Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Hill Partridges of Fraser Hill May 2018

Malaysian Hill Partridge, all seven of them gave us a grand view of them at Fraser Hill. Wild Bird Club Malaysia organized an overnight trip to Fraser Hill from 19th to 20th May 2018. Full story about this trip is available in WBCM's website which you can read HERE.
This species formerly known as Gray-breasted Partridge was given full recognition in 2017 when Cornell Lab of Ornithology updated Clements Checklist, which is a worldwide annual update incorporating research into taxonomy of world's birds. Read on in eBird Malaysia's article by David Bakewell HERE
Magnificent view of Titiwangsa mountain range, which forms the backbone of Peninsular Malaysia.
The Malayan Laughingthrush showed up a day earlier on Saturday morning, before the Partridges.
Telekom Loop, one of the most popular birdwatching sites in Fraser Hill. The Collared Owlet was calling for quite a long period of time that Saturday afternoon in Telekom Loop but alas, this small diurnal owlet species remained elusive, and simply refused to show itself that afternoon. I was unfortunately about to find out later in the evening, that the itch I felt on my right foot was caused by a leech bite, the effect of which cause me to pull out a sock that would be drenched in blood, and a subsequent visit to KPJ Damansara Specialist Hospital post-Fraser Hill trip, for an injection to reduce a swollen right foot. Before I elaborate further on the swollen right foot, there was a very special bird that would turn up the next Sunday morning, in Bishop's Trail. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Global Big Day 2018 in Malaysia

Hadada Ibis at KL Lake Gardens on 5th May 2018
Red Junglefowl (Male)
Red Junglefowl (Female)
Woke up to an exceptionally sunny Saturday morning, 5th May 2018, which was just another weekend for us birdwatchers in Malaysia you might say, but that date would become globally significant for birdwatchers all over the world as it was celebrated as the Global Big Day. Cornell Lab of Ornithology initiated Global Big Day (GBD) since 2015. In 2017, 6,659 species were reported worldwide during GBD that was celebrated on 13th May. Malaysia recorded 380 species with 75 checklists submitted for GBD 2017 according to eBird website. That was good enough to put Malaysia at 17th position worldwide during initial results announcement by eBird. Malaysia was behind India's 11th position, with India having recorded 554 species with 999 checklists. 

Green-billed Malkoha 
A pair of Yellow-Vented Bulbuls looking at me counting them on GBD 2018
I spent my GBD 2018 counting at three (3) sites, the first site being KL Lake Gardens (Perdana Botanical Gardens) with my childhood friend Kalpana. My friend had worked in KL Sentral area for several years and knows her way around the Lake Gardens very well. Seems we had covered only 25% of the Lake Gardens that Saturday morning. Quite a number of the birds seen that morning were very busy looking for food, including the Green-billed Malkoha that had a big fat juicy green insect in its beak. The Hadada Ibis, which had eluded me in my previous visits to KL Lake Gardens was busy digging and prodding the grassy grounds for beetles and worms - it had successfully dug up an earthworm later that day. Am over the moon to have spotted this Ibis from Africa on Global Big Day 2018 - what a day it was to have finally ticked it off my list! Checklist for birds of KL Lake Gardens have been entered HERE.

We ended our birdwatching session around 10.30am on a hot morning before heading off for a hearty lunch at Pretz and Beans. My friend bade farewell and I went solo as I continued my GBD 2018 count at the second site in the afternoon. It was raining heavily in Kuala Lumpur by early afternoon as I had just completed refueling my car in Desa Sri Hartamas area. It was almost 3.30pm when I reached Dengkil, Selangor, where my second birdwatching destination was at. Time to look for some wetlands birds!     
Juvenile Coppersmith Barbet was busily exploring the contents of this tree hole in Paya Indah
Black-backed Swamphen (split from Purple Swamphen) at Paya Indah Wetlands


The second site, Paya Indah Wetlands was hot, dry and very sunny - a complete contrast from the dark rainclouds that had descended upon KL and Petaling Jaya. Paya Indah Wetland Park is considered a premier eco-tourism park covering 3,100 hectares according to the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry's website. I was about to make my way out of the trail alongside Typha Lake since it was already 6.05pm when the soft calls of a flock of geese flying round and round this end of the lake stopped me in my tracks. The arrival of these Cotton Pygmy Geese was enough to delay my exit from Paya Indah Wetlands for a good 30 minutes. I was also searching for the Lesser Whistling Ducks, of which only two were flying around the lakeside later that evening after I had spotted one hiding inside the tall grasses at the edge of Typha Lake, earlier. These waterfowl species proved the most challenging for me since they were quite late in arriving (tardy waterfowl!).     
Black-crowned Night Heron
This Nile Crocodile behaved like a log
as it approached tree filled with the
Black-Crowned Night Herons 

The Checklist submitted for Paya Indah is available HERE.

