Sunday 24 September 2017

Langkawi Birdwatching: Friday Gloom

22nd September 2017 early morning and half of the islanders are still in bed. It was drizzly, windy and cloudy. Nice :) I was up early trying my luck on any rare shore birds coming in. 

Starting from Teluk Ewa, Langkawi, only two Pacific Reef Egrets were seen feeding on the sandy beach and there no other birds around. 

Pacific Reef Egret Egretta sacra dark morph, our resident wader
When I looked across towards the Dangli Island, there were about thirty fishing boats lining up behind Dangli to take shelter from the bad sea condition out there. 
At Dangli Island
The sea did look calm from where I was standing. The backdrop is Tarutao Island, Thailand.
The drizzle turned heavier and I decided to take shelter in my car and had my packed nasi lemak for breakfast. Meanwhile, these two elderly couple caught my eyes. While is windy and cold out there, there were in the water putting out the fishing net. Nice to see their hard work did not go to waste.  
They were beating the water to chase the small fishes into the netting area.

After being a "paparazi" for awhile, I moved on and made a detour to check out the mangrove area. I parked my car and just less than 10 meters away, guess who was waiting quietly. It didn't seem to be bothered as I gently place my umbrella on the ground.
Brown-Winged Kingfisher, our resident kingfisher and star bird of Langkawi
Pelargopsis amauroptera allowed me to get closer
And then the drizzle got heavier
It was beginning to look slightly grumpy now as the rain started to get heavier.

From drizzle to rain and pouring harder. can't take it anymore and it decided to look for shelter
Armed with my little umbrella, I walked around the area and suddenly a tiny fella flew in front on me and disappeared into the trees. I knew what it was! A Common Kingfisher. Alas! A migrant for the gloomy morning! Yay!

I walked around the area for awhile before returning to that spot when this Common Kingfisher came out for a short perch.
A 16-18cm female Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis, our migrant kingfisher perched on the stilt root of a Rhizophora genus
Moving on from there towards Pantai Kok. No shore birds except for some tourists at half past eleven.

I continued my aimless journey and went into Telaga Harbour Park. A wagtail like zipped past my car! And it is not the regular Grey Wagtail. I chased it around from the scrubby bit to the car park area.
An uncommon Forest Wagtail Dendronanthus indicus trying to run away from me.
Constantly moving in and out of the vegetation...aii!
Our migrant wagtail stopped for awhile to wag its tail. It must stop with its bum towards me! And my camera setting was not right. Overexposed...AAAaaaRRRggggGGHHHHH!
From Pantai Kok area to the nearby paddy fields. Only our migrant Pond herons were around. Apart from that, absolutely boring rice field on that day.

No migrant shore birds! At least I went home with a Common Kingfisher and a Forest Wagtail. Ta!

Saturday 23 September 2017

Bird and Local Tour: With Calvin Godfrey

A journalist who has written for VICE, Al Jazeera and the Guardian as well as a former NYC Park Ranger, Calvin Godfrey booked me for a half a day birdwatching tour. When he first contacted me, he was very interested to understand the in-depth of eco-tourism on Langkawi. I gladly proposed a tour for him so he can experience the nature, our local food and the insights of Langkawi. 
Here's Calvin on Gunung Raya and we managed to see a pair of Great Hornbills which showed up quite close but very briefly. Gunung Raya was not intense with birds on that day. When we arrived at the peak, it was cloudy and there was no view at all. The nice cool temperature compensates the clouded view.

It wasn't difficult for me to convince him to try out our locally made buffalo ice-cream at the Buffalo Park Langkawi. And he went on to order some mozzarella buffalo cheese on toast. 

Buffalo Park offers freshly made mozzarella cheese, ricotta, yogurt, milk or flavoured milk and meals like buffalo steak, mozzarella cheese on toasts and a few more. All produced by the Murrah breed of water buffaloes and made by the local community of the nearby village. I especially love the variety flavours of the ice-cream and frozen yogurt. Will have to wait for the durian season to return so they can make the durian buffalo ice-cream.

He also had some of our Roti canai black pepper for breakfast which is a fusion of local roti canai and Western flavor. I remember vividly his comments on the Roti canai black pepper. "It is very intense!" I think I know why. Black pepper beef burger patty wrapped in roti canai with the topping full of black pepper sauce and mayonnaise! It was kinda like American flavour to him. Alright, Calvin, the next time will be local spicy curry breakfast!

