Murderous Shrike at the Park

Since the start of the new year I had not paid any visits to one of my nearby parks, Chaloem Kanchanapisek Park. Last year, the biggest highlight was finding a Wedge-tailed Green-pigeon. Even now, I probably can’t grasp how great of a record it is. I think the last record near Bangkok was over a decade ago.

Wedge-tailed Green-pigeon, I remember I barely even got this photo as it was lurking amongst the leaves. 10th December 2021.

The funny thing was, it was the first Green-pigeon I had photographed and I carelessly called it a Pink-necked Green-pigeon without any further thought, the most common species of green pigeon around here. Thankfully I had the photograph and was correct by Wich’yanan through eBird.

The location itself is a park connected to a temple and it is right next to the Chao Praya river. The temple is an easy way to see plenty of Red-breasted Parakeets, who use the holes of the tree as a home. If you’re lucky, you might catch another species mixed in. Last time I saw a Rose-ringed Parakeet in one of the tree cavities. Alongside the parrots, that very same tree is home to some Spotted Owlets. I believe this is the easiest spot to consistently see them. As the area is small and they don’t wander far, generally sticking to their hollowed branch high above during daytime.

The guardian of the temple, Spotted Owlet. 25th January 2022.
Beautiful male Red-breasted Parakeet. 29th December 2021.

Over my visits here, the bird life has been interesting. Last time I caught two Brown Shrikes fighting each other, I believe one of them is the same one that features in the title of this blog entry, more on that later.

I think I saw them both again on my recent visit. 29th December 2021.
Brown Shrike battle of the subspecies. 29th December 2021.

So, talking about my most recent trip here. My primary aim was to clear up some common birds which I hadn’t recorded. I was mainly looking to see Yellow-vented Bulbul, Blue-tailed Bee-eater and possibly Common Iora. None of them ended up being hard to see, the Common Iora even happened to be singing on an exposed branch.

Common Iora singing. 25th January 2022.

Back to the title of this post. It was about 5 minutes into the park and I came across a familiar sight on one of the grass lawns. It was a Brown Shrike, the brown subspecies one, locked in a fight with another bird. Similar position to the previous picture. I could see a small wing flapping underneath the shrike, who was in the dominant position. It caught me off guard, as the moment I realised it was something more brutal, the shrike was flying away with the dangling dead body of what I could only assume was an Eurasian Tree Sparrow. No time to even get the camera ready. No still-frame would be able to capture the full gravity of what just took place anyway. Still, it would probably have been the best shrike picture – need to see if the opportunity will present itself again.

The ‘other’ Brown Shrike (Philippine subspecies). Not called ‘Butcher bird’ for nothing. 25th January 2022.

The rest of the visit was much less brutal than the first 5 minutes. The highlight bird was a surprise Eurasian Hoopoe, which flew into a tree alongside a female Pink-necked Green Pigeon.

Hoopoe showing its crest. 25th January 2022.
Eurasian Hoopoe is amazing. 25th January 2022.

The most notable absence of every single trip here, since I started coming late in 2021, is any species of kingfisher. Which is slightly disappointing. And the only reason why I don’t think higher of this park. I guess its close to a big road so the disturbance might be a little higher than some other places. Of course, there have been a few species recorded here, such as Stork-billed Kingfisher. Hopefully I will see the kingfishers at this location on a future visit!

Female Pink-necked Green-pigeon. 25th January 2022.

All images © 2021 – 2022 hamsambly


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