Monday, March 29, 2010

Yellow-crowned Barbet

Of the nine species of Barbets in Borneo, eight are from the genus Megalaima, which are green with the head and neck gorgeously patterned with vivid reds, blues and yellows, the other is the nondescript Brown Barbet Calorhamphus fuliginosus tertius, which is a brown above and whitish below, with reddish throat. 

The main feature of all Megalaima barbets in Borneo is the relentless perisitence of their calls, so much so that after a while, you no longer notice them. Their bills remain closed when calling giving a ventriloquial effect of varying volume.

Yellow-crowned Barbet Megalaima henricii, photo taken in Tawau, Sabah, the ninth and the last barbet of Borneo to be seen for me to complete all the barbets of Borneo. 

This is the Yellow-crowned Barbet,  ranges from lowland to sub-montane (0 to 1,220m), with an unmistakable call that consists of a roll and four 'tuk' notes, repeated: 'trrrrk-tuk-tuk-tuk-tuk, trrrrk-tuk-tuk-tuk-tuk' and on and on ........

Yellow-crowned Barbet

Although I have seen them all, I have only successfully photographed eight of them, the endemic Mountain Barbet Megalaima monticola was observed in Refflesia Reserve earlier but  was unable to take photograph as it was perched right over my head and I could not align my Whimberly head vertically to shoot.

The seven other barbets before this are; (click to link to picture).

* denotes Bornean endemic
Brown Barbet Calorhamphus fuliginosus tertius
Blue-eared Barbet  Megalaima australis
Gold-whiskered Barbet Megalaima chrysopogon
*Bornean Barbet Megalaima exima exima
Red-throated Barbet Megalaima mystacophanos 
*Golden-naped Barbet Megalaima pulcherrima
Red-crowned Barbet Megalaima rafflesii 

The target for 2010 is, therefore, to photograph the Mountain Barbet and complete the collection.

Happy birding.

Photodocument of Wild Birds of Borneo #308

Standard References for my blog

Monday, March 22, 2010

Chestnut-rumped Babbler

Chestnut-rumped Babbler Stachyris maculata is an active and noisy foliage gleaning insectivore, a common resident throughout Borneo.

Babblers are shy little forest birds, never flying further than necessary and preferring to slip about through the undergrowth near the ground.

The skulking nature of this babbler makes photographing them a real headache. They would just not perch in the open and never remain still even in the cover of the thick jungle undergrowth. Occasional glimpses of them through the thick foliage under the dim forest lighting are the only chances to take their pictures.

Here are a few pictures of them, my lifer (#307 wild birds of Borneo), after losing much hair in the attempt.


Happy birding.

Standard References for my blog

Monday, March 15, 2010

Gould's Bronze Cuckoo and Little Bronze Cuckoo

Gould's Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx russatus, a very similar looking bird to Little Bronze Cuckoo Chrysococcyx minutillus. However, Gould's Bronze Cuckoo has a variable amount of buff on the side of the breast and buff edging to the underside of the outer tail feathers, whereas the underside of outer tail feathers of Little Bronze Cuckoo is entirely banded black and white over both webs, and without rufous.

These bronze cuckoos are apparently very common in south and east of Kalimantan as D.A Holmes in his Recent Notes On The Avifauna of Kalimantan (1986), he has more records of bronze cuckoos in the Chrysococcyx "malayanus" group from South and East Kalimantan than from anywhere else in the Sunda Region. [Parker, (1981) demonstrated that C. minutillus, not malayanus, is the correct name for Little Bronze Cuckoo.]

Their taxonomy is still unresolved as some authorities recognise C. russatus as a separate species and others treat C. russatus as a subspecies of  C. minutillus.

Payne (2005), recognised only one species, C. russatus was regarded as a subspecies of C. minutillus. Other authors also recognised these as a single species by putting much weight on their extensive hybridization in Northern Queensland. However, there remain several aspects that need to be resolved before a definitive answer is achieved. Evidence of sympatry (the use of the same or overlapping geographical areas, by populations of related species, without interbreeding) is based on few specimens, and it has not been documented that both forms actually breed in northern Queensland.  A Field guide to the Birds of Borneo by Susan Myers (2009) follows Payne.

Parker's (1981) discovery of specimens of C. minutillus cleis and C. russatus aheneus collected in Borneo from the same locality and in the same month was the main basis for his splitting minutillus and russatus.

