I have been neglecting a few birding sites in Penang of late and so, I decided to head south this time to Bukit Panchor State Park. This locality used to house quite a number of lowland forest species but it has deteriorated tremendously in terms of bird life. To be honest, the only reason why I still visit this place is hoping to find something short of a miracle - the Giant Pitta. But even that hope is now diminishing. During the past two visits, I only managed to shoot one single bird respectively. For this trip, I ended up empty handed and after two hours of trekking through the forest, I decided to move on to another locality. As I was about to reach the car park, I could hear an emcee making announcements and music been blasted at a decimal that would even drown out the far-carrying territorial call of the Great Argus. By the way, this used to be the only place in Penang where this spectacular pheasant occurs. Only God knows what other events go down at this state park and how frequently. I am not saying these events are bad but if you are going to hold them amidst the wonders of nature, show a little appreciation and respect. If not, why bother to hold them at such a locality in the first place?
I was in a foul mood when I left Bukit Panchor and since I was in dire need of some quality birding time to get over this state of mind, one birding site came to mind immediately - Air Hitam Dalam. It was past mid morning when I finally arrive and after greeting a couple of birding friends at the car park, I decided to head to the elevated boardwalk.
The striking colours of the Black-and-red Broadbill stood out like a sore thumb even from a distance. I slowly inched my way closer. Much to my delight, it was unperturbed by my approach and went about its business. The magic of Air Hitam Dalam prevailed yet again and I was rewarded with an encounter of a lifetime with this exceptional avian beauty.
The encounter started off with the broadbill very close but unfortunately, in very strong backlight.
I made a request, as politely as I possibly can, for the broadbill to shift to the other side of the boardwalk where the lighting was better. Astonishingly, it obliged. Now, that's a good girl!
This broadbill is relatively sluggish and it tends to move about at a leisurely pace. During my observation, it foraged along every level of the forest from the undergrowth to the canopy.
When it has an insect prey in sight, it steps up a gear and goes into overdrive. Due to the lighting conditions, most of my images of it devouring its prey were blur and soft. All except for this one, that is.
Eventually, the broadbill moved deeper into the forest and out of sight. I tried to make amends for ignoring the other species that came along during my time with the broadbill and it included notable species like the Blue-winged Pitta and Streak-breasted Woodpecker. But in life, sometimes you only have one shot and you have to seize the moment because you might not have a second chance. A female Ashy Tailorbird that was busy preparing for the breeding was very little compensation.
The colour of the native Green Crested Lizard can certainly catch your attention...
If not for his deafening territorial calls, I would not have noticed this male Asian Koel that was perched slightly lower than usual. Head on, this cuckoo was hidden from sight but from the side, I managed to find a less obstructed angle to capture his images. This is certainly one bird that you hear more often than you see and I am happy with this encounter.
At the rear car park, the female Mangrove Blue Flycatcher was venting out her frustration of being ignored the entire morning from an open perch. When all else fails, the 'in-your-face' approach will not...
Air Hitam Dalam has an under-utilized canopy walk. It is nothing compared to the behemoth structure at Sungai Sedim and probably about ten meters above ground and one hundred meters long. I have only been on this canopy walk a couple of times since it was built. I wanted to capture some shots of this educational forest from a different perspective. My godfather frequently reminds me to include shots of habitats and other things in my blog as it will make it more interesting.
And guess who was also enjoying the view from the canopy walk area. If I did not know any better, I swear the broadbill was following me around this time and not the other way round...
Again it was exceptionally tame and comfortable in my presence and looking absolutely gorgeous even with a loose feather sticking out from its crown.
For the second trip in a row, I was blessed with the opportunity to observe and enjoy this fascinating bird at such close quarters. To wrap things up for this time, here is one last image of the broadbill.