Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Naturally Langkawi on a Monday

The fig trees at the front of the Andaman Resort were brimming with activity every morning with birds like the Thick-Billed Pigeons, Oriental Pied Hornbills, all flying in for breakfast, followed by a family of Dusky Leaf Langur and a few Long tail Macaques. The latter according to the nature guide would also frequent the mangrove mudflats along the Langkawi's coast, to hunt and catch crabs. 

A member of the Leaf Langur
My friend and I spent Monday driving around Langkawi Island in our rented MyVi. Temurun waterfall was near Andaman and we walked up to view the falls up close though it was more like looking at water cascading down the face of a steep cliff - it had not rained much in Langkawi for the past few days.

Temurun Waterfall
We stopped for lunch at  Scarborough's, famous for their Fish and Chips. Scarborough's was located in Tanjung Rhu, Langkawi.

Fish & Chips restaurant with one of the loveliest beach views

View of Tanjung Rhu from Scarborough Cafe
Pan-fried Pollock with Chips

We ended up spending the whole afternoon in Kuah town centre. Laksa Power was on afternoon tea menu list before we headed over to Bon Ton restaurant for strawberry smoothies. Bon Ton had a lovely pond which was teeming with waterbirds such as Lesser Whistling Duck, Purple Swamphens, Purple Heron.
Pond at Bon Ton Langkawi

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Naturally Langkawi on a Sunday

The flight from KL (via KLIA2) to Langkawi was less than an hour. My friend and I arrived safely in Langkawi Airport on a very bright sunny Sunday morning. First stop was at Telaga Harbour for brunch at The Loaf. My "Cube Coffee" and Smoked Salmon Foccacia took quite a while to arrive but then it was a Sunday after all. The Loaf Langkawi is still the only Cafe in all of Malaysia that serves this "Cube Coffee". 

Cube Coffee

Smoked Salmon Foccacia

We made a quick stop at Oriental Village to visit the 2014 Asian Bird Fair that was being hosted by Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) before checking in at the Andaman Resort. Most of the afternoon was spent gazing out at the clear waters of the Andaman sea from the deck chair. The Resort's Coral Nursery was an amazing initiative by the Resort to regenerate the corals, a large part of which had been wiped out by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.
Diver "planting" corals in the pool
Corals "blooming" underwater
Diver tending to her Coral Garden
We could feed the fishes in the Coral Nursery though

Looks like fully grown corals

Can you spot Nemo in the Sea Anemone above?

We thought this was a coral but it was actually a Starfish which lived in this nursery

We explored the grounds of the Andaman Resort that Sunday night with our nature guide looking for Colugos and saw these flying lemurs gliding so silently from one tree to the next. Fruit bats, flying squirrels and the red eye shine of the civet cat were also seen during this interesting night walk. Not to forget the resident Tokay Gecko which lives under the eaves of the balcony in the Reception area of the Resort.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Wader Workshop in Kuala Selangor November 2014

The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) 2-day wader workshop which was held at the Kuala Selangor Nature Park (KSNP) during the first weekend of November 2014, was a very educational and eye-opening experience for me. I was an active birdwatcher who fell in love with birdwatching whilst volunteering for a friend's community-based project in Fraser Hill. Montane birdwatching became a lifelong hobby of mine but wader watching proved to be a very different type of birdwatching altogether! Birds sighted during our Saturday evening walk along the trails and mangrove boardwalk of KSNP included Laced Woodpecker (a pair), Dusky Warbler, Pink-Necked Green Pigeon,   Mr Ang has a beautiful picture of the Laced Woodpecker in his Facebook page.
View of lighthouse on Melawati Hill, from KSNP as we headed out of the trail quickly as dusk approached. Common Redshank calls were heard before this wader flew into the mudflats for rest and refuge. Waders, shorebirds, waterbirds - different field guides named them differently. Every single one of these birds play an important role in the ecosystem. Their migratory patterns was explained during the workshop. Mr Ang even showed us pictures of waders which were tagged by researchers from Thailand, China etc. who study the routes taken by these winged wonders when they begin their migration along the East-Asian Australasian Flyway.

