Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sepang Besar River Bird Survey - A Day Trip to Sepang Goldcoast on 17th December 2016, Saturday

One last birding trip, I thought, just before resuming work would be the best closure for the year 2016, signed up and drove to Sepang Goldcoast on Saturday, 17th December 2016. It took me around an hour and ten minutes from Cheras to reach Avani Sepang Goldcoast Resort. Since I arrived seven minutes late at the meeting point, the early birds decided that I should be the one to write the report for this survey. Well, here it goes.
Seven birders, three gentlemen and four lovely ladies from Wild Bird Club Malaysia (WBCM) participated the survey assisted by awesome guide Mr. Sindi from Avani Sepang Goldcoast Resort. All 7 members of the Wild Bird Club Malaysia (WBCM) gathered at the lobby of Avani Resort, Sepang Goldcoast, around 8.10am on Saturday morning, briefed by Mr.Sindi from Avani Resort and our WBCM President Mr. Andy Lee.
After the briefing, we took a short drive to the nearby jetty to board our boat arranged especially for the WBCM members by the Resort’s Chief Financial Officer, Mr MC Wong. The Resort had also arranged our transportation to the Jetty overlooking the Sepang Besar River. The count was started at 8.30 am and done by boat along the river, I never realised birding can be so easy, “just sit and wait for the bird to come to you”.
As we started, we were greeted by a White-Throated Kingfisher, and shortly after that was my very first Jungle fowl in the wild, sitting on a tree top branch facing the river and showcased its flying abilities before disappearing into the forest. Now, who said a chicken can’t fly?
From the jetty the boat took us inland (upstream) till Taman Murni Sepang Town Jetty before turning back. We stopped at Taman Murni Sepang Town Jetty at 10.40 am and this is where we did a 20 minutes birding on foot where we saw the Cinereous (Great) Tit, Artic Warbler, Storkbilled Kingfisher, Oriental Magpie Robin and 4 different raptors circling up in the sky – Black Shouldered Kite, Crested Serpent Eagle, Oriental Honey Buzzard and Brahminy Kite.
  Collared Kingfisher and Stork-Billed Kingfisher
  Brahminy Kite and White-Bellied Sea Eagle
White-Bellied Sea Eagle (Juvenile)

On our return journey, we were tailing an Accipiter which was flying from one side of the river to the other. After a while the Accipiter flew further into the forest never to be seen again. Our downstream journey took us till the Straits of Malacca where the scenic view of the sky and the sea was breathtaking.
Osprey with a very quizzical gaze (Picture by Valle Sinniah)
Overall, the journey upstream and downstream was very much quiet. There were long gaps before another bird is spotted. Mr. Sindi explained, that this could be the outcome of fishermen on fishing boats ahead of us that probably scared the birds away. There were many fishing boats and fishing huts seen along the river.
After the count we were taken back to the resort and treated with lunch of our own choice. Food was awesome.

by Valle Sinniah, WBCM Member
Pictures by Andy Lee

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Northern Peninsular Malaysia birdwatching trip December 2016

Bronze-winged Jacana
10 December
Many members of the WBCM took the long weekend of 10-13 December 2016 to make the 4-12 hour drive through rain, holiday traffic and accidents to Perlis for the annual meeting and field trips.  One highlight of the meeting was a presentation by Dave Bakewell welcoming all Malaysian birders to the
international citizen science website on eBirdMalaysia. The short presentation revealed how WBCM members will be joining birders throughout the world to track and report the changing migrations and sightings of our wild birds. One member used the Chuping ebird link the night before the trip to practice identifying birds that would be expected the next day.
11 December
First location: Chuping fields in search of the rare Manchurian Reed Warbler.  As local guide Neoh Hor Kee explained, this once productive sugarcane plantation had been torn up to be replanted with rubber trees.  During this transitional period when the rubber trees are still young, there are spots of reedy grassland that are perfect habitat for the target Warbler, but today they were proving elusive.  Several Eastern Marsh and Pied Harriers, and two Thick-billed Warblers were more than enough to keep the group occupied.

