Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Northern Boobok of Ranibari Community Forest Nepal

A second species of Owls that also found sanctuary in this valuable patch of forest in Ranibari was the Brown Boobok (Ninox Scutulata). EBird option tick was Brown/Northern Boobok. Read about diurnal owls somewhere in my Craig Robson, 2000 edition. Spotted Owlets and Brown Booboks really made my mid-afternoon birdwatching memorable in Kathmandu, Nepal. The last time I saw this Boobok species - it was called Brown Hawk Owl - was during an outing to Penang Hill, a long, long time ago. Time to go look for Field Guide to the birds of the Indian subcontinent, Nepal, Bhutan in the next Big Bad Wolf Sales which should be coming soon to several places in Malaysia this 2018:) Had blogged about my 2017 BBW find HERE.
The Warden at the Community Forest pointed out this sleeping pair to me
The other birds spotted at this Community Forest. Almost all species seen by me in Ranibari Community Forest such as the Yellow-Bellied Fantail, Rose-Ringed Parakeets and Blue-tailed Magpies were my lifers. The full list has been entered into eBird and is available HERE . Nepal hosted an Internet and Domain Name Registries meeting in Kathmandu from February 2018 onwards (just after Chinese New Year public holidays). I was happy to come across the local website "Photos of Nepal" with one of the webpages dedicated to WILDLIFE, which described the Spiny Babbler as being unique to the country which has 900 bird species, 30 of them being globally threatened. Am now wondering which species of bird was introduced to Nepal.....  
Blue-tailed Magpie with one of them carrying a possible nesting material in its beak - Magpies belong to the Crows and Jays species category, the Corvidae well-known for their creative adaptations  
Nesting material looks like a yellow plastic wrapper
Such long tails! I had missed good views of this Magpie species previously in China so seeing this pair more than made up for the disappointment

Monday, March 5, 2018

One of a Kind Community Forest in the middle of Kathmandu Nepal

Work-related trip to attend a meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal gave me the rare opportunity to visit a Community Forest in the heart of Kathmandu, Nepal. Thanks to my birdwatching friend from Nepal, Rajendra Gurung who introduced me to Ranibari Community Forest. When he said I could see owls in this forest, I was not convinced more so since he planned to start birdwatching at around 12.30pm noontime! Lo and behold a family of Spotted Owlets peered at us in broad daylight. It took me a few minutes to FIND them since the colour of their plumage created an almost perfect camouflage against the trees. It was only when Rajendra pointed out the hole in which the owlets were in that I almost whooped for joy when I spotted them! It seems this precious patch of forest is home to this family of owlets. This family of Spotted Owlets, other feathered and furry friends continue to co-exist peacefully with the residents of Kathmandu. Jyotendra from Bird Conservation Nepal had also joined us for this mid-day birdwatching outing and he pointed out that the forest were demarcated and fully fenced against the residential area that surrounded it. There was a small Hindu temple on top of the hill inside the forest. Two ladies were operating a food stall at the entrance to this forest and we had lunch after completing our walk around the forest. The chapati and potato curry were served piping hot together with hot chai. I stayed on to bird at the forest until 4.30pm. The forest closes by 4.45pm. I would have loved to bird until then but I was not familiar with traffic in Kathmandu and I had a return flight to Kuala Lumpur to catch that Sunday night. The forest was silent for some time in the earlier parts of that Sunday afternoon. It only came alive in the last hour before closing time. I had a much better view of the Rose-Ringed Parakeet (more of that in the next post) in the community forest. There was small flock of Rose-Ringed Parakeets that I had seen earlier near my hotel in Durbar Marg, Kathmandu. This flock perched on a tree-top opposite a very busy road. These Parakeets only came in to roost in the trees by 6pm. It was already dark in Kathmandu by 6pm evening time and there was no chance of a good view since my meetings ran from morning to evening. Am thankful to Rajendra for unveiling this best kept secret of Kathmandu! More pictures of Spotted Owlets below, rounding off a memorable albeit very short birdwatching opportunity for me during a work trip to Nepal. Read on about Ranibari Community Forest hereNorthern Boobok coming up in the next post.       

