Sunday, March 25, 2012

Birding In Selangor! Hooded Pitta!

Most of my birding friends know that i seldom want to travel far for birding lately, as I find traveling getting more and more taxing both physically and financially. But then some of my friends know exactly how to lure me out of the cave...... 


"But what if we guarantee you three species in one trip," said my friends, "including the hot hot Super Dooper Hooded Pitta!" and before i could ask for more detail, "Your lunch and  dinner are included!"  Yipee!


2 Days later...March 11, 2012


Paya Indah Wetland


I met up with my friends from Kuala Lumpur at Paya Indah Wetland for the Buffy Fish Owl after a 3hour's drive, because the Pitta's spot was "too congested" with photographers in the morning, naturally! 


The Buffy is a released owl, but refused to return back to the wild! I was rather shocked to see her perching on the ceiling fan in the stable, moving left and right and calling enthusiastically  upon seeing us!  


The owl was extremely excited on watching us setting our gear, attempting to moving closer to us each time i smiled at her. I was a bit concerned though,  "what happen if she decides to land on my head or shoulder!".  This buffy is so friendly and "human" you could certainly hug her and walk around the park like your pet! Patting on her 'shoulder' was not a problem, as demonstrated by my friends later.


Within minutes, we were able to get her to perch low for  some head shots! Yes, we spoke to the Owl in English in case you want to come and try!




Buffy Fish Owl (Ketupa ketupu)
Tumbuk Ketampi  * 马来渔鸮 マレアウオミミズク Dù dì kêtupu
Kétoupa malais ketupa riečna Малайский Рыбный Филин นกทึดทือพันธุ์มลายู
Sundafischuhu Búho Pescador Malayo Gufo pescatore della Malaesia Maleise Visuil




"Naaah, this is too studio-like..go perch in the wood with natural background ....with some innocent eye contact!" 





"Now, look to your left pleeeease"



"So far so good, ok now give us the killing LOOK! And Do Not Smile" Ha!




Yeap!...... Great! But I wasn't too happy with these shots because they look like they were shot in the zoo!  I wanted something that looks natural rather than the look of  a set up shoot in the studio! 


"Go Buffy!"




300+ shots later, everyone was tired but happy, we rested for a while and eagerly asked if the Pitta was available! 


But we were told that it was raining cats and dogs at the Botanical Garden, so I guess we have to stick around with the Buffy for a lot longer!  But...wait!


"Hey come back here! we haven't finished shooting with you yet Buffy!!!"




Ampang Forest Reserve (AFR) 


We arrived AFR around 11am for our 2nd species - the Green-backed Flycatcher at some 40kms away!!, Another 5 friends were already waiting there to give us a warm welcome! Lots of handshakes, hugs and "ni hao ma?"... with the Green-backed Flycatcher seen just a few meters away staring at us with a funny gesture!


I am just thankful that Buihaimi Mangkor (birder from KL) who works just around the corner, has been monitoring this species almost daily and able to 'tame' it successfully and share with all birders who are interested to shoot this migrant species! 




There were 8 of us shooting the male GBFC  and I must 
say the bird was quite well "trained"!






Green-backed Flycatcher (Ficedula elisae)
   绿背姬鹟 チャイニアズヒタキ *      
      Gobemouche à dos vert * muchárik zelenochrbtý *     * นกจับแมลงหลังสีเขียว
Narzissenschnäpper-elisae * Kinesisk Fluesnapper Papamoscas de China Kinesisk narcissflugsnappare






The female GBFCs was sighted here a few days prior to our shoot, but unfortunately didnot turn up as anticipated. 


We left ARF around 1pm and heading straight for the Hooded Pitta @ the Botanical Garden, after a few quick bites at the MacDonald's.


Going to the Botanical Garden means we have to drive thru KL City roads according to the GPS, which blindly guided us thru the shortest but heavily congested road via some of the City's busy street ...:( 


Petronas Twin Towers

At Pudu Raya alone we were stuck for almost 30mins! This place just reminds me of the delicious Spectacled Duck ( or 4-eyed duck, so called because the stall owner wear glasses, not that the duck has 4 eyes!), Curry Chee Chong Fun, Claypot Loh She Fun...oh boy! I really should be blogging local hawker food! 