Eastern Marsh Harrier
Waiting for Reed Warbler
Our next habitat was beside a pond below the electric power towers; another site for the Manchurian Reed Warbler, which as eventually fleetingly spotted along the side of the road.  Other birds here included a flock of Lesser Whistling Ducks, Black Drongo, Brown Shrikes, Jungle Mynahs and more harriers.  We returned to the same site later in the evening and had the Short-toed Snake Eagle hovering overhead for much of the time and a distant Greater Spotted Eagle.
Short Toed Snake Eagle
About 3KM from the border of Thailand we entered a papaya plantation filled with green fruiting trees. The first car drove solo down the lost dirt road looking for the hidden pond, eventually stopping a small body of water across from an eggplant field.  Immediately we sighted a purple heron, common moorhen and yes, bobbing among the, no, two hidden Bronze-winged Jacana. As field workers flew by on motorcycles, our whole club arrived a few cars at a time to spot the Jacana. The birds kept up the drama by disappearing every time a new carload of our members arrived to see them.
Leaving the fields we enjoyed an extra spicy roadside mamak style lunch. On the way to our next stop we stocked up on “emergency supplies:” ripe local mangos from roadside stands - only RM15/kilo. We bought a lot! WBCM supports local food farmers!
Next we drove to royal horse stalls of the Raja of Perlis, where we sought the Raquet-tailed Treepie. But we never found it.  We did see a large flock of Plain-backed Sparrows and a herd of royal horses and their riders. Other birds in this part of the plantation included Common Kestrels, Indian Roller and Ashy Minivets.
Before returning to our hotel we had a group sighting of 10 different dishes of Chinese seafood at Restoran Hai Thien PLT at Kuala Perlis.  The endless food seemed just enough to cover our hunger from the busy and tiring day of bird watching.
12 December
The next day we headed to the the river jungle park Bukit Wang where we were greeted by a Raffles Malkoha from the parking lot and many other species along the worn trail beside rustic, decomposing cabins from camp-ground days gone by.  Four of our members crossed the stream where the bridge had collapsed and were rewarded with an extra hour of steep backcountry hike along the road, but also sightings of Brown Barbet and Yellow & Black Broadbill.  Two came home with souvenir tattoos provided by local leeches.  
Next we went to the Butterworth sea shore at Bagan Belat looking toward Penang as the tide receded to observe many egrets, wading birds and terns feeding in the mudflats including Ruddy Turnstones, Pacific Golden Plover and a single Brown-headed Gull.

Brown-headed Gull amongst the Whimbrels and Godwits
At our next stop, Air Hitam Dalam Education Forest at Sungai Dua, birders were transported by elevated walkways through the mangrove swamp and along the river.  Black-thighed Falconet, Black-eared Kite and a flock of Asian Open-billed Stork were all on display. Just as we were leaving a knocking came and we greeted by a Streak-breasted Woodpecker.  
Streak-breasted Woodpecker
Black-thighed Falconet
Asian Openbills
Tuesday 13 December
Some of our group split off to drive home for work, another splinter went to Penang and then to Langkawi in search of pelagic birds on the ferry ride (none seen) and Brown-backed Kingfisher on the island (spotted in the last minute of the last day!). The majority of the club travelled together for another day to the paddy fields of Sungai Dua, Permatang Pauh to check out freshwater waders such as Grey-headed Lapwing, Black-winged Stilt and Temminck’s Stint and (successfully) twitch a vagrant White-winged Starling.
According to the on-going WhatsApp conversation, large quantities of rain and good food affected stops for bird sightings the rest of the trip back home.
Gratitude was expressed by all and summed up by one leader Andy Lee to the local guides from the northern region: “Mr. Neo Hor Kee, Thank you for attending the AGM and very importantly your time guiding the team around Chuping.  Without you and Choo Eng, we would not have been able to see all the star birds there.  Most of us got more than 4 lifers, and some up to 15… especially grateful to see the warblers and the Short-toed Snake Eagle.”

