Friday 15 March 2024

Easy pickings...


It is that time of the year again for my annual pilgrimage to the forests of Kedah to witness the natural phenomenon courtesy of the fruiting trees found there. Dozens of forest species congregating on a single tree to feast is an occurrence that I do not think will ever cease to amaze and excite for me. This particular tree is new to me and its position and size is very promising indeed.

With their constantly puffed out yellow throats, it was no surprise that the Finsch’s Bulbuls were the first birds to gain my attention. This species is relatively common here but I am not one to dismiss a bird just because of its status. I no longer spend that much time out in the field like I used to do. There are a few contributing factors and age, unfortunately, is definitely one of them. You know what they say about absence making the heart grow fonder. Thus, the Finsch’s Bulbuls were documented with much enthusiasm as it has been quite a while since my last encounter.

The presence of food naturally made the birds bolder and at this range and manner, even my modest gear could cope with the lighting condition of early morn and the movement of the birds.

Black-headed Bulbuls are naturally vocal and the ones that frequented the fruiting tree on this beautiful morning remained true to that trait. However, they are more suspicious of humans than most of the other patrons and refused to forage anywhere except on the topmost branches.

Once the appealing presence of colours started to sizzle down, my attention was drawn to the less conspicuous bulbul species and none more so than the plain Buff-vented Bulbul. However, plain does not mean ugly and I am a firm believer that there is beauty in simplicity.

It has been said your eyes are the window to your soul but I cannot be certain if that is applicable to birds as well. One thing I am sure is that eyes are the window to positive identification for certain species of bulbuls. And the pure white iris of Cream-vented Bulbul usually prevents any misidentifications - usually.

Some bulbuls, on the other hand, require more than one field mark to nail their identification. Part of the joys of birding. Contrary to its name, the Red-eyed Bulbul is not the only Bulbul with red eyes. Sometimes, it is difficult to accurately describe a plain bird in words and I will not even try to do so here. And these red-eyed bulbuls are indeed Red-eyed Bulbuls. On with the next…

A thin yellow line around the eye is what I usually look for to differentiate the Spectacled Bulbul from the Red-eyed Bulbul. That is easier said than done under normal circumstances when the bird teases you from the forest canopy but at a fruiting tree, the task becomes much easier.

The vicinity sprung to life with the arrival of a flock of Grey-bellied Bulbuls. The beauty and radiance of this species is undeniable and everything else present was momentarily drown out.

My memory card was rapidly filled by images of Grey-bellied Bulbuls as they remained in the vicinity for a long time and exceptionally confiding no doubt food drunk from all the succulent morsels available.

Despite their diminutive size, male Crimson-breasted Flowerpeckers can rival the attractive bulbuls in terms of aesthetic appeal. It was a bit of a struggle to capture decent images of the former due to their active nature but the results at the end made the effort worth while.

Flowerpeckers are far more territorial than bulbuls and the equally enchanting male Orange-bellied Flowerpeckers finally had their spot in the limelight when no other species were present.

It would not be fair to disregard the Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker due to its more cryptic colouration but the fruiting tree provided some photographic opportunities that were fully utilized by yours truly.

The last entry for this post is a reptile that managed to draw my attention away from all the activity of the fruiting tree at one point during my time there. It was a sizeable Twin-spotted House-Gecko and the intricate patterns on its upperparts were an understandable distraction.