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)

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