Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

May 13, 2012

Pineapple Hill Birding

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 4:06 am

Hutan Simpan Bukit Nanas.

Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve is in the center of Kuala Lumpur with KL Tower stuck right on top of it. I got to it via Jalan Gereja, which is the street with the churches on it, doh! When I got there, some dude was using a leaf blower. I could not believe it. They are obsessed with getting leaves off paths in Malaysia. It is weird. Anyway, that was a great way to start a morning walk through the forest.

Black-naped Oriole
Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis)

This is a Black-naped Oriole. I thought maybe I had a Slender-billed Oriole. But the Slender-billed Oriole (Oriolus tenuirostris) is found in Bhutan, China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam. I think it must be a female Black-naped Oriole.

Pied Falconet
Black-thighed Falconet.

This one is confusing me because the Pied Falconet is found mainly in India and China. The Black-thighed Falconet is found in Malaysia but this one has not got any russet on his belly. ( Khaleb says its a Black-thighed. Problem solved. )

Dollarbird
Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis)

I am not sure if this is the local sub-species abundus. He seems to have a bit too much colour. I also saw a few Asian Glossy Starling, the usual Oriental Magpie-Robin and Javan Myna. Not a great lot of birds but at least I got out on a Sunday morning for a stroll through the bush. Even if I was in the middle of a big city.

May 12, 2012

Kuala Lumpur Birding

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Perdana Lake Gardens.

The Kuala Lumpur Botanic Gardens are now called the Perdana Lake Gardens or Taman Tasik Perdana in Malay. They are quite large and contain a number of lakes with islands in the center. One lake had some ducks and geese swimming around and a Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) on the shore waiting to pounce on any fish that swam by.

weird ibis
Ibis, ID uncertain, Hadeda Ibis, (Bostrychia hagedash)

I cannot work out what this ibis is. It could be a Glossy Ibis or a White-shouldered Ibis but it is all wrong. I think it may have escaped from the nearby bird park and is a weird vagrant from some other continent. Thanks to Robert, it could be a Hadeda Ibis, (Bostrychia hagedash), but they come from Africa. Must have escaped from the bird park.

White-throated Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher (Halycon smyrnensis)

This White-throated Kingfisher was high up on a tree above the lake. This is the second time I have seen one of these. The other time was at Batu 4.

Crested Serpent-Eagle
Crested Serpent-Eagle (Spilornis cheela)

I could not believe my eyes when I spotted this Crested Serpent-eagle on the ground. I thought it was a pigeon with a wounded wing at first. Then I zoomed in and saw that it was a Crested Serpent-Eagle with prey that it was tearing into. I could not see what he had caught. Check out the crest at the back of his head. It is standing out quite well.

Crested Serpent-Eagle
Crested Serpent-Eagle (Spilornis cheela)

He flew off after a while and perched in a tree. Note the white band on the tail.

May 11, 2012

Port Dickson Birding #3

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Batu 4.3 Birding

I still have not got to Tanjung Tuan. Maybe this afternoon. But I am not holding my breath. I just headed down to the beach for the third time and walked to Pulau Burung and back.

Dollarbird
Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis abundus)

I thought I had a new Barbet when I photographed this. But it turned out to be a Dollarbird. We have them in Australia and I already have heaps of photos of them. This one seems to be really dark. I am not sure if it is a late juvenile because he has the reddish bill already. He has very little colour. Maybe it is just the light. It says in Robson that they go to Australia to breed. This may be sub-species Eurystomus orientalis abundus.

squirrel on branch
squirrel

This squirrel ran down the branch of this tree and jumped down to the ground after that. I saw three of them together a little bit earlier.

Pink-necked Green-Pigeon
Pink-necked Green-Pigeon

I have not seen a great deal of these around here.

pacific swallow
Pacific Swallow (Hirundo tahitica)

These ones were on the ground gathering nest material.

Brahminy KIte
Brahminy Kite (Haliastur Indus)

There have been a few Brahminy Kite along the coast here. They are resident in a lot of areas of Asia, as well as the North-east of Australia. This bird is an adult with its white chest feathers and head. One of them came to roost in a big tree right next to my hostel as I returned from this expedition.

Paddyfield Pipit
Paddyfield Pipit (Anthus rufulus)

Paddyfield Pipits are so hard to get a photo of that is in focus because they blend in so well with their background. They have very little contrast with their surroundings that it is difficult for the camera to focus. They are common throughout South-east Asia and prefer a habitat of open areas, drier cultivation up to 1500 meters.

