Friday, 20 March 2015

The flowerpecker frenzy continues...(16/03/2015)

For his second day of day, there is only one place that my Singaporean guest Nigel must go to at the present moment. Some place where something of a phenomenon was waiting for him and his brother. It was unfortunate that his son could not join us today as we are going to the Scarlet-breasted Flowerpeckers' fruiting tree at Sungai Sedim in Kedah. At day break we arrive at the locality and got ourselves ready for the performance to come.

The first to arrive for the feast was this rather confiding Buff-vented Bulbul. I am rather fond of the image I managed to take of it. In fact, it could one of my best efforts of this non-descript bulbul.

When the flowerpeckers came, I focused my attention on the duller ones for a change. As this is already my third visit to this fruiting tree, I was able to resist the mesmerizing presence of the male Scarlet-breasted Flowerpeckers a little better. Much to my delight, their female counterparts were also showing themselves far better today and I took full advantage of that.

The Yellow-breasted Flowerpeckers finally received their due attention from me. Today, it felt like they were more confiding and provided more photographic opportunities. Maybe it could be the spell of the Scarlet-breasted Flowerpeckers is starting to wear off from me and I am more observant of the other birds present at the fruiting tree.

For this species, the sexes are identical and this duller looking individual should be a young bird.

The Yellow-vented Flowerpeckers were also overshadowed by the Scarlet-breasted Flowerpeckers as well and I tried my best to make amends today. Unfortunately, they did not show themselves quite that often enough.

On my every visit here to this fruiting tree, this juvenile Green-backed Flycatcher will swing by for a second before moving away. And this time I was finally fast enough to capture a single shot before it disappeared into the forest. Got ‘ya!

Although I am a little more used to seeing the male Scarlet-breasted Flowerpeckers now, their beauty still do it for me. For my guests, they were lost in the moment just like yours truly one week ago when we first discovered the flowerpeckers. 

Countless birders have made their way here to experience the Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker phenomenon. Up to today, birders are still coming in from far and wide. One of them actually left Kuala Lumpur at two in the morning; drove all the way here for these flowerpeckers and back in the evening. That is a round trip of about 800 kilometers. Would I have done the same if I was in his shoes? Well, given the fact that it is a fruiting tree and based on the quality of the images of this flowerpecker posted on various social media, hell yeah!

The Red-eyed Bulbuls are so confiding probably because they have been ignored and they do not see the humans present at this fruiting tree as a threat anymore. This individual must be quite surprised when I started to take notice of it.

Later in the morning, we retreated into the cooler access trails to carry on our birding excursion. This migratory Ferruginous Flycatcher reminded us on how bird photography in the forest is like most of the time and it is a timely reminder because of late, I have been spoilt by fruiting trees, the birds that patronize them and all the excellent photographic opportunities that came with them.

The Red-billed Malkoha is one of the rarer malkohas here in Sungai Sedim. Typically of the family, this striking cuckoo loves to move along the highest canopies and good views are hard to come by.

This is certainly something a whole lot easier to photograph - a confiding male Whiskered Treeswift on an exposed perch.

From the forest of Sungai Sedim, we made our way to a Palm Oil estate next to the Kulim Hi-Tech Park. Here, there is a particular Rain Tree next to the estate that is a regular roosting site for a pair of Barred Eagle-owls. It did not take long to locate one of the owls as it was roosting at almost the exact spot that I saw it a couple of days back. Unfortunately on this perch, it was slightly blocked by the vegetation and there is nothing we can actually do about it. Birding and wild bird photography can sometimes be frustrating, unpredictable and difficult. Most of the factors and elements involved are beyond your control. But on those occasions when everything does come together perfectly, it is sheer ecstasy.

Our final destination was the bee-eater colony at Penanti in mainland Penang. At this time of the year, it is possible to see both the Chestnut-headed and Blue-throated Bee-eaters together at a single locality. The former is a permanent resident and can be seen throughout the year.

The latter is a breeding visitor and will migrate to Malaysia just as the other winter visitors make their way up north to breed. Their breeding season has just begun thus making the birds very conspicuous and vocal.

After dropping off my guests at their hotel, I still had a few hours of daylight left and I decided to visit the Sungai Burung area in Penang Island. I was hoping for another memorable trip like the one I enjoyed during my last visit here around Christmas last year. But like I said, birding is unpredictable. Nothing but the very common birds were seen and to make matters worse, most of them were taking shelter from the blistering heat we have been experiencing here in Penang for past week. This Olive-backed Sunbird is either an eclipsed male or a juvenile bird. Because of this unfamiliar plumage, it finally gave me a reason to actually stop my car and look.

It so not very often that I get to see all of our open country bee-eaters on a single day and the sighting of this Blue-tailed Bee-eater cheered me up a little as it was the third and last species. When I just started birding, this locality used to have all three bee-eaters breeding here in one big colony. I can roughly recall the sight and sound of the colony where hundreds of bee-eaters can be seen but that sadly, is a thing of the past. I usually do not end my posts on a down note but this is something that is not only happening in my country but everywhere else in the world. Natural habitats are disappearing at an alarming rate. My only hope is there will still be a few places left for me to bird in the future.


Russell Jenkins said...

So many high quality bird pictures. Some really great birds. That eagle-owl looks like it's from a movie. I am very worried about habitats disappearing too. The birds are doing the same. Thanks, Choy.

Choy Wai Mun said...

Thanks, Russell. Yes, it is a world wide problem.

John Holmes said...

I think I'd be in a photo frenzy with those flowerpeckers, too !

Plenty of habitat destruction here in Hong Kong too - much of it caused by thoughtlessness and greed.

Choy Wai Mun said...

Thank you, John.

That's sad news...