Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

May 30, 2012

Kuala Lumpur in the Rain

Filed under: General — Tags: , — admin @ 5:08 am

KL early morning.

I wanted to get some real early morning shots today but after I woke up I had to do a few things before I could get out. So by the time I got out it was starting to get really dark as there was a storm brewing and there was not enough light for photos. The rain started bucketing down so I had to shelter in the warung where I was having breakfast of rice and vegetables and tofu with a chaser of teh tarik. It rained for ages and when it finally eased a bit I headed down to the bus stop and photographed some people walking by and this bus controller dude reading the newspaper.

Reading the paper
Bus controller reading the newspaper

Then I walked down to the local Chinese restaurant and just hung around watching them chop up ducks and chicken for a while. Then I walked past the Pasar Seni where most of the outside stalls were closed up because of the rain. After that, I just went back to the hostel and took the rest of these photos from the roof.

Dayabumi Complex
Dayabumi Complex

“The Dayabumi Complex (Malay: Kompleks Dayabumi) is a major landmark in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It houses several commercial facilities and is one of the earliest skyscrapers in the city. It is located near the National Mosque, the Old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station and the Federal House at Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin. It was designed in a modern Islamic style. The facade of the tower is adorned with patterns of eight-pointed stars, and Islamic arches at the top and bottom of the tower.” (from wiki)

Medan Pasar Bus Stop
Bus stop

This is the Medan Pasar Bus Stop, just up the river from the Pasar Seni. It is a colourful little square with morning newspaper sellers sorting out all their papers before heading off to their spots in the city.

Derelict building
Derelict building

This is an old derelict building behind the hostel. Kuala Lumpur has a lot of old falling down bits and pieces. The pavements are mostly higgledy-piggledy with holes all over the place and anything old is just falling apart. Maintenance is a dirty word here.

May 22, 2012

Kota Bharu Birding

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 7:00 am

Pantai Cahaya Bulan. PCB.

It took me ages to find the number ten bus going to PCB. I asked about three people until I found it. That is pretty normal in Malaysia. Sooner or later you get to where you want to go. Usually after a whole slew of dodgy directions. The bus ride to the beach cost me a whole Rm1.70.

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

This one is a female. I had to look through all the other female sunbirds with yellow fronts, for example: Brown-throated Sunbird and Purple Sunbird.

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

Here she is standing still. There were quite a few of them in the pine trees along the beach. I went along the beach for a while until I came to a river and a kampung, a fishing village on the side of the river.

eclipse male Olive-backed Sunbird
eclipse male Olive-backed Sunbird (Cinnyris jugularis)

The thing that settled it for that they were Olive-backed Sunbirds was this eclipse male with the start of a black streak down his chin. He dribbles a bit, see? I also missed getting a shot of a Black-crowned Night-Heron, which I thought might have been a Little Heron. I surprised him on the banks of the river and he took off before I could get a decent shot of him. He even had a fish in his beak. doh!

NFI warbler ?
warbler ??

Not sure what this is, but it is pretty young. It was whingeing for ages. There have been Oriental Reed Warblers and Black-browed reed Warblers seen in this area but I do not think it is one of them. I really have no idea to be honest.

May 21, 2012

Jerantut Birding

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 3:42 pm

Jerantut 120521.

I went back to the railway line this morning. It turned out pretty good with a couple of new birds that I had not photographed before, so it was a good morning. I only went out for an hour or so because I had to catch the jungle train to Khota Baru.

Rufous Woodpecker
Rufous Woodpecker (Micropternus brachyurus)

The Rufous Woodpecker, (Micropternus brachyurus) is a brown woodpecker that builds its nest inside an acrobats ants nest. It used to be placed in genus Celeus, but it has no DNA link with the other South American woodpeckers, but is monotypic.

Rufous Woodpecker
Rufous Woodpecker (Micropternus brachyurus)

This photo shows the striations the back a bit better.

