Monday, 28 June 2010

26/06/2010: Sungai Sedim (Kedah) & Penanti (Penang)

I arrived at the car park of this recreational forest just after dawn and I found that I was not the only one that was up and about. This Crested Serpent-eagle was already contemplating what to have for breakfast from a vantage point at the edge of the car park.
And so was this Finsch’s Bulbul. Although the lighting was still quite dim, the yellow throat was clear enough for me to make a proper identification.
I decided to take the trail up Gunung Bintang and the weather condition was much better than I had expected considering the previous days of rain back in Penang. Although the trip was great in terms of birding, photography was another let down. The Maroon Woodpecker, Rufous-collared Kingfisher and Orange-breasted Trogon provided tantalizing glimpses but not photographic opportunities. And don’t even get me started on the 3 species of Hornbills (Wreathed, Rhinoceros and Helmeted) that I managed to record during this trip.
If your ear drums haven’t experience the far-carrying territorial call of the Siamang before, then I guess you haven’t been to a Malaysian forest because it is certainly one of the most diagnostic and loudest sounds produced by any animal found there.
Around midday, I decided to call it a day and made my way home. However, I made a quick visit to Penanti as it was along my way back. As usual, I was greeted by the loud and distinctive calls of the resident Red-wattled Lapwings.

The Blue-throated Bee-eaters provided the photography highlights for the day.
I found a few sub-adults in the vicinity as there are still traces of its juvenile plumage and the elongated central tail feathers were not yet fully developed.
They may be called Bee-eaters but here in Penanti, I guess Dragonfly-eaters would be the more appropriate name…
And this is how you enjoy a Dragonfly for lunch….

Monday, 14 June 2010

12/06/2010: Kupang-Gerik (Perak)

The entrance to this locality has changed tremendously since my last visit. The Bat Hawks’ nesting tree now stands alone as most of the other big trees have been logged away. There is a new rest stop facility near the entrance as well. As this is an active logging area, the change in habitat is expected but not the rest stop - not to me anyway. As Choo Eng and I gradually move deeper into the logging trail, the piercing rays of the early morning sun started sending the mist back into the heavens.

The timing was just nice as a flock of 6 Blue-rumped Parrots filled the vicinity with the distinctive metallic calls as they flew about the vicinity. When the flock decided to alight on a nearby tree, I had a feeling that today is going to be a good one and it was because we managed to record over 70 species in the end. I have numerous encounters with this species in the past but this is my first good opportunity for photography.
As they bask in the sun and preen to their hearts content, we were delighted to find them rather confiding as well. We had ample time to go about the bottom of the tree to find the best angle for our photograph session. I don’t see myself as the kind of guy that will easily fall for cute little animals but for these adorable parrots, I’ll make an exception. The red bill and absence of blue on the head region suggest that this is fellow is an immature male.
Here an adult male sporting the diagnostic bluish head for comparison…
The Little Cuckoo-dove is not an uncommon species but it is very difficult to get close to them. I managed to capture this lone individual when it alighted on distant tree to rest. I reckon this is a male bird as females tend to have more barrings on the breast.

A male Whiskered Treeswift taking a break from its aerial sallies for insects.

This time, we recorded an unusually high number of Streaked Bulbuls around. In fact, I think this is the most I have seen from a single locality. We counted no less than 20 birds throughout the day.
The Scaly-breasted Bulbul is one of the most stunning representatives of this usually drab-looking family of birds. Unfortunately, this flock kept to the top most part of the forest canopy.
Photographing small active birds foraging among the forest vegetation is a challenge to any bird photographer. For instance, you are bound to come across the Dark-necked Tailorbird in any forest and yet, I still do not have an image I can truly be proud of.
This Large Woodshrike gave me no chance at all to obtain reasonable images…
This Crested Serpent-eagle, on the other hand, was not the least bothered by our intrusion.
All these years of birding has made all my senses especially heightened towards flying objects. However, birds are not the only things that fly about. There are also dragonflies. This individual had exceptional striking colours and was quite co-operative to my camera.
As we made our way back to civilization, a trio of crows caught my attention as the thought of Slender-billed Crows crossed my mind. In the end, they turned to be just the commoner Large-billed Crows. Overall, I am quite pleased with the outcome of the trip and some of the more notable species recorded include a Wallace Hawk-eagle and Rufous-tailed Shama.