Thursday, 31 December 2015

New Year Greeting 2016

Sometimes when that moment does not present you with the things you want; a pleasant surprise comes along instead. This was what I got when I was looking for the bird I wanted on that morning. The bird didn't show up but a smooth otter popped its head up from the water instead.


Happy New Year 2016 to all living creatures on this planet. May your year be filled with pleasant surprises.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Brief Appearance in Travelfish.org

This kayaking tour was back in August 2012. I didn't have my own website back then until now. I remember a very brief review by Stuart McDonald from Travelfish and I like to add on to my list of reviews. 

Stuart was recommended by a food and travel writer, Robyn Eckhardt.  With a short notice, I managed to book a boat and a kayak for us on the following day and off we paddled into the tributaries of Tanjung Rhu mangroves.  

This is the link to Stuart's write-up on his short stay in Langkawi: Langkawi Photo Essay

You may need to scroll down a fair bit to get to my name. To make it slightly easier, here is the screen shot:
A screen shot from http://www.travelfish.org/sight_profile/malaysia/peninsular_malaysia/perlis/langkawi/2289
I was using this particular email address mentioned in Stuart's writeup back in 2012. It is changed to this email address: wendynatureguide@gmail.com

My appreciation goes to Robyn Eckhardt and Stuart McDonald of Travelfish.org. Thank you for your immense support. 

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2016

Wishing all my dear family, friends, my guests and nature lovers a meaningful celebration on this festive season and a wonderful year ahead.




This image of a long-tailed macaque and a stray female mongrel was taken in Kuah town. It is a very unique monkey and dog relationship that I have never seen before. Most dogs would chase after monkeys and some dogs would even kill and eat them. 

I thought this image is meaningful in a sense that true friends are not to be taken for granted.

I will tell you more about this monkey and mongrel when I have the spare time.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Thank you Rain and Our Feathered Friends!

I love the rain. Two to three hours of rain will make the wildlife scene more active. Even better if the heavy rainfall is in the night and the sun returns to shine in the morning.

I had a bird watching tour yesterday with a couple from Singapore. The weather was extremely hot and humid with clear blue sky. Great weather for many but not the bird life on the mountain. It was quiet and not even a call of the Puff-throated babbler Pellorneum ruficeps from the forest. However, we were lucky to photograph a Mountain Hawk Eagle Nisaetus nipalensis on flight.

An unexpected heavy rainfall at 2:45am that night brought the temperature down a little. It was nice and cooling. 

Thankfully, the weather cleared up the next morning and so I was able to meet a family from Tunisia for their birdwatching tour with me. 

On their wishlist was the Brown-winged kingfisher Pelargopsis amouroptera, so I took them to the nearest mangroves from their resort. 

The Brown-winged kingfisher was already waiting on the branch as soon as our vehicle arrived at the car park area. They had at least a good twenty minutes to photograph this kingfisher and there were two of them! As the tide level was very favourable, this family was very fortunate to see this kingfisher without having to wait. 

I joined them to photograph this special kingfisher of Langkawi. Our highlight was observing and photographing this individual with a crab caught in its beak. 
Brown-winged kingfisher with its crunchy breakfast
It smashed the crab on the tree branch and quickly devoured it. Due to its hard smashing, the crab split into another smaller portion and it dropped on the mud. 

In the next minute, it descended onto the mudflat as if it has learned not to waste any food. 
Kingfisher on the mudflat. Can you see the silvery shining object? Part of its breakfast
It didn't pick up that portion of crab immediately. It turned to the right as if looking out for something.
And then it turned again to look behind. Very funny...
I think it finally felt secured to move forward to pick up its food
Got it!
Burp!
This would be my first time photographing a Brown-winged kingfisher on a mudflat and it is not common for me to see this. Within the area, the Ashy Drongos were there and one Oriental Pied hornbill flew past. A Common Sandpiper and a Little Heron were spotted feeding on the another section of the mudflat.

And we had the joy of watching this Little Heron Butorides striata with its big fish!
Little Heron with a fish possibly a spotted garoupa
Nothing is too big for this Little Heron to handle
A very good start for the morning indeed. Thank you Brown-winged kingfisher and its associates! We then headed towards the mountain.