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Chinese New Year 2018 and a little bit of Birdwatching in between

This pair of Pacific Swallows returned to my family house in Segamat, Johor and we welcomed Chinese New Year 2018 together with them literally under our roof:) Preparations to welcome the Year of Earth Dog had me whizzing my mum around town, as traffic more than tripled with Malaysian Chinese working outside of the District returning home once a year to be with their families. Malaysians from other States, travelers (and Singaporeans too:) fully utilized the long weekend for their holidays since Chinese New Year is one of the major public holidays in Malaysia. My sister had returned earlier from Singapore and with her help, errands and chores were completed twice as fast. Subway sandwich shop had opened up in Segamat, and my father had also eagerly informed us that there was a spanking new Riverside open-air cafe cum food centre just next to the Segamat river - hope this cafe doesn't go underwater when monsoon season arrives. We visited the temples early in the morning on the first day of Chinese New Year. The purple water hyacinth was in full bloom at the back of the Jalan Muar temple. Potted flowers and tangerines (inedible due to the amount of pesticide sprayed to keep insects away) added colour to the temple grounds. We had just missed the lion dance which according to my mother did perform at the Goddess of Mercy (Guan Yin Ma) temple in Kampung Abdullah on the first day (morning session). The lion dancers performed at this village temple in 2017 but during the afternoon of first day of CNY (much to the delight of my niece and nephew from Australia who was home in Malaysia that year). We had vegetarian meals on the first day of CNY which included steamed fluffy vegetarian buns. IP Man 3 was the CNY Day 1 movie in 2018 and Donnie Yen portrayed the teacher of Bruce Lee brilliantly. IP Man was the Chinese name of this Wing Chun kungfu practitioner and his loyalty to and love for his country, friends, family and his integrity and honesty in the face of overwhelming odds (at a time when corruption and racism against the Chinese were common in China and Hong Kong), were exemplary indeed. I think every Chinese in the world can relate to the  universal values that IP Man embody. You can watch the trailer of IP Man 3 here.
A little bit of birdwatching in my hometown on 14th February revealed, among others a pair of Oriental Pied Hornbills which appeared to be nesting in a tree next to a very busy inner road. I birdwatched at a safe distance since this road curves upwards and downwards on a hill. Was very glad to see the hornbills choose this tree since motorists would be busy concentrating on the road, and not on them:) The list of birds have been entered in eBird Malaysia portal.  I'd like to end this blog by sharing some pictures of the Pacific Swallow pair that have become a part of my family home. Chinese New Year wouldn't be complete without seeing this pair and their presence truly heralded the coming of Spring in a hot tropical country like Malaysia!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Chinese New Year 2018 Travel Time Advisory

Plus Highway has published the Travel Time Advisory for Chinese New Year 2018, Year of the Earth Dog. Chinese character for Dog is 狗 which is pronounced as "Gou." I've updated my website layout with a new Chinese New Year 2018 cartoon mascot from 8TV called "Gou Gou" (transliteration). 8TV theme for Chinese New Year is "Go Go Wonderful" and if you click on this dog cartoon mascot, it will take you to their website. Plus Highway is also offering a 20% toll rebate for Touch n Go cardholders who are travelling more than 100km on 12, 13, 20 and 21 February 2018. Birdwatchers and birders would be on the move during that week as well:)    

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Bird Counts in Malaysia 2018

 Olive-backed Sunbird was feeding on the flowers of this tree by the side of the dirt road. This Sunbird is also a frequent visitor to my family home in Johor, as well as the nesting Pacific Swallows.

