Tuesday, 31 December 2019

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2020

Amazing breaching of our Indo-Pacific Humpbacked Dolpin Sousa chinensis while on a boat with my lucky guest, Willi Van Boven

Another year came and went very quickly. While we are looking forward for a better year, let's not forget about the huge numbers of wildlife died when their natural habitats were destroyed by fires. 

Langkawi is still blessed with her natural habitats of lowland rainforest, mangroves and some corals that our wildlife continues to thrive. We must be very careful not to exploit these wonderful natural wonders in the name of tourism and development. 

I urge all visitors to practice responsible tourism. It has to start from you and not relying on the tour operators to make it happen.
Responsible tourism is tourism which: minimizes negative social, economic and environmental impacts. generates greater economic benefits for local people and enhances the well-being of host communities." definition by sustainabletourism.net

There are so many imaginable ways towards responsible tourism, such as 
DO NOT DEMAND for specific wildlife to feast your eyes
Watch any wildlife in their natural environment and DO NOT FEED them (Langkawi is not having any food shortage for the wildlife that we need to feed them)
Reduce waste
Support hotels that provide free water from their water dispensing machines
 Hire local guides as all foreign tour guides here are unlicensed
To those foreigners going around Langkawi with your hired motorbike, Put your damn shirt on while driving around as no one is bothered to count the number of hairs on your chest. This also include putting your damn shirt on while dining in a local stall. Have some respect and be culturally sensitive.
and many more...

Langkawi Nature Guide like to extend the abundance of positive energy, health and wisdom for this coming year 2020. 

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2020


Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Rare and Uncommon Ones Confirmed

Most of the bird enthusiasts here are always on a lookout for any rare species or even better, a new record for Langkawi especially during the migratory season. If only I can split myself into a few of me and look for birds in a few locations at the same time, that would be awesome. That's impossible, of course, and thankfully I have updates from others who had either informed me directly or submitted to E-Bird or even via social media. I have not been much luck lately in spotting a lifer for myself or photographing a rare migrant in Langkawi. Like I have always said, it is all about being at the right place at the right time.

For the past two months, there are reports of rare migrants seen on Langkawi. These are Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea, Siberian Blue Robin Larvivora cyane, Chinese Goshawk Accipiter soloensis and Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster. These species have been listed and compiled to a journal by Yeap Chin Aik which was published under Malaysian Nature Sociey in Malayan Nature Journal 57 (1) 91-144 (2005). This journal is one of my primary source of reference for birds record in Langkawi Archipelago. And yet, I have not come across any of these birds myself or any photographs published. Therefore, I was doubtful until now.

These are the following status based on Yeap's journal:
1. Ferruginous Flycatcher was reported seen on Pulau Payar on 26 April without any date given.
2. Siberian Blue Robin was only recorded as seen in the lowland and hill forests but no date given.
3. Chinese Goshawk was reported seen in Gunung Raya on 18 May 2002.
4. Oriental Darter was reported as locally extinct and one recorded in late November or early December 1907 on Dayang Bunting Lake (Wells 1999; Medway and Wells 1976). According to Wells from  The Birds of Thai-Malay Peninsula Volume One Non-Passerine, it is possible that Oriental Darter a former resident, local and apparently sparse; now vagrant. Darters vanished from the Peninsula where some still breed in South Vietnam and probably Cambodia. Oriental Darter is now considered as migrant or vagrant for Peninsular Malaysia.

The followings below are the recent sightings:
1. Ferruginous Flycatcher was photographed by Sofian on 24th September 2019 in the secondary forest of Eastern Langkawi.


2. Siberian Blue Robin male was photographed by a guide who was on morning walk at a resort on 9th October 2019. According to a reliable source, this male Robin hit the glass window panel and then he was seen by the guide. It was circulated on the guide's Facebook but not shared publicly. I was alerted by a friend and I later found out how this male Robin was spotted. This Robin was still alive when the photographed was taken. It is unknown as what has happened to this Robin after the crash ordeal. No picture posted here as I did not ask for the guide's permission to share his photo but I have seen it.

3. Chinese Goshawk was spotted and photographed by another birder around the area of Gunung Raya foothill on 24th October 2019. 