Our wader workshop instructor Mr Ang Teck Hin's passion for waders was evident. One of the successful tips for ensuring successful wader watching depended very much on the timing of the tides. For example, high tide times in places like Kapar Power Station play a crucial role and if one goes at the right time, the reward can be the sighting of not only hundreds but thousands of waders coming in to roost and feed.  
Our instructor, Mr Ang on Timing of the Tides
  How to count waders as explained by Mr Ang below. There was a tendency to under-estimate the total number of birds amongst a large group, which were resting on the ground. What was initially estimated as 60 in the picture on the slide, turned out to be hundreds of birds from same wader species. Challenging indeed.
Mr Ang's technique on counting waders of same species
We also learned about size, shape, breeding & non-breeding plumages of different waders, and the environments in which they are found such as wetlands like KSNP, coastal beaches and mudflats like Tanjong Karang and Jeram, paddyfields, marshlands etc. Sekinchan, where the paddyfields were, was quite a distance from Kuala Selangor. Due to time and distance, we didn't cover Sekinchan in our field trips.
Feather of a mysterious wader
The class of November 2014 below which included experienced birdwatchers from MNS Selangor Bird Group who ably guided us during the field trips to Tanjong Karang (on a blistering hot Saturday afternoon) and Jeram, Kuala Selangor (on a less hot Sunday morning).
First Wader Workshop Class of November 2014

Malaysian Nature Society's January 2015 newsletter has published article above and has more information on this Wader Workshop.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Classic work on Birds of Malay Peninsula

This is an amazing website and initiative by Raffles Museum that had digitised four volumes of "The Birds of Malay Peninsula" by Robinson & Chasen. Digitized pages were from Volumes 1 to 4 from 1927 to 1939 editions, although the original work was a five-volume book started in 1903 by H.C. Robinson, according to the National University of Singapore's website.

Have yet to see this Jambu Fruit Dove. Remembered one of the winning teams at the Fraser Hill Bird Race some years ago was aptly named Juicy Lucy and the Jambu Fruit Dove. 

This plate above on the trogons remind me of the Red-Naped Trogon.

Malay Bullfinch as described in Plate which I think has been renamed as Brown Bullfinch. Sighting has been recorded in Fraser Hill and one species of which is nowadays, difficult to find.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Children Book on Birdwatching

The Birdwatchers by Simon James. My sister "spotted" this book in the Segamat Library. What a surprise find it is:-

Lovely and wonderfully quirky illustrations at the official website of Mr Simon James, the author. I couldn't resist counting the number of birds on the cover of this book - which to me, was 11. Would be very interesting to see how many birds a child will see on the cover. Will definitely look out for this book at the upcoming Big Bad Wolf Year End Sales.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Wildlife Crossing Sign and Pied Hornbill

Was using the trunk road less traveled from Kampung Paya Pulai to Pagoh when I stumbled across this Wildlife Crossing sign below. Glad to know the Malaysian Tapir is still alive and well in our forests!
 Also heard and recorded the Pied Hornbill in my hometown. It was an unexpected sighting since this a Hornbill species which I'd expected to see in forests and not in a residential area.Watch YouTube video of Pied Hornbill in Segamat 2014

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Restaurant Weng Yin Seafood Teluk Kemang

Malaysia's seaside resort of Port Dickson is full of surprises. From my first trip there during the inaugural Malaysian Raptor Watch 2000, until now 2014, I didn't know this Restaurant existed. Based on a few blogs that I've read, the review was generally good. However, nothing beats experiencing it for oneself. There was a new fully air-conditioned extension built next to the open air block. Sign of the growing popularity of this seafood restaurant.

Here were the dishes ordered for my family of five, including my niece and nephew:-

Hokkien Mee, which consisted of less-thicker egg noodle as it seems Port Dickson locals prefer this version. My niece and nephew finished their portions in record time.

This is perhaps one of the best bamboo clams I've ever had. Cooked Kam Heong style, each bamboo clam was succulent.
Beancurd cooked Kung Po style was for my mother as she is vegetarian. Complemented the seafood dishes.
Clams cooked in ginger sauce was nice. Huge clam shells but the clams were quite small.
Three-flavour fish was the signature dish of this Weng Yin Seafood Restaurant. So crunchy that even the tail was edible.
Fried prawns was ordered by my Father. Gone in a matter of minutes so I take it he enjoyed it very much.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Turtle Hatchery in Port Dickson

Short trip to Port Dickson over the July 2014 weekend with family yielded pleasant surprise at the Turtle Hatchery. Hawksbill baby turtles above, swimming freely in the aquarium tanks.

Turtle Hut at Glory Beach Resort which hosted the hatchery.
Threats to the turtles including the illegal and unlicensed harvesting of turtle eggs were posted on the wall of the Turtle Hatchery. Saw a few polysterene boxes filled with sand containing some broken shells - of baby turtles that have hatched.

