Thursday, December 15, 2016

Butterworth Penang - wader watching at Bagan Belat

Little Egret amongst the Great Egrets with a Grey Heron just about to land, in the waters of Bagan Belat. This stretch of the beach in Butterworth, Penang is a haven for waders. Didn't venture further to Teluk Air Tawar to explore the beach there.
View of Penang Island in the distance. Was wader watching under the shades of Warung Kulat which was closed since Monday was a public holiday in Malaysia. My late grand-aunt used to reside in Butterworth. I remembered visiting her home during my school holidays. My maternal aunts took us to the beach in Butterworth to dig for clams and bought us Pasembor for tea. The scenery in Bagan Belat brought back fond childhood memories for me. My eldest aunt is now residing in Perth, Australia. 
Solitary Brown-headed Gull amongst the waders. This gull is significantly larger than the terns that were out and about that Monday afternoon in Bagan Belat. Choy Wai Mun has a much clearer picture of this Gull in his blog where he writes about Bagan Belat below:-

The Penang Birder: The one that didn't get away: Air Hitam Dalam has been struggling to return back to its former self after the uprooting of one of its main trees. This morning’s birding ...

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sungai Congkak Recreational Forest on a Sunday

Just back from attending Asian Bird Fair 2016 in Jingshan county, Hubei province, China. Heard so much about Sungai Congkak Recreational Forest and the birds there so when there was news of Pin-tailed Parrotfinches visiting this forest, went to look for them on Sunday morning, 4th December 2016. Left KL around 6am and reached Sungai Congkak Recreational Forest at 6.50am. Had to pay toll at Batu 9 Toll Plaza and take the immediate exit on the left after this toll plaza. Signboard to Hulu Langat town was too small so had to rely on Waze. Plonked myself on a moss-covered bench in the forest and waited. Oriental Magpie-Robin was the first to appear that morning at 7.05am. The flock of Pin-tailed parrotfinch was sighted from 7.15am onwards, mixing with a flock of White-bellied Munia. Pure bliss for me to oberve these birds (particularly the Parrotfinch:) for 45 minutes. Parrotfinches are such flighty birds, flying about quite high above and around the bamboo grove. Flock was feeding on the bamboo seeds and don't stay perched for very long. Parrotfinches are slightly bigger than Munias, primarily due to the former's long pin-shaped tail. A Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher joined this flock at the grove of flowering bamboo. Last bird sighted was the Grey-breasted Spiderhunter feeding on this flowering plant (see right picture) at 8am. I left the forest by 8.20am. There is a fee of RM1.05 (including GST) charged for each car that drives into the recreational forest. However this place looks better maintained compared with Ampang recreational forest. Didn't venture further to look for the Rufous-Collared Kingfisher, Dusky Broadbill which could be found in Sungai Congkak forest area as well since there were errands to run that Sunday. Definitely plan to visit Sungai Congkak recreational forest again since Gunung Nuang is nearby. Looks like it has to be a full day trip - hornbills have been sighted in the foothills of Gunung Nuang! Will post pictures in Facebook. I have entered the sightings including that of the Pin-tailed Parrot finch in eBird Malaysia

Friday, November 4, 2016

FRIM Kepong - Escape from Urbanisation

Less than half and hour away from hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur, FRIM Kepong is a welcome escape from urbanization and mad city life. FRIM website has information on diverse fauna and flora that can be found in the area including rare bird species such as Rufous-Collared Kingfisher and Crested Serpent Eagle. Didn't see these two that Sunday afternoon in FRIM so subsequent visits are being planned. Entrance fee to FRIM for individual is RM1.05. Driving in with car costs higher at RM5.05. It is not a recreational forest according to FRIM website but a research institute which allows public access to its facilities and grounds for a minimal fee. Fee rates are published in their website. FRIM has another branch in Pasoh, Negeri Sembilan. 

