Tuesday, 27 June 2017

When life gives you lemons...

The sweeping waters of the Sedim River is just as awe-inspiring as it was during my first ever visit to this locality more than a decade ago. Despite being gazetted as only a recreational forest, Sungai Sedim has not changed much through the years and for that, I am most grateful. I still have a birding site near Penang where the wing beats of the majestic hornbills regularly echo through the vicinity and forest denizens foraged among the lush vegetation as well. Too many sites, even those gazetted with a higher status, have been devastated under the wake of Man. Way too many...

The persistent call of the Rufous-collared Kingfisher stopped me at my tracks. I have very few good images of this forest kingfisher despite the fact that it is regularly recorded here. On numerous occasions during my visits to this location, I have failed to see the bird despite tracking the call almost back to the source. This time the call sounded very close and I slowly inch my way forward with ab overwhelming sense of anxiety. And just beyond the first layer of vegetation, I saw him. Perched on an exposed vine, this male bird was proclaiming his territory. I threaded carefully as it is I who has trespassed into his domain. However, it is not out of fear but respect for the king. Besides, any sudden movements and I would have blown any chances of capturing his images. The lighting may not have been perfect to bring out the true colours of the kingfisher but the encounter certainly was.

Woodpeckers are remarkable birds and the commoner species are often taking for granted. At first glance, the Buff-necked Woodpecker may appear to be dull-coloured and its preference for the dimly lighted parts of the forest is no help to its aesthetic appeal. I was fortunate to come across this pair foraging on the edge of the forest where the sunlight was able to reveal the fine patterns of the birds. The male with the red moustache was leading the way and provided very little photographic opportunities.

His mate, on the other hand, moved at a more leisurely pace and allowed to me capture more than one single image. She may lack the additional facial colour of the male but her obliging behaviour certainly helped me look past that.

I came across two other species of woodpeckers today. The Maroon Woodpecker only offered a glimpse of its ivory bill as it darted across a gloomy ravine. The Checker-throated Woodpecker faired only slightly better by briefly showing off its namesake to me before disappearing from sight.

Sungai Sedim has always been a stronghold for babblers of all shapes and sizes. Of the dozen or so species encountered today only one was confiding enough to allow its images to be captured. But it did not come easy. Taunting me from the safety of the middle storey of the forest, the Moustached Babbler made me work very hard for its images. I had to crawl, crouch and curse my way to a couple of mediocre images.

It did provide one shot that was relatively exposed and knew that this is as good as it gets for today.

My gawky attempts for the Moustached Babbler attracted the attention of one of the locals. I only realized later I had an audience when I turned around and saw a pair of puffy white eyes looking back at me. The Dusky Leaf-monkey is the predominant monkey species here. A welcomed change from the usual marauding Long-tailed Macaques.

Apart from babblers, a least a dozen species of Bulbuls also call this forest home. The Grey-bellied Bulbul is certainly one of the most attractive of them all but its preference for the canopy levels often prove difficult for its true splendour to be captured by camera.

As I was making my way back to the car park, I caught sight of the all-too-familiar silhouette of a kingfisher perched among the dense vegetation not too far from the access trail. A quick look through my trusted binos resulted in my second Rufous-collared Kingfisher of the day. The lighting was much better this time but as fate would have it, there was only a tiny window between two branches where I could photograph the bird without any obstructions. As the saying goes, when life gives you lemons make lemonade.

The checklist of birds recorded today can be found here.


kezonline said...

Some hard earned shots there Wai Mun. We let you do the crawling, crouching and cursing as you say and we just get the grand rewards, some lovely pics as usual. It's obviously a labour of love and we are all thebetter of for it. Keep enjoying your endeavours ....

Choy Wai Mun said...

Thanks, Keiron. Birding is a neverending love affair for me.

Mohd Abdul Muin Md. Akil said...

Thats not a dusky leaf monkey. Its the banded leaf monkey. Nicely taken.