Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Temurun Waterfall as Beautiful as Ever

Did anyone promise you sunny days in Langkawi? Hope not! It has been raining for the past couple of days. The fun does not stop on rainy days. Langkawi needs lots of rain to have this awesome waterfall at Temurun Waterfall on Jalan Datai.

This is how Temurun Waterfall looks like now. These were photographed while it was still raining.
From a distance

While it was still raining...

After an unproductive solo birdwatching along Jalan Datai, I was happy not to go home empty handed (without memorable photos). My solo birdwatching ended with the arrival of the rain. Thanks to that!
A Crested Serpent Eagle looking gloom in the grey sky
It was past lunch time and I just have to stop at a street food stall for these goodies too!

A pack of Nasi Lemak (left) and "Tepung Bungkus" (right)
"Tepung Bungkus" in Bahasa language literally means Wrapped Flour. The white stuff is made with mixture of wheat flour, rice flour, coconut milk, sweet grated coconut filling then wrapped and steamed with banana leaf. Excellent dessert for breakfast or tea!

Sunday, 21 May 2017

LANGKAWI BIRDS: Babble On Breakfast

Guess who showed up for breakfast during the morning walk session at Ambong-Ambong Langkawi ?   

While waiting for anyone to show up at 8am, I heard some babbling sound and this little one turned up at the GoodEarth cafe of Ambong-Ambong Langkawi.  

Abbott's Babbler was spotted in the dark vegetation. I had to do some editing to produce this image.
This is an adult Abbott's Babbler Malacocincla abbotti with an insect. It didn't eat its prey immediately and it was making alarm calls. I heard calls of other similar babblers nearby. It took off after five minutes of its appearance. Could this prey be food for its chick or juvenile? Babblers are not easily seen though can be heard in the scrubby vegetation. 
Initially, I was a bit doubtful if this one here could be a Horsfield's Babbler Malacocincla sepiaria, which also belongs to the same genus of  Pellorneidae or ground babblers.

After analyzing the calls and illustrations of both babblers comparing to my photos and video, I came to conclusion that this bird here is the Abbott's Babbler Malacocincla abbotti. I was very hopeful that it was the Horsfield's instead as this species has yet to be recorded on the birds list of Langkawi.

With the info from a reference book, a Abbott's and Horsfield have similarities except for the slight differences in the length of their tails and calls. It can be tricky!
Image editor credit: paint.net
To spot a babbler is to look for them in the undergrowth, scrubby vegetation of any sort of forest. Not easy to photograph, let alone trying to identify. Most babblers here are plain brown birds and usually shy. However, they can make melodious songs. One of the ways to identify a babbler is through their calls. It is one of those hear-and-no-see-em kinda birds. Fun challenge!

Ambong Ambong Rainforest Retreat offers complimentary morning walk on Mondays at 8am for their in-house guests. Be sure to come whenever you are staying there. It is advisable to register before coming.

 I had the pleasure of watching it for 5 minutes and no one else. I can't remember what made the noisy background. I was too busy with this bird.
WMV conversion to mp4 credit: https://handbrake.fr 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pellorneidae; 20may2017.
Robson, Craig, A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia,New Holland,2011,p513-514. 

Friday, 28 April 2017

Langkawi Birdwatching Tour: Great Hornbills Aplenty!

This must be the most memorable evening and birdwatching experience for a beginner birdwatcher, McKee from the United States. Even though it was a last minute booking from McKee, I managed to fit him in for an evening birding tour after half a day session with Mic on that morning itself.

Paul's request was simple. To see and learn some birds in Langkawi. To start with, I took him to a nearby village area with some mixed habitats so he can learn about our common birds on our island.

My plan was to allow him to pick up some number of birds and hopefully to catch some hornbills on Gunung Raya before the sunsets.

And he was lucky! We arrived at the foothill about 6:30pm and it took us about 15 minutes before spotting the first few Great Hornbills. There were few Wreathed Hornbills nearby and they were perched much higher on the canopy trees. Thankfully with my scope that McKee was able to catch the details of these magnificent birds.

The longer we lingered on that spot we have stopped, more hornbills came in. Within half an hour, McKee managed to see all the three species of hornbills of Langkawi ie the Great, Wreathed and Oriental Pied. They were flying above us, back and forth as well as the constant swoooshing sound made as they flapped their great wings. A pleasant noise to hear besides the final calls of the cicadas.

It was difficult to do an accurate count as they were hopping about when they have found their spot on a tree. Then they would fly to the next tree and then fly back to the same tree. I can only estimate. It was between 35-40 individuals of Great Hornbills, 15-20 individuals of Wreathed Hornbills and only 4 individuals of Oriental Pied Hornbills.

Image below is showing how spectacular it was on that evening at sunset. This is the original image taken at 7:30pm and very poor light indeed even when it was set at ISO4000.

and I have to adjust the exposure and lighting so we can see the details of each individuals of the Great Hornbills roosting on one tree.

Roosting of the Great Hornbills
Great Hornbills returning to roost. Can you count them? 

They seem to prefer to crowd around on one tree and some were seen on nearby trees just like the Bee-eaters when they roost. Safety in numbers, perhaps?

A local guy on a motorcycle came and stopped to watch the hornbills with us. He was also awed and told me that this was his first time seeing so many on one tree. A memorable evening for him too!

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