Bird list Batu 4 – 10th May 2012

Dollarbird
Common Iora
Pacific Swallow
Black-naped Oriole
House Crow
Blue-throated Bee-eater
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Asian Glossy Starling
Common Myna
Javan Myna
Oriental Magpie-Robin
Asian Koel
Brahminy Kite
Pink-necked Green-Pigeon
Collared Kingfisher
Little Heron
Grey Heron
Zebra Dove
Paddyfield Pipit

May 9, 2012

Birding the Fourth Rock

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 4:28 am

Batu 4 Birding

Well I got up early this morning before 7am but it was still dark so I went back to sleep for a while and let the sun come up. I did the same route as yesterday afternoon. This area is called Batu 4. Tanjung Tuan or Cape Rachado is about five kilometers down the road. Hopefully tomorrow I might get there.

Common Flameback
Common Flameback (Dinopium javanense)

This guy stuck his head around a tree towards Pulau Burung. It could also be a Greater Flameback. The local sub-species is smaller. At the island, I also saw Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris), the usual Asian Glossy Starling and Yellow-vented Bulbul.

 Common Iora
Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia)

On the way back, I stopped in at the headland and spotted a pair of Common Iora, some more Oriental Magpie-robins and some Black-naped Oriole.

Blue-throated Bee-eater
Blue-throated Bee-eater (Mereps viridis)

There were Blue-throated Bee-eaters everywhere. The morning light shows off their colours very well.

Blue-throated Bee-eater
Blue-throated Bee-eater (Mereps viridis)

They were going down to the ground, then sit around for a while, looking around all the time, then jump up and flutter around.

Blue-throated Bee-eater
Blue-throated Bee-eater (Mereps viridis)

And then just fly away.

Batu 4 Bird List 8th May 2012

Common Flameback
Collared Kingfisher
Asian Glossy Starling
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Common Iora
Oriental Magpie-robin
Black-naped Oriole
Blue-throated Bee-eater
Asian Koel
Pacific Swallow
House Crow
Rock Dove
Eurasian Tree Sparrow `
Javan Myna
Common Myna

May 8, 2012

Port Dickson Birding

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Tanjung Tuan Birding

I got the 8am bus from Melaka to Seremban and then jumped on the city bus to Port Dickson. At Port Dickson I had to wait ages for the bus that goes to Tanjung Tuan or Cape Rachado. I jumped off at the Rotary Holiday Hostel, which is at the five kilometer mark. I think the place is called Batu something.

White-throated Kingfisher
White-throated Kingfisher (Halycon smyrnensis)

First thing I saw going out the gate was this White-throated Kingfisher sitting on the power line. This is a good start I says to myself. The photo itself is not very good, but at least it is a record. An Asian Koel (Eudynamus scolopaceus) was screeching all afternoon. They really do get on your goat after a few hours of Ko-el Ko-el.

javan myna
Javan Myna (Acidotheres javanicus)

I know I should stop taking photos of Mynas, but I keep hoping for a new model. And they look so good.

No Immoral Activities
No Immoral Activities

There were lots of signs on the beach. I think mostly people ignore them.

Paddyfield Pippit
Paddyfield Pippit (Anthus rufulus)

These Paddyfield Pippits look so much like the other pippits that it is difficult to tell which is which. I am going on range and not much else.

little Heron
Little Heron (Butorides striata)

This mature Little Heron was up in a tree. It must have been because it was high tide. Note the white edging around the wing feathers.

C3b-4488
Asian Glossy Starling

I also cannot stop taking photos of these beauties. There was a juvenile with this adult. Also on this bit of a headland was a White-breasted Waterhen, a Pacific Swallow taking a drink out of a puddle, an unidentified Barbet and a pair of Pied Triller (Lalage nigra).

Zebra Dove
Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata)

I have just worked out why Zebra Doves look so much like Peaceful Doves. They are one and the same. doh!

Blue-throated Bee-eater
Blue-throated Bee-eater (Mereps viridis)

There were quite a few pairs of Blue-throated Bee-eaters wheeling around near the beach. They are such beautiful subjects to photograph.

Blue-throated Bee-eater
Blue-throated Bee-eater

I could not pick between these two photos so I included both of them.