Pudu's Market Street....


Botanical Garden


By 2:30pm we arrived KL's Botanical Garden, but it was still drizzling with occasional heavy downpours.  So another 30mins spent in the car for the rain to stop! :(




We later took shelter at the cafe by the entrance,  wondering if we should just call it a day while sipping the rather tasteless teh-tarik at the Cafe, then at around 4pm, 3 birders came  out from the park, all soaked wet, whom happily show us pics of the Hooded Pitta! 


By 4:30pm, we were informed by the park officer that the gate would close in 30mins, and suddenly eyes were  squinting at me anxiously for a immediate live or death decision, i.e. go in or go home!


"We are going in! And I am not going home without Pitta!", honestly I would have chosen to drive home if not for the inspiring pics shown by the 3 birders! :~p 


There was no objection among us of course, knowing that the species is rare, giving up shooting today might means we have to wait for a few more years to catch a glimpse, and condition might not be any better than now if it ever show up.


Luckily for us, the rain stops gradually soon after we entered the park. We rushed to the site a few hundred meters away hurriedly, and fortunately for us, the Hooded Pitta was already there, waiting anxiously for us! :)




The ambience lighting gets darker by the seconds, and after 20mins of continuos MLU shoot (no kidding!), I finally managed to secure less than 10 decent shots at the lowest iso of 1000 to 1600. I was shooting @ iso12,800 f/5.6 1/15sec at the very beginning, reducing iso and aperture gradually with each MLU shots!!!


@ iso 1250 1.3s f8 +1ev

Hooded Pitta (Pitta sordida)
Burung Pacat Hijau 绿胸八色鸫 ズグロヤイロチョウ *     
Brève à capuchon pita tmavohlavá Черноголовая питта นกแต้วแล้วอกเขียว *
Kappenpitta Kappepitta Pita Encapuchada * Pitta dal cappuccio Kappitta

@ iso 800 1.6s f8 +1ev



But I guess I am happy with the results! 


So two more ticks for the trip, 9,000 more to go, phew! :~p


Oh, the dinner! 


 - German Knuckle, 
 - Steamed Carp fish with ginger sauce,
 - Tofu Minced Meat,
 - Steamed Kampong Chicken
 - 4 Heavenly Kings - mixed veggie,
 - Sliced lotus with mayonnaise,
   


A very satisfying birding trip, i must say!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A few more shots taken @ the Paya Indah Wetland in the morning.



Porcupine





Hippopotamus!




Indian Peafowl



Monday, March 5, 2012

Panti Again! Black Hornbill!

March 4th, 2012


My last visit to Panti was almost 5months ago, so it was no surprise that my arrival at the guest carpark greeted by lots of strange bird calls. It actually took me more than 20mins to realize that those were the calls that i used to hear when i frequently make weekly trip to Panti. White-rumped Shamas must be breeding successfully last year as quite a few young adults were begging anxiously to be photographed as i walk into the Red Leech Trail.

But before I venture further into the trail, I decided to back off as i have not worn my leach socks!  Besides, my favourite anti-insect spray (Hansaplast) was left at home! Arrrr.....

A brief drive into the Main Bunker trail I was soon welcomed by a waiting male Black Hornbill, Its call was unmistakable however. Strange that i have never encountered a lone Black Hornbill in Panti. They usually travel in pair, or a group of 4-6. And the fact they they always perch high and never roost at trees along the Main Bunker Trail makes me wonder  if it was ill.


Black Hornbill (Anthracoceros malayanus)
Enggang Gatal Birah 黑斑犀鸟 クロサイチョウ 
Calao charbonnier  zobákorožec čierny Чёрная птица-носорог * นกเงือกดำ
Malaienhornvogel Sort Næsehornsfugl * Cálao Malayo * Zwarte Neushoornvogel



I must have lost my touch on bird-in-flights photography! Despite the hornbill was shuttling left and right quite a few times at low level, I could only managed one acceptable shot, the rest were simply as blur as those usual UFOs/bigfoot eyewitness' shots!

And pic below, must be the closest I have ever encounter with a hornbill in Panti. It was less than 20' above me, due to its large size i have to back off quite a distance to get the half-bodied shot.


