Dave's Big Year eventually brought him to the forest of Sungai Sedim in Kedah where he managed to tick off quite a few more species in his list which at the time of writing, stands at an amazing 564 birds. His visit to the locality was better than usual and I decided to try my luck there as well. A flock of foraging Yellow-bellied Bulbuls started things off for the day. Their preference for the lower levels of the forest provided great eye-level views. Unfortunately, the lighting conditions were terribly challenging the entire trip with the rain clouds threatening to cut short my birding excursion.
Babblers are well represented in this educational forest especially along the access trail that leads up to Gunung Bintang. As always, photographing this family of birds can be frustrating especially the terrestrial species. This Short-tailed Babbler was kind enough to give me a one-second window to focus and take a shot of it in the open. After that, it was back to the undergrowth and the usual fleeting views...
I do not think anyone can ever get bored with the Asian Paradise-flycatcher. The white-morphed male is nothing short of extraordinary. His grace and beauty captures the heart and imagination of birders of all ages and status. I have been trying for years to obtain good shots of the males but somehow or another managed to elude my efforts. This time, I spent 30 minutes stalking, begging, playing dead and every other means I could think of but this image was all I could manage in the end. It was a prolonged and interesting encounter but the image is not what I was hoping for...
The adorable Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher on the other hand was surprisingly accommodating this morning. Its sweet whistling notes can be heard on almost every visit but the bird itself prefers the comfort and security of the canopy levels. This habit makes it difficult for me to obtain good images despite the frequent encounters.
I also came across a small birdwave and was utterly excited to make out the shape of a trogon in the wave. Naturally, all other species were ignored and the trogon soon revealed itself, or should I say herself, to me as a female Scarlet-rumped Trogon.
The highlight of the trip must be this flock of inquisitive Hairy-backed Bulbuls. This species behaves more like babblers than bulbuls and is fairly common throughout suitable forested habitats in Peninsula Malaysia.
The Hairy-backed Bulbul gets its name from the supposedly hair-like feathers on its back. I have never once notice this feature in the field and even with rather close-up images like this, the 'hair' remain invisible to us mere mortals.
Today was definitely a day for bulbuls as a third species found its way to my memory card. The Grey-cheeked Bulbul is not as common as the two other species but it is quite regularly seen in the forest here. With so many different species of bulbuls occurring in this one locality, each have their respective niche to fill to ensure their own survival. That is why it tends to keep to the higher storey of the forest.
Eventually, rain drops started to fall and although not heavy, it was rather persistent. I reluctantly made my way out of the locality because before the rain, it was very good in terms of birds. On the way home, I turned into the paddy fields of Bandar PERDA in mainland Penang to check if anything was about on this wet and gloomy midday hour. Along the pylons, I found the mighty Eastern Imperial Eagle overlooking its winter domain on this lofty perch. I do not need much reason to take my time to admire this majestic raptor and with the weather showing no intentions of improving, this is possibly the best thing I could wish for to end today’s outing.
And talking about winter, I would to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!