I have been birding close to 30 years now and I know that this endeavour is not for everyone. But it is my one true passion in life and my better half knows that she has to accept that birding will always be a part of our lives together as a couple. My last birding trip to the state of Kedah was monumental and it is not because of the birds. I am most grateful that my wife is able to put up with a birding husband for all these years and when she wanted to join me and experience what birding is like, I was overwhelmed with joy. It is not certain if she will take up this peculiar hobby but she is taking the initiative. That is more than I could ask for. Together with my godfather and his friends, the Ch’ngs, we travelled to the interiors of Kedah. Here there are sweeping views like this overlooking Beris Lake that she can enjoy if the birding does not live up to her expectations.
I usually show my wife photos of the birds that I managed to capture after every excursion. One bird that caught her liking almost immediately was the Black-and-yellow Broadbill. It is no surprise as the broadbill is both colourful and cute. A combination very few could resist and I am elated I managed to show her one in the flesh when we walked along the access road of Pedu Lake.
Malkohas are not the easiest of birds to photograph. They tend to move about frequently and keep themselves partly hidden. The unique call of the Raffles’s Malkoha echoed through the vicinity and I tried my best to show my companions the smallest malkoha here in Malaysia. A few fleeting views later, a female rested momentarily among the dense foliage of the canopy and is all I have to show for the encounter.
This is a sight I would love to get used to…
Base on past experiences, I find the Osprey generally is a shy and wary raptor. From a distance, we had good views of one feasting on a freshly caught prey. The observation ended abruptly when a car drove past us and inevitably, the Osprey. As expected the fish hawk took flight with lunch securely in its powerful talons.
The mangroves of Sungai Batu was our next destination. Although not as picturesque as the previous location, it does has own charm. Anyway, this is Mangrove Pitta territory. Being scenic is not required. The pitta is another species that struck my wife’s fancy in the past. Mrs. Ch’ng is also experiencing her maiden birding excursion and the ladies are lucky to have a Mangrove Pitta on their first day out in the field.
Another favourite among my companions were the Mangrove Blue-Flycatchers and their striking colouration probably had a lot to do with it. The female was more obliging today and produced a wonderful performance.
The hypnotic sway of the Forest Wagtail left a lasting impression despite lacking vivid colours in its plumage. Casually strolling along the muddy terrain and occasionally very close by, it is no wonder it was such a hit.
Being natural skulkers, the Puff-throated Babblers remained undetected until the more vibrant species have retreated back into the swamp forest. The distinct patterns on these birds made it easier for me to describe them…
The Abbott’s Babbler, on the other hand, is about as plain as you can get. But this little brown job played a role as well to help complete a rewarding excursion. As for myself it was more about the company I was in and God willing, this will not be the last birding adventure that I will get to enjoy with the queen of my heart.