Monday, September 27, 2010

Panti :: 26th Sept 2010


When we reached the 1st Yellow Sign at 9:00am, we could only drool when we saw a Blue-eared KF was perching low and still and merely 2-3m on our right. We knew that there was nothing we could do as the gear was still in our bags behind the seats, and the BEKF gave us a 30s stare then flew away.

So, a big mistake on my part, as I usually would have my gear setup and place on my lap when taking a ride. And if I drive, the whole setup would be on the window sitting on a big-fat tailored made bean bag, ready to fire on anything that moves, and now I have to keep reminding myself all these simple rules once and again!

( Carlson Hong and GCWong were having a good time with the obliging FBTBs)

By the time we reached the 1st stream, we saw Dusky Broadbills were roosting high up at their usual spot. Must be the heavy rain earlier, the DBs looked tired and only one of them perched low, but far away with much blockage.

So the FBTB’s were called into service and they responded within mins, and we all have lot of fun doing their close-up portraiture shots, all three in a row singing happily in rhythm to our mp3's tune.

Grey-cheeked Bulbul (Alophoixus bres)
Merbah Sampah * 灰颊冠鹎 * ハイガオカンムリヒヨドリ

I walked away and toward the slope later to check out an unfamiliar bird calls, I saw a Grey-cheeked Bulbul on a fruiting tree, so the calls must be something else. Just as I squint hard into the foliage hoping for a lifer, 2 Velvet-fronted Nuthatchs landed on a tree trunk just besides me! And they started charging upside down without caring of my close proximity.

Lifer !

Velvet-fronted Nuthatch (Sitta frontalis)
Patuk Dahi Hitam * 绒额䴓 * アカハシゴジュウカラ * Trèo cây trán đen

With much excitement, I fired immediately in a point-and-shoot manner hurriedly, hoping that at a preset iso of 1600 my shutter speed should be ok since the lighting was bright, for these birds are really tiny and actively fast!

Panning sideway and upwards are easier or logically make sense for most photographers I guess!! So the VFNs are usually birders nightmares, for their habit of crawling downwards rapidly in a spiral pattern in hunt for tree worms, and they hardly stop moving, or least i have never seen a Nuthatch that perched longer than a sec before.

I remember a well-known birding photographer once said in a forum

"when you see a Nuthatch, just keep firing and hope for the best", and I did just that...

But when I viewed all the imgs later at night I was shocked to see that many were not in good focus, some were with only the tails at the bottom of the frame, and some w/o anything at all in the frame, meaning by the time i snap with downward panning the bird had already gone further down!

So I was glad to have a few good imgs out of the 30 shots in the brief encounter with the VFNs. Few shots because half the time it simply disappeared from my viewfinder and i have to locate them with my naked eyes before i could aim and frame it in the viewfinder!

The VFNs are quite active recently and are often seen lately along the bunker trail, 200m before and after the 1st stream.

( all these while, I wanted a shot like this....but this img is not sharp though)


While heading towards the 3rd stream, a Tiger Shrike* flew across us and perched still on my left, allowed me to snap a few shots from the car, so lesson leant, always have your gear ready while in the car!

We got out the car immediately hoping for more but it had already gone deep into the forest, and surprising, a friendly Red-bearded Bee-eater was calling non-stop and loudly just a stone throw away! The RBBEs are among some of the frequently seen species in Panti this year.

Tiger Shrike (Lanius tigrinus)
Tirjup Harimau * 虎纹伯劳 * チゴモズ * Bách thanh vằn

Red-bearded Bee-eater (Nyctyornis amictus)

Beberek Tunggal * 赤须夜蜂虎 * ムネアカハチクイ

By 2:00pm, we were ready to go home but another two RBBEs and a TS show up by the sides of the bunker trail, near the temple trail and the Ponduk/hut respectively, so the trip was delayed unexpectedly for another 2 hours….

(seen about 200m after the Ponduk/hut, same location as last year's sighting)


While on our way out, we spotted another 2 VFNs on a broken branch far away and probably at 100’ high! It was an active nesting and with the 8x36 bino I could see something like a chick sticking its head out occasionally while the adult bird perched next to the hole, now, if only I own a KATO crane…..

