Monday, 18 February 2013

A stroke of good luck (14/02/13)

During the long break every Chinese New Year, I will usually get to do some birding after the "compulsory" celebrations of the first few days. And this year is no different. The location this time was the forest reserve at Sungai Sedim in Kedah - undoubtedly one of the best forest birding sites for day trips. However, the trip did not start off well as it started to pour when we reached the locality. While waiting for the rain to subside, we had a rather exquisite-looking spider to keep us entertained. It looked like the Golden Orb Spider that we regularly encounter in the field and is just as big but it sported a bold red and black colouration. It was also feeding on a recently caught beetle. 

Once the sun started peeping through the rain clouds, we finally got to do what we can here for - birding. The colour red is an auspicious colour during the Chinese New Year and a striking male Scarlet-rumped Trogon is certainly one of the best candidates to help usher in the year of the snake. Although it is quite common here and other forested areas as well, this is one of the very few occasions that it posed obligingly for my camera. 

Most Bulbuls are rather drab looking birds and can appear quite similar to each other. This forest reserve is home to no less than 17 different species of Bulbuls. The Cream-vented Bulbul is quite easily recognizable if one has a good look at the face region because the conspicuous white eyes is the main field identification mark of this common forest dweller. 

The Rufous-winged Philentoma is regularly encountered along the access trails of this forest reserve. Unfortunately, it tends to forage along the canopy level and that makes it a difficult subject for photography. 

On the way back, we took a different route. Thanks to Choo Eng's acute sense of sight, we came across an unexpected surprise that turned out to be the highlight of the trip. It was a pair of Barred Eagle-Owls resting on a huge Rain Tree just next to the road. Owls are often shrouded with fear and superstitious especially among common folks and this is most unfortunate. I find these night hunters to be extraordinary creatures and their beauty, mesmerizing. 

As it would be dusk soon, the owls were rather alert and getting ready for the hunt that is to follow in the cover of darkness. Although the lighting conditions meant that my images will be a little soft than usual, I am elated to finally add this species into my digital image database. 

We also stopped at the open grasslands near Alamanda Estate for one of the most recent additions to Peninsular Malaysia's checklist - the Small Buttonquail. But it was another disappointment for me as I dipped out yet again for this little nomadic gamebird.

This may be a little late but better late than never. So, to all those celebrating the Chinese New Year, I wish you Gong Xi Fa Chai!