Around this time of the year, Chinese folks will be celebrating their Lunar New Year and feasting is one of main components of the celebration. At the Sungai Sedim Recreational Forest in Kedah, the birds will rejoice in celebrations too. It is not their new year but a time when they will get to feast on a number of fruiting trees. I unexpectedly found myself with some free time the morning after the celebration of the Jade Emperor’s birthday. The birthday celebration ended late as expected but I still managed to crawl out of bed and reach the base of one of the fruiting trees of Sungai Sedim in time to catch the first wave of feathered patrons to this annual banquet.
The weather ought to be bright and sunny typical of the Chinese New Year period here in Malaysia. However with everything we have done to the environment, I guess Mother Nature does not play by the rules anymore. The gloomy weather made it difficult for me to capture the true splendid of the male Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker.
All dull coloured flowerpeckers were given extra attention to ensure I do not miss out on any surprises. Today, they were all female Crimson-breasted Flowerpeckers.
It was also a struggle to obtain a decent image of the Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker. This individual gorging on the fruits was constantly on the move and the photo I obtained reflected the scene at the fruiting tree quite accurately. It was a true feast for the birds.
A single female Greater Green Leafbird also made an appearance and her present certainly did not go unnoticed. In fact it was hard to miss her as she took no effort at all to conceal her brilliant green plumage.
As always, bulbuls made up the majority of the bird species patronizing the fruiting tree. Today, I recorded only eight species but it was still a good number. The best photo of the day inevitably came from this family of birds. The Spectacled Bulbul is not exactly a striking species but every bird is beautiful in its own way – especially when it alights on an open perch long enough for you to capture numerous images.
The brown jobs are outstanding today. Like the Spectacled Bulbul, the Cream-vented Bulbul is basically a brown bird. Both species are quite similar but one look at the eyes and they become quite distinct from each other.
Another brown bulbul that joined in the feast was the Buff-vented Bulbul. Subtle differences distinguish it from the other two bulbuls and brown was certainly the colour of the day.
Occasionally, flashes of grey and yellow will emerge from the foliage to feed on the succulent fruits and the beautiful Grey-bellied Bulbul is always a welcomed sight. Unfortunately, this species kept to the top most part of tree and rarely provided any close up shots.
It was more than I say about the Grey-cheeked Bulbul. A pair swung by briefly a few times but kept themselves mostly hidden. For some unknown reason, the activity of the fruiting tree died down sooner than usual and by mid morning, the only movement on the tree was the occasional swaying of the leaves in the breeze. Although I had expected more, the trip here was not a total disappointment. The fruits have brought out some species that are usually difficult to observe and photograph. In nature, nothing is ever a sure thing and to continue to wait would yield no better results.
A Crested Serpent-Eagle certainly appreciated the change of weather. It was hot and sunny now and this common but impressive raptor took full advantage of the hot air thermals to survey its territory. The soaring eagle concluded my excursion this time and I hope to make a return trip before the fruiting season concludes.