Latest on 19 Apr 2021 (pictures updated)
More Lesser Whistling-ducks (updated July 4, 2021)
Lesser Whistling-ducks in Chiang Mai
It is not common to see large flocks of birds in Chiang Mai. The only big flocks that I have observed in my bird watching for the last three years at least, have been big number of Little Green Bee-eaters, Scaly-breasted Munias and the Large flocks of Openbill storks, in the recently ploughed paddy fields or soaring in the skies.
However, recently on my routine evening cycling, I happen to notice a large number of ducks in an old quarry lake. About four Kms. from Hangdong, Chiang Mai, Farm Hug cafe has a beautiful view through large glassed windows of this artificial lake, full of hundreds of Lesser Whistling-ducks. It was fascinating to hear their whistling calls and watch them fly high up in the sky and then land in groups on the water.
It seems, they spend most of the day time on shore, frequently getting into the water. Apparently, they are night feeders and feed on mostly plants, but do not shy away from small fish and other water creatures.
Apart from the ducks, there were a few other birds. Red-wattled lapwings were often perched on the shore behind the rows of the ducks. Common kingfisher, bee-eaters, swallows, were also seen in the evenings. A pair of male and female white-tailed robins, next to the café were also sited.
I have been observing this flock since mid February 2020 and plan to continue watching them over the rainy season when they breed. I will keep on posting any new pictures as I get them.
Update on 14 Jan 2021 & Few weeks later and on 7 Apr 21
See lower box of pictures
The ducks had disappeared by the end of July last year. Obviously they chose some other site for breeding and I missed the opportunity to observe the ducklings swimming along with mothers. They appeared only mid October. On 20 Oct 2020, there were over 50 Whistling Ducks - have been observing them regularly Nov, Dec, and January 2021 in large numbers. It is a fascinating site to see them swimming in the afternoons Sun shining on them. The ducks are very shy and it is difficult to get closer without disturbing them.
Will continue to update on their presence at Farm Hug Café water body.
I have always seen many Lapwings on the far shores of the waters and they seem to permanently stay there.
29 April 2021
Today, the ducks looked a bit disturbed, and visibly the numbers have declined. There has been a major clearing of the vegetation all around the lake (see pictures). Looks like the owners want to develop this site into a better attraction. Hope the birds don't mind and stay on.
2-3 May 2021 - Ducks tend to be flocking away from the water nearer the vegetation (last three pictures). I had a chat with the owners and they reassured me that they have cleared the area before and that the ducks have remained there.
28 May 2021 - Some more Lesser Whistling-ducks
Near Royal Park Rajapruekthere are a couple of water bodies teaming with birds. A large group of Lesser Whisteling-ducks were observed on my morning cycling trip. There were other birds as well. Asian Open-bills were seen at one end of the lake along with several Lapwings. A lone White-breasted Waterhen was trotting around these big birds. Nearer to me a Little Common Bee-eater had just got an insect. Common Mynas and Bulbuls were in plenty. A loud call of Asian Koel alarmed me and I saw it flying past.
Last few days of Lesser Whistling-ducks at the Farm Hug
From the top end approach to the Hug Farm, there is a better view of the activity in the water. There are some ducks still there (about 20-30). Last year they disappeared in July and returned in October.