Dave and Hakim came back from a 2-day birding trip to Perlis and made some very exciting discoveries at the Chuping Sugarcane Plantation. From Dave’s blog, there were three would be lifers for me – Citrine Wagtail (1st record for Malaysia), Eurasian Wryneck (3rd record) and Thick-billed Warbler (very rare migrant). So, as soon as we found some free time from the ongoing Lunar New Year festivity, our group of 5 made a bee line to the warm sunny skies and open areas of the locality.
Unfortunately, we did not get to enjoy the good fortune and luck of the earlier group and things were pretty slow. We even bumped into a few more birding groups at the locality – undoubtedly influenced by Dave’s post of those rare birds. The Plain-backed Sparrows were among the few notable species that kept us occupied during our morning session at this locality.
We decided to visit a few nearby sites for a change and hoped that our luck will improve. Unfortunately, the scrublands along the Timah-Tasoh Lake did not provide any relief for our earlier disappointment. A quick visit to the Perlis State Park did produce some excitement but it was not from the birds. A fruiting tree near the car park was patronized by a rather confiding Black Giant Squirrel and it particularly ignored our presence. I suppose the availability of food was a major factor behind its bold behaviour. Anyway despite the harsh lighting, I managed to obtain my best images of this beautiful forest dweller to date.
A lone Stripe-throated Bulbul provided a few reasonable images as it foraged along the canopy of the forest and it was back to the sugarcane plantation for one another try.
Indian Roller sightings anywhere on the west coast is quite significant and this one provided a much needed boost of confidence for the entire group towards the locality and gave us the courage to dare to hope on finding the rarities once again. Unlike the individual we had in Penang last year, it was quite skittish and I could only managed distant record shots only.
This juvenile Pied Harrier flying gracefully over the plantation was quite a sight and although the afternoon session was much better, there were still no signs of the rarities. Luckily at the end of day, we did manage to find one of my three target birds – a Thick-billed Warbler flickering about a recently harvested patch. Although it did not give me any chance to capture its image, it was good enough to allow me to get a positive identification before it disappeared from sight.