Monday, January 25, 2010

Crested Jay

Crested Jay Platylophus galericulatus of Borneo is one of the Iban omen birds, known as Bejampong, it is also known as  the Rain Bird  from its reputed faculty of fortelling a storm, by calling.

While Iban gods normally assume human form, they also possess mystical power of metamorphosis, and it is the special characteristic of Singalang Burung and the augural gods that they change into birds , in which shape they commonly present themselves to men. Singalang Burung, when he does metamorphose himself, always appears as a Brahminy Kite, or lang. But, as befits a high god, he does not deign to do this often, electing instead to make his will known to men through the agency of his menantu, or sons-in-law, who assume the forms of Rufous Piculet (ketupong), Banded Kingfisher (embuas), Scarlet-rumped Trogon (beragai), Diard's Trogon (papau), Crested Jay (bejampong), Maroon Woodpecker (pangkas) and White-rumped Shama (nendak). (J.D Freeman, Birds of Borneo, BE Smythis).

The race of Crested Jay in Sabah, P. g. lemprieri (Nicholson 1883), is much lighter in color than those from elsewhere of Borneo which are of the race P. g. coronatus, the bird  is tawny brown overall with bright white patch on side of neck, however, these two forms might not be readily distinguishable. Whereas, the South East Asian race of P. g. ardesiacus has blackish plumage.

Crested jay is a locally common lowland bird, usually in pair or small family group. I photographed the following  at slightly after 3.00 pm  in RDC, Sepilok Sandakan, the overcast sky on that day made the light in the forest very dim, I had to use ISO800 with aperture fully opened to f4 in order to get the shutter speed of 1/40s and 1/50s.

This is my number 301 photodocumented wild birds of Borneo.

Happy Birding.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Baya Weaver

There was no weaver ever recorded in Borneo until two years ago.

Baya Weaver Ploceus philippinus, a species hitherto not included in the Checklist of Borneo until Mr. Quentin Phillips published his Phillips' Field Guide To The Birds of Borneo in 2009. Before him, no mention of this species was made by any previous author, not Susan Myers  in her 2009 Field Guide nor  Clive Mann  in his 2008 Annotated Checklist of Borneo.

As Imagemaster for Oriental Bird Images for Borneo, I received an image of this species taken in Sandakan on 10th June 2007 from Mr. Vun Soo Kiong  for uploading to the database of OBI. I have no second thought to upload his image even there was already a large number of images of this species in the OBI database, as this represented a first photographic record of the species in Borneo.  I remember I wrote this in the remark of Mr. Vun's image in OBI. "Baya Weaver (Ploceus philippinus) is not listed in the Borneo Checklist, however, this particular bird is seen building nest in the wild in Sandakan, Sabah. Presumed to be escapees from the Pets Bird Trade. This could be imported from Peninsular Malaysia and hence of the Subspecies infortunatus." Mr. Vun's image is here.

Mr. Vun's  has been acknowledged,  and also quoted by Mr. Quentin Phillips on page 322 in his field guide.

Its range is from Pakistan to Southwest China, down Southeast Asia to Sumatra and Java. Despite its species name, it is not found in the Philippines. So the common belief in Sandakan that it could have migrated from the Southern Philippines to Sandakan is not accurate. 

In December 2009, thanks to direction given by Mr. YC Lee from Sandakan, I went to the ground of the nesting colony and took the following photographs of this rare species of Borneo (incidentally this species is my  number 300 wild Borneo birds photographed in Sabah), which to my knowledge, can only be found in Sandakan at the moment. More than twenty elaborate nests were built on two trees, most of them from eye level and up, the highest not more than 15 feet above the ground, some birds were still in the process of building nests.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Javan Pond Heron

Pond Herons, which Borneo has two, Javan, Ardeola speciosa, and Chinese, Ardeola bacchus, are as good as impossible to positively identify during the northern winter months when they are in eclipse plumage. However, as Chinese Pond Heron is a winter migrant, as opposed to the resident Javan Pond Heron, any bird seen from late April to September (before the migratory season) can reliably be identified as Javan Pond Heron.

