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Birding on X'Mas Day (Ulu Kali) - 2013

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Year 2013 has been both an exciting as well as a challenging year! It was challenging in the sense that the events prelude to the 13th GE as well as its aftermath has make life difficult for some common people. Nevertheless the good and exciting thing about year 2013 is that there were many new country records been established or almost confirmed. In addition more lifers were recorded by many birders alike. Thank God the birds do not wear any political hats. I have my fair bit of lifers this year namely the "Bar-Bellied Cuckooshrike", "Bridled Tern", "Schrenck's Bittern", "Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler", "Lesser-Crested Tern with a ring band" and "Aleutian Tern" to name a few. 
I spent sometime on X'mas day to do some birding with my dad and i think he was quite happy to see the familiar telekom station up on the hill. Here are some of the common birds seen.


Have not seen many of this wabler nowadays.
Most of thes…

Little Tern (Sterna albifrons)

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Last but not least in the series of tern's photos in their non-breeding/wintering colors is the Little Tern (Sterna albifrons). At 22cm - 25cm it is the smallest tern as compared to other terns such as White-Winged and Whiskered Tern. There are probably three (3) common ways which you could use to identify this little tern:

i)  From its long and very sharp pointed bill.

ii) From its rapid wing beats (like a Black-Winged Kite) in mid air.

iii) From its smaller size.







At times they do also rest on mudflats/shore but seldom seen them "floating" on debris in the sea.
If you could enlarge this photo you could see its fifth rectrices (p5) which is just like a thin filament. I don't see such feature in other terns so far (see photo below).




Little Tern in breeding colors (below)



HAPPY BIRDING !




Lesser Crested Tern (Sterna bengalensis)

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From my recent pelagic trip off the coast of Kuala Selangor, Peninsular Malaysia on 16 November 2013, i have the opportunity to observed and photographed the Lesser Crested Tern (Sterna bengalensis) which were reported to be frequently seen here but lesser in numbers as compared to the Greater Crested Terns (Sterna bergii). 
It was reported that there were three main subspecies for this tern:  i) S.b bengalensis (medium-dark grey above), ii) S.b torresii (dark grey above) and iii) S.b emigrata: (pale grey above). S.b bengalensis were reported to breed in abundance in the red sea and have been ringed in large flocks under the Mediterranean Seabirds Action Plan in Libya and Bahrain. Here are some of the photos of the Lesser Crested Tern seen at this coastline:


Adult winter birds were reported to spot all grey on its upper wings as depicted from the above two photos while the top most photo could possibly shown a juvenile or a 1st winter bird.
They (the Lesser Crested Terns) have occupi…

White-Winged Tern (Chlidonias Leucopterus)

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It has been well written that the identification between Whiskered Terns (Ch. hybridus) and White-Winged Terns (Ch. Leucopterus) during winter/outside its breeding season has been a major headache to the recreational birders / lay people. In fact some articles to some extent has declared that the differences between the two terns species are almost inseparable in the field during winter. Numerous research/articles have thus been written seeking reliable markers/identification patterns/plumages of juvenile, first winter and adult winter birds but the conclusions have always been somewhat inconsistent. For example it was reported that Whiskered Terns have longer bill as compared to White-Winged terns but that was only true for males as females Whiskered Terns were reported to have similar shorter and stockier bill as White Winged Terns. Similarly White-Winged Terns are also reported to retain some black patches/feathers on its body side while molting from breeding to winter plumages. T…

Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus)

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This is a continuation from my earlier audacious attempt to show the photos of the four most commonly seen terns in Peninsular Malaysia. This time it will be "Whiskered Tern" (C.h hybridus). Said to be one of the largest marsh tern measuring approximately between 25 - 29 cm (10in - 12in). Also known as river terns in some books.
At a certain angle you may think that it could be a common tern. However the bill of a Whiskered Tern was reportedly to be a bit shorter and stubbier. 
It has a black patch and a scally/streaked cap at its hind crown as compared to a common tern. Looks like it also has shorter and broader wings. Its body length also looks a fraction less than a common tern.


The bird above had just undergone molting - probably into its first winter plumage. This is the only tern i think which has black smudges on its body. 




You can see that its tail is rather short and less forked as compared to the Common Terns.

Like all terns it would constantly look down to the wa…