* - Tiger Strikes are migrant species, year 2009 I spotted only 2 along the trail, hopefully to see more of them this year!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Buff-rumped Woodpecker

(Meiglyptes tristis)

Belatuk Belakang Kuning * 黄腰斑啄木 * ヒメカレハゲラ

Pics were taken with D3s 500mm VR F4 TC1.4 on 22nd Sept 2010 @ Panti Bird Sanctuary

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tj Bin :: 19th Sept 2010

In birding trips, you will never know what to expect until the end of the day.

I went to Tanjung Piai with GCWong early in the morning hoping to shoot some shorebirds, there were lots of collared Kingfishers and Ashy Tailorbirds around, but we wanted something else, and we couldn’t find any, not even one single shorebird! Plenty of man-eating mosquitoes and preying monkeys as usual.

(Oops! Boths the Purple Heon and Brahminy Kites are OOF! )

Feeling tired and disappointed, we decided to go Tanjung Bin at noon, thinking just to have a look at the arguably the biggest power plant in SEA. And just as we turn into the road to Tj Bin (around 1km) from the Pontian-Kukup main road, we saw 2 Brahminy Kites were hovering low over a excavating tractor a short distance away.

We stopped by immediately to investigate, the BKs were actually attacking a juvenile Purple Heron feeding on the upturned soil. Hundreds of mynah were around, and the commotion soon attracted 2 White-bellied Sea-eagles and 4 Black Kites to the scene. The WBSEs didn't stay long, just circling around for mins forcing all others raptor to on the ground and flew off.

We setup our tripods quickly and shot almost continuously for 2 hours under scorching sun. Needless to say I was almost burnt to death despite wearing a cap and long-sleeves, but it was worth every moment of it, for until then, I have never had a successful shot of Brahminy Kites in flight before.

Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus)
Helang Merah * 栗鸢 * シロガシラトビ * Diều lửa

Black Kite (Milvus migrans)
Helang Ekor Cabang * 黑鳶 * トビ * Diều hâu

The Purple Heron was basically kept at bay (~100') from the feeding site by the raptors! For the 2 hours, it stood there still, drooling over the feeding frenzy...

Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)
Pucung Serandau * 草鹭 * ムラサキサギ * Cò ngàng lớn

GCWong, gave me the thump up sign after happily filling up his 16G card in just 2hours!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, female

I actually got this female YRFC on the 14th Sept., three daya later than the male at the same fruiting tree after the 1st stream in Panti. So far 2 males and one female were spotted along the bunker trail.

Yellow-rumped Flycatcher (Ficedula zanthopygia), female

Sambar Belakang Kuning * 白眉姬鹟 **マミジロキビタキ*Đớp ruồi vàng

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pontian :: 15th Sept 2010


N 01deg 29’23.5” E 103 deg23’28.9”

Extra portion of noodles at the famous Heng Heng Dry Noodle shop, with extra “wantons” and 6-sticks of fish “otak”, 2 persons for RM15-00! After the food, Cliff and I actually feel like driving home to take a nap!:)


We set out to the beach to check out on what migrants shorebirds have arrived, all I could see were schools of Redshanks skimming above water presumably looking for proper landing sites, as the tide was still high. One group landed on a dead tree not too far from me enabled me to take some flight shots.

There was also a group of Plovers roosting at a very far distance, which I couldn’t ID’ed! Small waders still looked alike to me!!

Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
Kedidi Kaki Merah * 红脚鹬 * アカアシシギ * Choắt nâu


About 12 Lesser Adjutants landed on treetops about 150’ away, but 45mins later they flew off towards Kukup along the shoreline. Saw 2 terns hovering nearby and made several vertical dives for fish. Couldn’t get a decent shot of the dive though! :(

Lesser Adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus)
Burung Botak * 秃鹳 * コハゲコウ * Già đẩy Java


We went home, after a cup of hot Milo at the Soccer Field Restaurant (足球场 Kopitiam), with the company of two collared Kingfishers 50' away. The SF Restaurant is located at the beach in the new Pontian Town of the reclaimed land. Beautiful Sunset view and the boss was delighted after we told him that we would return real soon to try out their barbecue fish with chili paste, as I have seen many patrons consuming it during the 2hours I was there.

