There are times when I may have a hard time deciding on where to take my guests in order to make their birding excursions here with me memorable and rewarding. Well, I had no such issues this time. The fruiting tree at Sungai Sedim was still at full swing. I knew exactly where to take my latest guest, who hails from Switzerland, for the first day of his tour. Just like last weekend, the first bird to catch our attention at the blessed tree was a brilliant male Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker.
However, the flowerpeckers seemed a little reluctant to be photographed well today and I had to work hard to obtain unobstructed shots - like this of Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker indulging on Mother Nature’s tantalizing offerings.
The Yellow-vented Flowerpecker made a brief appearance the last time and this time, it was just being plain difficult...
I will never get tired of the Grey-bellied Bulbul - who could? Today a small flock mesmerized all those present with their striking colours and confiding nature. Bright lighting is desired when it comes to photographing forest birds but too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. The harsh lighting today made photography quite challenging at times to say the least. But whatever it is, it cannot deny the Grey-bellied Bulbul of their radiating presence and the excitement they can evoke.
The area around the fruiting had a high level of bird activities as well and that frequently distracted us from the ongoing feast at the tree. The Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher is a common resident in the forest here. There is a good reason why it is called a Canary-flycatcher and its sweet song can be heard almost every time we bird through this neck of the woods. As it is now the breeding season, the vocalization of this adorable bird is even more prominent throughout the vicinity.
The canopy of tropical rainforests is home and sanctuary to countless remarkable avian species. Unless one can levitate 30 feet or more into the air, these birds can be difficult to observe. I have encountered the Great Iora here in Sungai Sedim on several occasions before never once was I lucky enough to get a decent shot of this striking bird. While enjoying a birdwave that was passing through, I spotted a male Great Iora rummaging through the canopy for prey items. I did not give it much thought until it suddenly stopped and took a breather. Unlike all my previous experiences, it remained stationery in the open long enough for me (and my guest) to capture his image. It may not be a great photo but it is certainly a treasured one.
Even the sky above the fruiting tree contributed to this rewarding excursion to Sungai Sedim. The resident pair of Crested Goshawks are getting ready to breed making them conspicuous throughout the morning. One of them even performed an aerial display to impress his mate (I am assuming that it is a he) and I do not think any female will be able to resist his valiant efforts.
On route to the paddy fields of mainland Penang, we made a detour to check on the Barred Eagle-owls of Kulim Hi-Tech Park – as usual. Just like my last visit, the owl was resting on one of the lower branches but in order to obtain an unobstructed image, we needed to walk round this huge rain tree and that added distance but it was a much clearer view of the owl. Needless to say, my guest was spellbound by its presence.
The number of Asian Openbills left present at the paddy fields here is relatively low and some days, I do not even see them at all. A couple of them was foraging at a flooded patch of the fields and it was only right to take the time and soak in the view.
The final destination before calling it a day was the swamp forest of Air Hitam Dalam. The Mangrove Blue Flycatcher has always been a favourite for most of my guests when they visit this locality and of this day, it still is. Tame and beautiful, the male provided another splendid performance. Celebrity birds come and go at this little piece of birding paradise but the true star of Air Hitam Dalam, the Mangrove Blue Flycatcher, is still showing well after all this time.
As we were about to wrap things up for the day, an unexpected shower had us seeking shelter in one of the gazebos. While waiting out the rain, a cow carcass floated down river towards us. Judging from the size, it appeared to be a young one. Just to make conversation, I mentioned to my guest that crocodiles are rare in Malaysia. At that point, a dark shape started to swim towards the carcass. I held my breath as I have yet to see a wild crocodile in Malaysia. As the animal clawed its way up the side of the carcass, it turned out to be a Monitor Lizard - attracted by the odour of rotting flesh undoubtedly. I guess the carcass was too much of a mouthful for it and the lizard slid down into the river again soon after. As the excitement of the incident sizzled down to stop so did the shower and we made our way back to the car contented after a great day of birding.