The Bird Photo Project: An Update


Great Myna, photographed from the balcony of Room 628, Amaranth Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand

Long-time readers will recall one of WC’s ongoing projects is to track the number of bird species he has photographed. The recent trip to Thailand certainly boosted that project. Subject to sorting out Leafbirds and resolving the differences between the World Bird Lists issued by the AOU, the IOC and Clements, the three authorities who sometimes disagree, it looks like WC now has photographed about 1,485 species. That’s an increase from a single birding trip of about 229 species. Short of a long visit to Australia, that’s not likely to happen again. The current world record, if you are curious, is held by Vaughn Ashby, a birding guide for BirdFinders, at 5,339.

The number of bird species seen, as opposed to photographed, on the trip is still getting sorted out. It’s likely in the range of 385-390 total. The number of “lifers” – species seen for the first time – is probably closer to 350 total, but that’s only an approximation. Stay tuned.

Upon arrival in Thailand, tourists in mid-February 2022 were immediately placed in quarantine pending the outcome of a COVID test administered on arrival. That didn’t stop WC and Mrs. WC from birding, of course. From the balcony of our very nice hotel room, we spotted five lifer species, as well as an Asian Water Monitor, which might qualify as a proto bird, although it isn’t listed in the IOC World List. The Great Myna at the top of this page was the very first bird photographed in Thailand.

Asian Water Monitor, photographed from the balcony of Room 628, Amaranth Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand

WC wouldn’t want to swim with that big fellow, who’s every bit of five feet long, but then WC wouldn’t want to swim in any of the many canals and ponds in Bangkok. The pollution would like kill you before the Giant Water Monitor got there. And, by the way, this wasn’t the biggest reptile we saw, although it was the biggest Water Monitor.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s an . . . Asian Water Monitor in a tree, photographed from the balcony of Room 628, Amaranth Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand

A final bird photo, this one taken in the lobby of the Amaranth Hotel after our release from quarantine.

Malaysian Pied Fantail, Amaranth Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand

This was the last species photographed from the hotel. It’s very common across Thailand; what’s unusual about the photo is that it was taken through the double pane glass walls of the hotel lobby. WC can only wish that the glass of his home windows was that good.

We cleared the COVID tests before 10:00 AM and less than an hour later were on the road.