The Difference Between a Twitcher and a Birder

You might probably have known who are those bird photographers are. Over in this region they would often sit on a folded chair with their menacing looking camera system inside a hide or a camouflage shade in some muddy and mosquito infested jungle waiting patiently for their precious birds to drop in. Many people, however might find it a bit difficult to identify themselves as either a birder or a twitcher.  I did some research and here is what i have discovered.

Apparently the word "twitcher" is a British term (who else ?) which carries the meaning of observing a previously located rare bird. Twitchers are only interested in looking for rare birds to add on to their list of birds seen. Through their intel network, they would travel at any available time and usually covering large distances just to see a rare bird. Nevertheless it has also been said that any serious birdwatcher will take great exception to being called a twitcher, really? Birders on the other hand will make careful notes of the birds they see whether if they are a common or dull looking birds. Here are some of the birds which i have seen so far (2018) - both common and rare ones included.

Mangrove Pitta

When i first saw this bird, it was together with a bird photographer, Mr JT Cham from PJ as he introduced himself. He drives an old car which looks destined to a scrap yard. I thought he might just be a push-over. So i begin to tell him about bird watching etc. Then he went to his car and took out a camera set which cost more than his junk and my car combined. I kept very quiet the entire day thereafter.

This is a resident bird which is reported to have no recognised subspecies (monotypic) at the moment. It has been reported to be "Near Threatened" since 1988 (ref: IUCN Red list). Here you can see its thin black median stripe on its forehead.  

Lesser Whistling Duck

The one on the right i believe could be a male.

Several pairs were observed here. 

(Note the black streaks on their necks. It could be sign of breeding mood)

Little Grebe

Looks like this male Little Grebe is also into breeding colors. 

Watercock (Male)

Swamp dwelling water birds are interesting to see especially a male watercock in breeding colors. (field notes: red frontal lobe and blackish colors). Although locally common here but to see one preening out in the open is exceptionally pleasing. Apparently this is also a monotypic species.

Pied Fantail

You do not need a 800mm to shoot this bird. A normal P&S camera will get the same results.

Forest Wagtail

This is one of the few migrant wagtails which frequent this region. It departs very late indeed.

I really can't make out what species the above bird belongs to but i reckoned it could just be some juvenile bulbul species.

Note: local experts here reckoned that it could be a "Rufous-Fronted Babbler"

An adult female Common Iora

Field note: pale body colors and wing bars

Red Collered Dove

This should be an adult male identified from its pale bluish-grey head and pinkish-red body colors. Also note its darker colored legs instead of pink legs as depicted by some field guides.

These Red Collared Doves appears to be more common in Northern Peninsular Malaysia. The ones seen as far down in Malacca were probably escapees or introduced birds.

The one in the background with brownish body color could be a female.

Could this be a Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus)?

Nowadays it could be quite difficult to ascertain whether these chickens are the domesticated ones or
are they from the wild as the ones seen here have almost all the features of the wild Gallus gallus. They could have hybrid with their local cousins but retained most of their wild genes or they could have just migrated from the jungle to become domesticated.

The above could be a Germain's Swiftlet as it has the typical overall paler/ashy colors and it appears bulkier than the edible bird nest swiflets.

The above is a juvenile Jungle Myna (A.fucus)

Field note: light brown with pale bluish eyes.

Mangrove Blue Flycatcher (female)

Mangrove Blue Flycatcher (Male)

I think not many birders have seen a pale yellow throat patch displayed by a male Mangrove Blue Flycatcher.

Dollar Bird

At the moment it was reported that Dollar Bird has 10 subspecies. The one which is a resident here is E.o. orientalis which is reported to have a dark brown to greenish head with bluish streaked throat.  The ones which winters here i.e E.o. abundus is reported to have darker black head and head sides which appears like a hood. Not sure which subspecies does the above bird belongs to though.

Abbott's Babbler

The above photo clearly shows the distinctive field marks of an Abbott's Babbler i.e longer tail, clear supercilium and deeper rufescent color near its vent as compared to a Horsfield's Babbler.

Mangrove Whistler

Apparently there are only 2 recognised subspecies and in Malaysia it is represented by P.c. cinerea. which is reported to be much browner as compared to its Phillipines cousins. When it sings the entire mangroves lights up.

  Despite its dull colors, its a popular bird amongst the bird photographers.

One of the distinguish field marks of this bird is its pale grey legs which can be seen from the above photo.

Puff-Throated Babbler

Despite its common status over here, this was the first time i have seen this babbler.

Rufous-backed Kingfisher

I believe the above kingfisher is a resident kingfisher as compared to Black-backed Kingfisher.

Blue-banded Kingfisher

Yup i just have to be there to see my second lifer for this year. The temptation was too great to resist. I was sandwiched between those big frightening lenses but it was fun together with them.

Note: check out its Syndactyl toes arrangement i.e 3 toes in front and 1 behind which is usually associated with kingfishes


So do you now consider yourself a birder or a twitcher? I believe everyone of us would have a bit of this and a bit of that. What defined us individually are those traits or characteristics which we embraced most.

Here is a definition of happiness:

"A person just need 3 things to be happy: i) someone to love ; ii) something to do ; and iii) something to hope for" by Tim Bodott



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