Gunung Raya was surprisingly more alive than yesterday! I would say it was the magical rain last night that made the difference. A pair of Wreathed Hornbills Rhyticeros undulatus flew out from the canopy and they were cooperative. They perched! The honking calls of the Great Hornbills Buceros bicornis were echoing through the forest. And alas! The singing call of the Puff-throated babbler Pellorneum ruficeps. The Singaporean couple were in my thoughts when I heard the babbler's call. They were looking for this bird yesterday.

While the Tunisian family were delighted over the Great Hornbills feeding on the strangling fig tree, I was ecstatic to see this migratory Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus lucionensis subspecies at the same area. I quickly ran back to the vehicle to grab my camera and luckily it was still there. This subspecies can be easily mistaken as the Grey-backed Shrike Lanius tephronotus. Even though I was excited seeing this lucionensis subspecies because it is uncommon here, I was also hoping that it was the L.tephronotus. Hopefully next time.
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus lucionensis 
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus lucionensis  with its prey that looks like a grasshopper
The family saw a few other species of birds on this mountain along with mammals like the Black Giant squirrel Ratufa bicolor, a troupe of Long-tailed macaques and Dusky leaf monkeys. 

The mountain was getting quiet when noon arrived and it was time for us to descend to the rice fields. The family were so gung-ho to shoot the Red-Wattled Lapwings Vanellus indicus as close as possibly they can get, they walked down to the swampy area. While looking at a White-throated Kingfisher perched far away, they discovered a few unwanted guests crawling up on their shoes. Leeches!! They became restless and the mission of spending longer time on the swampy patch was abandoned. All of them were taking off their shoes checking for leeches and I helped to pick the leeches off them. 

I got my lifer on that rice field area...Yay!! A Cinnamon Bittern Ixobrychus cinnamomeus flew out of the overgrown field and disappeared into the grass after about 10 meters of flight. A migrant with beautiful uniform rich cinnamon-rufous which is a very distinctive feature as compared to the Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis. However, I was not prepared with my camera and so no photo of my lifer. 

The Yellow Bittern did show up in the end. Same like the Cinnamon, flew up and back into the field very quickly. The Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis was very cheeky. It flew towards us and perched on a stick where we were less than five meters away. It made us overly excited till we were fiddling with our cameras. It took off in less than two seconds of perch. Oh well... that's wildlife photography in its natural setting...

The Mejri's bird sightings for this day:
1. Brown-winged Kingfisher   2. Brahminy Kite
3. House Swallow                     4. Common Sandpiper
5. Little Heron                           6. Ashy Drongo
7. Crested Goshawk                  8. Common Myna
9. Oriental pied Hornbill        10. Spotted Dove
11. Wreathed Hornbill       12. Greater Racquet-Tailed Drongo
13. Great Hornbill                    14. Thick-Billed Green Pigeon
15. Dollarbird                            16. Brown Shrike lucionensis sp.
17.Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker
18. Chestnut-headed Beeeater
19. Cattle Egret                         20. Little Egret
21. Red Wattled Lapwing       22. Great Egret
23. White-throated Kingfisher     24. Cinnamon Bittern
25. Black-naped Oriole           26. White-bellied Sea-Eagle
27. Blue-tailed Beeeater         28. Scaly-breasted Munia
29. Common Kingfisher         30. Intermediate Egret
31. Yellow Bittern  

I would say that it was a productive morning and we graciously thanked the rain from last night. 

Reference:
A field guide to the Birds of South-East Asia by Craig Robson

Friday, 11 December 2015

Langkawi Birdwatching Tour: Mugimaki Flycatcher Through My Lens

Looking through our binoculars under low light condition, we initially thought we were seeing a female version of a Mugimaki Flycatcher Fidedula mugimaki.

Now that I have observed the details here on my photo, this little fella here is an immature male. He has a brighter orange throat to the breast. A short supercillium is visible. As described by Craig Robson's Birds of South East Asia book.



Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Langkawi Bird Watching: Of Rain and Frogs

My target for this morning was the elusive Ruddy-breasted crake Porzana fusca at a reed bed. Arriving at the spot where this crake's hideaway is, I noticed the rain clouds have followed me all the way from town. I quickly set up my camera and tripod while hoping the wind will blow the rain clouds away. As if the waders knew a storm was about to arrive, the mudflat has no visitors. I waited for five minutes while the Common Mynas, Spotted Doves were looking kinda busy with their own thing on the other side and a cool looking Collared Kingfisher perched contently on the lamp post.

The storm was brewing up very quickly and it started to drizzle.  Reluctantly, I was forced to pack up and a few minutes later, the reed bed and its surrounding were rained on. A good roti canai breakfast would be an ideal activity then. Thanks to the wind, the rain didn't last too long and the sun peeped out from the clouds. The rain slowed down to drizzle. Off I went for the Ruddy-breasted crake! 

While I noticed the water was slowing rising and covering the mudflat, besides the lone Common Sandpiper on the mudflat, there were no other birds. No crake.

A whistling call came and I knew it was the Pied Fantail Rhipidura javanica at the scrubby forest by the mudflat. Time to chase this bird as I yet to have a nice photo for this species in Langkawi. It went back and forth, flitting in and out of the bush. I got it alas!
This Pied Fantail Rhipidura javanica descended to the ground and picked up an odonata sp.
The odonata was devoured very quickly by the Pied Fantail
Closely with the Pied Fantail were two Dark-necked Tailorbirds.
A very shy Dark-necked Tailorbird Orthotomus atrogularis; possibly a female
And a pair of Brown-throated Sunbird came along making a lot of noise. 
A female Brown-throated sunbird Anthreptes malaccensis checking out the flower that looks like from a Clitoria genus
More common colourful birds came out to dry their feathers and to feed.
A Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier checking out the fruits of Flueggea virosa  plant


Yellow-vented Bulbul is a very common garden bird and yet it has its own beauty. Do you know why it is called a Yellow-vented?
One of the prettiest common garden bird, a Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis juvenile arrived  
Heading back to the road, a quiet fella was enjoying its meal quietly. This coucal must have thought that no one was watching.
A Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis with a flatten frog
The Common Mynas and Spotted Doves were almost everywhere and the Ruddy-breasted crake was still reluctant to show up. I decided to change my venue and checked out the rice paddy field.

There were a couple of heads sticking out of the rice field resembling a snake.
A snake-like head sticking out
A cropped image from the above showing the head of a Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
Purple herons Ardea purpurea are the largest resident herons in Langkawi and can be found in the rice paddy fields, reed beds and freshwater marshes. They can be seen on flight near above the rice fields near the airport. When they are on flight, they look like a huge and skinny raptor. 

While I was observing this individual, it had its neck kinked and disappeared into the grass for a second. It came out with a surprise...a huge frog!
I was about 10 meter away from this Purple Heron. This cropped image showed a huge frog clamped in between the mandibles of this heron. There is no way this Freddy could escaped.
The Purple Heron took off very quickly with Freddy
It landed further away and there was a Purple Heron juvenile nearby (on the right)
Have a good time with Freddy, Purple Heron!
This is what I love about Langkawi - her rice fields with the hilly landscape as a backdrop
And I was in the middle of this rice field!
Somewhere from a distant, a flock of Pacific Golden Plovers Pluvialis fulva were spotted. These plovers are our winter visitors.
Can you spot the plovers?
Our migrants - a flock of Pacific Golden plovers Pluvialis fulva
...and I spotted another migrant...a shy one 
A Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis managed to escape from my camera
And more migrants were there and they are the common ones. Scores of Barn swallows Hirundo rustica hunting for tiny insects above the field. 
A Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica in non-breeding plumage

The weather started to change again and lunch time was calling me. I was very pleased with such pleasant weather today which was not too hot for birdwatching. Thank you rain! Although I didn't manage to get my Ruddy-breasted crake, I was contented with the captured images of the common birds with their preys. I will be back for you, Ruddy-breasted crake.

The last common migrant before packing up my camera.
A lone Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus at a far distance
Reference:
1. A field guide to the Birds of South-East Asia by Craig Robson
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