Monday, September 28, 2009

Aleutian Tern - First Photographic Record from Sabah

Thanks to sifu Horukuru, who mentioned today  in his blog that there was  sighting of Aleutian Tern Sterna aleutica in KK Water front yesterday.

I remember shooting some photos of Terns on my recent trip to Semporna on 11th  September 2009, of which some photos have not yet been positively identified. This news prompted me to take a look at those photos to figure out whether I have this species in the photo collection.

As I usually id  my birds by first referring to the commoner species, only if they do not match than I compare them to rarer species in my field guides . I manage to id the other 2 species that I photographed as Great Crested and Common Terns. The remaining bird has black lores line to the base of the beak, this feature is only represented by 2 species in the Mackinnon field guide, they are Bridled Tern and Sooty Tern. But the wings of this bird is too bright to be a Sooty, so I tentatively thought it might be a Bridled, as both these species have been long listed in the Borneo Checklist. After reading Horukuru above, I decided to recheck.


Identification of this species per Craig Robson is by whitish crown, dark band along underside of secondaries for adult non-breeding plumage and Blackish bill/legs, white forehead/cheeks, grey below, broad white edge to inner wing, pale inner primaries, dark secondary band on underwing for breeding. True enough there is prominent dark band along underside of the secondaries of this bird, and the other features match, so I conclude that it is indeed an Aleutian Tern . Photographed using Nikon D300 and Nikkor 70-200 mm f2.8 with 1.7X TC in a boat off Semporna.

Aleutian Tern is not listed in both The Birds of Borneo (Smythies 1999) and The Birds of Borneo, Sumatra, Java and Bali (Mackinnon and Phillipps 1993).

However, it was recorded in Sarawak on 9th April 2005 (Sim & amp; Mizutani 2005). According to An Annotated Checklist of of the Birds of Borneo (Mann 2008), little was known of the wintering areas of this species until recently, but it is now known that many spend the winter around the coasts of southeast Asia and the Greater Sundas, and thus it may prove to be regular non-breeding visitor to Borneo. Specimens have also been caught in central Philippines.

Happy birding.

REFERENCES
MacKinnon, J. and Phillipps, K. (1993) A field Guide to the birds of Borneo, Sumatra, Java and Bali. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Mann, C.F. (2008) The birds of Borneo, an annotated Checklist. Peterbourough, UK: British Ornithologists' Union.

Smythies, B.E. and Davison, G.W.H. (1999) The birds of Borneo. Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia: Natural History Publications (Borneo) Sdn. Bhd. and the Sabah Society.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

1st June 2009

On 1st of June 2009, without setting foot in Rafflesia Information Centre (RIC) despite traveling more than 500 km, we set for home.

A farewell round of birding in front of RIC yielded good birds, three Whitehead's Broadbills showed themselves on a tree trunk far inside the RIC, giving an opportunity to have some record shots.

Whitehead's Broadbill Calyptomena whiteheadi
 
Whitehead's Broadbill Calyptomena whiteheadi

Long-tailed Broadbill's nest found at the road side (Tambunan-Penampang Highway) also provided some photo opportunities.

 View of the Nest form across the Tambunan-Penambang Highway
 
Closer view of the nest from the angle of my camera.
View of the Broadbill Chick 
 
Leaving the nest after feeding the two chicks in the nest.
 
 Long-tailed Broadbill Psarisomus dalhousiae borneensis

Somewhere along the dusty gravel road to Tawau, we saw these ........
Wallaces's Hawk Eagle Spizaetus nanus
Changeable Hawk Eagle Spizaetus cirrhatus
Darter Ahinga melanogaster

Happy Birding.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

May 29th to 31st of May, Tawau to Rafflesia Centre

Mr Kong Ket Leong, Mr and Mrs  Ku Kok On, Mr Liew Lun Fatt and myself, travelling in Mr Kong's Isuzu Invader 3.0, set out from Tawau on the morning of 29th May to Rafflesia Information Centre (RIC). Taking the recently opened Tawau-Kalabakan road which hasn't been fully sealed at that time. The tarred road stopped right at Kalabakan town and it was gravel road all the way until somewhere near Sook.
Rafflesia Information Centre, Tambunan.

The main target of the trip was to photograph the elusive Whitehead's Spiderhunter and Black-breasted Fruithunter. At the end of the trip, we did not get these birds but managed to photograph Whitehead's Broadbill as a consolation.
Whitehead's Broadbill Calyptomena whiteheadi

We put ourselves up at Gunung Alab Resort (GAR) which is by the road side of the Penampang Keningau Road, not far away from RIC. It generates its own power every evening til late night despite a high tension power line passing nearby. Food is decent and accommodation is not of the standard of the 'starred' hotels, but sufficient for our purpose.   Night temperature can be cool here as it is over 5,500 feet above sea level and lies on the ridge of the Crocker Range and catches the blowing wind.



Gunung Alab Resort
We reached GAR about 3.00 pm on 29th May 2009 and was on our way to  Gunung Alab hill right after checked in. There are two telecommunication towers on top of the hill. On one side it offers complete view of Kota Kinabalu city and areas surrounding it.

Saw Sunda Bush Warbler, Indigo flycatcher, Mountain Blackeye, Glossy Swiftlets, and a female Little Pied Flycatcher coming very close to the staff quarter to feed on insects on the ground.


Female Little Pied Flycatcher Ficedula westermanni


Drove up Gunung Alab early morning of 30th May 2009, hoping to get some early birds that came to feed at the telecommunication stations. Saw  Ashy Drongo, Little Cuckoo Dove, Indigo Flycatcher, Glossy Swiftlet.
Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus

Little Cuckoo Dove Macropygia ruficeps
Went back to GAR for breakfast, later proceeded to RIC only to discover that it would be closed for 2 days for the Harvest Festival, so,  no chance to set foot in there for this trip.

Notice on the Door of RIC saying it will be closed for two days.

Since we had travelled a few hundred kilometers to come here, we were forced to try our luck along the stretch of road in front of the RIC and Gunung Alab, hoping that our two target birds would show themselves, but they did not, may be they were busy feeding themselves inside the RIC.

A brief and incomplete list of this trip includes Mountain and Borneo Barbets which were heard and seen, so were Grey-throated Babbler, Yellow-bellied Warbler, Bornean Whistler, Bornean Blue-winged Leafbird, Ochraceous Bulbul, Black-crested Bulbul, Ashy Bulbul, Bornean Treepie, White-browed Shrike Babbler, Black-headed Munia, Mountain Tailorbird, Blyth's Hawk-eagle, Grey-chinned Minivet, Sunda Cuckoo-shrike, Whitehead's Broadbill, Long-tailed Broadbill, Chestnut-crested Yuhina, Black and Crimson Oriole, Verditer Flycatcher and Short-tailed Green Magpie. Here are some of the pictures.
Mountain Tailorbird Orthotomus cucullatus cinereicollis

Indigo Flycatcher Eumyias indigo

Ochraceous Bulbul Alophoixus ochraceous

Black-and-crimson Oriole Oriolus cruentus


Black-crested Bulbul Pycnonotus melanicterus montis

Ashy Bulbul Hermixos flavala connectens

Happy birding.