Cinnamon Bittern
Cinnamon Bittern (Ixobrychus cinnamomeus)

Cinnamon Bittern breed in Asia from Pakistan to China and Indonesia. Their habitat is reed-beds and they feed on insects, fish and amphibians. This one seems to be a male as far as I can tell.

Jungle Myna
Jungle Myna (Acidotheres fuscus)

I am pretty sure this is a juvenile Jungle Myna. It is difficult to know which is which sometimes.

Jerantut bird list 21/5/2012

Asian Glossy Starling
Zebra Dove
Greater Coucal
Scaly-breasted Munia
Jungle Myna (Acidotheres fuscus)
Common Myna (Acidotheres tristis)
Cinnamon Bittern (Ixobrychus cinnamomeus)

May 20, 2012

Taman Negara to Jerantut

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 2:20 pm

Taman Negara and Jerantut.

20th May, 2012.

For once I was up early and over the river before eight o’clock. It was still a bit dark, so I was not real optimistic about getting much decent photos. I headed to the grassy patch where Ron had told me that the Crested Firebacks might be. One of the park officials asked me where I was going and I said I was looking for the big birds. He directed me to the camping area.

male Crested Fireback
male Crested Fireback (Lophura ignita)

As soon as I got over the hill, I saw the big birds and they scattered into the jungle. I sat down and waited for a while and they came out again. There still was not enough light for me so I used the flash. At least I got a few record shots for this bird. I also got a shot of the female which is all grey-brown except for a blue eye patch like the male.

female Brown-throated Sunbird
female Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis)

That was that for the Taman Negara. I crossed back over then river, had a shower, and headed off to the bus stop. The bus was nearly an hour early. Man, this place is so random. I never know what is going on. doh! Anyhow, I got to Jerantut and in the afternoon went for a walk near the railway station (Stesen Keretapi).

Yellow-vented Bulbul with attitude
Yellow-vented Bulbul

This Yellow-vented Bulbul has got real attitude. They just keep on doing all the winning poses. These birds must be the most photogenic on the planet.

Red-wattled Lapwing
Red-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus)

I was just walking along the train track when I heard this squwarking up in the sky, so I turned around at whatever was flying past. It was a Red-wattled Lapwing. That was cool. I wanted to get a photo of a lapwing in South-east Asia. There are a couple more species so hopefully I will bag the lot of them!

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

White-throated Kingfishers are quite common around here. They seem to pop up everywhere. Either that or it is the same one following me around.

Greater Coucal
Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis)

I had taken a photo of a Greater Coucal early in the morning with the firebacks but this photo from later in the day at Jerantut is much better. He looks very angry. Burung marah.

 Zebra Dove
Zebra Dove (Geopelia striata)

As opposed to this “Peaceful Dove”. I did a big close up on this one to show the stripes on the chest.

Bird List Taman Negara and Jerantut 20/5/2012

Crested Fireback (Lophura ignita)
Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis)
female Brown-throated Sunbird (Anthreptes malacensis)
White-throated Kingfisher (Halycon smyrnensis)
Common Iora (Aegithina tiphia)
Red-wattled Lapwing (Vanellus indicus)
Blue-throated Bee-eater (Merops viridis)
Oriental Magpie-Robin
Common Myna
Eurasian Tree-Sparrow
Pacific Swallow
House Crow
Asian Glossy Starling
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Zebra Dove

Taman Negara 120519

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 3:50 am

Birds and Butterflies

It is my third day in the jungle. Well, to be honest, it is pretty much a tourist resort. Especially today being a Saturday and there are hordes of tourists pouring across the river to explore the jungle. I got up late again. It must be the heat – it is so exhausting. You sweat constantly and it is so humid.

