With news of a couple of bird photographers being robbed of their gear at one of my regular haunts, Air Hitam Dalam, I thought it was best not to tempt faith and will be giving this site a miss for while. One thing is for sure - the criminals are bound to be back for more. This is bad news because half the time I do my birding alone and to be totally honest, I sometimes do get overly distracted by the birds and let my guard down. It is sad but it looks like the ugly side of the real world has crept into the birding world and like the birds, birders and photographers alike will just have to adapt and change in order to carry on.
Anyway, I decided to go for the slightly strenuous trail up Gunung Bintang in Sungai Sedim, Kedah. We have now entered into the month of the Hungry Ghost. A time when my better half is not too thrilled whenever I go out into field. But supernatural elements are the least of my worries when I came across fresh elephant dung along the trail. Luckily, no tuskers or elements crossed my path today. Only the birds and a pair of confiding Black-headed Bulbuls was the highlight of the trip.
This species is quite strikingly coloured and despite being common in forested areas, secondary growths and orchards, I do not have many images of it. Being a relatively vocal, it is not easily overlooked but its tendency to keep to the canopy levels can sometimes hinder photographic attempts. So, today's performance was much obliged.
The Asian Fairy-bluebird, like the Black-headed Bulbul, is another common but strikingly coloured species. However, there is one difference. The former is found in montane forests as well. The Asian Fairy-bluebird is an apt name and the male is truly a feast for the eyes. Whenever he decides to show himself completely that is.
It can be tricky to identify forest bulbuls at times. Being one of the most regularly encountered birds in the forest, one will usually get their skills in bulbul identification tested in every visit to the forest. The Spectacled Bulbul usually needs a longer look to be identified.
The Hairy-backed Bulbul behaves more like a babbler than a bulbul and this factor, as well as its characteristic calls, makes this species slightly easier to identify. However, the hair of its namesake is barely visible in the field and does not provide any aid in the identification process.
The White-rumped Munia is certainly the most widely distributed of all the munias. It occurs from the paddy fields of the lowlands to the high altitudes of montane forests. There is a healthy population of these munias here in Sungai Sedim and this individual collecting nesting material is doing its part in maintaining the population.
As I was about to call it a day, some movement among the undergrowth caught my immediate attention. It did not take long for me to spot the party responsible. My godfather always says to me that there is more to wildlife than just birds. Still, I cannot help but to feel a little disappointed when it turned out be a foraging Green Crested Lizard (thanks to Muin for the identification).
Anyway, it was not wary of my presence. In fact, it seemed to be much in a mood for photography. I may not have much experience shooting reptiles in the wild but I think it is easier than shooting birds. At least they do not fly away and never to be seen again for the rest of your life. A little herping to wrap up the day is perhaps a little different but still an enjoyable end.