Blue-throated Bee-eater
Blue-throated Bee-eater

This photo shows the rich green belly better than the other two. I kept going along the beach and came to what was called Pulau Burung – Pantai Cahaya Negeri, Port Dickson. It had a walkway to it and a man-made break-water at one side. One thing that has haunted me for ages in South-east Asia is – Where are all the seagulls ???? I do not think I have seen one yet. It is weird.

Port Dickson Bird List 7th May 2012

White-throated Kingfisher
Collared Kingfisher
Asian Koel
Javan Myna
Asian Glossy Starling
Paddyfield Pipit
Zebra Dove
Blue-throated Bee-eater
White-breasted Waterhen
Little Heron
Pacific Swallow
Barbet ??
Pied Triller
Brahminy Kite
House Crow
Eurasian Tree Sparrow

May 6, 2012

Melaka Botanic Garden

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Taman Botanikal Melaka

I got up early this morning. The alarm went off at 6am, so I turned it off and rolled over for another fifteen minutes then grumpily got up and started walking towards the center of town where I might catch a bus to the terminal. I was on my way to Ayer Keroh, where there is a Botanic Gardens.

yellow-vented bulbul
Yellow-vented Bulbul avoiding the rain drops

The clouds started rolling in, thunder was rumbling, and a few lightning flashes went off out to sea. It was not looking good. I was hoping it might pass us by or just pour down for an hour and then stop. I got to the bus stop in town and ended up waiting more than half an hour for a bus.

squirrel
Squirrel

When I got to the terminal I had some breakfast. It was the only place that was open. The usual rice, vegetables, tofu and sambal. Then I went over to the terminal to catch the bus to Ayer Keroh. Luckily it was there and ready to go.

Oriental magpie-robin
Oriental Magpie-Robin

When I got to the Botanic Gardens it was still raining, so I had to wait under a shelter for a while. So I took some photos of a Yellow-vented Bulbul, Oriental Magpie-Robin and a squirrel.

falling water 2
Real water in a fake waterfall

When the rain let off a little I went for a walk around the gardens. I spotted this fake waterfall, so I went behind it and you could see the water coming down. So I took some photos. I was stoked with the results. I really like these photos.

falling water
Falling Water

Anyway, after a walk around the garden, which resulted in no birds, I caught the bus back to Melaka and went back to the hotel to veg out for a bit.

May 5, 2012

Melaka Wildlife

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 12:27 pm

Melaka Birding.

390 photos I took this morning. I got up at 9am. I have never slept in that long for ages. I do not have a window in my room so I have no idea what the sun is doing. I must set the alarm clock tomorrow morning. The day started off really badly. I could not find the beach. There were building and construction sites in the way wherever I turned.

House Crow
House Crow (Corvus splendens)

I had previosly missed out on the grey collar on the House Crow. Today I noticed it probably because there were so many and they were so close all morning. There are thousands and thousands around Melaka. There are a few sub-species which are paler with more contrasting collars. Not sure if these are one of those but will have a read up and look at the photos later.

Little Heron
Little Heron (Butorides striata)

The Little Heron (Butorides striata) is similar to the Black-crowned Night-heron but has a black streak under the eye and black nape-plumes. The eyes are yellow.

Little Heron - juvenile
juvenile Little Heron

The one below is a bit of a punk.

Little Heron
Little Heron

I finally found the mud-flats along with the Little Heron above. This juvenile was sitting on the fence above some water treatment works and flew into the trees. Before this I had gone to the Forbidden Garden of the palace of the Malay Sultanate of Melaka and took some photos of Black-naped Oriole, Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier), Oriental Magpie-Robin (Copsychus scularis) and Asian Glossy Starling. But we have seen heaps of them so far.

Fiddler Crab
Fiddler Crab

Fiddler Crab – there are 100 species of genus Uca so I won’t try to ID this. Its a Fiddler Crab, all right? I did also see a Collared Kingfisher and a few Great Egret (Ardea alba).

Malacca Mudskipper
Malacca Mudskipper (Periophthalmus malaccensis)

These weird things were flopping around in the mud-flats. I assumed that they were mud-skippers because that sounds like what they may be. This one had his sails up.

Malacca Mudskipper
Malacca Mudskipper (Periophthalmus malaccensis)

This gives a better look at these weird creatures. I saw a bunch of them up a drain later on. They were sort of trying to swim and hop along out of the water. Truth is stranger than fiction.

female Purple or Olive-backed Sunbird
female Purple or Olive-backed Sunbird ??

