I started birding when I was a teenage. It was my godfather, Ban Beng who took me to my very first birding trip more than 25 years ago. And the rest, as they say, is history. Occasionally, he does join me for some birding and last Saturday, he brought his friend Chng along. Like what he did for me back then, his friend got to experience a true birding trip for the first time. I decided to take them to somewhere not too far from home and where birds are easy to encounter. The first place that came to mind was Air Hitam Dalam. The elevator boardwalk that cuts through the swamp forest is the perfect passageway to the wonders of the natural world. As expected, it was an enlightening experience for the first-timer and I did my best to guide him through this captivating experience.
Chng had a keen interest in night birds and the trip was off to a very good start as the resident Spotted Wood-owl was one of the first few birds we encountered. It was resting high up among the foliage of a tree crown. It was a distanced shot and the morning sun was not quite bright enough but the encounter was certainly exciting. Seeing an owl in the wild for the first time always is.
We came across a number of the regular birds that are found here but some, more than others, left truly lasting impressions. A Greater Coucal glided across our field of view and alighted on a low bush not too far away. Instead of making the usual quick escape into the dense undergrowth, it stayed long enough to allow the moment to be captured into our digital archive.
The Mangrove Blue Flycatchers were back to their usual selves and we had close and prolonged encounters with two pairs of these striking birds.
At mid morning we left Air Hitam Dalam to seek out more nocturnal birds and modest environment around the Kulim Hi-Tech Park was our next destination. The Barred Eagle-owl has been performing well for the past few weeks and it did not disappointment this time as well. Its sheer size and enchanting beauty certainly captured our undivided attention. It was not much of a surprise when this nocturnal hunter ended up being the best bird of the trip.
The last bird for the trip was another night bird and it was the Savanna Nightjar. The remarkable camouflage was so effective we almost drove right past it.
And what could be better than to observe one Savanna Nightjar at its daytime roost? To observe two Savanna Nightjars and the second bird is a female as she lacks the white outer tail feathers of the male. Of the two birds she was the more relaxed one and provided the perfect to end to Chng’s first day out in the field.