Thursday, 7 July 2016

Langkawi Bird Watching Tour: Ruddy Day, Tough Browny

That was my toughest day in looking for Langkawi's iconic Brown-winged Kingfisher Pelargopsis amauroptera. Mark Burgess and Mizuho Takai booked a private bird photography tour with me and their priority was Kingfishers. Initially, they didn't ask for any specific kingfisher and I suggested the Brown-Winged. Mark was advised about the chances of getting the Brown-Winged due to the tide level in the morning. However, the early mornings tend to have better chances of seeing kingfishers and Mark took my suggestion.

We had a good start for a kingfisher while we were in the vehicle not too far away from their hotel. It was the White-Throated Kingfisher Halcyon smymensis. That was easy. Our first stop was at a fishermen jetty nearby. 
Mark Burgess keeping a look out
Except for the Collared Kingfishers Todiramphus chloris making loud noises in that area, there was another bird calling across the river. It was a Little Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx minutillus. This cuckoo was hiding very well from us. Apart from these birds, Brown-Winged was neither to be seen nor heard. We decided to move on to another location.

On our way out of the jetty on the minivan, something caught Mark's eyes. Mark quickly signalled us to stop. Our driver reversed his minivan very slowly. This birdie that I always wanted to see it perch finally made a nice appearance. As always, when one is not expecting to see a bird, it appears! Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda or aka shobin in Japanese. Thank you to Mizuho for that name in Japanese. According to Mizuho, aka shobin is very difficult to see in Japan. Well, same here for Langkawi.

Mark kindly shared his photo of the aka shobin. Mark thinks this image is not good enough and I wish I was the one who had taken this photo with my camera! 

We travelled round the island with three stops for this Brown-Winged. The same bird seem to follow us on every stop. Collared Kingfisher! It is a Collared Kingfisher day indeed!

The day got very hot and humid towards the afternoon. It was about 32-33C and it felt like 39C.

Having not satisfied with the morning session, I invited Mark and Mizuho to come out again in the late afternoon.
They accepted my invitation. We heard several calls of the Brown-Winged Kingfisher when we got to that location. Although they were far away in the dense mangroves, it was a good indicator of their presence. We waited. It was a breezy late afternoon and yet it was still hot at 5pm. And we waited again. It was lesser birds during this time. I advised both of them to wait longer. It was a waiting game.

As if patience has paid off for Mark and Mizuho, this individual blasted its territorial call in the mangroves at the last hour before sunset. We got excited. Less than five minutes later, it flew out in the open and perched nicely on a Xylocarpus tree. Woohoo!!

Mark and Mizuho in action when the Brown-Winged Kingfisher finally appeared
In most of the morning sessions, I usually was able to find this Brown-Winged but on that day, I was given a huge challenge. Like the saying goes, wildlife does not take appointments. I felt relieved and pleased to see the aka shobin. And I was very happy for Mark and Mizuho who caught great moments with their cameras.


Additional note of appreciation: Mark Burgess has kindly given me a tour review. Mark's review can be viewed here.

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