This is either a female Purple or Olive-backed Sunbird. I cannot tell. Olives have been seen in melaka but the Purples have a lighter belly.

Grey Heron
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)

Not the best of photos but it is a record shot at least. First time I have photographed this one.

Marsh Sandpiper
Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis) Redshank (Tringa totanus)

Edit: The above bird is a Redshank (Tringa totanus), thanks for the ID from Khaleb Yorden. All in all, a long day and three new birds I had never seen before. Plus I noticed some important details about House Crows. Its been a mega edit trying to wade through more than 300 photos but the light is at the end of the tunnel. I think I will have to have dinner before long, though.

Birds commonly seen at Melaka

Black-crowned Night-heron
Eurasian Curlew
Curlew Sandpiper
Red-necked Stint
Lesser Sand Plover
Little Egret
Cattle Egret
Common Sandpiper
Common Redshank
Great Egret
Greater Sand Plover
Grey Heron
Marsh Sandpiper

May 3, 2012

Tioman and Mersing Birding

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Tioman Island

This morning I went for a walk again towards Tekek Kampung. This little fella was there near the wharf again. There are heaps of them around.

collared kingfisher
Collared Kingfisher

This boat was coming in towards the ferry bringing in supplies of some kind or another. There is a lot of building work going on.

supply boat
Boat coming in

I finally got a usable photo of the White-bellied Sea-eagles I have been seeing here in Tioman and in Mersing.

white-bellied sea-eagle
White-bellied Sea-eagle

I went to the dump again looking for that Purple Heron but I only saw a couple of egrets and a Grey Heron. I may have been mistaken but then again I might have been right. I also spotted a White-breasted Waterhen but failed to get a shot again.

red butterfly
Pachliopta aristolochiae (Common Rose)

This is the same butterfly as yesterday but a good shot from front on. ID thanks to Ma’ruf.

Mersing

I caught the ferry back to Mersing. The Air-Conditioning was so freezing I had to put my jacket on. I watched a couple of episodes of Deadwood on my laptop. They do a mighty lot of cussin on that thar show.

lesser sand plover
Lesser Sand Plover (Charadrius mongolus)

There were only a few assorted Lesser Sand Plovers on the beach this afternoon.

lesser sand plover
Lesser Sand Plover

This is a diagnostic shot showing the tail feathers up nice and close.

Moon over the hill
Moon coming up

Moon was coming up over the hill. It looked mighty good.

Brahminy Kite
Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus)

The sun had gone down and I was heading back and a pair of Brahminy Kite starting wheeling over the trees overhead. They seemed to have a nest there.

May 2, 2012

Tioman Island Birding

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 11:31 am

Pulau Tioman Birding

I got to Tioman Island by ferry yesterday afternoon. It took an hour and a half. I went for a walk along the foreshore and up a little track but saw very little except Common Mynas – in plague proportions. Maybe it has colonised the settled edges and driven off other birds. I saw them chase off some munias from a tree today.

Pacific Swallow
Pacific Swallow (Hirundo tahitica)

Here are some reasonable diagnostic shots of Pacific Swallows. This is the adult from the side.

Pacific Swallow
Pacific Swallow

And from the front. Note that the Pacific Swallow does not have a blue band around the neck, which the Barn Swallow does. Robson calls these House Swallows.

Pacific Swallow
3620 Pacific Swallow

And a baby. Note the white along the edge of the beak, which denotes a fledgling.

butterfly at tioman
Pachliopta aristolochiae (Common Rose)

ID thanks to Ma’ruf. There are some incredible butterflies over here. It is probably better for butterflies than birds, but man, trying to get photos of butterflies is difficult. I gives my respect to any hard kore butterfly photographers. There were also a few Pink-necked Green-pigeon but not many.

Oriental Magpie-robin
Oriental Magpie-robin (Copsychus scularis)

And I have been seeing a pair of these birds wherever I go now in Malaysia. Their call is very distinctive and they stand out well.

Water Monitor
Water Monitor

This Water Monitor stuck his head out of the rocks at the water front so I took his photo.

The Big Common Hill-Myna
The Big Common Hill-Myna!

Ballina has got the Big Prawn and Tioman has got the Big Common Hill-myna. What does your town have that is BIG?

