Part seven of Two Months in Thailand: A Forest Cabin Awaits by Richard Baines, an ecologist and birder enjoying a two-month “nature holiday” in Thailand.
The Asian Fairy Bluebird is one of only two species in the Fairy Bluebird family worldwide. In Thailand the bird eats mainly fruit, in particular figs. Generally Fairy Bluebirds are found in pairs, but when fig trees come into fruit, large flocks may gather to feast together. The breeding season, February to April, has arrived however and birds should be pairing off and keeping a lower profile.
On our last Thai visit, we saw a single Asian Fairy Bluebird, far away and high in a tree (and many of the trees in Thailand are very tall). It seemed as if the same would be true on this trip: we had tried many likely locations and seen several Fairy Bluebirds, but always by straining our eyes and/or cricking our necks, and we longed to see one closer.
Well, our ‘Fairy’ Godmother granted our wish, with knobs on! One morning, as we walked out of the house to collect our bikes, there they were in the fruiting tree beloved by bulbuls across the road from our house – two males and a female, almost at head height (the tree is relatively small and our house on a hillside). We crept close to observe and take photographs. The males were midnight black with shining blue mantles, bright as enamel; the female turquoise, and both with ruby eyes.
Treasure found at last, we thought, although ironically the birds had come to us after all our searching further afield. Delighted with our experience, we little knew that there were yet greater riches in store. We had cycled only a couple of hundred metres up the road when we came upon a large orchard in which we noticed another Fairy Bluebird – and another – and another – four, five, ten, twenty – the trees were alive with blue! Although impossible to count, we reckoned there were between 40 and 50 Fairy Bluebirds feeding along with many bulbuls and a few emerald-green Golden-fronted Leafbirds and Blue-throated Barbets. We lingered watching for perhaps 45 minutes – there was little concept of time for us in this Fairy-land. It was one of those birding experiences that will stay with you always. Stay tuned for next week’s post! Also see:
Part IV: Two Months in Thailand: Wild Gardens
Part VIII: Two Months in Thailand: Birding Nirvana