Blue-crowned Hanging-Parrot
Blue-crowned Hanging-Parrot (Loriculus galgulus)

I stopped at the tree again this morning and there were heaps of birds feeding on the seeds again.

female Asian Fairy-Bluebird
female Asian Fairy-Bluebird (Irena puella)

This is a female as it is a turquoise colour with black on the wings, almost the opposite of the male which I photographed yesterday.

 male and female Thick-billed Green-Pigeon
male and female Thick-billed Green-Pigeon (Treron curvirostra)

This is a male and female pair of Thick-billed Green-Pigeon. Note that the male on the left has brownish under the tail and the female has white and the male has the reddish-brown patch on the wing.

tn butterfly

After the tree, I went down to the swamp, hoping for some birds along the edges, but there was nothing doing. But there were heaps of butterflies flittering around in the grass.

tn butterfly

This one looks a lot like a Monarch Butterfly, but probably isn’t. Its wings were very battered.

tn butterfly

This is a very plain-looking black and white butterfly.

butterfly tn

I could not get over how silky and furry this brown beauty was. I really love the texture of this gorgeous butterfly.

Taman Negara – 120518

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 3:33 am

Taman Negara.

A late start for me. I did not get out of bed until 8 or so. I was dog-tired and the trekkers were playing music till late at night. So, after an unusual western meal of toast and eggs and coffee, I headed over the river to the National Park.

Wedge-tailed Green-pigeon
Wedge-tailed Green-pigeon (Treron sphenura)

I met some bird photographers from Singapore and I traipsed along with them. Inside the park resort where all the bungalows are, we spotted a whole heap of birds in this tree. I thought this one was a Pink-necked at first but it wasn’t.

Thick-billed Green-Pigeon
male Thick-billed Green-Pigeon (Treron curvirostra)

And another species of Green-Pigeon came feeding in the same tree. We stayed there for ages.

Black-and-Yellow Broadbill
Black-and-Yellow Broadbill (Eurylaimus ochromalus)

This bird is really bizarre as it has a flat blue bill. Weird, hey?

Greater Green Leafbird
Greater Green Leafbird (Chloropsis sonnerati)

And yet another extreme-looking bird. This one was a Greater Green Leafbird. Good for hiding in trees.

Blue-crowned Hanging-Parrot
Blue-crowned Hanging-Parrot (Loriculus galgulus)

And still in the same tree, I could not believe my eyes when I had a look at this photo. Hey, its a parrot, I said. First one I have seen in South-asia so far.

male Asian Fairy-Bluebird
male Asian Fairy-Bluebird (Irena puella)

And yet another striking looking bird. Still at the tree. Have not moved out of the resort yet.

Spectacled Spiderhunter
Spectacled Spiderhunter (Arachnothera flavigaster)

Finally we moved into the jungle and Ron pulled out his music player and started playing bird calls to bring in the babblers. A few came along but my camera could not get a picture. I can only get up to ISO1600 and an aperture of f/5.6. Totally inadequate for the under-storey of a rainforest. Luckily this one moved out into the sunlight for me. Thanks.

female Crimson-winged Woodpecker
female Crimson-winged Woodpecker (Picus puniceus)

On the way back, I spotted this woodpecker. At first I thought it was a flameback, but no. It did not have the black stripes on the face. All in all, it was a good day’s birding for me as I photographed 8 new species. But photographically, it was pretty ordinary. Today’s photos I would classify as record shots only, except maybe for the spiderhunter one. I rescued that quite well.

Bird List for Taman Negara 18/5/2012

female Wedge-tailed Green-pigeon (Treron sphenura)
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Black-and-Yellow Broadbill (Eurylaimus ochromalus)
male Thick-billed Green-Pigeon (Treron curvirostra)
Blue-crowned Hanging-Parrot (Loriculus galgulus)
Stripe-throated Bulbul (Pycnonotus finlaysoni)
Greater Green Leafbird (Chloropsis sonnerati)
Asian Fairy-Bluebird (Irena puella)
Plain sunbird
Spectacled Spiderhunter (Arachnothera flavigaster)
female Crimson-winged Woodpecker (Picus puniceus)
Black-naped Oriole
Oriental Magpie-Robin
Grey-crowned Babbler
Black-capped Babbler

May 17, 2012

Taman Negara Birding

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 3:11 pm

Taman Negara

It has been a long day. We started off at 8am this morning from Cameron Highlands and drove towards Kuala Lipis and the river that leads to the Taman Negara at the jetty at Kuala Temberling.


