Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mountian Blackeye - Borneo Endemic

Mountain Blackeye Chlorocharis emiliae is one of the commonest birds in the upper montane scrubs near the tree line on Kinabalu. It is a plain olive-green bird, with slightly paler underparts, with a black loral line expanding to fully encircle the eye to behind the eye, bordered with bright yellowish green,  hence its common name.

Four different subspecies have been described, one of them being found only on Kinabalu and the others also also having fairly restricted distributions. the four races are a) C. e. emiliae with the underparts dark green on Kinabalu only; b) C. e. trinitae, with the underparts pale green to yellowish on Gunung Trus Madi; c) C. e. fusciceps with the underparts yellow and crown sepia on the Maga mountains; d) C. e. moultoni, much yellower from the Tama Abo Range , Gunung Mulu and Gunung Pueh.

This photo is taken in Gunung Alab, next to Rafflesia Forest Reserve, I do not know what race it is but the location is nearer to Gunung Trus Madi than to Kinabalu, so I presume it is C. e. trinitae.

This following is taken in Kinabalu Park, Timpohon Gate, so it must be of the race C. e. emiliae.

Happy birding.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Chestnut-hooded laughingthrush - Borneo Endemic

Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush Rhinocichla treacheri is an abundant and common endemic of the montane forests of Borneo.

It occurs commonly in flocks at Kinabalu Park Headquarters, along all the trails there, also at Masilau. It is also common in Rafflesia Forest Reserve around Rafflesia Information Centre. Of all the three laughingthrushes in Borneo, which are incidentally all montane, this is the  most likely to be seen. Often foraging in mixed feeding flocks working their way in the lower and middle storeys of the forest. Sometimes can be approached closely as they work busily through the thick growth of ferns or hushes along the disturbed edge of the forest.

Previously as Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush Garrulax mitratus, with G. m. treacheri in Sabah, G. m. griswoldi (richer chestnut on undertail coverts) on G. Timbang, Sabah and G. m. damnatus (less streaking on duller breast) elsewhere in Borneo.

Collar, N. J.  & Robson, C. in Handbook of the Birds of the World, 12 (2007), split this from Rhinocichla (Garrulax) mitratus, the justification was: 'differs from ... mitratus in having narial feathering, lores and superciliary area slightly paler, clearer chestnut, eyering only on lower and rear edge of eye and bright yellow (not white), chestnut of ear-coverts extending toward nape, feathers of forecrown greayer, upper malar and chin chestnut, upperparts purer grey, underparts paler ochrous with vague pale shaft streaks,' with some evidence that song in treacheri consists of more notes.

This is taken in Kinabalu Park, lower rear eyering is evident.

Happy birding.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Borneo Bird Festival 2010

The annual Borneo Bird Festival will be held at Rainforest Discovery Centre, Sepilok, Sandakan, Sabah.

Details of some of the programmes in the Festival from 15th to 17th October 2010 are in the following links.

Bird photography and digiscoping competition

Borneo Bird Race

Borneo Bird Festival Home

See you there!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Many faces of Green Crested Lizard

Green Crested Lizard Bronchocela cristatella is a familiar lizard from parks and gardens, as well as lowland forests to midhills, found on shrubs and tree trunks. It is not one of the flying Draco lizards, but it does make short glides in between trees. 

Its range is from Southern Myanmar, Thailand, the Nicobar Archipelago, Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo, Java, Lesser Sundas, Mukulu and the Philippines.

It is commonly believed that it changes color to match its surrounding for purposes of camouflage, but actually the usually bright green lizard will change to brown when threatened. It is the most often encountered lizard when we are out in the field shooting birds. Here are some shots of this lizard in its many faces.

Happy birding.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Everett's White-eye

The White-eyes Zosterops are tiny birds of greenish-yellow plumage, some more green and others more yellow. They owe their English name to the presence of a circle of white feathers round the eye.  It is a common cage bird of the oriental region.

They are active birds of the canopy that behave rather like sunbirds or flowerpeckers, except that they usually occur in small, loose parties.

Everett's White-eye Zosterops everetti is a scarce resident of Borneo, it is chiefly sub-montane but occuring down close to sea level, being the only White-eye that occurs in inland lowland forests.

It is very similar to the Oriental White-eye Zosterops palpebrosus which usually occur along coastal mangrove, swamp and riverine forests.

