Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Here we go again...

The grassland at Chuping is constantly changing due to the agricultural activities of man. This year the birding area around the sugar mill have lost most of its appeal as the rubber tree saplings have now grown tremendously. Further up north, there are development plans in the works but for now, it is fruit farms and other less destructive crops. Here, the birds can still find refuge but to a lesser degree. I found myself back at this locality for the second successive Saturday to observe and admire its rich and spectacular bird life while it last. This Long-tailed Shrike greeted the new day with a series of territorial call whilst on an exposed perch. Now that is a certainly a splendid way to start off a birding excursion.

Chuping is now the only place in Malaysia where the rare and stunning Bronze-winged Jacana is regularly encounter. However, it is a shy bird and difficult to approach. Perseverance is a virtue in birding. After countless attempts for decent shot since its discovery here last season, I finally managed some reasonable images of this waterbird.

In the neighbouring pond, we caught sight of a Little Cormorant sunning itself after the morning hunt. I saw it on this very perch last week.  It is not so much its favourite perch but the only suitable one in the locality.

My companions for this trip, Victor and Sanjeevi, are rather new to this birding paradise. So, it was quite an experience for them.

Another species that was still frequenting the same spot as last week were the Red-throated Pipits. As usual, these birds are frustratingly difficult to observe and photograph. But when one decided to post so elegantly on some dried branches, it certainly did not go unnoticed. True that it may be slightly far away but this is a Red-throated Pipit and this is at most times as good as it will ever get.

A gathering of Black Drongos on one of the many isolated trees in the grassland caught our attention. Apparently this spot held a considerable amount of prey as the birds were frequently seen making short sallies from the tree and back. They even forgo their usual wariness of human approach and allowed us to enjoy the encounter from close range.

Raptors will always be one of the main highlights for any excursion to Chuping. This time, the Osprey provided the best photographic opportunity when it was seen soaring overhead. The harsh midday lighting hampered my photographic efforts. But there is no denying the grace and beauty of this elegant raptor that has made Chuping one of its regular wintering grounds here in Malaysia.

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