Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The (Kenny) Hills are alive with the sound of (Birds) music

Skyscrapers of Kuala Lumpur including iconic Twin Towers and Telekom Tower in the distant horizon of the precious green patch Bukit Tunku (Kenny Hills) 
I'm a Johorian, living in Kuala Lumpur and working in the State of Selangor for the past 14 years. Through the years of driving to and from my workplaces (in Seri Kembangan and now Cyberjaya), I had discovered a "last mile" traffic-free route to my KL condo away from the massive traffic jams during rush hour in the city. I was so busy in my car driving through the inner roads of Bukit Tunku (Kenny Hills), on weekdays that it was only during Movement Control Order (MCO) phase in Malaysia, that I discovered that I could actually take a walk and go birdwatching in and around Bukit Tunku area. I did my Global Big Day 2020 during MCO in Bukit Tunku, with Malaysia's total on 9th May 2020 recorded at 322 species from 77 checklists which can be read HERE with my checklist HERE. It was a serendipitous occasion for me to discover the birdlife of Kenny Hills and when I first encountered the view above, as I stepped out of my car after more than a month of self-imposed isolation in a condo, 
I felt like Julie Andrew's character "Maria" in "The Sound of Music" although weather-wise, KL's tropical heat is the opposite of Salzburg, Austria's snow-capped Alps. I didn't burst into a song and run around the hills like Maria did but Kenny Hills was bursting with the songs of garden birds that day, and I just let the bird songs soak into my being. Woodpeckers were heard calling away on a different visit and the recent avian encounters are as described below, including a memorable sighting of the smallest raptor species in the world! The Black-thighed Falconet's geographical range appears to be confined to Southeast Asian countries of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, as described in eBird portal HERE. The checklist from eBird Malaysia can be read HERE. Some of the road names in Bukit Tunku are identical to those in Fraser Hill, a place also fondly known as the Little England of Malaysia. 
Paddyfield Pipit with a tasty grub that Sunday afternoon
The Paddyfield Pipit was literally the only bird on this mound of grass high on the hills
A vacant bungalow/mansion lot on "Beverley Hills" of Malaysia that is Bukit Tunku
 Lovely grove of trees where the Black-thighed falconets were spottedThe first Black-thighed Falconet spotted was perched on top of this tree. Rusty orange (almost Brown) wash on chest all the way to its underparts on the front part of its body, the colour of which was missing from the other falconets seen later.   
Two Black-thighed Falconets were seen later in the afternoon.
The white and lighter rusty orange on their breast and underparts, differentiated these pair from the solitary falconet seen earlier
Faint rusty orange colour just visible from belly below for this Black-thighed Falconet facing me
Black-thighed Falconets facing in opposite directions of Kenny Hills
Two White-breasted Waterhen on the remaining outer wall of a vacant mansion lot. 
White-breasted Waterhen before it jumped into the drain, below.
Yellow-vented Bulbul in the drain
It was a hot Sunday afternoon, and though I did hear the woodpeckers call again that day, none flew out. I had seen 3 woodpeckers the day before, with 2 of them flying out from a tree across the road towards the lower part of the hills. One of the woodpecker was seen hopping vertically up the trunk of a large tree earlier on lower part of the hills. The 3 woodpeckers had grouped together and were perched on an oil palm tree before flying into a barren tree, and were sunning themselves on this barren tree for quite a long time. My camera and binoculars were NOT in my car at that time, and all I could do was just to marvel and gaze as these woodies for as long as they would allow me to. My first guess would be that these 3 were the Banded woodpeckers, judging by their brownish red plumage, and calls. These woodpeckers have been described in Field Guide as frequenting mid-level as well as canopy-level of trees. 



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