By 9:30am and two hundred shots later i honestly feel like going home for my fav fish balls noodle beside Kulai's Centrepoint! :)







I spent another two hours later at the 1st stream (5km mark) and there were plenty of bird activities except i wasn't really in the mood of taking more pictures as the heat was quite immerse, and the fact that i forgot to bring my hat and sunglasses makes me tear when looking up for birds against the bright sun!



Blue-winged Leafbird (Chloropsis cochinchinensis)







Crested Green Lizard!



A brief record of birds sighted/calls heard for the day:


- Yellow-bellied flowerpeckers,
- Scarlet-rump Trogon, male
- Diard;s Trogon, both male and female,
- RT Drongo, 
- Rufous Woodpecker
- Black Hornbills
- Banded Broadbill
- Black-capped Babbler,
- Blue-wing Leafbird,
- Banded Pitta, male
- Banded Kingfisher, female 
- Fluffy-backed Tit-babbler,
- Crested Serpent Eagle,
- Raffle's Malkoha
- Red-bearde Bee-eater, 

- White-rumped Shama,
- White-fronted Babbler,

and a ground bird that looked like Partridge 50m before the famous Ah Gong's ODKF's nesting!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Camera Highland, 27 years later.....

I never thought i would re-visit Cameron Highland so soon honestly. But when i was asked recently if i could help drive and tag along as a company for a 3 days' trip to the mountain, with all expenses pay for, i couldn't resist and i accepted the 'offer' with one condition, "Just leave me alone when we reach the mountain!"

The six-hour drive was not as taxing as i thought, we reached the town of Tringkap around 5am, it was drizzling, misty and cold, and thanks god the only Kopitiam (café) that was opened for business serves “yong tau fu” and hot drinks for breakfast! And 4 Green Magpies made a sudden appearance at low perch right across the road somehow makes me feel really good about the trip, despite the local weather forecast said otherwise.


I would not have come too if not for my birding friends constantly luring me with gorgeous pics of the montane species, in which they claimed bao-jiak (In Hokkien dialect, it means satisfaction guaranteed, or in bird photography context, "guarantee to have their imgs captured")

So for two and half days, i was led to a few locations and each time i was told "just squat here and wait, the bird will show up in mins!" 

I wasn't disappointed of course as i finally got another 7 ticks to my collection. Thanks to all my friends in Cameron Highland! 



Slaty-backed Forktail




Despite the Wagtail made several passes along the stream barely 15' from me, i was only able to capture 2 images


The biggest surprise for the trip must be to the Large Hawk-cuckoo. It was drizzling quite heavily then when it perched right in front of me suddenly. I thought it was a Blyth's Hawk Eagle at first glance and told myself not to shift my setup as most likely it would fly off before i could make a snap.  So i gave the bird quite a few seconds to settle down without eye-contact and then i smiled from ear-to-ear to my friends "We have got a big cuckoo at 11 o'clock!"


Large Hawk-cuckoo



Much to our delight, the Large Hawk-cuckoo stayed for almost 45mins, allowing us to call another 4 birders who were 200m away to come join us, so 6 of us must have got more than 1000 shots in total!



December is definitely not a good month to visit Cameron Highland due to the monsoon rains and year end holidays. Most of the hotels were fully booked on our arrival, but fortunately for us, Mr. Lim MW got us a reasonable apartment with three bedrooms, big enough for 8 of us! Phew! 










 I just need the sugar to warm me up......


Buff-bellied Flowerpecker



Lesser Shortwing




Silver-eared Mesia



 male


Blue-tailed Robin

 female




Blue Whistling Thrush




Rufous-browed Flycatcher


I saw quite a few Streaked Wren-babblers at one of the locations in Tringkap and on one instance, 4 were hopping around my tripod happily in the open where i was taking my lunch just a few meters away, but when i was serious taking their pics, i was just able to capture one shot in the foliage, despite they were not too far away...:(.


And the Streaked Wren-babbler, is known as the "Little Dracula" 
by birders in the North, for its red-eyed and mean looking features.

And if you love the classic Land Rover, you would love visiting Cameron highland too. There are probably more than a few thousand of them still running strongly here.