Saturday, 17 February 2018

A 2018 Lifer for Me And Langkawi, Green-Backed Flycatcher

When Ros Effendi called me to inform me that he have seen a Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina, the first thought that came into my mind was, "why did I travel all the way down south for my lifer Narcissus Flycatcher?"  (the post is here)

The expected respond from me was "Are you sure?" Ros was surely excited because this species is his lifer and he was very confident it was a narcissina. If that was what he was seen, I advised him to enter his sighting into eBird Malaysia . Unfortunately, he didn't have any photographic evidence. We discussed on the possible features that represent a narcissina. Ros described the rump and the crown that has the similar colour. "What about the possibility of a Green-Backed Flycatcher?", I asked. Ros checked his bird field guide and this Green-Backed Flycatcher was not listed there. 

We returned to the site a couple of times with unsuccessful sighting of this rare flycatcher. And then on one fine morning, we saw an Asian Brown Flycatcher Muscicapa dauurica chasing another bird away. The bird that was being  chased away looked like a flycatcher. The chase was on between these two flycatchers and these two birders. The birds were flitting in and out of the foliage and they were not at the level for a shot. Shortly, both of them disappeared. We had to wait and our patience were being tested. I cannot recall how long we waited but thankful to spot something came out of the foliage and dipped towards our eye level before making a perch in the shade.

And here was my golden opportunity for some record shots!
Langkawi Birdwatching
Back view of a female Green-Backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae
langkawi bird watching tour
Frontal view of the female Green-Backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae
I only managed with record shots as she was perched in low light condition and some editing work was required to produce these images. And sadly, she didn't return to the site after that morning. 

Green-Backed Flycatcher Ficedula elisae it is! Or other common name is Chinese Flycatcher. The reason as to why Ros couldn't find this species in his field guide was because his field guide did not have an update on the split of Narcissus Flycatcher. Previously it was Ficedula narcissna elisae until in 2005, this was split to narcissna and elisae accordingly. From this article, elisae breeds in hill forests of Eastern China, wintering mainly in Northern Malaysia and Southern Thailand. 
Both species have consistent differences in female-type plumage and have different songs. elisae has been recorded wintering all the way down to Singapore recently. Link to the Singapore's record on Green-Backed Flycatcher

The picture below shows a female Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina. This was shot in Taiping. Compare the frontal view of narcissina and elisae.

With the record shots of F.elisae from the foothill of Gunung Raya and after verifying Yeap Chin Aik's Langkawi Birds checklist, this is indeed a Langkawi's new record.   

Thank you to Ros as I got my lifer for 2018.

While looking for a Green-Backed Flycatcher, there were other goodies that came along too.

The uncommon migrants:
A female Amur Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone incei
Who is this hiding within the foliage?
The above cropped image showing a Crow-Billed Drongo Dicrurus annectens
And our uncommon resident sunbird, a male Ruby-Cheeked Sunbird Chalcoparia singalensis was seen stripping a piece of fiber off a branch. This may be a process of nest making. The nest is nowhere near to be seen. 

These are the wonders of Langkawi's lowland rainforest. There are so much more yet to be discovered. A long as our habitats are conserved, our natural wonders is endless.

1. Moores, "Black-backed narcissina, Olive-backed owstoni and Green-backed  elisae Narcissus Flycatchers: notes on their identification and Status",
3. Robson, Craig, A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia,New Holland,2011
4. Jeyarajasingam, Allen, A Field Guide to the Birds of  West Malaysia and Singapore,Oxford University Press, 1999
6. Yeap, Chin Aik, "Report on Birds Of Langkawi Archipelago", Malaysian Nature Journal 57 (1):91-144 (2005)

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Micro Macro: Exploring the World of Undergrowth

I do hope my blog followers here had a good start for the year new 2018. My first two weeks of January 2018 was kinda packed. For those who came with me on my birdwatching tours from the festive season till the second week of January 2018, they have been very fortunate with the spectacular displays of the Great Hornbills Buceros bicornis and the Wreathed Hornbills Rhyticeros undulatus with three different fruiting fig trees within one area in two weeks. What a wonderful gift! 

