Wednesday, 25 August 2010

21/08/2010: Sungai Sedim (Kedah)

It was back to this locality again due to the great results we enjoyed from our last visit. At the entrance as well as other parts of the forest reserve, we came across quite a number of the yellow “police-line” ribbon. It is a warning that this area is closed to public due to the leptospirosis outbreak. This bacterial disease is not new but recent deaths in Pahang have captured the nation’s attention. Since you can only be infected through open wounds or skin injuries that come in direct contact with any freshwater source or soil that is contaminated with this deadly bacterium, it was birding as usual for the three of us. Muin decided to join us this time round as he wanted to capture some images of the White-crowned Hornbills. We arrived at the car park just in time to wait for the hornbills’ daily visit to the fruiting tree. While waiting for the hornbills to show up, we tried our luck at another nearby fruiting tree that was attracting not hornbills but a whole lot of bulbuls.
We had an unexpected surprise when a female Diard’s Trogon decided to fly in and join the bulbuls. This forest jewel is much shyer than the bulbuls and as expected, she did not stay as long as the other patrons. Luckily, I did manage to obtain a few decent images during that short period of time although the lighting was still quite dim.
With the departure of the trogon, we diverted our attention back to the bulbuls. By then, the fruiting tree was already teeming with them. We managed to identify a total of seven species altogether. Due to the high number of bulbuls present and the tedious task of separating some similar-looking ones, it is possible we could have missed out on a couple of species. However, one particular species stood out from the rest this morning simply because it stayed the longest and came down the lowest – the Finsch’s Bulbul.
There are only a few birding localities where this is species is regularly recorded and this locality happens to be one of its strongholds. It can be relatively uncommon elsewhere. It has a very distinct call that once learned, is easily recognizable. If calls are not your forte, there is always the yellow throat to help distinguish it from other species.
Here are some of the other bulbuls that I managed to photograph from this morning’s fiesta. It was not an easy task despite having a “bulbul magnet” around. Anyway, there were quite a number of all-brown bulbuls flitting about. The one with the diagnostic pale iris is the Cream-vented Bulbul.
The Spectacled Bulbul is quite similar looking but wears an orange ring around its red eyes instead.
This is a Buff-vented Bulbul - just my take my word for it….
The Grey-bellied Bulbul is one of the most stunning representatives of the bulbul family but unfortunately, my photographs of the bird do it no justice at all. Now if you can’t identify a Grey-bellied Bulbul, then I guess it is time to really consider if birding is for you. There is just no way can this bulbul be mistaken for anything else.
The White-crowned Hornbills did make an appearance eventually and much to Muin’s delight, started to gorge on the fruiting tree. However, they did not stay long although this time there was no worker around. The male bird stole the limelight today by providing the most photography opportunities.
At times, it looks as though he is playing with his food…
The immature male remained partially hidden most of the time and received a lot less attention from me…
Besides, I was trying to determine if during my last visit I made a mistake of identifying the third bird in the flock as another immature when the logical answer is that it should be a female. Today’s observation pretty much settled any doubts I have over its identity. The almost completely black underparts typical of female birds were clearly noted. The third hornbill is indeed a female and this flock is one happy family.
The “unusual” Asian Brown Flycatcher which made all of us (including Dave during his visit) quite reluctant to put it down as what it is due to the slight plumage variance, was still hunting in the same locality.
It is not only the drab-looking birds that often look very similar to each other but the colourful ones as well. It can be quite a challenge when it comes to separating the male of Brown-throated from the male Red-throated Sunbird. Anyway, I’m pretty sure that this bloke is a Red-throated Sunbird.
The Red-billed Malkoha is certainly the most striking of all malkohas but this beauty often goes unnoticed because it tends to keep to the upper reaches of the canopy level.
We were lucky in a way to enjoy a second encounter with the Diard’s Trogon later on in the form of a handsome male. Typical of the species, we were given a tough time trying to obtain decent images and this is all I have to show in the end. And I thought that this morning’s female was being difficult…
The Fluffy-backed Tit-babblers can be quite the performers and I have had quite a few memorable experiences with them in the past. When a lone bird alighted on a slightly exposed perch and showed no signs of darting back into the undergrowth anytime soon, I knew we were in for a treat.
Pretty soon a second bird, presumably his mate, joined him with on the same perch. I am also assuming that the first bird is a male because of its tendency to raise its crown feathers. Anyway when the two of them got together, that was when the real performance unfolded and we had the best seats in the house.
All I can say is that the seductive swaying of bodies and eruption of vocal cords was truly a captivating display and it was a real privilege to be able to observe this dynamic duo in action.
Black-crested Bulbuls, along with a few other species, will occur in much lower elevations but this occurrence is restricted to only the northern parts of Peninsula Malaysia.
The male Blue-winged Leafbird is another gorgeous forest bird that is not uncommon but good photography opportunities are very far to come by.
This male Verditer Flycatcher appeared quite arrogant and relaxed on his perch despite all the attention we were giving him. I guess he knew that we pose no real danger to him at that distance.
In between the birds, I did manage to find the time to appreciate some of the other resident of the forest like this moth.
Dragonflies are quite an interesting and attractive group of insects. I’m rather poor, as usual, when it comes to anything else other than the birds. I know that there is more to life than just birds. Maybe I will develop more interest and passion for other wildlife as well as plants later in life but for the time being I am still, very much, a bird-person.


Wilma said...

You have given too much to digest in one viewing, Mun! The Fluffy-backed Tit-babblers (what a great name) are quite the entertainers; they put on quite a show for you.

Anonymous said...

One of the best Fluffy-backed
Tit-Babblers photos I have ever seen.
Well done.
Choo Eng

holdingmoments said...

A real feast for the excellent post, with stunning birds.

Choy Wai Mun said...

Thanks all for your compliments

digdeep said...

Another great harvest Mun! I am still not sure about the 'brown' flycatcher. It looks very like the illustration of a worn Brown-streaked in Myers Birds of Borneo...


Choy Wai Mun said...

Thanks, Dave. It is the LBJs that really test one's birding skills...

digdeep said...

The dragonfly is, I believe, Gynacantha basiguttata, a dawn and dusk flier which spends the day roosting just as you have captured it, hanging from low vegetation. Nice one!