Wednesday 18 May 2022

It is good to be back


My iron steed finally got to stretch her legs with her first interstate journey in more than two years. Almost all COVID-19 restrictions in the country have been lifted this month and hopefully, life will return to be what it used to be. As for me, it is back to the wilds of northern Peninsular Malaysia to make up for all the lost birding time.

Although not much has changed here at the Sungai Batu mangroves, there was one significant difference. The resident Mangrove Pittas, as reported by my fellow birders, have vanished deeper into their swampy domains. This remarkable animal is the star bird of this location and their absence is excruciating difficult to accept. On the other hand, the Mangrove Blue Flycatchers still serenade the vicinity with their beauty and song.

The boisterous Abbott’s Babblers were as prominent as before at the stakeout. The lighting condition was unpredictable today. Passing clouds blocked out the sun intermittently. And I occasionally struggled with my photographic efforts despite the close proximity of the birds.

Rapid movement is one of the main causes for this complication. The Malaysian Pied-Fantail with its signature erratic movements, truly tested my modest setup. A lucky shot during one of the few rare moments when the bird was still provided some extra material for this blog post.

Just because you are out in open spaces does not mean photographing wild birds will be a walk in the park. There will be times when your subject simply refuses to cooperate despite the ideal shooting conditions. Anyway, there is no mistaking a Green-billed Malkoha at this range. And life, goes on.

The resident Crested Serpent-Eagle exhibited its full majesty from the edge of the swamp forest. And this time, it was the distance that prevented better images to be obtained.

Barbets are undeniably vocal and this trait is present in every species including the small and adorable Coppersmith Barbet. The name itself derives from the persistent single note territorial call of the species which is not unlike the sound of a coppersmith at work. I traced the call to a tiny speck at the very top of a dead tree which is typical of the species.

It is not an uncommon bird occurring even in residential areas but good photographic opportunities are hard to come by. That is a shame for the Coppersmith Barbet is a cracking bird. From its lofty perch, it continued to proclaim its territory despite my presence and the encounter turned out to be the highlight of the trip.

The Blue-throated Bee-eaters are back for the summer replacing the wintering Blue-tailed Bee-eaters. Just as spectacular or perhaps even more, a moment is taken to appreciate their return. The electrical cables here certainly make good vantage points for the Blue-throated Bee-eater to launch its aerial assaults.

It is the breeding season for most birds now and the Baya Weaver colonies were buzzing with activities. The males are busy building their astonishing nests and this labour of love is anything but easy. As for the females, life is easy for time being as they linger about waiting to be wooed.

I concluded my feeble Global Big Day effort for this year around mid morning. Other commitments in life seemed to have increased of late. Either that or age have somewhat altered my priorities. But my passion for birding still burns especially when there are birds like the Black-winged Kite to fuel the flames. This poised and efficient hunter wrapped things for the day by resting in full view on an electrical pole along the access road leading out of the site.