Special note from article co-author, Jeff Caplan.  I wish to thank the organizing committee for making it possible for me to join the club and attend the AGM and trips. I also want to thank everyone on the trip for your generous support of a new birder in your country. As a foreigner who teaches birding to school children, I will gratefully share the group activities with my Santa Cruz Birding club and my Birding School students. With your community of friendship, I added a half century of birds to my life list through this shared journey. Thank you.  

Text by Graham Tompsett and Jeff Caplan
Pictures by Tang Tuck Hong, Ang Teck Hin and Yeo Yee Ling

Monday, December 19, 2016

eBird Malaysia

Wild Bird Club Malaysia is pleased to announce the creation of eBird Malaysia, a platform to collect and manage bird observation data in Malaysia. Click here to visit this portal.
This is a significant milestone for WBCM committee and the journey has just begun...we need everyone's input/participation to make eBird Malaysia a success!!
We would like to take this opportunity to inform you the data maintained by Bird I-witness Malaysia (under worldbirds which has since ceased operations) was successfully transferred to eBird Malaysia. This initiative was made possible through the efforts of a dedicated team led by Dave Bakewell who worked hard behind the scene over the last few months.

Dave Bakewell provided a hands-on eBird portal session for members on 10 December 2016, at the second AGM of WBCM in Changlun, Kedah.

We need more contributors to provide articles and images and if you have an article to share, you can message Yeo at 019-2263789 (Whatsapp). Please read Guidelines below on how to submit article:- 

Guidelines for Submission of Articles to eBird Malaysia portal

1) Article must be in MS Word Format with 2,000 words limitation
2) Pictures to be in JPEG format with Dimension setting at 700 x 600
3) Wild Bird Club Malaysia committee reserves the right to edit the article in accordance with the latest edition Checklist of the Birds of Malaysia ("Clements Checklist")
4) It is the sole responsibility of author to ensure that rights to re-publish are obtained from publisher if article has been published elsewhere (e.g. Journals, Websites etc.).
5) Full copyright title shall be retained by the author of any submissions. By submitting any contribution to eBird Malaysia, you agree to grant Wild Bird Club Malaysia a perpetual royalty free licence to use any or all of the contributions in any of their publications, on the website and/or in any promotional material.  Permission will be sought and the author credited where possible. 
6) Wild Bird Club Malaysia reserves the right to update these guidelines from time to time. Members will be informed via email and website on such updates so please check our website for latest updates.

In the meantime, we are setting up eBird Malaysia Review Committee ("MRC") to manage the data quality of entries to eBird Malaysia and will announce the names of the local experts WBCM has engaged for this purpose soon. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Part 3 Raptor watching at Thoolakharka Nepal

Group photo against the backdrop of Annapurna Himalayas range
Dark-throated Thrush (Female) (Credit: Collin Cheong)
Yellow-billed Blue Magpie (Credit: Collin Cheong)

Dark-throated Thrush (Male) (Credit: Collin Cheong) 
Blue-fronted Redstart (Female) 
 (Credit: Collin Cheong)
White-tailed Nuthatch
Credit: Collin Cheong

Blue-fronted Redstart (Male)
Credit: Jannie Tan 
Asian Black Bulbul (Credit: David Lai) and Aberrant Bush-warbler (Credit: David Lai)
Hume’s Warbler (Credit: Jannie Tan) and Striated Laughingthrush (Credit: David Lai)

Bar-throated Siva (Credit: Jannie Tan) and Streaked Laughingthrush (Credit: David Lai)
Annapurna Himalayas, Machapuchare also known as “Matterhorn” of Nepal reflects tail of a fish, hence the "fish's tail" name (morning and sunset views)
(Credit: Lee Poh Peng)
Group photo with Robert De Candido, Tulsi Subedi and Sandesh
Group photo with Mr Maila Dai, owner of Angel’s Guest House

