Were it not for its rich, orangish underparts and dazzling blue highlights, the Rufous-bellied Niltava might be regarded as a rather average species. Retiring in nature, this mid-sized Old World Flycatcher hangs mid-canopy, or amid the understorey of middle elevation forests of the Himalayas east into central China. During the colder winter months, the species migrates to lower elevations as far south as central Thailand.
There are seven different niltavas, their generic and common name originating from the Nepali word for the bird, ‘Niltau’. The featured species is one of four niltavas that are routinely seen on Rockjumper’s Northern Thailand and Thailand Highlights tours. The Rufous-bellied Niltava sports a short, sharp bill great for nabbing insects, or plucking small fruits. It seems particularly fond of ants, bush-crickets and beetles, including cockchafers. Some foods it eats are rich in carotenoids, which give rise to the striking orange underparts; while the brilliant blue is a product of the physical feather structure. The feathers of the upperparts trap air within feather barbs and, in good light, redistribute it such that the blue colour results. In the darker reaches of the forest, where there is little light to scatter, these feathers often appear black: as they also contain melanin, which aids in fortifying their structure.
Thailand is not only a superb gateway to discovering the wonder of Asian birds, but culturally it has few equals. There is also the amazing food, found from roadside carts right on up to the finest restaurants in Bangkok. There are spectacular pagodas, temples and shrines, and we visit a number of these: enjoying not only their rich history, but also because some of them offer thrilling birding too. In addition to niltavas, we seek Giant Nuthatch, Coral-billed Ground Cuckoo, some snazzy pheasants, such as the Siamese Fireback, and various pittas, broadbills, treepies and more!
Our Rockjumper 2017 Northern Thailand and Thailand Highlights offerings are guided by none other than Nigel Redman. We are thrilled to have Nigel aboard Team Rockjumper, and while he may be our newest teammate, he is certainly no stranger to many of you. Having led over 120 tours to 80+ countries across all seven continents, published hundreds of books and authoring a couple too, Nigel is indeed well-known. A wonderful teacher and an expert guide, Nigel’s enthusiasm combined with the charms of Thailand equates to a smashing combination of birds, animals, culture and cuisine. Not to mention, there are some sterling shorebirds too. We’ve had superb success in recent years with both the Endangered Nordmann’s Greenshank and Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper!
Contact us today, and discover more.