Banded woodpecker was busy pecking away on the trunk of a tree that Sunday afternoon.
Stripe-throated bulbul was out and about on one of the trails that lead to this Keruing Trail. I didn't venture into this Keruing Trail since there was a no entry sign with a note requiring a FRIM nature guide to be around. An unidentified bird perched on tree as I was about to leave the headquarters building. It looked like a bulbul but could well be a flycatcher so this remains a mystery bird to me. Blue-throated Bee Eater were actively flying about the HQ area and returned to perch on the empty branch of a tree below. 
This pair of Blue-throated Bee Eater were busily performing aerial stunts.
Brahminy Kite soared and circling over the skies of the forest that Sunday afternoon. Brown shrike was also seen later in the afternoon as I walked towards the waterfalls area.
Felt child-like as I walked up the slopes near the stream towards a grove of trees to get a closer look at the Racket-Tailed Drongo and Black and Red Broadbill. 
I had initially thought and mistaken the Banded as a Crimson-winged until I re-checked my Craig Robson Field Guide (older edition). Beautiful outline of tree against sky below. There is a canopy walkway in FRIM which I've read and heard about so often. Will go explore at my next visit. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Cloudy Afternoon at Taman Rimba Ampang

Blue-winged Leafbird with its distinctive blue shoulder patch. More of a bluish tinge. Seen on a cloudy Saturday afternoon at Taman Rimba Ampang. Took me around half an hour to reach this recreational forest from KL, via Ampang toll. This recreational forest is described as Lowland Dipterocarp Forest according to Tourism Selangor's website which is available here.
It perched on this branch for few precious minutes, flying across the road from opposite embankment.
Blue, green, yellow hues of this leafbird were very striking. Could see the black facial mask when it turns it head to the right.

Solitary Brahminy Kite perched on the tree within the Syabas Water Refinery compound. There was an interesting-looking trail not far from the water refinery. Denizens of this forest included the long-tailed macaque below. There was also a lizard that looks more like a chameleon. It sat so still on the dead log, across the stream that it took me quite some time to re-spot it through my bins. Many swifts flying about the recreational forest especially at the entrance area, where construction on the controversial East Klang Valley Expressway (EKVE) had started. 

I had to drive right up to this Syabas water refinery in order to reach much clearer stream with knee-deep water. Blue-banded Kingfisher has been seen here in Taman Rimba Ampang. No sight of it that Saturday evening when I left at around 6.45pm. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Slaty-breasted Rail of Sungai Rambai and Painted-Snipes of Batang Tiga

Slaty-breasted Rail trapped in a ditch at Sungai Rambai paddyfields in Malacca. A dried-up coconut leave was left near the ditch to function as a "bridge" for it to climb out safely before members of Wild Bird Club of Malaysia left the ricefields of Sungai Rambai. Waders and waterbirds were out and about in the paddyfields of Sungai Rambai that Malaysia Day.

Flock of Oriental Pratincoles were riding on the thermals of the sweltering heat in ploughed paddyfields of Sungai Rambai.

Crepuscular - word used to describe the Greater Painted-Snipe. Means it is an active bird at twilight or just before dawn so it was a pleasant surprise to spot a pair including a third Painted-Snipe with baby chick at Batang Tiga ricefields at around 11am, that Sunday. Picture of Father and Chick Painted-Snipe is in Wild Bird Club of Malaysia website article entitled Birdwatching & Jalan-Jalan Cari Makan in Malacca

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Globally Threatened Shorebirds Poster

Bird Conservation Society of Thailand (BCST) has published a very educational poster highlighting the plight of globally threatened shorebirds. These are species found in the Inner Gulf of Thailand. This poster is sourced "Save Spoon-billed Sandpiper" section of BCST website, where there is an interesting initiative to raise fund in securing habitat for this rare species of sandpiper and other shorebirds. Read and know more about this by visiting BCST website here. Spoon-billed Sandpiper is listed as Critically Endangered in IUCN website here.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Kakapo Success Story

Kakapo, the world's heaviest (and flightless) parrot is doing well in New Zealand, according to this news article from Audubon website.

