Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Days of thunder...

It was a chilly dawn at the car park area of Sungai Sedim. The rainy season has finally arrived to this side of the Peninsular Malaysia and the pre-dawn storm has left its mark on the surroundings. I was a little sluggish than usual and the resident pair of Rhinoceros Hornbills managed to slip past me and flew across the open space of the car park without me even mustering one shot of these majestic birds. Despite the presence of the fruiting tree, the hornbills are very reluctant to feast on the fruits like previous seasons – much to the dismay of the local birders. With nothing else present to keep me at the car park, I made my way to one of the forest trails in search of more feathered denizens. Seeing that the lighting condition was still very bad, a Rufous-crowned Babbler tauntingly perched right out in the open while belting out its territorial song. I guess my quest for my first recognizable image of this tree babbler continues.

Dozens of species came and went but I my camera remained hung over my shoulder throughout that time. Grey-headed, Short-tailed and Grey-throated Babblers teased from among the dimly lighted area of the undergrowth while Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrikes, Great Ioras and Fiery Minivets danced in the sunlight from the top most parts of the forest canopy. A written description is all that I can offer as photographic opportunities were far and few. A male Green Broadbill finally broke the duck but not before making me sing for my supper. I had to scan through a sea of green to locate a bird that is almost completely green. His persistent calls was my guiding light and eventually, I found him perched in the foliage not to far from the edge of the forest.

A Red-eyed Bulbul abandoned the safety of the forest canopy in order to enjoy a hearty meal on the ground. The temptation of food can get the best of us at times and this bulbul was quite adamant to finish the feast in this precarious position despite my intrusion. Fortunately for me, there was just enough light for my gear to capture the moment as well.

Silence crept into the forest in the late morning and the trek back to the car park was much harder than the trek in this morning. But the sudden absence bird activities left me no choice but to seek greener pastures elsewhere. And that elsewhere this time was the swamp forest of Air Hitam Dalam. The weather, as expected, was not promisingly upon my arrival. The ambassadors of this birding hotspot did not greet me like they usually do. I did find one of them, a male Mangrove Blue Flycatcher, all fluffed up in the under storey preparing for the testing weather to come.

Along the elevated boardwalk, the constant drumming of a woodpecker diverted my attention to the forest canopy. The male Common Flameback is a striking bird. It did not take me long to locate him perched near the top of a dead tree trunk. The red crest and the contrasting body colours stood out like a beacon in the dark. And the sky has certainly darkened by then. The distant thunder was all that was needed for me to make a haste return to my vehicle. I have no intentions of getting drenched again – I had quite my share of that during work these few days. Rain is an integral part of life and a welcome relief from the sizzling heat of the tropics. But it can also kill off any birding trip thus making it a nemesis to birding in this part of the world. Hopefully for my next excursion, I will myself basking in better weather condition while I pursue my passion.