Juvenile Scaly-breasted Munia
Juvenile Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulatus)

I thought I had found another Munia species but it just turned out to be a mob of juvenile Scaly-breasted Munia. I was thinking White-rumped Munia (Lonchura striata), White-Bellied Munia (Lonchura leucogastra), but no it was just your common old everyday Juvenile Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulatus).

Dark-necked Tailorbird
Dark-necked Tailorbird (Orthotomus atrogularis)

But I did get lucky on the way to the dump. A Dark-necked Tailorbird jumped in front of me and posed for me for minutes. It was fantastic. I had been getting glimpses of these in Mersing and not quite getting one in focus. The dump also had a Purple Heron which flew away and all I got was an out of focus shot. Not impressed.

black giant squirrel
black giant squirrel (Ratufa bicolor)

On the way back from the dump, I spotted this squirrel. It is bigger than the usual Plantain Squirrels and has this ochre patches along the arms. It is the black giant squirrel (or Malayan giant squirrel) (Ratufa bicolor). Mencawa is the malay name for it.

female Olive-backed Sunbird
female Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis)

The female Olive-backed Sunbird has a downcurved bill, its underside is all yellow and lots of white on the tail.

May 1, 2012

Mersing – Malaysia – Birds

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 5:14 am

Mersing Birding

I finally made it to Mersing. Now I am rushing to edit together this blog or I will miss the ferry to Tioman Island. Yesterday afternoon as soon as I got here I rushed out with the camera to get some photos. I walked along the river and spotted lots of birds in the mangroves.

juvenile Asian Glossy Starling
juvenile Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensis)

I thought I had a new bird but it was just a juvenile Asian Glossy Starling. They have very striped bellies and their eyes are not so mad red yet. I also thought I saw what may have been a Common Tailorbird but the photos are no good. And of course some Yellow-vented Orioles but I am disciplining myself not to take their photos. There were also a few Oriental Magpie-robins but the photos from today are a lot better so I will show it later on.

Lesser Sand Plover
Lesser Sand Plover (Charadrius mongolus)

There was a flock of Lesser Sand Plovers on the beach. You can really tell the breeding ones. They stand out.

Lesser Sand Plover
Lesser Sand Plover (Charadrius mongolus)

On the rocks there were three Common Sandpipers. I think that they might have all been juveniles.

juvenile Common Sandpiper
juvenile Common Sandpiper (Acitis hypoleucos)

I happened to see a White-bellied Sea-eagle flying out to sea and I saw him again today. Actually it was probably a female because it was huge. On the way back I just managed to catch a glimpse of a hornbill and chased him into a kampung where there were a whole bunch of them cavorting around the palm trees. I finally got a photo of a hornbill. Whew!

Northern Brown Hornbill
Northern Brown Hornbill (Ptilolaemus austeni) Oriental Pied Hornbill

Tuesday 1st May 2012

I woke up early this morning and headed over to the other side of the river. I spotted a male Asian Koel (Eudynamus scolopaceus) up in a tree preening himself. Then some Zebra Doves on a side street.

intermediate egre
Intermediate Egret (Mesophoyx intermedia)

This pair of Intermediate Egrets were on the beach. The black bill threw me for a while until I got a good look at the length of the thingie under the eye. Intermediate I ascertained.

whimbrel
Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)

There was a lone Whimbrel on the mudflats.

house crow
House Crow

I finally got a decent shot of a crow. They are the hardest things ever to photograph because they are all black. I quite like this one.

Collared Kingfisher
Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris)

There were heaps of Collared Kingfisher. They were everywhere. Also very common were Common Myna and Asian Glossy Starlings, but much more so of course.

Zebra Dove
Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata)

I saw some more Zebra Dove later on and these photos turned out much better. I have been trying to get a photo of them since East Java, doh! A couple of Pink-necked Green-pigeon were in the palm trees and a couple of Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata) were hanging out with the sparrows in the park near the beach trying to fool me.

Oriental Magpie-robin
Oriental Magpie-robin (Copsychus scularis)

As promised, here is the photo of the Oriental Magpie-robin. There is a bit more light on this one. He was darting into the hollow there in the branch. I think they might have a nest in there. Well that is it. I have to rush off to the Internet Cafe to try and post this. I wonder if I will make the ferry to Tioman Island?

Thanks to Craig Robson for his “A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia”. It really is a wonderful resource.

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