(Cliff, trying out his new toy: Sanyo VPC2000 Full HD camcorder)

Collared Kingfisher (Halcyon chloris)
Pekaka Bakau * 白领翡翠 * ナンヨウショウビン * Sả khoang cổ

Monday, September 13, 2010

Panti FR :: 11th Sept 2010

8:00 am to 9:30am

The morning was dry, I couldn't even find bulbuls along the bunker trail. So I was glad to meet some friends from NPX along the way! We headed different ways though so the chances of spotting something rare is higher. Luenny and I went to the 1st stream, but mins later, two families came to picnic at the stream, with children running around wild! One family was busy chainsawing a fallen trunk, to make chopping boards for sale i guess!

(left to right: Luenny, Micky and Chris Li)
Our luck turns around when Chris Li gave me a paging call on the talkie that a Yellow-rumped Flycatcher (migrant) was spotted 200m away from me. We arrived mins later, saw Chris and Micky were busy photographing the YRFC on a fruiting tree, but the fruiting tree also attracted a lot of other species of birds like female Red-throated Sunbirds, HB Bulbuls, Spectacled Spiderhunters and a few unidentified small birds. We were only interested on the YRFC then because of its "migrant status"! :)

Yellow-rumped Flycatcher (Ficedula zanthopygia)
Sambar Belakang Kuning*白眉姬鹟*マミジロキビタキ*Đớp ruồi vàng

The Spiderhunters, were acting like the fearsome owners of that fruiting tree, chasing other species of birds away perpectually with its loud slapping wings. So it was really difficult for us to shoot the YRFC, as it could hardly perch for 5sec! The YRFC were wings-slapped a few times by the Spiderhunter and was moving non-stop up and down, left and right.....

Spectacled Spiderhunter (Arachnothera flavigaster)
Kelicap Jantung Besar*大黄耳捕蛛鸟*オオキミミクモカリドリ*Bắp chuối bụng vàng

Red-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes rhodolaema), male
Kelicap Pinang*棕喉食蜜鸟*ノドアカコバシタイヨウチョウ

(female Red-Throated Sunbird)

Our climax reached to the peak when a male Red-throated Sunbird and a Buff-necked Woodpecker came to join the noisy party, the woodie responded to our calls by perching reasonably low in the open across the road, We were delighted that the woodie perched still for a few mins despite all the commotion at the tree..

Buff-necked Woodpecker (Meiglyptes tukki)
Belatuk Leher Kuning*黄颈斑啄木鸟*カレハゲラ

With over an hour of excitement of shooting under the humid weather, we finally got tired and took a rest, and Chris, Luenny and Micky decided to walk to the 2nd yellow signboard in search of other species. I was too tired (lazy!) and decided to stay.

Oriental Cuckoo (Cuculus saturatus)
Sewah Gunung*杜鵑*ツツドリ*Cu cu Phương đông
10:30 am
And mins they were gone, an Oriental Cuckoo came perching still and low at the same fruiting tree! A good lifer for me indeed and I was extremely thrilled by its sudden appearance.
At around 2pm, we parted over lunch at the Panti Official 5-star cafeteria ( the shabby roti prata shop at Sedili exit), my cousin called saying he was on his way to Panti, so I went back to join him and on my way out, I saw this beautiful juvenile Crested Serpent-eagle perching low along the bunker trail…

Crested Serpent-Eagle (Spilornis cheela)
Helang Kuik**カンムリワシ*Diều hoa Miến Điện

I must say it was quite an eventful day for me!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Black-shouldered Kite (Elanus caeruleus)

Helang Tikus*黑翅トビDiều hâu
The BSKs are common around Johor rural area where their main sources of food, rodents, are abundant. So it is no surprise that they are called Helang Tikus locally (tikus is rat in Malay language). They can be seen all year round and often in pair.
But the best spot to photograph them is probably in the paddy fields of Sungei Balang* where they perch low and clean. Farmers do like them as they help to keep the population of rodents in check. The farmers also build poles with t-bar close to the paddy fields to actually help the BSKs perch close to the hunting ground.
In my hometown of Kulai, they are frequently seen hovering around the compound of Foon Yew Secondary School in Indahpura, and feeding at the high fencing of the driving range in Indahpura Sport Centre.

( Indapura driving range )

Both pics were taken with D300 500mm VR F4 TC1.4


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Scarlet-rumped Trogon (Harpactes duvaucelii)

Kesumba Puteri*红腰咬鹃*コシアカキヌバネドリ

The Scarlet-rumped Trogons are more frequently seen than the Red-naped and Diard’s Trogons in Panti. Their sizes are smaller, and both male and female have distinctive plumage on their feathers. Like most bird species, the male are more colorful and a real beauty to the eyes.