4. Oriental Darter was spotted and photographed by my English guest, David Bradshaw on 27th November 2019. Congratulations for spotting this, David! Thanks for sharing the location and I got to see one myself.

A record shot of possibly an Immature Oriental Darter perched in the middle of a rice paddy field. Thank you for this, David Bradshaw!

With the advancement of digital technology which has created affordable optics equipment,   birdwatchers these days will carry along some form of camera to have record shots besides a pair of binoculars, pen and notebook. I would say that in this era, it is a necessity to have some evidence of rare sightings besides the traditional notes taking.

References:
1. Yeap C.A (2005). Report on Birds of Langkawi Archipelago. Malayan Nature Journal 2005, 57(1),107
2. Wells, D.R. (1999). The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula. Volume One: Non-passerines. New York: Academic Press. 

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Migratory Check 2019/2020: Where's My Stint?

Whenever we noticed the arrival of Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica, it is time to watch out for the early check-in of our winter visitors in Langkawi. Barn Swallows were sighted as early as the third week of July.

Barn Swallow
And my first Common Sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos on 31 July 2019 though someone else has reported sighting of this sandpiper a week earlier.

It is time to put on my wading boots and head out to my favourite mudflat site.


I headed out on 29th August 2019 to the same mudflat while remembering my sighting of Red-Necked Stint Calidris ruficollis last year. Hoping, yes, hoping and I dislike to use the word "hope". I would like to see this stint again or any other stint will do. Or even better still, a new migrant!

Thank goodness with my wading boots to keep my feet clean from pools of rainwater mixed with cow and buffalo dungs! Even though migrants are my priority, I will also take note of our residents too.
Black Phua Chu Kang boots
Soft high pitch hiccup sounds from the reeds caught my attention and a little bird came out walking around. A White-Browed Crake Amaurornis cinerea which is in the family or Rail birds can be easily missed due to their small size and they don't make big movements. Very often they hide in the tall grass of the reeds bed. They can be also seen in wet rice fields or abandoned rice fields.

White-Browed Crake revealing itself, click the video below to hear its call


Other common resident birds on the fields will be our Paddyfield Pipits Anthus rufulus,

Lesser-Whistling Ducks  Dendrocygna javanica  


and Red-Wattled Lapwings Vanellus indicus.

An immature Red-Wattled Lapwing

Pacific Golden Plovers Pluvialis fulva were the among first migrants seen on that mudflat and they seem quite comfortable to intrude the space of the resident Red-Wattled Lapwings.
Langkawi Birds
A Pacific Golden Plover coming out of its breeding plumage
Plover sharing space with our Lapwings
Langkawi bird
Birds of the same feathers flock together
Scanning the mudflat, I noticed a common plover that is not so common here which is the Greater Sand-Plover Charadrius leschenaultii. Greater Sand-Plover can be mistaken to be the Lesser Sand-Plover Charadrius mongolus. Note the yellow legs as compared to the Lesser which is black in colour. The thicker stockier bill for Greater comparing to the Lesser. There was only one Greater Sand-Plover on that entire mudflat. This is a good record for me as I have not seen a Greater Sand-Plover on Langkawi until now.
langkawi birdwatching
A lone Greater Sand Plover
And then there were the common andpipers such as the Common Sandpipers 

langkawi birdwatching
Lives by its name, a very common sandpiper call Common Sandpiper
 and Wood Sandpipers Tringa glareola
A Wood Sandpiper which may sometimes be mistaken as a Marsh Sandpiper

No Marsh Sandpiper sighted yet as reported by a foreign birdwatcher via E-bird on the last migratory season.

A small dainty bird caught my eye and it was far across on the other side of the mudflat. A stint! Or really? I cannot be sure from that distance even though the gist of it looked like out. 
A heavily cropped image of a Stint or Plover?


How exciting! I had to suppress my excitement until I get closer to it. After squeezing through the bushes, I managed to get close to it without scaring it away.
What are you peeping at?
 I knew I should not be so excited for it is only the Lesser Sand-Plover coming out of its breeding plumage.

I felt a bit of anti climax and yet at the same time, I am pleased to walk out of this mudflat area with close images of this Lesser Sand-Plover Charadrius mongolus. 
Here are two different types of Plovers side by side. Guess which is which?
Till then I will be back, always seeking always searching.

You may view my Ebird checklist here:
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S59344752