It is always heart warming to see young people get involve not only in birding but nature and wildlife as well. My latest guest, who hails from the land down under, is in his twenties and very much an avid birder. Jackson’s enthusiasm and passion for birding is contagious and our half day endeavour was an enjoyable one despite the less than usual number of images obtained. However, this unusually confiding Greater Coucal provided a photographic opportunity that I rarely get to enjoy of this common but shy cuckoo. It is one of the most impressive birds that one can come across in garden and park habitats. This individual was hunting within the compound of a village house bordering the mangroves of Sungai Batu in Kedah state upon our arrival.
The Mangrove Pitta of this site performed well during my last visit and it was a repeet performance today. With the breeding season fast approaching, the celebrity bird was in its finest form. Every feather in place and the plumage, as radiant as it will ever be. The population of this terrestrial bird is doing well at this locality with no less than 4 birds recorded within our 2-hour visit. Regardless if they are natural or man made, the conditions here are favourable for the Mangrove Pitta and I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will remain this way for a long time to come.
The resident Black-winged Kite regularly patrol the adjacent paddy fields for food but they are exceptionally shy towards human presence. It is a shame because an adult Black-winged Kite is a graceful and striking bird of prey and distant photos like this one does no justice to the true beauty of the kite. Anyway, a young bird was seen accompanying the adult bird and that is a good indication indeed.
Another species that is doing well here and other suitable sites throughout the country is the Red-wattled Lapwing. This success story again boils down to the fact that this bird is able to adapt well to living alongside Man – a trait is absolutely necessary in this age and time. The alarm call of this vocal wader will echo through the location on almost every visit especially during the breeding season like now.
A visit to the modest Bukit DO recreational park in mainland Penang ended well with the resident pair of Barred Eagle-Owls seen roosting at their favourite tree. But upon further scrutiny of the female bird, I was sad to discover her left eye injured. I could not be sure if it was a recent mishap or it was overlooked. She appeared to be healthy otherwise and I guess there is no need for concern for now.
Apart from the Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot, parrots are not a common sight around Penang. A pair of Rose-ringed Parakeets was showing well within a residential park in mainland Penang and despite being an introduced species, I still took the effort to search for these parrots. Thanks to the all pointers provided by my fellow birders, it did not take me long to enjoy good views of this elegant parakeet. Only the female was present but it is still a good record as it has been decades since my last encounter with this species.
Today’s excursion was fast paced as Jackson is young and energetic. I promised him that I will try to show him as many species as possible and we clocked close to 40 species in the end. As the female Rose-ringed Parakeet was the final bird before we concluded the tour, we took our time with her. Once she got accustomed to our presence, she let her guard down and started preen. And this non-native species was still good enough a way to wrapped things up for the day.