heart with song?

From Armenian Folk Song – The Stork by Eugene Field (1850-1895)

Mountain migrations

Art in the park:

Archaeological sites in northern Thailand were occupied from 9000 until 5500 BC by Hoabinhian hunter-gatherers from North Vietnam…

More info at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prehistoric_Thailand

ob luang art 1 web

Stone age cave paintings at Ob Luang National Park, Mae Hong Son Province

 image: http://patcharavee12.blogspot.com/2010/02/my-interesting.html

Fruit of the loom:

Karen weaving 1 web

Cloth woven by Karenni women on the Thai-Burma border

image : www.theborderconsortium.org

 Winter wanderer:

blue robin web

The Siberian blue robin winters in Thailand, among conifers in broad-leaved forest by water, in places like Mok Fa Waterfall.

 image: ibc.lynxeds.com

thai binos 1

The thing with feathers

dead spoonie

image www.wwt.org.uk

 The Death of the Bird

For every bird there is this last migration:
Once more the cooling year kindles her heart;
With a warm passage to the summer station
Love pricks the course in lights across the chart.

Year after year a speck on the map, divided
By a whole hemisphere, summons her to come;
Season after season, sure and safely guided,
Going away she is also coming home.

And being home, memory becomes a passion
With which she feeds her brood and straws her nest,
Aware of ghosts that haunt the heart’s possession
And exiled love mourning within the breast.

The sands are green with a mirage of valleys;
The palm-tree casts a shadow not its own;
Down the long architrave of temple or palace
Blows a cool air from moorland scarps of stone.

And day by day the whisper of love grows stronger;
That delicate voice, more urgent with despair,
Custom and fear constraining her no longer,
Drives her at last on the waste leagues of air.

A vanishing speck in those inane dominions,
Single and frail, uncertain of her place,
Alone in the bright host of her companions,
Lost in the blue unfriendliness of space.

She feels it close now, the appointed season:
The invisible thread is broken as she flies;
Suddenly, without warning, without reason,
The guiding spark of instinct winks and dies.

Try as she will, the trackless world delivers
No way, the wilderness of light no sign,
The immense and complex map of hills and rivers
Mocks her small wisdom with its vast design.

And darkness rises from the eastern valleys,
And the winds buffet her with their hungry breath,
And the great earth, with neither grief nor malice,
Receives the tiny burden of her death.

 by AD Hope

Listen to AD Hope read the poem at http://www.lyrikline.org/en/poems/death-bird-1251#.Ux_D986Qykw


baby spoonie 1

image at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2174111/Are-mum-An-endangered-spoon-billed-sandpiper-chick-explores-new-home-fraught-trip-Russia-join-UK-conservation-project.html

“Hope” is the thing with feathers:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers—

That perches in the soul—

And sings the tune without the words—

And never stops—at all—

from “Hope” is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson

Seriously special sandpipers

Flightpathproject is in Thailand 6 March to 26 April 2014

Spoon-billed Sandpiper

‘The spoon-billed sandpiper Eurynorhynchus pygmeus is one of the most threatened birds on the planet. It breeds on the Chukotsk and Kamchatka peninsulas in the Russian Far East, migrates through Russia, Japan, North Korea, South Korea and China to winter in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand, 8,000km from its breeding grounds.’

More info at www.saving-spoon-billed-sandpiper.com/

 spoonbilledsandpiper jorg hanoldt web

Photo by Jorg Hanoldt at http://www.thaibirding.com

Spoonies at Pak Thale, Thailand

Video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d72igbse4v4

Right place, right time

From an email to Flightpathproject from birders Abhijit and Hassath (who made their own migration of about 3000km from Delhi to Pak Thale to look for spoonies):

‘…We didn’t have a spotting scope then, and Hassath sat calmly on a big mound while I wandered around in the sweltering heat examining each salt pan peering at various plovers and other small birds. Then I decided we should get going back to Bangkok and called out to her. She ambled over, and said “Hey, isn’t that a spoon-billed sandpiper?” It was…’

For detailed birding advice and mud maps for Pak Thale see http://www.thaibirding.com/locations/central/lpb.htm

For spoonies in the news in Thailand, see http://www.bangkokpost.com/print/295360/

Salt pans at Pak Thale

Salt pans at Pak Thale

Photo at http://www.shorebirder-waderworld.blogspot.com

pak thale shorebird sign nathan hentze web

Photo by Nathan Hentz

Onwards and upwards

Putting planes on paper in Singapore, c 1925:

Khoo Seok Wan, poet and reformist, 1874-1941

Khoo Seok Wan, 1874-1941

Seeing an airplane pass

weighing hundreds of stones

this flying car lifts off

the weighty metal body

nimble as a bird before the moon

its sounds, trailing behind

shatters the silent dawn

a pair of wings

stretched wide

their flight unhindered

by mist and rain

over rivers and mountains

it cuts its own paths

floating with the clouds

looking forward and upward

moving of its own volition

needing no winds to bear its weight

– by Khoo Seok Wan, translated from classical Chinese

koo seok wan 1 web

images: http://www.nl.sg

Paper planes in Singapore, 2009:

I fly like paper

Flying like paper

I fly like paper, an installation  by Singaporean artist Dawn Ng, 2009


Paying a flying visit to Singapore, 2014:

Band-bellied crake

Band-bellied crake

image: http://www.rbcu.ru

‘…just back from ogling the first Band-bellied Crake on Singapore (if record is accepted by the records committee)!’

– text to Flightpathproject from birder Lim Kim Keang, 1 March 2014

See Martin Kennewell’s video of the Band-bellied crake in Singapore 2 March 2014 at http://ibc.lynxeds.com/video/band-bellied-crake-porzana-paykullii/taking-bath