Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Just when you thought you have seen it all

The usual misty condition at first light injects an enchanting feel to our journey as we made our way to the wilds of Pedu Lake. I was with no ordinary company this time. Ayuwat, Wichyanan and Ingkayut are some of the most knowledgeable and dynamic birders from Thailand. It was an honour to host them for a visit to one of my birding haunts. But the birding had to wait. As we approached the lake systems, I could not believe my eyes. There was traffic congestion ahead and from past experiences, one hardly sees another vehicle here at this ungodly hour. There was a huge cycling event taking place and the participants were taking their time parking their vehicles. Hence, the traffic woe. I guess I have to be thankful our destination is still quite a drive away and the congregation of humans here will have no effect on us. Despite the worrying weather forecast, it was a beautiful morning at Pedu Lake and my companions were soon mesmerized by the denizens that call this forest home.

Not much hosting was required from me. My companions are accomplished birders and most of the birds found here also occur in their country as well. It is impossible for a flock of munias to receive the undivided attention of this group of ours - unless they were White-bellied Munias. Here in Malaysia, this uncommon bird with its characteristic straw-coloured tail is restricted to forested areas and this is the first time I am seeing them at this locality. Unfortunately, the munias were skittish and we could not reduce the distance for improvement shots. My images in the end were far perfect but the encounter was memorable. So much so that I was a little embarrassed I could not contain my excitement better in front of my Thai counterparts.

The birds of Pedu were quite camera-shy today but we did manage to record some interesting species. A small fruiting tree attracted a few bulbuls and that kept us occupied for some time. A flock of Hairy-backed Bulbuls were part of the patrons to the tree.

Another conspicuous species was the Cream-vented Bulbul. Now if I am posting images of common species that are even partly blocked by the vegetation, you know it has been a slow day for photography.

Then came along a confiding male Black-and-yellow Broadbill to save the day. This adorable bird can be exceptionally confiding at times and I just cannot resist its charm whenever it is present. Perched along the middle storey of the forest, it provided tantalizing views and the angle was quite reasonable for photography as well.

Unbelievably, we had a Banded Broadbill calling very close by. And no sooner had the Black-and-yellow Broadbill retreated back into the dense vegetation of the canopy, a female Banded Broadbill came and took his place. Apart from her exceptionally confiding behaviour, one other thing got our undivided attention – the spur-like feather sticking out from her shoulders. Neither of us have ever seen this before. It goes to show that in birding just when you thought you have seen all there is to see of a species, Mother Nature springs up another surprise to keep you intrigued. Pedu, in the end, did manage to provide a taste of birding over this side of the border for my Thai comrades despite the sight lack of good photographic opportunities.

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