The GIF below turned the Kakapo into an Internet sensation which helped contributed to greater awareness of and donation for the conservation of this rare bird species in NZ. Clever and creative use of Internet tool to help preserve this parrot from facing threat of extinction!  

This Kakapo isn't scared of any extinction.

Friday, August 26, 2016


Came across an interesting website promoting the message that Birds Come First. Contents of website are in Thai script, so it is difficult for a non-native speaker (like me) to fully appreciate information in this website. Birds Come First is an important message which I fully support. Three interesting banners were provided through this website to spread this message that Birds Come First (in Thai script). Am spreading the message below:)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Poring Hotspring Surprise

Eastern Crimson Sunbird, Pacific Swallow, Olive-winged Bulbul, White-crowned Shama showed up at Poring Hotsprings in Sabah. It was a pleasant surprise indeed, particularly since I have not had the chance of capturing these moments before through camera. Drizzly afternoon that day in Poring.
White-crowned Shama's parading its tail above. Saw this winged beauty just as I was about to enter the hotsprings area. I have Lady Luck to thank for this sighting as well:) The Shama finally gave me a quick sight of its whitish crowning glory before it disappeared into the trees.
A creative reminder that I was in Sabah Tea territory:) Van didn't stop at Ranau so had to snap this picture from inside a van in motion. Sabah Tea has a large plantation in Ranau area - worth exploring should there be an opportunity for me to visit Sabah again. Sabah Tea's website has information about teas,  Sabah Tea Resort which are worth taking a closer look.
Wild mangosteen tree just next to the parking area at Poring Hotsprings.
I alerted my Sabahan guide to this fruiting mangosteen tree and he peeled it open for us (including Japanese lady and her daughters) to smell. Wild mangosteen fruit was juicy, sticky (didn't try eating it though) and resembled cherry tomatoes! Our guide mentioned that his grandmother used wild mangosteen to cook in soups. Nuritional value was evident through his healthy size:)
Front view of Olive-winged bulbul below:-
Back view of the Olive-winged Bulbul:-
Famous landmark of Kundasang, Sabah - Green Cabbage.  It was raining by the time we left Poring Hotsprings for Kota Kinabalu. It was pouring cats and dogs by the time we reached Ranau.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Kinabalu Park and Birds at Silau-Silau Trail

Borneon (Lesser) Green Magpie showed up that morning during short walk along Silau-Silau Trail in Kinabalu Park. Looked like there were three (3) rings attached to both its legs - two on the left and one on its right leg.
A second Borneon Green Magpie with untagged legs flew in and joined this tagged Green Magpie later on. Whitish eyes of these pair of Magpies really stand out. This is an endemic bird of Borneo, found only in this part of the world which made this sighting extra special for me. I've been to Kinabalu Park only once before many years ago with the Bird Group from Malacca and Negeri Sembilan. Only had Pocket Guide to Birds of Borneo and Handbook of Kinabalu Park with me. EBird and the availability of Blogs have really changed the birdwatching (and bird listing) landscape! Also spotted along Silau-silau trail was this Borneon Treepie below and Square-tailed Drongo Cuckoo. The Ochraceous Bulbul perched on a branch for a while and flew off before I could snap a picture of it. A flock of laughingthrush species were out and about, gregarious and hardly stayed still.

The flowing stream along Silau-Silau trail added to the tranquility and beauty of flora and fauna. The pink flowering plant in the picture above reminded me of the ones that I have seen before in Fraser Hill, Peninsular Malaysia. We were at montane level in Silau-silau trail.
One of the laughingthrush that I could manage to capture with my camera, below:-
Mount Kinabalu as viewed from the town of Nabalu, our first stop before reaching Kinabalu Park.
Homes on the base of Mount Kinabalu and the signboard welcoming visitors to Nabalu town, Kota Belud, Sabah. I've never climbed to the summit of Mount Kinabalu before so I can only just imagine how the view of these homes all lighted up, would look like from the summit at dawn or dusk.  



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