The SRTs perch lower and closer (especially the female) while responding to calls, and typically with their backs facing you with the glamorous over-the-shoulder look, a real shooting delight for photographers.

I have experienced on a few ocassions that the female perches only about 5-6’ away from me, forcing me to step back repetitive to get the shot, for the min focus distant on my 500mm VR is ~10’.

While the territorial calls of the RNTs and DT’s are usually heard in certain stretch of the 8km bunker trail, the SRTs’ are in much wider stretch. I have no idea if this is due to their higher population or simply because they like to move about habitually. So just get yourself prepared for the SRTs if you visit Panti!

This year, however, sighting of the 3 species of trogon are lesser and their calls are seldom heard at the usual spots compared to the previous year. I surely hope that this is not a sign of their diminishing population as the Scarlet-rumped Trogon was chosen as the official logo for Panti Bird Sanctuary!


Both shots were taken with D300 500mmVR TC1.4

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Moustached Babbler (Malacopteron magnirostre)

Rimba Bermisai * 须树鹛 * ヒゲチャイロチメドリ

Babblers have always been my favorite subjects to photograph in Panti Bird Sanctuary. They are very challenging to shoot because their sizes are small, usually very active and the worst nightmares of all, their natural habitats are usually in the area of shaded undergrowths.

Hence early recognition of its ID is important for birding photographers as calls playing seemed to be the only way to ensure that they would stay longer enough for you to capture a decent image. I still have a difficult task of indentifying them on sighting due to my limited knowledge and experience in birds species, especially the babblers. They all looked alike to me most of the times!

This is one babbler that I will never forget, for its lead to my accidental sighting of the Banded Kingfisher and the Diard’s Trogon later, which I have posted earlier

Only managed to fire 5 shots, the rest were all blur beyond recognition! :)

Pic taken with D3s 500mmVR F4 TCC1.4 @ f/8 1/50s ISO 5000 no flash

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Diard's Trogon (Harpactes diardii), male

The Diard's Trogon are the most elusive among the 3 species of trogons found in Panti. Generally they perch very high, and they do so quietly (w.o territorial calls), making them hard to spot in the thick canopy foliage of Panti forest.

But yet I have seen them a couple of times* at surprisingly low perch along the main bunker trail, but all attempts to shoot them were in vain as they simply disappeared in split second the moment i spotted them.

3rd of Sept was my lucky day in Panti indeed, with 4 good lifers in less than 5 hours, the female Banded Kingfisher, Diard's Trogon, Buff-necked Woodpecker, and the Moustached Babbler.

This Diard's Trogon was spotted unexpectedly while chasing for a pair of unknown babblers in the forest trail, looking submissively like the Scarlet-rump Trogons, I took a quick burst of 9fps without even proper focussing, fearing that it would be gone before i got any shot, lucky for me that the DT did not vanish like what i had expected .Needless to say, I was extremely excited then.

I decided later to play calls after securing a few shots, just to see its response, and much to my astonishment this time**, it flew to my left at eye-level, just 10-12' away perching quietly, giving me the submissive look again as i shift my setup slowly for an unblocked view. I didn't even dare to check my setting in that 2mins of close encounter, knowing that one wrong bodily move would shatter my dream of a full frame shot for a Diard's Trogon

Just few shots on MLU, only one was in focus (pic below), it flew into the forest and gone.

So far, I have not seen a female Diard's Trogon in Panti yet! Not sure why.....and I certainly hope that when it shows up one day, it will give me the same experience like this male DT again! !:)

Trogons are undoubtedly the favourites and one of the most photographed birds in Panti because they are large and beautiful. And when they do perch low, their backs are always facing you with the over-the -shoulder look.

From the info googled, close to 40 species exist worldwide, but only around 6 or 7 species are found in Malaysia.

The 3 species in Panti are, Scarlet-rump Trogon, Red-naped Trogon and the Diard's Trogon.

*at the hut, i.e. 200m after the car park, and about 300m after the 2nd stream.

**While you could always seek you luck with bird calls on the DT's, but the best is to avoid playing calls the moment you spotted it as their territorial behavior would send them fleeing deeper into the forest. It had happened to me quite a few times actually....! :(