While I was waiting for the boat to the jungle, I took a few photos.

pacific swallow
Pacific Swallow

These pair of Pacific Swallow were hanging on to a rope that was mooring the boat.

Yellow-vented Flowerpecker
Yellow-vented Flowerpecker (Dicaeum chrysorrheum)

There were a few birds in a tree where we were waiting. This Yellow-vented Flowerpecker was flittering around in the tree above me.

sunbird not sure which.

I am not sure what sunbird this is. I am torn between three of them – Brown-throated Sunbird, Red-throated Sunbird or Olive-backed Sunbird. To compound my confusion it could be a male in eclipse.

Water Buffalo
Water Buffalo

We finally got going in the boat which took about three hours to get there. We saw a few Water Buffalo along the way and managed to ground the boat on a sand-bank. We all had to get out and push it off again.

Greater Coucal
Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis)

While I was looking for a hostel at Kuala Tahan, I came across two Greater Coucal along a track to a Guest House.

May 16, 2012

Cameron Highlands Birding 3

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 9:15 am

Hutan Lipur, Tanah Rata. 120516.

I was going to go to Robinson Waterfall this morning but I just decided to go back to the Parit Falls track. I started off at the garden opposite the bus station again. There were no sunbirds flitting around the flowers, which I was hoping for.

Yellow-vented Bulbul
Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier)

But there was a Yellow-vented Bulbul flying around with sticks in his beak. He would land on this branch and then dart into a clump of palms when he thought I was not looking.

Yellow-vented Bulbul
Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier)

Later on in the afternoon, I caught this one having a feed on these berries in the garden.

Tailed Judy
Tailed Judy (Abisara neophron)

I took a photo of this Tailed Judy again today. This time I used the in-built flash and it turned out all right, I reckon. I used the flash a fair bit today. Mainly because it was so dark in the rain-forest under-storey.

Pygmy Blue Flycatcher ??
Pygmy Blue Flycatcher ??

Is this a Pygmy Blue Flycatcher or Hill Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis banyumas) ? Or even a rufous-vented niltava? I think it was too small to be a Hill Blue Flycatcher but it is claimed that the Pygmy Blue Flycatcher have not been seen for a while. But they have been seen in the Genting Highlands. And the Hill Blue Flycatcher is seen at Bukit Fraser and Cameron Highlands.

Silver-eared Mesia
Silver-eared Mesia (Mesia argentauris)

There was a flock of Silver-eared Mesia near the waterfall.

Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo ??
Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo

At first I thought it was a black drongo, but it did not have the forked tail. Then I thought it might be a Blue Whistling-Thrush, but it had a black beak. Then I saw a photo of a lesser racket-tailed drongo without the racket and it looked pretty similar, so I am going with that.. Update: it was a Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, thanks mr tou.

Mystery bird.
Mystery Black-throated Sunbird (Aethopyga saturata).

I have got no idea what this is. I am pretty sure it is some kind of sunbird or similar but I could not find it in Robson or on the internet. At first I thought it might be a Dark-backed Sibia (Malacias melanoleucus) but no.

Mystery bird front
Mystery bird front on Black-throated Sunbird (Aethopyga saturata).

Here is a really bad front on shot that shows 2 blue spots on the neck of this bird. That may help identify it. I think I shall have to ask the local experts.

 Blue Whistling-Thrush
Blue Whistling-Thrush (Myophonus caeruleus)

I saw this Blue Whistling-Thrush on the beach below the Parit Falls.

Long-tailed Sibia
Long-tailed Sibia (Heterophasia picaoides)

I had been trying to get a photo of these birds all morning. They had been flying over me and hiding in the trees, so I was getting really frustrated with them. Finally on the way home, I got some decent shots of them on the track just before where it ended. doh!

