Monday, 27 October 2014

Northwest Peninsula Road Trip - Part 1 (22/10/2014)

It has been more than a year since my last overnight birding trip. When I finally managed to find a couple of days to go off birding, a feeling that I have not felt for a long time ran through my veins again as I geared up for my road trip. The first leg of the trip brought me to the lush rainforest of Bukit Wang in Kedah. Once upon a time, this was the best place for Bat Hawks and rarities like the Wallace's Hawk-eagle, Dusky Eagle-owl and Malaysian Honeyguide. Unfortunately, most things do not have a happily ever after in this world that we live in and that statement is now a thing of the past. But I am hoping there is still some magic left to keep a visiting birder happy for the morning. 

A troop of Pig-tailed Macaques were making their way through the recreational area at the break of dawn. My sudden intrusion did not go down well with the alpha male and the big fella decided to stand guard while the rest of the troop crossed the access trail in front of me and into the cover of the forest. He was an impressive and intimidating specimen to say the least. 

The forest was quiet for the first hour or so. As I was making my way along the access trail, I had to stop at one point to answer to the call of nature. When I was about done a male Black-And-Yellow Broadbill suddenly alighted on a low perch in front of me and unlike yours truly, he seemed pretty calm about it. What’s up, bro?

Then, the dilemma came. I wanted to shift my position slightly for an unobstructed angle to shoot the bird but by doing so, I risk scaring him away. Fortune favours the bold and I shifted as 'gently' as I could. Much to my delight, he did not object to my intention. So, I happily took a few more shots before he flew back up into the canopy. Life was beautiful again. 

I did notice a number of fruiting trees and they are always a good sign. A pair of Greater Green Leafbirds soon came into view from one such tree. Not that uncommon but this species tends to keep to the canopy levels. This fruiting tree was relatively small compared to some of the other majestic forest trees and this allowed me to capture a few decent shots of this foraging pair. 

There were a few Brown Shrikes present today and are more likely to be on passage than wintering here as the forest is not their preferred habitat. This juvenile was one of them. 

Remember I mentioned that fruiting trees are always a good sign? A small fruiting plant provided the highlight for the trip in the form of a flock of Blue-winged Leafbirds. This is probably the only species of leafbird that I have ever seen foraging close to the ground on more than one occasion. This time the eye-level angle provided great photographic opportunities. The only setback was the plant was rather dense and most of the time, the birds were blocked by at least one twig. The flock was so preoccupied with the feast at hand, they simply ignored my presence. And that was fine with me. The male, as usual, is the more vibrantly coloured one. 

The females sport a less stunning plumage. 

A commotion in the gloomy lower storey of the forest turned out to be a recently fledged Purple-naped Sunbird waiting to be fed. The mother bird was an efficient hunter and came back with food in very short intervals. 

To wrap things up for the visit is this scarce mammal species that is locally common at the locality - the Cream-coloured Giant Squirrel. It may be regularly seen but good shots are hard to come by and it is rather wary of human presence. A pair was helping themselves on a fruiting tree and the only time I managed to obtain a clear shot was when one of them was scampering away from me.


Russell Jenkins said...

Some beautiful birds, Choy, and love the macaque and squirrel too! I find photography beneath the canopy quite challenging but you've captured some stunning portraits. It must have been exciting looking through your lens.

holdingmoments said...

Superb set again Choy.
Such stunning birds.

John Holmes said...

"Fortune favors the bold…" Yes, and you've got some rewarding shots here…. as you say, leafbirds can be hard to photograph, and the Broadbill is fabulous.

Choy Wai Mun said...

Thanks guys for all your compliments.

Russell, I too struggle with forest photography most of the time.

Wilma said...

Great shots! Looking forward to Part 2 ...

Choy Wai Mun said...

Thanks, Wilma. I'm still working on the 2nd part.