Monday 28 March 2011

26/03/2011: Bukit Palong (Kedah)

Despite the current wet spell, Choo Eng and I headed towards for this locality for hopefully, a few hour of birding. The weather held up and the discovery of a fruiting tree was an added bonus. A fruiting tree usually becomes a bird-magnet and several different species can be seen feeding on the fruits together. Although this tree was not too far away from the access road but the angle was a little too steep to produce any really great shots. The majority of the patrons here were Bulbuls consisting of the Black-headed, Red-eyed, Buff-vented, Streaked, Grey-bellied and Scaly-breasted. Unfortunately, only the Streaked Bulbul stayed put long enough for me to obtain a few reasonable shots.

The Blue-eared Barbet is always a welcome sight as it is seldom seen away from the dense foliage of the canopy levels. Its persistent and distinctive calls are normally the only tell tale sign of its presence. This fellow was seen foraging along a huge tree trunk and only the distance hampered my efforts of obtaining better images.

Most of the winter visitors have started their spring migrations but I guess a few are a little reluctant to end their tropical vacation just yet like this Dark-sided Flycatcher.

If ever there is a tree called the Fireball Tree, this would definitely be it.

Sultan Tits are simply just awesome birds. I have been trying in vain to obtain good images of them ever since I took up photography. This forest jewel is not really common anywhere and possesses a striking colour combination of black and bright yellow. To top it all off, it wears a wicked yellow crest on its crown. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the Sultan Tit. However, the distant record shots I managed to obtain does it no justice at all.

Although Parrots are poorly represented here in Malaysia, we certainly have one of the most adorable and charming species around – the Blue-crowned Hanging-parrot. Like the Sultan Tit, I hardly had any good photographic opportunities with this species as well. This trip’s record shots of a female bird will just have to do – for now.

Thursday 24 March 2011

19/03/2011: Mainland Penang

After the morning’s birding at Sungai Sedim, I decided to swing by the barren lands of Penanti to check if the Oriental Pratincoles are back at their breeding ground. Much to my delight, I was not disappointed. Although the numbers now are a little less than those of past seasons, I’m just glad to see these graceful waders returning here annually to breed.

The Red-wattled Lapwings, on the other hand, are breeding in their usual healthy numbers. I can still remember I had to wait until I was in Langkawi to tick off this species from my life list because about 20 years ago, that locality was one of the best places to see it. Nowadays, every birder in Penang is quite accustomed to their presence and their signature alarm call.

The Blue-throated Bee-eaters are also back to breed nearby the barren lands. Of all the three open country Bee-eaters, I fancy this species the most because of the combination of the long tail streamers and the rich colours of its plumage.

Bon appetite…

A small flock of Jungle Mynas foraged quite close to my stationery car as I was watching the Bee-eaters. How can I resist when a subject, even if it is a commoner, is willing to provide a frame-filling image like this?

The timing was about right for observing Pond-herons in their respective breeding colours. However, I only manage to locate the commoner Chinese Pond-herons along the paddy fields of Permatang Nibong this time.

This female Pied Harrier seems to be in no hurry to start the long journey back to her breeding ground in the north and was seen quartering over the fields in search of prey. Shouldn’t you be making your way back home by now, my dear?

Most of the egrets have gone back north and the remaining few should follow suit anytime now. This Little Egret looks all set for the journey and I just love the way the wind carries its head plumes.

A lone Great Egret standing in the middle of a sea of paddy stalks carves a solemn figure as most of its compatriots have already left this wintering ground.

Tuesday 22 March 2011

19/03/2011: Sungai Sedim (Kedah)

The morning started out quite slow with only the usual species making brief appearances until I came across a pair of Whiskered Treeswifts dive-bombing and screaming at a pair of rather large birds that has wandered too close to them. My guess for this show of aggression is that the Treeswifts are probably nesting nearby. When the intruders finally revealed their true identity, they turned out to be Chestnut-breasted Malkohas. Following the movement Malkohas proved fruitful as I managed to capture a few records shots when one of them briefly rested on an exposed perch. Anyway, much to the relief of the Treeswifts, the foraging pair gradually made their way to the next tree and beyond.

The distinctive calls of the Green Broadbill made me come to a complete halt and when I managed to pick out two male Green Broadbills having a dispute along the canopy of the forest, I knew I was in for a treat. Feathers were certainly ruffled…

Unfortunately, I could not witness the conclusion to this confrontation because the pair moved flew deeper into the cover of the forest to settle their differences. I truly adored these small but striking forest jewels especially when they fly around the lush green foliage of their forest homes. They look just like little emeralds on wings and at times, their colouration as well as size, make you question yourself whether it was a figment of your imagination or was it the real thing that just flew in front of you.

The Rufous-winged Philentoma is not common anywhere but this locality happens to be one of its strongholds that I know of. I have encountered this species here on several occasions but always end up empty handed – until now. Although the lighting conditions were awful and the sun was not at my back, I’m pretty satisfied at how the image of this rather confiding male turned out in the end.

I have a rather poor collection of Flowerpeckers and their active nature and minute size are usually the main prohibiting factors for me to obtain better images. A Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker resting on an exposed perch in relatively good light should have produce good images but the results were not as good as I had hoped for.

A chestnut-capped bird with dark greyish upperparts foraging among the undergrowth at the edge of the access trail provided a suspenseful moment for me. Is this the day I will get my first ever Chestnut-capped Thrush? I immediately crouched down and patiently waited for my confirmation. All my senses heightened and strained. Unfortunately, it had to bob its tail and another record of the Chestnut-naped Forktail was now quite inevitable. And true enough a male bird gradually strolled out into the open and ended all doubts (and the excitement as well).

There were quite a number of Black-headed Bulbuls present here and I came across foraging birds throughout the morning. This is another common species that I have yet to obtain great images and after today’s effort, I think there is still room for improvements.