The last bird heard and seen on 5th May 2018 was the Large-tailed Nightjar - it was a lucky find for me as I had decided to stop at one final (and third) count site to do nocturnal birding alongside a road in Cyberjaya, a place more well-known for MSC-status companies, Global Call Centres, Universities and Data Centres. Just had dinner at Cyberjaya's Padi restaurant until it was almost 8.30am when I decided to take a chance and try to spot either a nightjar or a Barn owl since Cyberjaya was still surrounded by remnants of oil palm plantations. I had seen nightjars flying across road leading to the Selangor Turf Club roundabout nearby Mines Waterfront Business Park especially in the evenings when I leave my office. The third and final checklist submitted to eBird on 5th May 2018 is available HERE.
Cornell's Global Big Day 2018 was also up in Google Maps (see below) before 5th May to ramp up support amongst birdwatchers worldwide, and to get ready for the Big Day! 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Rufous-Backed Kingfisher on Labour Day

Rufous-Backed Kingfisher, (formerly known as Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher) not one but a pair were flying about nearby a stream in Sungai Congkak Recreational Forest on Labour Day morning. I had seen the Black-backed kingfisher species years earlier in (of all places) Petaling Jaya. Read more about that encounter with this very special kingfisher HERE.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Selangor Bird Fair - Wings over Kuala Kubu Bahru 2018

Red-Headed Trogon - Male
Red-headed Trogon, the symbol of avian elegance and beauty, never fails to make my heart sing with joy. It's soft pigeon-like cooing sound filled the forest in Bishop's trail that Sunday early afternoon as both Indira and Peter spotted it whilst we were going down the steps. We had just completed our Selangor International Bird Race 2018 after zipping around Kuala Kubu Bahru, Millenium Stadium, The Gap (Selangor), Fraser Hill (Selangor Border) from 21st to 22nd April 2018 in a Perodua Myvi driven by Amir, from Majlis Daerah Hulu Selangor (MDHS) the organizer of the Race. Team Katala handed in our log book at the reception of Shahzan Inn by 11.30am, half an hour before noontime deadline set by the organizer. We double-checked the names of each birds written down by Indira, against Mr Allen J's Field Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. The results of the International Bird Race has been announced in Local Council's website HERE. 
Lesser Yellownape
Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush
Asian Emerald Dove


Asian Emerald Dove of Richmond Bungalow kept us in awe post-Race as we waited patiently for the Malaysian Hill Partridge to show up. We couldn't wait any longer for the family of partridges since there was the closing ceremony of the Bird Race to attend and we haven't had our lunch yet. MDHS arranged for the international participants to stay at 
Sarang by the Brook, Kuala Kubu Bahru on Friday night. I birded at Sarang by the Brook on Saturday morning, alongside a short road which was surrounded by forest with a stream nearby. The White-rumped Shama was the first bird seen that Saturday morning, hopping about Sarang by Brook. Black-headed bulbuls, Asian Brown Flycatcher and Yellow-vented Flowerpecker were some the birds which also showed up that morning. Indira had given a talk on Friday night about the Critically Endangered Philippine Cockatoo (also known as Red-vented Cockatoo). The talk ended quite late around 11.30pm and it was almost midnight when we returned to Sarang by Brook. WOKKB 2018 event would begin at Mini Stadium Kuala Kubu Bahru by 9am on Saturday morning, so we left Sarang by Brook by 8.40am. WOKKB 2018 album in Facebook has more pictures of the Race which covered Kuala Kubu Bahru right up to Selangor border of Fraser Hill. Full list of birds seen pre and post Wings over Kuala Kubu Baru 2018 were recorded and entered into eBird Malaysia portal as below:-

https://ebird.org/malaysia/view/checklist/S44896796

https://ebird.org/malaysia/view/checklist/S44896629

https://ebird.org/malaysia/view/checklist/S44896421


https://ebird.org/malaysia/view/checklist/S44896239

We would be celebrating Global Big Day soon in Malaysia on 5th May 2018. Global Big Day is an initiative from Cornell Lab of Ornithology to gather as many people as possible worldwide, to bird and enter their sightings in eBird. GBD 2018 in Malaysia is being promoted by Wild Bird Club Malaysia and will be coming up soon on 5th May, Saturday. Go to Wild Bird Club Malaysia website HERE to find out how you can participate in GBD 2018.


Peter and Indira Widmann are the founders of Philippine Cockatoo Foundation. I have had the privilege of meeting them last year in Palawan Island, where the Foundation is based, during the Katala Festival. Read about this Festival HERE.
It was the pre and post Bird Race birdwatching, the time spent with Indira and Peter, reconnecting with nature, listening to the songs of birds and observing these birds in the wild, and meeting up with friends, which were the most memorable moments of WOKKB 2018, for me.   

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