The Asian Waterbird Census was held from 6th to 21st January 2018. Wetlands International's
website has more information about this Census, which you can read here. Have to confess that
Waders baffle me. I missed the Little Curlew when it made a brief transit stop in Johor last year 2017. I was lucky enough to get good views of the Small Pratincole in Johor during AWC 2016. A spotting scope is one of the essential tools required when wader watching especially since the tides may push the waders to feed further away from shorelines. One of the most memorable moments for me, was to see the Spoon-billed Sandpiper at the Gulf of Thailand. I had undergone ACL surgery at KPJ Damanasara Hospital at that time as well as a month of physiotherapy sessions that year - it was my second overseas trip to Thailand for birdwatching (the first being many years ago with friends from Malacca and NS). My story of this special encounter with the Spoon-billed Sandpiper was posted at that time in Wordpress but due to security flaws and a local hosting provider that has discontinued their operations, I no longer use that Wordpress platform, as explained here. With my birdwatcher friend from Hong Kong, Wendy at the Welcome Party for Asian Bird Fair 2012 in our hotel at Samut Prakhan, Thailand:-
Time to go look for the list of birds seen in Thailand which were scribbled down on paper since this was pre-eBird. Thailand is a country that is rich with avifauna diversity and is definitely worth visiting again to see birds unique to that country and region. Read about an incidental bird (that turned up when I was in Thailand for a family wedding)  here.    

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Great Hornbill sign for Great Year Ahead!

Dusky Broadbill - this is the first time I have had a good sight of this broadbill species in Telapa Buruk, Negeri Sembilan. The other broadbills, Green, Black and Yellow and Silver-breasted were calling that Monday morning from amongst the thick foliage and trees of the sub-montane forest - I could only listen to and appreciate their calls that day. Broadbills bonanza for me even though the other broadbills stayed hidden from my view. 

Together with friends from Sarawak, we had earlier attended the 3rd AGM of Wild Bird Club Malaysia which was held at Selesa Resort, Bukit Tinggi, Pahang. More on that at AGM 2018 and Post-AGM Birding at Genting Highlands: Website about birdwatching and birdwatchers in Malaysia. The Great Hornbill was seen that Sunday morning as we walked up the Old Pumphouse Road, Goh Tong Jaya, and surely this was a sign for Great Year ahead! The Ferruginous Patridge that early Saturday morning was also a much-awaited bird for me since I had missed it earlier during a day trip to Bukit Tinggi with my Wader Sifu, Ang Teck Hin and his wife, Lwee.   
Checklists of birds seen, heard have been recorded through eBird Malaysia, and are available at  

Birdwatching with friends from Sarawak 
eBird Introduction Video below was a timely New Year 2018 gift from Cornell Lab of Ornithology, USA. Adds to my one of my New Year Resolution, which is - to be a Better Recreational Birder!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Last Day of Birdwatching in 2017 and Hello 2018!

Dollarbird's Purplish tinge in the neck was something I never noticed before. The pictures above and below were taken on a cloudy and windy afternoon, along an inner road in Pulau Indah, Selangor. Seems there is a subspecies of Indian (Indochinese) Roller from Thailand which has purplish tinges on its neck as well. Dollarbird originates from the same family as the Rollers. Easy to understand that they come from the same family of species when I see them sharing some similar features such as neck colours and turqoise blue plumages.     

Leaf monkeys - three to be exact were relaxing in this tree (see picture below). I drove my car along (and parked) at a backlane along a row of single-storey houses to get a closer look at these mammals. My heart skipped a beat when a flycatcher flew out of the bushes and perched on a branch in a tree nearby the monkeys.
Leaf Monkey looking at me looking at the flycatcher
My lifer as 2017 comes to an end - Korean (Yellow-rumped) Flycatcher. It was a very quiet flycatcher which perched on a branch for a few seconds before it flew and disappeared into the nearby bushes. Only had time to take a single picture in poor lighting of this flycatcher.  Full list of birds seen, heard at Pulau Indah, Selangor that Saturday afternoon was recorded and entered into eBird Malaysia and is available here. Birds Korea website has detailed Bird ID Notes on this Flycatcher species which can be read here. Pulau Indah has gone through extensive development with warehouses, factories, refineries in its midst. It is adjacent to the busy Port Klang (historically known as Port Swettenham and largest in Malaysia), with trailers and lorries constantly on the move. The road connecting Selangor mainland to the island is badly in need of repairs and maintenance. The lights are not functioning in certain stretches of the road which was a frightening experience for me, since trailers were barreling down the roads. Am grateful I reached KL safely to prepare for the New Year ahead. The Mangrove Pitta remains elusive.  



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