Monday 30 May 2016

4287 Langkawi's Gunung Raya Rainforest Steps

Standing close to 900 meter above sea level, Gunung Raya is the highest point on Langkawi or Mount Raya translated in English. I have seen a topography map which stated the peak of this hill is at 881 meter. At this level of height, Raya would normally be considered as a hill or "Bukit" in Malay language. 

What most visitors, locals or foreigners alike, are aware about the nicely laid tarred road that takes one right up to the peak.
Tarred road to the summit of Gunung Raya
However, what most of them didn't know is a flight of thousand steps that lead towards close to the summit. This method of reaching the top definitely consumes much longer time and energy.  According to the info board, it is 4,287 steps. 

Wednesday 25 May 2016

MY LANGKAWI TODAY: The Mozzies Strike Back

LANGKAWI TODAY: They were totally unbearable! As if they didn't have enough of me on the 19th May. They somehow have developed some sort of mechanism to withstand the copious amount of repellent. There were at least thirty of them continuously followed me. These blood thirsty creatures were so unbearable that I have to turn back even before reaching my destination on that trail. I surrender to them. The remaining amount of Citronella balm I have was used up and it was futile. I went home with at least twenty bites. They won! 
Truly mosquitoes season now! Suit up everyone!

Saturday 21 May 2016

My Langkawi Today: Woody Woodpecker Morning

LANGKAWI TODAY: Another birding day today on my no-tour day on a rainy day. The place today? Kubang Badak mangroves.

I have a few occasions of seeing a Ruddy Kingfisher in this area and the previous time was a sighting of  two individuals. On that day, I spotted one individual perched right at the top of a tree and another one flew across the road. As I was guiding, my camera was inside my pack and by the time I reached for my camera, the Ruddy dived into the bush. Sigh...

And so I do not have a good photo of Ruddy until now.

Another gloomy morning today and I do like days like this to be honest even though it is not a preferred day for photography. When I arrived, a bulldozer was there doing some road works. Then I thought that there is no way the Ruddy will show up this morning. And so, I decided not to hope for Ruddy and will take whatever comes.

I walked around for five minutes and tit..tit...tit..., the call echoed from above and followed by two woodpeckers flew above me.

They perched not too far away which enabled me to follow them. The presence of the woodpeckers startled a Little Heron and the heron flew out to another nearby tree. Why not? My first shutter clicking for the morning.
Little or Striated Heron Butorides striata
The pair of Greater Flameback Chrysocolaptes lucidus were moving up and down, pecking on a tree belonging to a Rhizophora genus. They did well, at least for me. I got close enough to have a few shots.  
Anybody wish to guess which is the female and the male?
Both woodpeckers were on the same tree at the same time and the original images were taken separately. In order to make a fun comparison of the gender, this image was edited. I simply love to play around with digital images with a photo editor. Not a lucky shot, I am afraid.

Within the one and a half hour I was there, a pair of Copper-throated sunbird Leptocoma calcostetha was sighted.

Thursday 19 May 2016

My Langkawi Today: Braving the Mozzies

LANGKAWI TODAY: While tour assignments and bookings have been really slow for me this month, this sloth inside me is emerging again. At the same time, there is a desire to explore. Thankfully the rain is starting to return to our once "overly dried" island. Usually when the rain returns after a period of dry season, it will be mosquitoes season regardless if you are in the forest or in the urban area!

A peep into one of the unmarked forest trail on Gunung Raya this morning with the hope of seeing a Banded Kingfisher. The weather this morning started with some light rain and grey sky looming over the hill. I was hoping that the clouds will pass and so I decided to carry on. 

The mozzies were already buzzing in my ears even before I reach the start of the forest trail. I quickly applied my Citronella balm on the exposed areas. The start of the main trail was quiet. Could it be the rain is coming? I wonder. The first bird calling was a Tickell's Blue Flycatcher and it was hiding. Not too long after, I whistled a call of the Banded Kingfisher to check its presence. Less than 10 seconds later, a Banded Kingfisher returned my call from the dense of the forest. That brings me to the unmarked trail and more mozzies are following me!
This colourful flower. Ulvaria spp. caught my eyes as I was walking on the main trail. This would be my first time seeing this bizarre flower and credit to our Dr Abdul Ghani, the herb man of Langkawi who has helped me with this identification.
I was delighted to hear more songs of the forest birds as I ventured further into the forest and yet it is a challenge to spot them.

The call of the Banded Kingfisher disappeared. 

I spotted a bird in the undergrowth and managed to get a record shot of it. It was the Abbot's Babbler. After disappearing itself, it started calling. A Puff-throated Babbler called next and then followed by the Greater Racquet-Tailed Drongo. There were some movement within the canopy trees and a Dusky Leaf Monkey was spotted. It didn't seem too bothered with my presence.
Me and a Dusky Leaf Monkey or Spectacled Langur were spying on each other
I arrived at a dried river bed and a Blue-Winged Pitta started to call.