Friday, July 8, 2016

Bird Watching in an Enchanted Forest, A Field Report (AM) - June 2016

Like most hobbies, bird watching can also be very addictive. You will need to learn how to phase yourself. Too much of it will get you burned out while too little or infrequent trips might probably make you lost touch of its latest development and eventually your interest as well. When you are in the forest, you will at times felt like you are connected to nature. You will have this feeling when nature behave like what they are supposed to be in your presence. Have a look at this Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica) below.

At first it flew into a bare patch of ground in between some low bushes. It then moved around to look for some "tit-bits" to eat from the ground. Having done with its meal it stop and started to casually preened itself right in front of us.

There were no staging here, no meal worms given nor any extras were called in. This was nature at its natural best behavior. It did not bother the bird at all even when we moved around to photograph it. That was what the meaning of "feeling connected" is all about.

There is probably some similarity between a bird and a cyclist - both of them seem to enjoy been photographed. Thank you bro ! Netizens should applaud you for being such a sport.

Silver-Rumped Spinetail (Rphahidura leucopygialis)
You can clearly see its whitish rump despite the poor light in the early hours of morning.

Sooty Barbet (Calorhamphus fuliginosis)

Blue-Eared Kingfisher (Alcedo meninting)
After so many times and years of zipping passed me, i am so delighted to get its photo albeit a shaky one ! It perched on a branch quite close to a stream under a dense foliage. The reddish color at the base of its bill should indicate that of a female Blue-Eared. This (i believe) is one of the top five (5) most sort after "kings" by bird photographers after the Blue-Banded Kingfisher, Ruddy Kingfisher, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher and Banded Kingfisher in this region.

Ruby-Cheeked Sunbird (Anthreptes simplex) - female

Again after so many years of blur photos, i have finally able to get a somewhat 'decent' photo of a Horsfield's Babbler.
Malacocincla sepiarium
This babbler was initially traced from its calls which was surprising a one note call instead of its usual 3 notes. Its one note call sounded like a "ferruginous babbler" (Trichastoma bicolor) calls - personal obsr. After awhile it went silent but luckily for me it moved up from the dense foliage.

                    Abbott's Babbler                                                     Horsfield's Babbler

Some differences which can be observed from the above photos are as follows:
i)  Horsfield's Babbler's bill is hooked at its tip.
ii) Abbott's Babbler's legs look paler.
iii) Horsfield's Babbler's tail looks slightly shorter.
iv) Abbott's Babbler's throat is more whitish than Horsfield's.
v) Abbott's Babbler has a more prominent supercilium.

So there you go ! It looks like birding in the morning produces more variety of birds than in the afternoon.


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Identification of Birds through Silhouette

If you have been doing bird watching with birders around the globe, you will probably accustomed of been woken up from your dreams in order to be at the birding site before sunrise. The more crazy ones would insist that you be up as early as 4.00am if you wish to see certain nocturnal birds. During those godly misty hours you might just be able to see a few silhouettes of flying birds which may at times look like a flying bat from a distance, vice versa. But no worries ! Through experience you should be able to roughly guess what those silhouettes represent. 

Here are several silhouettes of birds which i have managed to capture in my birding trips around Peninsular Malaysia. All images depicted here were taken in late 2015 to June this year (2016). Some of them were common birds and some are ........of course uncommon :-) See whether you can guess them all or if not some of it (note: some do show diagnostic structural shapes and features). If you are still unsure, their answers are at the bottom of this post. Have fun !

Image # 1

Image # 2

Image # 3

Image # 4

Image # 5

Image # 6

Image # 7

Image # 8

Image # 9

Image # 10

Image # 11

Image # 12

Image # 13

Image # 14

Image # 15

Image 1 = Collocalia fuciphaga (Edible-Nest Swiflet)
Image 2 = Collocalia germani (Germain's Swiflet)
Image 3 = Apus affinis (House Swift)
Image 4 = Columba livia (Rock Pigeon)
Image 5 = Streptopelia chinensis (Spotted Dove)
Image 6 = Merops philippinus (Blue-Tailed Bee-Eater)
Image 7 = Corvus splendens (House Crow)
Image 8 = Haliastur indus (Brahminy Kite) 
Image 9 = Irena puella (Asian Fairy Bluebird) - male
Image 10 = Dicrurus paradiseus (Greater Racket-Tailed Drongo)
Image 11 = Mulleripicus pulverulentus (Great Slaty Woodpecker)
Image 12 = Pernis ptilorhyncus (Oriental Honey-Buzzard)
Image 13 = Rhaphidura leucopygialis (Silver-Rumped Needletail/Spinetail)
Image 14 = Gracula religiosa (Hill Myna)
Image 15 = Psittinus cyanurus (Blue-Rumped Parrots)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

No Ruddy ! No Problem ! - Birding in June 2016

The jungles in Peninsular Malaysia have so much to offer that i believe Sir David F. Attenborough would have felt like a young man again if he ever foraged into one over here. While the migrant birds have left the shores of Peninsular Malaysia, the local birds are having a ball of a time. I tried to catch a glimpse of Ms Ruddy the Kingfisher but she was already long gone when i reached the place. The other residents nevertheless took over the show.

Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela malayensis)
Ever wonder how did this CSE got into those maze of twisted vines and twigs? Actually it first perched on a bare trunk slightly to his right. As he noticed that i was watching him, he had slowly tip-toed into those vines and twigs so that he could be 'hidden' from my view.  Ha ! you could never hide from this ol' man. After awhile he got fed-up and flew away to another tree. 

Not long after he departed, i saw him again ! This time just look at what has he got? (see photo below)
Crested Serpent Eagle with Prey
Once awhile you will get this sort of stunning and priceless photo. It had already beheaded the snake when i saw him. This is a photo showing a hunter living fullest to its namesake. Due to its headless state, experts have had some difficulty in identifying the snake but they reckoned that the snake could either be a Ptyas carinata (Keeled Rat Snake) or a Xenochrophis flavipunctatus (Yellow-Spotted Keelback Water Snake). As the saying goes: "whatever you do, just don't lose your cool and head" !

Malacocincla abbotti abbotti
May i introduce you to "Sergeant Abbot".  He is well trained in jungle terrain, very illusive and always keeping himself very low in thick undergrowth.

His only weakness is that he likes to sing and at times he is loud which often reveals its position. 

Ini burung hijrah ke?
Ya ! ini burung hijrah. Mereka hijrah dari Seberang Jaya ke Kepala Batas setiap hari !

I wish i have those mesmerising eyes !

Dusky Langur
A new resident primate at this place.

Pink-Necked Green Pigeon (Male)

I have noted that this place has recorded "Tinkle Bell's" Flycatcher before so could this be it?

This one is certainly a Mangrove Blue Flycatcher !

How about this one? Could this be a Slaty-Backed Flycatcher?

Maybe but whatever your guesses are, i believe this flycatcher was just a Mangrove Blue Flycatcher as well ! (note: its longer bill and body size)

Wonder what was it looking at?

Could it be this gigantic Purple Heron?

Nope! its even bigger than the above bird (see photo below)
It flew so low that you can see its markings and serial numbers.

Perhaps it was sending lots of "kimchi" to Penang island people !