Oriental Magpie-robin
Oriental Magpie-Robin

This one is a juvenile with the light grey speckled chest.

Birding Malay Resources

Birding Malay
Birding the Cameron Highlands
Blue Flycatchers

Birds that can be seen in Cameron Highlands

Rufous-vented Niltava
Chestnut-tailed Minla
Fire-tufted Barbet
Golden-throated Barbet
Mountain Bulbul
Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo
Golden Babbler
Chestnut-capped Laughing-thrush
Long-tailed Sibia
Silver-eared Mesia
Blue-winged Minla
Mountain Fulvetta
Mountain Leaf Warbler
Yellow-breasted Warbler
Snowy-browed Flycatcher
Little Pied Flycatcher
Large Niltava
Hill Blue Flycatcher
White-throated Fantail
Black-throated Sunbird

May 15, 2012

Cameron Highlands Birding 2

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 5:10 am

Parit and Robinson Falls. 120515.

I tried the same route as yesterday afternoon this morning. First the garden, then up along the track to Parit Falls. There was not much in the garden but there were a few birds in the forest near the Parit Falls.

Chestnut Crowned Laughingthrush
Chestnut Crowned Laughingthrush (Garrulax erythrocephalus)

This one took a bit of working out but I googled birds and Cameron Highlands and found the answer.

Silver-eared Mesia
Silver-eared Mesia (Mesia argentauris)

There were a flock of about a dozen of these, flitting from bush to bush.

Little Brown Job Streaked Wren-babbler (Napothera brevicaudata)

I am not even going to attempt to ID this one. I will leave it till tomorrow. Update: It is a Streaked Wren-babbler (Napothera brevicaudata), thanks to Mr Tou for the identification.

Tailed Judy (Abisara neophron)

This butterfly looks back to front because he has what looks like an eye at his rear end. Update: Tailed Judy (Abisara neophron) butterfly, ID by Ma’ruf – thank you. They are found through Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, S.China and Malay Peninsula.

Blue Whistling-Thrush
Blue Whistling-Thrush (Myophonus caeruleus)

I thought this was a Chinese Blackbird at first glance but the slight hook in the beak had me suspicious. Once again Google came to the rescue and I found some people who had done banding on these birds.

Cameron Highland Birding Resources:

Whistling Thrush Project

May 14, 2012

Cameron Highlands Birding

Filed under: Birds — Tags: — admin @ 1:27 pm

Parit Falls walk, Tanah Rata.

The bus ride from Kuala Lumpur to Tanah Rata in the Cameron Highlands took about four hours and was pretty eventless. The bus was air-conditioned a little bit too well and everybody was freezing. I was going out in the afternoon to photograph some birds but it started pouring rain. Later on about five o’clock it stopped so I headed out. It was overcast and dark still, so the light was pretty rotten.

female Black-throated Sunbird
female Black-throated Sunbird (Aethopyga saturata)

I photographed a sunbird and I am trying to identify it. I might go through the process to show how I work out what is what. From Robson’s book I made a first stab at it being either a female Crimson or Temminck’s Sunbird. Then I did a search on google for “sunbird cameron highlands” and found a similar bird that need identifying as well. Someone suggested a young/female Black-throated Sunbird. So I added that to the list. And the Black-throated has been seen in this area so it is a strong contender. And I will go with female Black-throated Sunbird.

Common Tailorbird
Common Tailorbird (Orthotomus sutorius)

There were quite a few little birds feeding on the flowers in a park just before the start of the Parit Falls walk.

Earlier on I saw a Purple Sunbird by the side of the road, not more than 3 or 4 meters from me. But of course I had no camera with me. A lesson to be learnt there, perhaps? The track to the waterfall was not much. There was a few Oriental Magpie-Robin of course and some birds late in the afternoon when the light was so bad that my photos were all dark. I just bumped these photos up a couple of stops and the results are unusable.

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