Mature-looking Hawksbill turtle coming up for air in the other pool at Glory Beach Resort. Total of three Hawksbill turtles swimming about in this children-size pool. Looked healthy with pinkish neck, beautiful brown carapace shell, beady eyes and relatively large flippers:-

The signboard just outside the pool where the three Hawksbill turtles are, highlighting the turtle species which are found in Malaysia (although am not so sure whether the Leatherback Turtles can be found in Malaysia anymore):-
Good to know that Fisheries Department of Malaysia has initiated the turtle egg buying program where locals who find these turtle eggs and turn them over to the Department gets paid for each turtle egg that is rescued from poachers. Read a few articles about this at the lobby of the Glory Beach Resort.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Lion and The Bird Storybook

Children's storybook entitled "The Lion and The Bird" by Marianne Dubuc:-
The write-up by Maria Popova entitled "The Lion and the Bird: A Tender Illustrated Story About Loneliness, Loyalty, and the Gift of Friendship" has further illustrations from this book. Love the picture of the little bird snuggling in one of the Lion's bedroom slipper. Looking forward to buying this book at the upcoming Big Bad Wolf Sale.  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pergi Ipoh instead of Ipoh Mali

Short weekend trip to Ipoh, Perak to attend my Indian friend's wedding.  It was the loveliest Indian wedding invitation card. The front card depicted a golden-hued outline of a peacock:-

 and when I opened the flap to the left, it revealed the lovely feathers:-

The normal 2-hour journey from KL to Ipoh turned into a crawl from Slim River to Bidor that Saturday afternoon. That additional 1-hour crawl was mind-numbing. Painful reminder to avoid Plus highways on a public holiday (It was the Agong's Birthday that Saturday). Despite the stiff shoulder aches, I was really glad and happy to make it to my friend's wedding dinner which was held in the spacious hall of Chung Tack Chinese School in Kampung Simee, Ipoh.

Ladhus and Kacang Putih mixed with rock sugar were placed on each wedding table and a special section serving vegetarian dishes was made available. My mother being a vegetarian, thoroughly enjoyed the vegetarian dinner. Sunday morning beckoned and with Waze on hand, it was time to explore Ipoh and discover the food trail...   

Friday, June 6, 2014

Thank You My Garden Birdwatch

Thank you My Garden Birdwatch for this lovely and quirky:) Certificate issued for my participation in the 2013 Bird Count. The Malaysian Nature Society and Bird Group Selangor have done a really great job in helping to promote birdwatching for everyone in Malaysia, including our friends from Sabah and Sarawak.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Bird Song Hero by The Cornell Lab

This is an amazing game-based method to teach an avid birdwatcher like me how to identify a bird's song. Although all the bird species highlighted in this game were "alien" to me since these are common birds in North America, learning their songs was really fun. First time I learn what a spectrometer does. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology game is very informative and educational, even for a Malaysian like me.

The introductory Bird Song Hero page below is displayed before the game starts. 

The Song 1 begins so guess which bird sings it? See below:-

Guess right and you are on your way to Play Song 2 until the 7th and last song for the First Round of the Game as below:-

It's interesting that I can get to learn the songs from other bird species and their spectrometer readings, when I had keyed in the incorrect answers. By the way, look out for the comparison with human whistle! Hope the songs from the Northern Cardinal, Tufted Titmouse, Common Potoo (one funny-looking bird that with big bulging eyes), Red-chested Cuckoo, Eastern Meadowlarks, Upland Sandpiper and Wood Thrush will remain in my memory. Because if I do visit North America some day, I hope their real calls will trigger something in my brain so that I can start looking out for each of these birds.

Scored 86% on my first try so it's back to the Cornell Lab Bird Song Hero to learn more about American birds and their songs, before I attempt the Ultimate game.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Swallows Nest in April 2014

Pair of Swallows have almost completed the construction of their nest in Segamat, Johor

Mr and Mrs Swallow were equally involved throughout the construction process. They fly in and out on an alternate basis, carrying pieces of "building materials" consisting of dried grass and mud. All in their beak.
Mother Nature has conditioned this pair to become perfect housebuilders. No blueprint, no layout plan nothing. Pure natural ability to build and care for the arrival of their babies.
Relatively big nest consisting of dried mud and grass which was built on top of the electrical meter reader. 



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