Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

My first birding excursion of the year took me to the virgin jungles of Bukit Wang in Kedah state. This time I had with me three Singaporean guests and as usual, we reached the location in good time. This is always the hottest time of the year for the peninsular and today was no exception. The scorching sun soon found its way through the dense vegetation and as the lighting improve so did our opportunities to capture the fascinating bird life found within the borders of the reserve. The Green-backed Flycatcher is an uncommon migrant to our shores. This season, one has been showing well to everyone that took the effort to appreciate its stunning presence. Murphy had no role to play today and it was a handsome male bird.

His preference for the lower storey provided eye-level observations. Although he was confiding, the dim lighting often required additional effort to capture his images well. But he was worth it.

I have encountered the Short-tailed Babbler here before but today was the first time I managed to photograph this charming little bird. As its name implies, the tail is certainly short and that makes the Short-tailed Babbler naturally adorable.

A bird of the forest undergrowth, one seldom gets the chance to observe its delightful antics out in the open. It may not be an uncommon species but it certainly deserved my acknowledgement as one of the highlights of this trip.

The male Chinese Blue Flycatcher was at his usual spot. Like the Green-backed Flycatcher, he also frequents the forest understorey. Although, it was a bright and sunny day, it was not much to our advantage on this occasion. The harsh lighting and shadows was a constant hindrance to obtaining good images.

However, he gave a memorable performance and that is all we birders could ever ask for. The elements of Mother Nature is beyond our control and I try my best to be grateful of what that has been given.

Our next location of the day was the mangroves of Sungai Batu and the sizzling weather followed our every footstep. Inevitably, light and shadows came into play again and we had to make the best out of the situation. The birds on the other hand like this Yellow-vented Bulbul appeared unperturbed with the heat and life goes on.

The Abbott’s Babblers have been a regular feature here for years and that certainly earned my gratitude. Their inquisitive nature and adorable antics are always a delight. Despite their dull colouration and common status, the Abbott’s Babblers play an integral role in my birding circuit.

All three wintering Forest Wagtails were present at the stakeout today. At one point, the swampy floor was crawling with Forest Wagtails and that is something you do not see often. Once the wagtails settled down, so did the birders who were present. And we were provided with some excellent opportunities to capture the images of these beautiful migrants.

Our second Blue Flycatcher of the trip came in the form of a male Mangrove Blue Flycatcher and he was a handsome specimen indeed. It would take something out of the ordinary to outdo the performance of this morning’s Chinese Blue Flycatcher. This Mangrove Blue Flycatcher certainly did.

It has been a long time since I last took so many images of a Mangrove Blue Flycatcher. Its regular appearance at a few of my local patches is to be blamed. I am not proud of the fact that I too have started to take this species for granted. I am only human after all.

The Mangrove Pitta was sorely missed for the past few months. And today, it finally revealed itself long enough for me to photograph and enjoy the moment. The lighting was horrendous but it did not matter. I am elated to have it back in my life again. This Mangrove Pitta, after all, is one the main highlights of my tours around Penang. I hope to see more of it for the rest of the year. But for now, the celebrity bird of Sungai Batu wrapped things up for the day.


YCee said...

Beautiful pictures and birds. Very inspiring.

Choy Wai Mun said...

Thank you

Kezonline said...

Yes, another successful round trip with some nice pics despite your difficult lighting conditions. So many wintering guests, the forest wagtails must have been a great sight on the Sungai Batu mangrove ground :-))

Choy Wai Mun said...

Thank you, Kieron. The wagtails were my saviours for the visit there.