Everett's White-eye can be distinguished from Oriental White-eye by habitat, darker and greener upper parts, no pale yellow streak above black lores, has semicircle under the eye, with broader yellow ventral stripe to undertail converts (Oriental has thinner yellow ventral stripe). In Sabah, the situation is much easier because no Oriental White-eye had been recorded from the east coast, all existing records were from west coast interior. Borneo records were mostly from Coastal Sarawak and Brunei.

This Everett's White-eye was photographed in Tawau, my number 326 photographed wild birds of Borneo, two of them were seen feeding on a fruiting tree bearing tiny fruits.
Happy birding.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Spectacled Barbet?

After the surprise discovery of the hitherto unknown  Spectacled Flowerpecker in Borneo last year, are we on our way for another bird new to science, which coincidentally also has spectacle? Please read on.

I have on two previous occasions photographed this bird. From the body shape and color it  cannot be anything else but a green barbet. 
 Taken on 24th  April 2010
Taken on 21st August 2010

On checking through all available fieldguides on Borneo, there is not to be found such a barbet with prominent eye-ring, neither is there a bird described as this one in my other bird books.

I photographed it in Tawau, and my good friend Mr. Kong Ket Leong photographed one exactly like this in Sugud, Penampang, at the end of August 2010, which means it occurs on both side of North Borneo. So we can safely conclude that it is  1. a lowland bird and 2. widespread and not a freak.

Since it does not resemble any of our lowland green barbets in adult plumage, I assume it is an immature or juvenile bird. Our lowland barbets are Golden-whiskered, Red-throated, Red-crowned, Yellow-crowned and Blue-eared.

We can eleminate Golden-whiskered Barbet Megalaima chrysopogon as the fledglings of this species closely resemble the adult only slightly duller, so its golden yellow face would be evident.

The juvenile of Red-throated Barbet Megalaima mystacophanos is dull green and grey, bill yellowish-grey as per S. Myers

The juvenile Red-crowned Barbet Megalaima rafflesii is also duller with indistinct head markings per S. Myers.

The juvenile of Yellow-crowned Barbet Megalaima henricii is again duller with indistinct head markings per S. Myers.

The juvenile Blue-eared Barbet Megalaima auatralis is duller with paler bill as per Myers.

To summarize, all juvenile barbets except Red-throated and Blue-eared should look more or less like the adults, sporting their colorful head patterns, only duller and less distinct. No mention on the head patterns of the juvenile of Red-throated and Blue-eared by Myers, though.


From the two blown up shots, we do not see any clear head colorings.

The only lowland barbet that does not have bold colorful markings on the head  is the female Red-throated Barbet, and it also has blackish bare eye-ring which might be paler in young bird,  but I do not think this is one because Red-throated has much longer and larger bill than this bird.

The only lowland barbet that has shortish bill like this one is the Blue-eared Barbet, but juvenile bird of this species in Oriental Bird Images does not show any eye-ring. see here.

Despite its eye-ring, my conclusion on this bird is that it is an immature Blue-eared Barbet and not something exotic, because  of its bill shape,  and its overall plain green head which resemble the bird in Oriental Bird Images as referred to in the above paragraph. 

Happy birding and your thoughts and opinion are welcomed.

Standard References for my blog

Monday, September 6, 2010

Thick-billed Spiderhunter

Thick-billed Spiderhunter Arachnothera crassirostris  is a scarce resident of lowland and hill forests of Borneo, occurring up to 1,200 meters above sea level.

It is about the size of the Little Spiderhunter Arachnothera longirostra and might be confused with one, but the grey/whitish throat of the Little Spiderhunter are obvious field identification feature, even with a bird in flight, where the thickness of the bill is not that apparent.

However, it might be confused with  Long-billed Spiderhunter Arachnothera robusta from afar, which also has olive green back and greenish yellow underparts. The differences are, however, easy to spot as Long-billed has streaky upper breast and an obvious thinner and longer bill, and it is a much larger bird. Thick-billed has yellowish broken eye-ring, which might not be easy to see in the field.

This bird is photographed in Tawau, my number 325 photographed wild birds of Borneo, the absent of orange pectoral tufts shows this is a female bird.

Now I still need the rare endemic Whitehead's Spiderhunter Arachnothera juliae in order to complete my photodocument of the spiderhunters of Sabah.

