I felt a little anxious as I drove past the archway that leads to Sungai Sedim Recreational Forest. The locality has not been performing to its full potential of late and I have a couple of Australian guests with me this time. Perhaps the current spell of wet and miserable weather is one of the reasons for this. At the ‘Treeswift Tree’, both species of treeswifts were present to greet us. But we also had a handful of others species there as well. The trip was certainly off to a good start. And it was bright and sunny as well. Maybe my luck was finally improving. The mournful and penetrating call of the Rufous-winged Philentoma was one of the first few calls that caught our attention when we made our way up Gunung Bintang. The calls came from a poorly-lit spot among the lower storey of the forest. There were at least two birds present but it was frustratingly difficult to see them clearly. Their calls must have some kind of hypnotic effect as we were drawn ever deeper into their gloomy domain. It was only when a handsome adult male revealed himself by alighting on an exposed branch, did we break free from the spell we under. A juvenile followed closely behind and I unknowingly included it in my photo. Yes, things are certainly looking up...
A trogon flew across the access trail in front and caught us all by surprise. It turned out to be a female Diard’s Trogon. Encountering a trogon will always raise the level of excitement in any birding excursion even if it is a drabber female. A little patience and perseverance later, I managed to obtain her images from rather close by and my guest, a truly memorable encounter.
She was rather confiding but still preferred to have some cover between herself and the peering birders. This was the closest I got to obtain a shot that showed some of her underparts. Frustratingly close but no cigar.
It was a rewarding morning of birding. But when the noon hour was upon us, things started to sizzle down to a stop naturally. The next destination was the paddy fields of mainland Penang but along the way, we took a little detour into an open country habitat within the Kulim Hi-Tech Park. There we were rewarded by the presence of a pair of Long-tailed Shrikes – a species that is surprisingly rare in this part of Peninsular Malaysia.
By the time we arrived at the paddy fields, the weather has changed considerably. A massive formation of rain clouds covered the sky. And I fear our birding excursion could be cut short. I tried to make the best out of whatever time we have left. The Black-shouldered Kite is undeniably a striking bird of prey. Desperately hoping for one last successful hunt before the rains arrived, it tolerated our intrusion.
The waders were present in good numbers today but I decided to focus my photography on the passerines today. It is always a delight to observe flocks of Daurian Starlings although there were no rarer starling species amongst them. The slight drizzle seemed to have brought the birds even closer together.
As for the munias, the testing weather also brought them closer together. And these White-rumped Munias resting next to the access road certainly did not go unnoticed.
The light was fast disappearing as the foul weather continued to develop. Hesitantly, I had to forgo my initial plans of making a visit to my local patch at Air Hitam Dalam. The stormy skies and strong winds would inevitably have driven everything to take cover. A solitary male Pink-necked Green-pigeon wrapped things up for the day. Even the gloomy weather could not drown out the vivid colours of this common species and we enjoyed this obliging individual before calling it a day. As I was driving my guests back to their hotel, we were caught in some nasty traffic congestions due to the occurrence of flash floods. It also took me twice as long to reach home as the floods have caused much havoc and considerable damages to the surroundings areas. Rain is more of an inconvenience than anything else when it comes to birding. But rains that caused floods will result in more dire and severe consequences.