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Beautiful minla

Painting of Bar-throated minla by Ray Cannon
Painting of Bar-throated minla by Ray Cannon

The bar-throated minla or chestnut-tailed minla (Minla strigula), is a locally common species found in highland areas from northern India to Vietnam (1).

Bar-throated minla Doi Inthanon
Bar-throated minla Doi Inthanon

It is commonly found on Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand, where I took these photographs.  The encounter inspired me to do a painting, using the photos of the birds against a background inspired by the lovely forests found near the top of the mountain.

Bar-throated minla on Doi Inthanon
Bar-throated minla on Doi Inthanon

I encountered a couple of small flocks of these birds whilst walking on the the Kew Mae Pan Nature Trail (see post dated December 10, 2013). The images were taken on 8th Dec in that year, which is outside the breeding season (Mar-Aug), and the birds were relatively easy to see and photograph (they were ‘confiding’ as bird watchers say!).

Bar-throated minla on Doi Inthanon
Bar-throated minla on Doi Inthanon

I am not talented enough to do sketches in the field, as some artists do, but base my paintings of the birds on photographs, placing them in a background based on, but not exactly  like the environment where I saw them.  I enjoy the process of painting, and get a little bit better each time I do one (I think), but I always need the help of photographs!  In this case, I got rather carried away doing the background, so I hope this does not detract too much from the birds in the foreground.  To highlight the birds and separate them from the background, I outlined them with back ink.

Bar-throted minla on Doi Inthanon
Bar-throted minla on Doi Inthanon

I came across the minlas both outside the forest, where they are shown in the painting, and inside the canopy, where they looked a little bit more bedraggled, probably because it was still damp from the morning mists.

Bar-throted minla on Doi Inthanon
Bar-throted minla on Doi Inthanon

This species is not threatened, and is classified as being of Least Concern (2), but nevertheless, its numbers are said to be decreasing as a result of habitat destruction and fragmentation (2), which is a bit worrying.

1)  Collar, N. J. & Robson C. 2007. Family Timaliidae (Babblers) pp. 70 – 291 in; del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. & Christie, D.A. eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 12. Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Lynx editions, Barcelona.

2) http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/factsheet/22716579/additional

rcannon992 View All

I am a retired entomologist with a background in quarantine pests and invasive invertebrates. I studied zoology at Imperial College (University of London) and did a PhD on the population dynamics of a cereal aphid (Metopolophium dirhodum) in the UK. I spent 5 years with the British Antarctic Survey studing cold hardiness of Antarctic invertebates and 17 years with the Food and Environment Research Agency. My main interests now are natural history, photography, painting and bird watching.

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