Clive F. Mann  in line with Smythies (1999) follow Parker (1981) and keep them separate in his 2009 Annotated Checklist to the Birds of Borneo. Quentin Phillipps follows C.F Mann in maintaining them separate in his Phillipps' Field Guide to the Birds of Borneo (2009).

Here is a  Gould's Bronze Cuckoo's  photo taken in Tawau (my number 306 wild birds of Borneo),  the buff on the underside of the outer tail feathers is evident.

Here is a comparative photo of the Little Bronze Cuckoo showing all black and white underside of the outertail feathers.

Happy birding. 

Standard References for my blog

Additional Reference:
Les Christidi and Walter Boles (2008), Systematics and taxonomy of Australian birds. Australia:CSIRO Publishing.



Monday, March 8, 2010

Bar-tailed Godwit

Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica  is a scarce winter visitor and passage migrant, the race in Sabah is Limosa lapponica baueri

A single bird was seen and photographed in Tinagat, Tawau on 7th February 2010.

Bar-tailed Godwit is a remarkable bird and has been tracked to make non-stop flight over long distance.

(The following info and map are taken from wikipedia.)

The Bar-tailed Godwit migrates in flocks to coastal western Europe, Africa, South Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

It was shown in 2007 to undertake the longest non-stop flight of any bird. Birds in New Zealand were tagged and tracked by satellite to the Yellow Sea in China. According to Dr. Clive Minton (Australasian Wader Studies Group) "The distance between these two locations is 9,575 kilometres (5,950 mi), but the actual track flown by the bird was 11,026 kilometres (6,851 mi). This is the longest known non-stop flight of any bird. The flight took approximately nine days. At least three other Bar-tailed Godwits also appear to have reached the Yellow Sea after non-stop flights from New Zealand."
The routes of satellite tagged Bar-tailed Godwits migrating north from New Zealand

One specific female of the flock, nicknamed "E7", flew onward from China to Alaska and stayed there for the breeding season. Then on 29 August 2007 she departed on a non-stop flight from the Avinof Peninsula in western Alaska to the Piako River near Thames New Zealand, setting a new known flight record of 11,680 kilometres (7,258 mi).

Here are the images of the bird taken in Tinagat, Tawau.In the last picture, you can see that the bird's lower back and rump is heavily barred brown, indicating that this is the baueri race, the nominate race of lapponica would have white lower back and rump.

This is my new bird, however, due to re-identification of one of the birds in my bird images database, my bird count still remain at #305.

Happy birding.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Oriental Reed-warbler

Oriental Reed-warbler Acrocephalus orientalis is a common passage migrant and non-breeding visitor to Borneo. It is a plain olive-brown warbler, slightly smaller than the Yellow-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus goiavier.

It is a skulking bird, clambers around and feeds on insects in thick vegetations.

There is a very similar looking but much shyer and rarer Clamorous Reed-warbler Acrocephalus stentoreus occuring in southern Borneo. According to the current available field guides, this species has whiter throat, no fine streaking on throat or upper breast, has yellow gape instead of pink and has no pale tip on tail.

However, my review of images of both species at Oriental Bird Images (OBI) database shows that they are very  similar looking and hard to distinguish in the field. Per the OBI images, Oriental Reed-warbler can also have no streaking on throat and upper breast. Clamorous Reed-warbler can also show pale tips as well as non-yellow gape.

Separating Oriental from Clamorous was not as easy as the field guides led us to believe, the most accurate way to separate them is by comparing their wing formula. For Clamorous Reed-warbler, the second primary,  counted from the outside, (P9) is shorter than the fifth primary (P6). However, the P9 is equal or longer than P6 in Oriental Reed-warbler. However, most of us do not have the luxury of holding the bird in hand to do the comparison. But in Sabah we can safely identify the bird as Oriental Reed-warbler unless positively proven otherwise, as Clamorous was never recorded in Sabah.  It was only positively recorded in Kalimantan so far. The northernmost records in Borneo were in Brunei from birds seen and heard  in June 1984, presumably too late for the migratory Oriental Reed-warbler (Clive F Mann).

These images were captured in Tawau in December, next to Mr. Ku Kok On's house not far from the coast. It is my number 305 photographed wild birds of Borneo.


Happy birding.