Calvin also wanted to go on a durian binge but unfortunately, our local durian season is over. You have to come back, Calvin!  

Calvin's bird list for the morning:
1. Red Wattled Lapwing
2. Little Heron
3. Brahminy Kite
4. Lesser-Whistling Duck
5. Common Myna
6. Purple Heron
7. White-Bellied Sea-Eagle
8. Pond Heron spp
9. Yellow-Vented Bulbul
10. Collared Kingfisher
11. White-Headed Munia
12. Dollarbird
13. Ashy Drongo
14. Scaly-Breasted Munia
15. Spotted Dove
16. Zebra Dove
17. White-Throated Kingfisher
18. Grey Wagtail
19. Great Hornbill
20. Cattle Egret

The above is a customised tour and can be arranged on a private birdwatching tour. However, meals are not included in the pricing. This sort of private tour is suitable for anyone who like to observe some birds of Langkawi and getting some local experience on the island.

Friday 15 September 2017

Birds of Langkawi : My Migrant Highlight

Shrikeys are back on Langkawi!

While on my wader check at the rice fields last week, I spotted one Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus and more of them are checking in now. I have missed their chit-chit-chit calls during the day that have replaced the rollicking calls of the Asian Koels.

Lanius cristatus
On my recent birdwatching tour, Subramanian spotted one while I was driving. He managed to capture a record shot on his bridge camera while in the car before it flew off and before I could even see it. Good thing he got it on his camera!
I snapped a photo from Subramanian's screen camera with my phone camera 
A Tiger Shrike! This would be my first Lanius tigrinus seen in this area. And it has been ages ago since the last time I have seen one of this shrike on Langkawi.

I returned to the same spot on the following day on my own and it wasn't there! There was another winter visitor around which is the Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea. I did wait for awhile and the area seemed quiet on that day. And so I moved on hoping to get better shots of any raptors. I dropped the expectation of having to see a Tiger Shrike.

After one hour of dropping Tiger Shrike off my mind, guess who whizzed past my car? I immediately knew it was a Shrike!
A record shot of Lanius tigrinus . It didn't hang around for long. Kinda skittish too.
Yay! I finally got one as a record shot on my DSLR!

There are only two confirmed species of Lanius genus. 
My next shrike on the list will be a Long-Tailed Shrike Lanius schach which was reported seen by a local guide but no photographic evidence. The search is on.

Thursday 7 September 2017

Birds of Langkawi: Pitta Breakfast!

This is usually unusual for most people but it has become a usual habit for me to enjoy my breakfast in my car while on my way to a birdwatching site. It was a random stop by the side of the coastal road as I was hungry. And so I had my packed breakfast in my car parked beside the road.

As I was about to leave, I saw a flash of blue on my side mirror. A nice unexpected "dessert" came in. It was hopping about beside the road. Immediately, I knew what it was :D

Blue-Winged Pitta
A Blue-Winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis

Without any delay, I came out as quietly and quickly as I can to grab my camera packed in my car boot. Thankfully, this one here didn't fly away. In fact, it was hopping back and forth on the grass and into the scrub. It was definitely looking for food. 

Going back and forth in the drain too
Into the drain
After observing it hopping in and out of the bush for quite awhile, I became curious and so I stalked it. And who came out next?

I only had less than 20 seconds to click these two together
A juvenile with an adult Blue-Winged Pitta! I would like to conclude that this adult may be a female. This is indeed a nice record of our Blue-Winged Pitta breeding here. I only saw one juvenile and the number of fledgings produced by this individual is unknown.

This juvenile was left alone for awhile and so I stood by to watch until it disappeared into the thicket ferns.
So happy to capture this moment. Made my morning! Woo-hoo!
I finally got some decent shots of Blue-Winged Pitta and not only the bum shots.
Blue-Winged Pitta is our winter visitor to Peninsular Malaysia and records have shown that they also breed in this region as well as Singapore. Click here to read Blue-Winged Pitta Nesting in Singapore

During the off-migratory season, I have picked up calls of this Blue-Winged Pitta. Could this species of Pitta has become resident here on Langkawi?