Friday, 7 August 2015

Welcome to birding in Malaysia (02/08/2015)

I was starting to develop withdrawal symptoms from birding insufficiency but lucky for me, this weekend is the first one in weeks that I am able to get out into the field again. The Orange-backed Woodpecker is a stunner that resides in both primary and secondary forests. An encounter with a family of three at the Sungai Sedim Recreational Forest in Kedah was truly an exciting affair. The birds were foraging in the dimly-lit middle storey of the forest and that made it difficult to capture good images. However, just to observe them on the hunt and the flashes of red and orange against the dark backdrop of the dense tropical foliage whenever they shift positions was a true privilege.

Tom, my guest from USA, has never been to Malaysia before and I felt proud to be the one to introduce him to the birding scene here. And these woodpeckers certainly had his full attention - naturally.

Bird waves are a common phenomenon in the tropics but to a visiting birder, they can be quite foreign and at times overwhelming. A flock of Green Ioras took part in this particular wave. A female bird, unable to resist the temptation of food, came very close and even stop momentarily to savour the meal.

This Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker has nothing to gain from participating in a bird wave as it has no interest in the insects flushed. Berries are what it is after. Its presence may have been a mere coincidence but to us, the up close encounter that we managed to enjoy made it a very rewarding coincidence indeed.

Everything was such bliss until this male Great Iora reminded us of the difficulties and frustrations of forest bird photography. However, it was a good record because this largest of the Ioras is not a species commonly encountered.

It is always nice to come across a Rufous-tailed Tailorbird because of the contrasting colours this little fellow boasts. A lone bird resting in the open was unfortunately too far for any truly sharp images.

On the way to lunch, we made a detour hoping to catch a glimpse of the roosting Barred Eagle-Owl. The sudden drizzle threatened to foil our plans but thankfully, the Rain Tree provided enough shelter for the owl and we caught it peering down on us from its lofty perch.

After a hearty lunch, we made our way to Air Hitam Dalam in mainland Penang. A confiding Stork-billed Kingfisher started things off on a high note for this birding hotspot as well.

Tom had a few targets for this trip but he really wanted a Green Broadbill and any pitta. He got the former at a fruiting tree in Sungai Sedim earlier on but the distance prevented any good captures. His second target was a much better encounter which was a pair of Blue-winged Pittas performing well. Few things could better that. It does not matter which pitta species. If it is showing well, then you got it made. Simply magical...

A female Streak-breasted Woodpecker also decided to forage near the car park area and momentarily diverted our attention from the pittas.

To wrap things up for the day, one last image of the Blue-winged Pitta. Most birders, including locals, are fascinated by these beautiful terrestrial birds. Tom wanted a pitta and he certainly got one. It was a memorable encounter and a great way to end his maiden birding trip to Malaysia.


John Holmes said...

The pittas are all "star" birds, as you say, but the Barred Eagle Owl is my favourite.

Mahazan said...

Excellent as always....

Choy Wai Mun said...

You're right, John. Owls are just as exciting.

Thank you, Mahazan.