Wednesday 29 June 2011

25/06/11: Sungai Sedim (Kedah)

I missed out on a couple of my usual Saturday birding excursions due to the unbelievable amount of work at the office. Anyway, I managed to have this Saturday for myself and I tried my luck on some forest birding. As it is still the breeding season for most of our resident birds, the forest at this location was alive with the sounds of bird calls. One in particular captured my undivided attention because it belonged to the Red-naped Trogon. This species also happened to be my first record for this locality and that means this recreational forest is home to all four species of our lowland Trogons. Anyway, when I finally traced the call back to the bird, I was rather disappointed as it was partially hidden from view.

When this handsome male did move to a slightly more expose perch, much to my dismay, the lighting condition was not on my side. Despite it all, he was still a cracking bird to observe and enjoy.

This morning’s excursion had plenty of Babbler action – at least 7 different species altogether. However, all of them provided only glimpses and I was not given any real opportunities to capture their images. All that I could manage were blurry shots like this of a Short-tailed Babbler hopping across an exposed log.

As I was about to call it a day, I came face to face with a pair of foraging Chestnut –naped Forktails. Apart from the fact that it is the only forktail that you can tell the genders apart, I always feel that the male should have the female’s colouration as his area of chestnut coloration is substantially smaller than hers.

I find this species to be extremely shy of human presence and obtaining good images is near impossible. But then seeing this time that they were forging as a pair, I though they could find courage in numbers and be a little more tolerant to my approach. I guess I was wrong…

Saturday 11 June 2011

Dusky Eagle-owl

The forest at Bukit Wang in Kedah has provided quite a few outstanding records since my first visit a few years back. Located just within a couple of hours drive away, it is no surprise that this locality instantly became a hotspot for me and most birders from Penang as well. The latest heart-stopping find was a real treat - the Dusky Eagle-owl. Being one of the largest and rarest owls in Malaysia, it was indeed a very significant record.

When the owl revealed to Choo Eng and me that it was also nesting in the vicinity, the discovery elevated to a whole new level. The plot thickened when this breeding pair of Dusky Eagle-owls was seen using the nest site of the Wallace’s Haw-eagles from the previous season. Two rare species using the same nest consecutively. Now, that’s what I call one hot piece of real estate property! It cannot be confirmed if the owls took over an empty nest or they drove away the eagles and any intentions they had to re-use their old nest.

The owls appeared to be quite tolerant if we observe and photograph from an accepted distance. Anyway, it is a known fact that owls will defend their nests quite ferociously and the Dusky Eagle-owl does cut an imposing figure. And those talons look like they could really do considerable damage. I have to admit it that this owl certainly earned my admiration and respect.

In the following months, a few of us birders kept a close tab on the owls and their 2 cuddly chicks. Unfortunately, one of the chicks did not survive and the parent birds doubled their efforts to make sure that the last surviving chick does not perish as well.

The chick did manage to fledge successfully in the end, thus providing a slight but much-needed increase to the population of this majestic nocturnal hunter.

Monday 6 June 2011

My Garden Birdwatch 2011

This is the second consecutive year for this easy but meaningful bird survey by MNS. I missed out on last year’s survey but I can’t really remember why. So, I made it a point to do it this year. I always do try to do what I can to help the plight of MNS to conserve the delicate balance of nature. It also helps protect the birds and it is always about the birds for me. To find out more about this survey, please visit the website here.
The compound of my apartment block houses quite a variety of bird species despite being located at the fringe of the ever-blooming capital of Penang state – Georgetown City. However, I usually don’t go birding around heavily populated areas as it tends to draw quite a lot of attention. I’m really not an anti-social person. Well, at least when I’m not birding.
So, I decided to conduct the survey from the “safety” of my balcony just after daybreak. Adhering to the criteria of the survey which excludes birds heard or flying over, I recorded 9 different species of birds during the 30-minute survey. Some of the usual suspects were missing from the list but that is what birding is all about. You can never be sure what to expect. Anyway, I did manage to capture a few images in between and this lone Spotted Dove was one of them.

Scarlet-backed Flowerpeckers are undoubtedly one of the prettiest residents around and this pair was kind enough to stay put long enough for me to photograph them. As with most birds the male overshadowed his mate tremendously in terms of colouration.

Even from my balcony, my birding antics did draw some attention. But instead of from my fellow human being, it was from this feral pigeon. I’m sorry, buddy. No matter how loud you coo I cannot include you in my count.