Friday 30 November 2018


Have you ever experienced this? Just when you decided not to take your camera out for the day, something elusive like this one here appeared right in front of your eyes.
This poor quality picture of a male Banded Kingfisher was taken in October 2010 with my Canon Powershot camera, not today..
My aim for this morning was to focus on my walk up the 4,287 steps on Gunung Raya and in wanting to reach the top on time, I decided not to take my camera along. And at the same time I was hoping that nothing special would come along...but that didn't help... Aaarrrrgggghhhh......

On my first 5-minute of the walk, the first birdie greeted me in the morning with a sweet whistling call of a female Tickell's Blue Flycatcher Cyornis tickelliae. This small flycatcher does not usually perch for long but she did, for 5 minutes. I could have.... Aaarrrrgggghhhh!

"Whoooppp...whoooppp... whooooppp..." the loud helicopter-like sound made by the flapping wings of hornbills. A flock of Wreathed Hornbill Aceros undulatus!! Both males and females! It was alright that I didn't have my camera. They were flying above the trees canopy and I saw them though the gaps with my binoculars. One of them perched on a leafless branch for a short while. Then I heard a call of a Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela and saw a quick glance of that raptor. It seemed to be annoying those hornbills.

While ascending up that steep stairs, I heard the call of another elusive bird, Orange Breasted Trogon Harpactes oreskios. I imitated its call... but it flew further away...

Not along after, a whitish butterfly with some yellow patches near its abdomen was fluttering in front of me. I was watching it till it landed on a vine. Then it started to open its wings slowly, then closing it slowly, opened again very slowly and repeated the actions many times for five minutes. As if it was saying this to me, "See my beautiful wings... and you don't have your camera with you... neh, neh, neh, neh, neh..." Aaarrrrgggghhhh!

After a good 2-hour workout, Phew!!! up on the top of the hill. I thought I heard a Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis nearby. And I was right, I startled that hornbill with my presence and it flew above me showing its bright yellow bars under its wings. 

It was hot and sunny when I got up there. After I had a quick snack, the mist came in quickly. It cooled the area down and I was reluctant to descend. Such a nice temperature on a hot dry season in Langkawi now. I sat on a rock and savoured a 20 minute power nap amidst the cool mist. Not far away on the trees behind me was a group of Long Tailed Macaques Macaca fascicularis feeding.

Time was up and I had to descend. After twenty minutes on those steps again, shower came!! Yeeehoooo!! It was strange to have rain in this time of the year. 

About midway down, there was a bit of disturbance at the canopy layer and a bird shrieked. I caught a glimpse of it and followed it. Then it perched. It has a longish tail and I quickly took out my binoculars from my day pack. OMG!! Orange Breasted Trogon Harpactes oreskios. Yeah! Got it finally! It perched for less than 5 minutes and I could have ... Aaarrrrgggghhhh! And then it flew away.

"Thonk, thonk..." The call of a Dusky Leaf Monkey Trachypithecus obscurus above the last 550 steps of the stairs. I looked up attempting to spot them. Suddenly a bird flew in front of me and perched on a liana about five meters away. Through my naked eyes, I saw a longish bill and I didn't want to believe what I saw. Again, I quickly took out my binoculars to confirm my curiosity, yes indeed that this bird was a male Banded Kingfisher Lacedo pulchella ! This kingfisher is  elusive and it is uncommon bird to sight. This male kingfisher looked up at the monkeys crossing from tree to tree and he didn't seem to be bothered at all. I was drooling over him through my binoculars and at some point, I caught him closing his eyes and he dozed off. He was there for fifteen minutes. And then I thought, "A good fifteen minutes and just five meters away, I could have...." Aaarrrrgggghhhh! 

And so, this was one of those days when you asked, "Where is my camera when I needed it?" Aaarrrrgggghhhh!

About 100 steps to the recreational park, two Greater Racket-Tailed Drongos Dicrurus paradiseus came along to say, "Bye bye" by swaying their elongated tails.

Oh well, I must admit that I had a fantastic day out there and the elusive creatures that revealed themselves were the greatest treat for the day. I was also smiling from ear to ear along with my Aaarrrrgggghhhh!

Anyone here have similar  Aaarrrrgggghhhh!  experience? 

Note: This is one of my old stories back in 2011, I like to share again :)

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Langkawi Birdwatching with Kit Boey and Herman

From our neighbouring country, Kit Boey and her husband, Herman did two sessions of birdwatching tours with me back in the late May 2018. It was a pleasant surprise to know that Kit Boey also enjoys writing trip report or blogs about her field trips. Her wonderfully written report on those two sessions brings back exciting memories of the Great Hornbills roosting, how we were chased out of the mountain by the torrential rain, being eaten alive by those vicious mosquitoes while tracking the Blue-Winged Pitta and finding that elusive Mangrove Pitta for them while we were sheltering in the car from the rain.

Kit Boey has given me the green light to share her trip report and as well as her Blue-Winged Pitta image. My Blue-Winged Pitta shots were terrible!

Click below for Kit Boey's stories on her Langkawi trip with her superb bird photos:

Kit Boey's video on the dramatic display of our Great Hornbills
Kit Boey and Herman still smiling in the humidity of this scrub with the vicious mosquitoes
A curious Blue-Winged Pitta  Photo credit: Kit Boey
Towards the end of the second session, their Ms Brown-Winged Kingfisher remained out of sight. I felt the tours were incomplete without our Ms Brown-Winged. Nevertheless, Kit Boey and Herman kindly presented me their Asean Waterbirds Field Guide before we bid goodbye. Thank you so much for this little gift. Let's hope that Ms Brown-Winged will magically appear on your next return.