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.



Indian Peafowl


  1. good one Paul...well done..thanks for promoting Paya Indah Wetland..i am stying just about 15 min away..rgds tank

    1. Hi Sulaiman, I should have asked you to bring nasi lemah bungkus for all of us! BTW, if you spot a Pitta here don't hesitate to give me a yell! :)

  2. Good food, great birds - what else can you ask for? Beautiful images as usual.

  3. Must be a real satisfying trip for you Paul...

  4. wow incredible owl story but I hope she will go back to the wild. Your portrait are splendid thought ;-) Nice pictures but I guess your rinhocerus is an hippopotamus ;-) I definitively love your colorful birdies ;-)

    1. Thanks Chris! Just can't believe i had typed Rhino for the Hippo! :)))

  5. Hi Paul,

    Great to see the photos of the GBF. I saw one at Rimba Ampang back in Feb this year - perhaps it was the same bird. Congratulations on the Pitta - so jealous!


    1. Same bird i guess! Pitta was still there last week!!! :)

  6. No one visiting here will leave without being stunned by the beauty. I'm stunned too!

  7. I'm new to birding and would like to know the exact location (if possible) where you shot your Hooded Pitta at the K.L. Lake Garden. I would like to go that and try my luck. I live in K.L. Many thanks. Great blog you have here.

  8. If I could have the GPS coordinates, that will be fantastic. Thank you very much.