This bird was photographed in Penampang padi field in December 2009, however as Chinese Pond Heron is reported to be scarce in contrast to the abundant residential Javan Pond Heron, I choose to identify this bird as Javan Pond Heron, my lifer and my number 299th photographed bird of Borneo..

I have not seen a single Pond Heron in Tawau, their absent could be due to the lack of padi fields and most accessible coastal swamps have been taken by private owners for aquaculture.  Nevertheless, population of migratory egrets are plenty in Tawau and seems not to be affected by these habitat deficiencies.

Happy birding.
Photodocument of Wild Birds of Borneo #299

Monday, January 4, 2010

Tabin Wildlife Reserve 29th November 2009

The last day at Tabin was greeted by the laud singing of this Rufous-tailed Tailorbird Orthotomus sericeus outside the cabin.
 Rufous-tailed Tailorbird

This Black Hornbill Anthracoceros Malayanus was flying over the Resort and perched for a little breather.
Black Hornbill

The fruiting fig near the Resort's reception attracted, among others, Scaly-breasted Bulbul Pycnonotus squamatus and Asian Fairy Blue-bird Irena puella.
Scaly-breasted Bulbul
Asian Fairy Blue Bird Male
Asian Fairy Blue Bird Female

While down on the ground, nature lovers were watching in earnest.

This pair of Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris was perched quite a distance away.
Oriental Pied Hornbill

Another pair of much rarer White-crowned Hornbill Aceros comatus was perched not far away. I have found the easiest place to take picture of White-crowned Hornbills is here in Tabin.
White-crowned Hornbill

After breakfast we continued to try our luck along the road to the Core Area and was rewarded with a pair of Red-bearded Bee-eater Nictyornis amictus.
Red-bearded Bee-eater Female
Red-bearded Bee-eater Male

We went back to the location where we found the White-crowned Forktail Enicurus leschenaulti yesterday to try to get better photograph, and was lucky to see this tiny Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca. Taxonomy of this species is still not resolved, whether the three forms, C. erithaca, C. rufidorsa, and C. motleyi, that occur in Borneo are separate species or merely three forms of the same species is still undecided.
Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher

The White-crowned Forktail showed up later but it kept itself in the scrubs and only managed some record shots.
White-crowned Forktail

Went back to the Resort to pack up our things before going back to Tawau. The ensuing heavy rain, typical in the afternoon in the rainforest, slowed our departure for about an hour.
Heavy rain in the rainforest
Waiting for the rain to stop

The last bird we took picture of along the road to Lahad Datu was these two Blue-crowned Hanging Parrots Loriculus galgulus.
Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot

A group photo of the participants for the trip.

The end and happy birding.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Standard References for my blog

The following are the books I use for reference in writing my blog. (updated in May 2018)

Brazil, M. (2009) Field Guide to The Birds of East Asia. London, UK: Christopher Helm.

Davison, G.W.H. (1992) Birds of Mount Kinabalu. Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia: Natural History Publications (Borneo) Sdn. Bhd. and Koktas Sabah Berhad.

Eaton, J.A., van Balen, B., Brickle, N.W. & Rheindt, F.E. (2016). Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago, Greater Sundas and Wallacea. Lynx Edicions. Barcelona.

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.

Message, S. and Taylor D. (2005) Field Guide to the Waders of Europe, Asia and North America. London, UK: Christopher Helm.

Myers, S. (2009) A field Guide to the birds of Borneo. London, UK: New Holland Publishers. 

Myers, S. (2016) Helm Field Guide - Birds of Borneo. London, UK: Christopher Helm. 

Phillipps, Q. and Phillipps, K. (2009) Phillipps' field guide to the birds of Borneo. Oxford, UK: John Beaufoy Publishing Ltd. 

Phillipps, Q. and Phillipps, K. (2011) Phillipps' field guide to the birds of Borneo. Second Edition  Oxford, UK: John Beaufoy Publishing Ltd. 

Phillipps, Q. and Phillipps, K. (2014) Phillipps' field guide to the birds of Borneo. Third Edition Oxford, UK: John Beaufoy Publishing Ltd. 

Sheldon, F.H., Moyle, R.G. and Kennard, J. (2001) Ornithology of Sabah: History, Gazetteer, Annotated Checklist, and Bibliography. Washington D.C.:American 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.