Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Langkawi Birdwatching: Recent Highlights Part I, HK Birders

Thank you for being so patience with me in waiting for my next blog post. For the past two months, I was switching between busy period and a non-busy period of nature tours. When I had a period of no tours, that was the time for me to gallop towards meeting the deadline of my overly insane amount of administration work. Somehow, I managed to sneak in a week of break during the second week of May. A much needed holiday!

This first part of my blog post is a compilation of my bird photos taken during our Birdwatching and Bird Photography tour in Langkawi. The selection of my photos here are my highlights during the tours. And I am very sure that my highlights are also the same for my guests.

Starting with Grace Wong and Lindsay from Hong Kong who came with me for a two and a half day of Birdwatching tour, a night tour and a Mangrove Boat tour. They are very much keen in taking photos of birds and at the same, they are also contented with just having to see the bird even if no photos were captured. 


Langkawi Birdwatching tour
Lindsay and Grace
I love the fact that Grace gave me all her terms and conditions on her Mangrove Tour at Kilim that I happily complied. Her terms and conditions were very simple ie no eagles/monkeys feeding, no monkeys swimming, no crowded places and no Bat Cave (but they were happy to see the Flying Foxes at Dangli Island) and of course, I had a list of their target birds. 
Langkawi Mangrove Boat
A colony of Flying Foxes, genus Pteropus
Grace and Lindsay didn't have a close look of our iconic Brown-Winged Kingfisher Pelargopsis amauroptera on their first day of birdwatching tour. However, luck was on their side on the second morning. They had an intimate moment with this Brown-Winged at another location. It stayed a long time for them with some diving moments and preening too.
langkawi birds
Burst shot modes of a Brown-Winged Kingfisher splashing out of the water after a dive!
langkawi birdwatching tour

Other bird highlights for us:
langkawi birds

An uncommon migrant, Large Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides at the peak of Gunung Raya. This individual was an incidental spot. A flycatcher-like flew past and I followed till it disappeared into the top of a tree. While we were trying to find this bird, Lindsay spotted this cuckoo perched at the lowest branch of that same tree. He was very pleased to spot this uncommon migrant. Well done, Lindsay!  

A female Banded Kingfisher Lacedo pulchella, flew in and took a quiet perch while we were looking at a Crimson Sunbird Aethopyga siparaja:
langkawi bird guide
The undoubtly elegant female Banded Kingfisher posing for us
Not only birds, Grace is also keen in photographing other wildlife too like butterflies and mammals. It is a bonus to spot a Colugo at daylight for them while birding in our lowland rainforest!
langkawi wildlife tour
A female Flying Lemur or now better know as Colugo
A kaleidoscope of butterflies
Another couple from Hong Kong, Taison and Mandy who also had close moments with the Brown-Winged Kingfisher and a Plaintive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus before our tummies cried for lunch. 
Can you spot their Brown-Winged? Close enough for decent shots
A male Plaintive Cuckoo
The depressing part of our tour in the morning was to find my favourite mangrove spot at Temoyong slain for the development of a coastal road. I took Taison and Mandy there in hope of showing them our Langkawi's special bird, which is the Brown-Winged Kingfisher. It was a feeling of dismay and disgust as we entered the narrow path. 


I felt that place was like a burial ground for the dead and deep in my heart, I was mourning. Why can't they build that road sustainably? Must they sacrifice the whole lot of trees? 

Most of the trees belonging to the mangroves along the path were slain! Only a few trees were left standing. It was easy for me to point out the position of the bird on that morning when I spotted one perched. I recall telling them, "That tree, the only tree there" as compared to those good old days when I had to do lengthy description to point out the exact location of the bird.

Mandy and Taison will just have to make do with whatever there is in this graveyard of the forest

Only the Ashy Drongo, Pied Fantails, Black-Naped Oriole, Collared Kingfisher, Yellow-Vented Bulbul, Little Heron, Brown Shrike and Common Mynas perched for awhile on the few trees left standing amongst the graveyard of their comrades.

We saw the forested hill behind the mangrove was being cleared that morning
No sighting of Brown-Winged Kingfisher and its call that morning at Temoyong. We had no choice but to find another location for them to see this Kingfisher.

Once a pristine mangroves destroyed for a shrimp farm and now it is rehabilitating after the shrimp farm has failed. I am glad that some of my previous guests like Jane Miller, Chris and Sheena White, Janis Meeks, Sylvia and James Crain, Carl & Ann-Mari and many more who have seen the Brown-Winged Kingfishers at this site and now it is only memories to be cherished. Will this Kingfisher return to this site?

As Taison and Mandy are both vegans, we ended up with Indian banana leaf rice for lunch. It was still pretty much hot and humid after lunch time and the only suitable place to bird will be under the canopy of our lowland rainforest. We had good view of a Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus which sneaked high up behind us.

The Great and Wreath Hornbills were seen but the distance of the fig tree was far for close shots. Being birdwatchers, they were pleased with whatever were presented.  
Birdwatching in Langkawi lowland forest
Birders from HK, Taison and Mandy
I must say that my Hong Kong birders had a lot of stamina in birdwatching. "Thor Cheh" for your great support and enthusiasm. Both couples have kindly wrote their reviews and you may view them on my Facebook page

To be continued...

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