Now that my guiding tours are slowing down, this has allowed me some time to consolidate my photos and put them on my blog.  

For the start of 2018 blog, I would like post my macro shots of the creatures from the undergrowth. It is a complete different world down there. If we take our time to slowly observe and photograph them, these creatures are indeed beautiful and some of them can be weird looking or bizarre. They can be as beautiful and spectacular as our feathered friends.

As a nature guide, I consider myself a generalist. Even though the avian world is my main focus, I have learned not be ignorant towards other living organism as they are equally as important in the web of life. There are so much to learn from the experts of each field and yet, it is never ending. I feel I am running out of time and storage space in my brain.

While twitching for any migrant cuckoos recently, I stumbled upon this patch of grass beside a stream. Something jumped out of the grass and has caught my attention. It was a spider of Siler genus. After that spider, more stuffs began to reveal themselves in front of my eyes. I think I have spend almost two hours on that one small spot. 

Here is the collection of my macro shots from that small grassy spot for two hours:

langkawi nature tour siler spider
The Metalic Jumper, Salticidae familySiler semiglaucus female
langkawi nature rainforest walk wolf spider
A Wolf spider, Lycosidae Family, Pardosa sp.
langkawi spiny orb weaver spider nature tour
A dorsal view of Spiny Orb-Weaver, Araneidae Family, a male Gasteracantha sp. with a pair of swollen pedipalps 

langkawi spiny orb weaver spider tours
The underside of a male Spiny Orb-Weaver, Araneidae Family, Gasteracantha sp

Langkawi nature tours
A dorsal view of Spiny Orb-Weaver, Araneidae Family, a male Gasteracantha sp. This individual was a big challenge to photograph as he is tiny!

langkawi comb footed spider nature tours
Comb-footed spider, Theridiidae Family, Achaearanea sp.

langkawi spiders wildlife photography tour
From the features and structure on its carapace, this one may be a Cosmophasis sp. belonging to Salticidae Family.
langkawi birdwatching and wildlife tour
Burmese Lynx Spider, Oxyopidae Family, Oxyopes birmanicus Thorell 1887
langkawi spiders salticidae nature guide
An unknown species of Salticidae Family
Langkawi macro tour
Nymph of Spotted Green Grasshopper, Xenocatantops humilis
langkawi wildlife watch tour
An unknown Orthoptera
langkawi wildlife tour
Nymph of Black Forest Grasshopper, Traulia azureipennis  
langkawi grasshopper
An unknown Orthoptera
langkawi nature tour insect
A weirdest insect I have ever seen. Could this be a type of mosquito bug Helopeltis sp
langkawi nature tour weird insect
Another weird-looking and colourful insect. I am clueless. Can anyone please help to id?
I am working on learning more about entomology and the spider world with the limited resources that I currently have. My personal method of learning is through macro photography that I have recently started. From the images, I am able to observe the details of a subject closely and eventually getting the identification of the subject. Thankfully, there are some accessible resources through the world wide web even though is limited and not forgetting some help from friends and friends of friends. My gratitude and special thanks to fellow guide, Fendi and my guest, Mark Pennell on the discussion and sharing the identification of some spiders species. Also, not forgetting the special thanks to Amir Ridhwan, the blogger for Malaysian Spiders, whom I first contacted some time ago for some clarification and his amazing work on spiders of Malaysia.

2. Kwan, "The Minibeast Observatory", (on some of the identification of the insects and spiders comparing on my images)
3. KH Koh, Joseph, A Guide to Common Singapore Spiders,Singapore Science Centre, 2001
6. Murphy, Frances & Murphy, An Introduction to the Spiders of South East Asia, Malaysian Nature Society, 2000
7. Kel C, Anthony, flickr image on identification of  Xenocatantops humilis

Saturday, 6 January 2018

To My Guests of 2017

Thank you to all of my guests of 2017. The adventure, fun and awesome wildlife were here because of YOU! Happy New Year 2018 all! Wishing for more exciting nature and wildlife moments.

And also to those who has kindly put their review here, Thank you!

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