Birdlist : Kathmandu-Pokhara-Thoolakharka 
16-23 November 2016
Sighted and prepared by Nina Cheung
Sightings by others* are included in bold
1.Kalij Pheasant
Lophura leucomelanos
2. Crimson-breasted Woodpecker
3. Great Barbet
Megalaima virens
4. White-throated Kingfisher
Halcyon smyrnensis
5.Rose-ringed Parakeet
6. Collared Owlet
Glaucidium brodiei
7.Rock Pigeon
8. Common Wood Pigeon
Columba palumbus
9.Black Kite
10.Bearded Vulture (Lammergeier)
11.Eygptian Vulture
Neophron percnopterus
12.White-rumped Vulture
13.Himalayan Vulture (Griffon)
14.Cinereous Vulture
15.Red-headed Vulture
16.Black Eagle
17. Besra
Accipiter virgatus
18.Eurasian Sparrowhawk
19.Oriental Honey-buzzard
20.Steppe Eagle
21.Bonelli's Eagle
22.Booted Eagle
23.Mountain Hawk-eagle
24.Common Kestrel
Falco tinnunculus
25.Saker Falcon
26. Peregrine Falcon
Falco peregrinus
27.Cattle Egret
28.Indian Pond-heron
29.Long-tailed Shrike
30.Yellow-billed Blue Magpie
Urocissa flavirostris
31.Common Green Magpie
Cissa chinensis
32.Grey Treepie
33.House Crow
34.Large-billed Crow
35.Common Raven
36.Short-billed Minivet
37.Yellow-bellied Fantail
38.Black Drongo
Dicrurus macrocercus
39.Blue Whistling-thrush
40.Grey-winged Blackbird
41.Dark-throated Thrush
42.Orange-flanked Bush Robin
43.Oriental Magpie Robin
44.Blue-fronted Redstart

45.White-capped Water-redstart
Chaimarrornis leucocephalus

46.Plumbeous Water- redstart
Rhyacornis fuliginosus
47.Spotted Forktail
Enicurus maculatus
48.Common Myna
49.Jungle Myna
Acridotheres fuscus
50.Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch
51.White-tailed Nuthatch
52.Great Tit
53.Green-backed Tit
54.Black-throated Tit
Aegithalos concinnus
55.Barn Swallow
Hirundo rustica
56.Pacific Swallow
57.Red-whiskered Bulbul
Pycnonotus jocosus
58.Himalayan Bulbul
Pycnonotus leucogenys
59.Red-vented Bulbul
60.Asian Black Bulbul
Hypsipetes leucocephalus
61.Common Tailorbird
62.Aberrant Bush-warbler
63.Buff-barred Warbler
64.Lemon-rumped Warbler
Phylloscopus chloronotus
65.Hume’s Warbler
Phylloscopus humei
66.Grey-hooded Warbler
Seicercus xanthoschistos
67.Chestnut-crowned Warbler
Seicercus castaniceps
68.White-throated Laughingthrush
69.White-crested Laughingthrush
70.Striated Laughingthrush
71.Streaked Laughingthrush
72.Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush
73.Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler
Pomatorhinus erythrogenys
74.Pygmy Wren Babbler
Pnoepyga pusilla
75.Red-billed Leiothrix
76.Bar-throated Siva (previously known as Chestnut-tailed Minla)
Siva Strigula (previously known as Minla strigula
77.Rufous-winged Fulvetta
78.White-browed Fulvetta
79.Whiskered Yuhina
80.Rufous Sibia
81.Fire-breasted Flowerpecker
82.Green-tailed Sunbird
83.Black-throated Sunbird
84.Fire-tailed Sunbird
85.House Sparrow
86.White Wagtail
87.Olive-backed Pipit
Anthus hodgsoni
88.Rufous-breasted Accentor
Prunella strophiata
89.Dark-breasted Rosefinch
Carpodacus nipalensis
90.Common Rosefinch
Carpodacus erythrinus
91.Pink-browed Rosefinch

* Others include Collin Cheong, Jannie Tan, Lee Poh Peng, Lim Kam Su, Maye Yap and Tan Gim Cheong