Happy birding.

Photodocument of Wild Birds of Borneo

Standard References for my blog

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Rafflesia Information Centre and Kinabalu National Park

Mr. Ku Kok On and myself went to Rafflesia Centre and Kinabalu Park over a period of four days, including two days spent on travelling. 

Here is what we saw, photographs of those that I managed to capture will be shown in this blog in due course.

We left Tawau at 6.30 am on 28th August amidst the still pouring rain which started earlier in the morning and flooded a few housing estates. We reached Rafflesia Information Centre slightly after 4.00 pm. We were greeted there by the following birds before it got too dark for us to check ourselves in to Gunung Alab Resort.

1. Chestnut-hooded Laughing-thrush Rhinocichla treacheri (Bornean endemic)
2. Bornean Laughingthrush Melanocichla calva (Bornean endemic) (Too dark to get a photograph)
3. Orange-headed Thrush Zoothera citrina
4. Whitehead's Broadbill Calyptomena whiteheadi (Bornean endemic)

Dramatic sunset from Gunung Alab Resort

The next day, 29th August, our haul included the following from Gunung Alab Reserve and Rafflesia Information Centre.

5. Short-tailed Green Magpie Cissa thalassina (Too dark to get a photograph)
6. Mountain Black-eye Chlorocharis emiliae (Bornean endemic)
7. White-throated Fantail Rhipidura albicollis
8. Ashy Drongo Dicurus leucophaeus
9. Golden-naped Barbet Megalaima pulcherrima (Bornean endemic)
10. Indigo Flycatcher Eumyias indigo
11. Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta and may be Bornean Swiftlet Collocalia dodgei (Bornean endemic), impossible to separate in the field and both species occurs at this altitude.
12. Mountain Imperial Pigeon Ducula badia
13. Chestnut-crested Yuhina Yuhina everetti (Bornean endemic)
14. Bornean Bulbul Pycnonotus montis (Bornean endemic)
15. Little Cuckoo Dove Macropygia ruficeps
16. Whitehead's  Spiderhunter Arachnothera juliae (Bornean endemic)
17. Black-capped White-eye Zosterops atricapilla 
18. Mountain Barbet Megalaima monticola (Bornean endemic)
19. Grey-throated Babbler Stachyris nigriceps

  This is me at Rafflesia Information Centre

We birded at Rafflesia Centre on the morning of 30th August and saw;
20. Fruithunter Chlamydochaera jefferyi (Bornean endemic)
21. Bar-winged Flycatcher shrike Hemipus Picatus
22. Bornean Flowerpecker Dicaeum monticolum (Bornean endemic)
23. Long-tailed Broadbill Psarisomus dalhousiae (Too fast to get a photograph)
24. Sunda Cuckoo-shrike Coracina larvata 
25. Temminck's Sunbird Aothopyga temminckii

Ku making a video of  the Chestnut Crested Yuhina's nest hole

We left for Kinabalu Park at noon, saw (26.) Blyth's Hawk-eagle Spizaetus alboniger while we were driving,

The afternoon was a complete wash-out by the non-stopping rain at Kinabalu Park.

On the morning of 31st August, we were at Kinabalu Park from 6.20 am to 10.00 am and had the following birds added to our list.

27. Bornean Whistling Thrush Myophonus borneensis (Bornean endemic) (Too dark to get a photograph)
28. Sunda Laughing-thrush Garrulax palliatus (Too dark to get a photograph)
29. Grey-chinned Minivet Pericrocotus solaris
30. Little-pied Flycatcher Ficedula westermanni
31. Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinera
32. Mountain Leaf-warbler Phylloscopus trivirgatus
33. Eye-browed Jungle Flycatcher Rhinomyias gularis (Bornean endemic)
34. Black-and-crimson Oriole Oriolus cruentus
35. Bornean Treepie Dendrocitta cinerascens (Bornean endemic)
36. White-browed Shrike Babbler Pteruthius flaviscapis 
37. Bornean Whistler Pachycephala hypoxantha (Bornean endemic)

At least 16 out of the 37 birds are Bornean endemics and I have 7 birds which I have not photographed before, all in all not a bad harvest for a 2 days session.

Happy birding.

Photodocument of Wild Birds of Borneo

Standard References for my blog