by: Kenneth Yap
Amidst all the noise of construction and the air pollution in Bangkok there is a place where you can still hear the sounds of birds. There are huge trees to be found in this small Soi and the refreshing sight of these trees could transport one to an oasis within this highly urbanized city.
The entrance to this narrow Soi would seem unpleasant at first with the sight of open garbage bins, a jumble of concrete apartments and old, worn-down houses. As you walk farther in, however, the smell and stink dissipates and the scene changes from chaotic and polluted to peaceful and fresh.
This is my neighborhood. And this is the scene which has greeted me every day for the past 5 years. I chose to live here for its proximity to the BTS sky train. But what appealed to me most was the fact that you can still find trees and shrubbery in this small area of land. What I did not expect to find however, were the different kinds of beautiful and interesting birds living here.
On any given day you will see a lively bird with black feathers and white stripes on its wings. This is an Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis). This bird would more than occasionally call out to you in the early mornings and in the early afternoons. There’s a pair of Black-collared Starlings (Sturnus nigricollis), that look like gentlemen in shirts and ties, which usually hang out on electric posts. Meanwhile, Coppersmith Barbets (Megalaima haemacephala) and small Streak-eared Bulbuls (Pycnonotus blanfordi) prefer the commanding view from rooftop antennas.
Within my apartment compound, smooth headed Zebra Doves (Geopelia striata) and White-vented Mynahs (Acridotheres grandis) with their faux mohawks are a common sight. On some days, if you are lucky, you will find a solitary Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) peering down at you from atop a specific tree at a neighbor’s place across the street. After a slight drizzle, I’m almost sure to spot stunning Olive-backed Sunbirds (Cinnyris jugularis) and Scarlet-backed Flowerpeckers (Dicaeum cruentatum) perched on flowering trees.
In one of my mini-adventures, I had the horrifying experience of witnessing a crow descend upon a nest, devouring and flying off with a new hatchling. Every weekend seems to bring new birds and new experiences. I am certain that there are many things that I have yet to see and discover in my neighborhood.
Category: Side Story