Saturday, July 31, 2010

Nature's Gem: The Banded Bay Cuckoo

I'm delighted to see one of my digiscoped Banded Bay Cuckoo pictures is currently published in MNS (Malaysian Nature Society) newsletter, August 2010. You can download a copy of the newsletter from HERE.

Cuckoo is one of the unique birds in Malaysia due to its brood-parasitism. Click HERE if you would like to learn more about Cuckoo, and view my other digiscoped pictures of Banded Bay Cuckoo and Plaintive Cuckoo, or click HERE to view the Little Bronze Cuckoo, one of the world's smallest cuckoo. 

Watch this video to learn more about Cuckoo:

Thanks to Peggy for writing this article, and Connie for the wonderful guided birding trip in Ipoh and the bird identification.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bee-eaters in Penang

There are four species of Bee-eaters in Malaysia and three are common in Penang, a resident Chestnut-headed Bee-eater (Merops leschenaulti), and two migratory species, namely the Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus) and Blue-throated Bee-eater (Merops viridis).

Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, the icon bird of Penang, is the most common resident species in the state, it can be sighted in Penang Botanic Gardens, Kek Lok Si Temple and many forested areas in Penang island. It has chestnut head, pale yellow throat, and tail without elongated central feathers.
Chestnut-headed Bee-eater in Penang

Blue-tailed Bee-eater is the most common migratory bee-eater in Penang, and usually appear in Penang from  August until March, approximately. The bird can be spotted in the open areas and paddy fields in Seberang Perai and Balik Pulau. It has very distinctive blue on its tail and eye brow, with bronze-green head. This species is also exist in Taiwan and the Philippines.
Blue-tailed Bee-eater in paddy field, Seberang Perai.

Blue-tailed Bee-eater is the only migratory bird which I can see through the windows from my bedroom. Last year, there were six of them visited my neighbourhood. I'm very grateful to have them as my "bio" alarm clock, I'm waiting for them to visit me again in this coming migratory bird season.
One of the Blue-tailed Bee-eaters on the Yagi-Uda Antenna

Blue-throated Bee-eaters usually appear in April until August, the period after the Blue-tailed Bee-eaters have migrated to the north. It has very distinctive blue on its throat and dark chestnut head.
Blue-throated Bee-eater in Bukit Juru

The popular spot for these migratory birds is in Bukit Juru, Juru. I hope that Bukit Juru will be protected and reserved as one of the green lungs in Seberang Perai.
Closer look of the bird and the dragonfly

Bee-eaters are the important indicator to the healthy environment and ecology, their food sources are mainly insects, which include the dragonflies, bees and wasps. In fact, these birds could not be sighted along the one of the filthiest rivers in Malaysia, the Sungai Pinang in Penang, it is because the river is unable to sustain any life form, including the dragonflies and other food sources for the birds. I wish the authority will be able to rehabilitate the river until it could sustain the life form that eventually attract the birds.

However, Penang will enforce a ban on polystyrene starting 1st of Jan 2011, and the usage of plastic bag will eventually be charged in every department store and shopping mall in the state. Click on this LINK to find out more on what can you help to stop or reduce the plastic pollution. No More Plastic Bags Please!

see... we still have turtle crossing our beach in Penang.

Let's help to save the habitats of these colorful birds by stop polluting our rivers and wetlands, and wish they will live and re-visit Penang forever. Click on this LINK if you would like to find out where to watch these birds in Penang. 

Happy birding.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Silvery Birds of Fraser's Hill

Silver has long been valued as a precious metal, which is used to make ornaments, jewelry, currency coin and etc. Will the silvery plumage make the bird more valuable? definitely not, but silvery plumage on the bird can make them the elegant and unique birds. There are two species of birds in Fraser's Hill which have the silvery plumage, namely the Silver-eared Mesia (Leiothrix argentauris) and Silver-breasted Broadbill (Serilophus lunatus).

Silver-eared Mesia  is one of the common birds and also the icon bird of Fraser's Hill. It has silvery ear-coverts, yellow forehead, throat and breast, black head, greyish wing-coverts and scapulars, reddish wing-patch or tail coverts. They are social song birds that always follow the bird wave.

Front views (click on the picture for enlarged view)

side and top views

back and bottom view

Silver-breasted Broadbill  is one of the rare broadbills in Fraser's Hill, they are usually in pairs. This species of Broadbill has an elegant white necklace and silvery breast, black supercilium, black and blue wings, brownish rump, and black tail.

front view (male)

side views, female has less blue on wings and whitish necklace.

Silver-breasted Broadbill (female) consuming a small tarantula...

Hope you like these silvery birds of Fraser's Hill, do not miss them when you visit Fraser's Hill.

Click HERE to read my other blog postings about birding in Fraser's Hill.

Have a happy birding.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Slaty-backed Forktail in Fraser's Hill

Slaty-backed Forktail (Enicurus schistaceus) is the only montane species of forktail in Peninsular Malaysia. I had been trying to digiscope this forktail since last year in Cameron Highlands, but it's a difficult task, because forktail usually won't stay still in one position, and its white feathers also further increase the difficulty for a camera to capture the image.

Adult Slaty-backed Forktail in Cameron Highlands

I was lucky to spot a Slaty-backed Forktail swallowing a small snake in Fraser's Hill. Due to the weight of the snake, the forktail couldn't move easily, it has to swallow at least three quarter of the snake before take off. Therefore, it's the best moment for me to digiscope the forktail in many views with minimum movement.

Let's take a closer look and have a good study of the bird:

front view

side views, right and left.

top and back view...  unfortunately, no bottom view.

I noticed that it has greyish flecks on the throat and breast, and whitout white on forehead. Whereas, most bird books describe the juvenile as brownish rather than black and grey. So, I believe this forktail could be an immature.

Hope you could gain some knowledge about this elegant bird from this blog posting. Click HERE to read my other postings about birding in Fraser's Hill.

Have a happy birding, digiscoping and digisniping.