We entered one of the logging trails within the Gunung Bintang Forest Reserve in Gerik, Perak just as it started to get bright. The first birds to welcome our group of three to one of the wildest regions in Peninsular Malaysia were a flock of extremely vocal Dusky Broadbills. Although not as brilliantly coloured as the others in its family but what it lacks in colour, it sure makes it up in personality and size.
We had the good fortune to glimpse into the courtship ritual of a pair of Red-bearded Bee-eaters. Perched next to each other among the foliage of the highest canopy, the loving pair was quite oblivious of all the attention they had attracted from all their sensual swaying and tail extensions. Yup, love is certainly in the air.
The melodious calls of the Dark-throated Orioles echoed through the vicinity during our visit. However, there were no close encounters and all my images were taken from a distance. That is a real shame because the male is truly handsome.
We came across quite a number of bird waves today and as usual, I had to face the dilemma of deciding whether to use my bins or my camera. Most of the time, I will opt for the former because you risk missing out on quite a few species if you focus too much on photography. Secondly, good photographic opportunities are far and few during bird waves. But once in a blue moon it does happen - just like this Brown Fulvetta that decided to take a breather from the feeding frenzy right in front of me.
The Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrikes stood out from most of the other species that were participating in the waves due to their striking plumage. This is, of course, the duller female. It would have been too good to be true if the male was to be so obliging.
The range of species in a bird wave can be quite varied and not only small birds are involved. Sometimes, you will get giants like the Chestnut-breasted Malkoha following the waves. Apparently, this big fellow is a little camera-shy.
Off-road enthusiasts enjoying the spills and thrills of the logging trail. Not my cup of tea but I guess to each, his own. I mean who am I to judge? Trekking along a soggy trail infested with leeches and God knows what else for hours in the middle of a tropical rain forest to observe birds is certainly not most folks’ cup of tea either. And as much as I love water birds, I have to admit that the forest is still where you will find the most fascinating and dazzling of bird species.
On the way back, we decided to make a detour to the paddy fields at Permatang Nibong, Penang. It was decision based on two important reasons. Earlier this week, there was a large influx of Asian Openbills migrating into Malaysia with about 1,000 seen in Kuala Gula, Perak and 200 in Batang Tiga, Melaka. Back in Penang, Graeme saw about 300 passing through our home state and I initially thought none will be wintering here this season. With so many passing through, I am pretty sure that those wintering in this particular locality in Penang for the past few seasons would surely do so again. Penang may be a tiny state but you once you get to know her, she is not so easily forgettable but we still had to be sure. The other reason for the detour is because this enigmatic stork will be a lifer for James, one of my companions on this trip. If ever he is to see his first Asian Openbill in Malaysia, it would be now. When we finally reached their favourite roosting site, we discovered that the storks were indeed back for the fourth consecutive season. Not only that, they managed to convince and brought along about 40 other compatriots. Looks like Penang has not lost her charm yet. And James got his lifer.
The reason for the sudden influx is yet to be determined. But whatever the reason, it was a certainly a sight to behold. It was simply fantastic. Welcome back, guys!