Thursday, October 28, 2010

Orange-headed Thrush

Orange-headed Thrush Zoothera citrina is a bird occuring from Pakistan to South China, Andamans, Nicobars, Southeast Asia and Sumatra.

 It is a rare montane forest resident of Borneo, known from seven localities from Sabah; Gunung Kinabalu; Gunung Trus Madi; Crocker Range; Kaingaran; Malangkap; Rinangisan and  Sinsuran road. One sight record  from Gunung Palung National Park of Kalimantan Barat in  December 1986 was suspected to be a migrant.

The Sabah bird is of the race Z. c. aurata which has a white bar on the  wing coverts and without bars on ear-coverts.

It has a very sweet song consisting of a series of musical phrases. In Java this bird is a star performer in popular bird singing contests and large number are harvested from wild nests owned by farmers to train as songsters (Jepson, Birding Asia, 9).

It was usually photographed in Kinabalu Park, however, I photographed this one in Rafflesia Centre. One male bird was seen foraging in a fruiting tree late afternoon, and possibly the same bird seen again on the same tree the next day and photographed. This is my new photographed lifer bird of Borneo.

Male Orange-headed Thrush
Happy birding.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bornean Swiftlet and Glossy Swiftlet

Positive field identification of swiftlets  is a real difficult thing to do, and with this latest split of montane Bornean Swiftlet Collocalia dodgei from Glossy Swiftlet  C. esculenta (to some authority, Linchi Swiftlet C. linchi) (the lowland form of which also occur in montane habitats in Borneo), there will be endless arguments as to which is Bornean and which is Glossy.

Before this, Smythies (1999) as revised by G W H Davison listed this a White-bellied Swiftlet, with the montane Mt. Kinabalu form as C. esculenta dodgei and lowland form as C. e. cyanoptila. No Linchi Swiftlet from Smythties at that time due to confusions in physical characteristics to separate the two forms.

Moyle et al. (2008) split Bornean Swiftlet  from Linchi Swiftlet C. linchi, itself a split from Glossy Swiftlet C. esculenta, based on a comparison of molecular data obtained from two specimens of 'unknown identity (but presumably dodgei)' from Mt. Kinabalu, Sabah, and data from another study (Price et al. 2004) relating to the specimen of linchi from Java.

Moyle collected 3 individuals of C. esculenta cyanoptila from c.1500 m on the south side of Mt Kinabalu and 2 nestlings close to fledging (of unknown identity, presumed C. dodgei) from c.2730 m, also on the south side of Mt Kinabalu. The putative C. dodgei  fledglings lacked the feather tuft on the hind toes, had white bellies and showed upperparts to be dark brown with a faint green gloss. The nest from which they were removed was built of rootlets, plant fibres and lichens attached to a beam in a hut on two sides with hardened saliva.

Moyle et al. summarise by saying;
Linchi Swiftlet C. linchi has a restricted distribution on various Sundaic islands and has a grey belly.
Bornean Swiftlet C. dodgei is differentiated by molecular data and in morphology, white belly and is a montane species.

Mann (2008) in his checklist of Borneo recognised this montane form as a distinct species but uses the name Linchi swiftlet C. linchi for this species.

Both Phillipps (2009) and Myers (2009) follow Moyle in their fieldguides for Birds of  Borneo and listed this as Bornean swiftlet Collocalia dodgei.

These pictures were taken at montane altitudes, at about 1,600 meters showing what I assume to be Glossy Swiftlets. (Bear in mind that they are split based on DNA and not by physical appearance, physical feather color like bluish or greenish gloss and feather on hind toe are too environmental and moult dependent to be of real help in field identification.)

This might not be Bornean is also reinforced by the fact that the Bornean Swiftlets were collected at much higher altitude at Layang-layang by Moyle.

Taken in Gunung Alab Resort in 2009

 Taken in Gunung Alab Resort in 2010

Taken in Gunung Alab Resort in 2009

Taken near Kinabalu Park HQ, these birds must be Glossy as birds near Park HQ have been established to be Glossy and not Bornean.

Happy birding.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Whitehead's Broadbill

Whitehead's Broadbill Calyptomena whiteheadi, the largest of the three green broadbills of Borneo, is an uncommon montane endemic of the pristine forests from Mount Kinabalu, Sabah, along spinal range of Borneo to Gunung Timbang, Sarawak/Kalimantan Timur. However, it can be common in localities during times when fruits are abundant.

I once photographed this species in Rafflesia Centre at the end of May, 2009, at that time there was no fruiting trees at the Centre, so they just moved-on without staying long for me to get decent photographs. See this post.

However, this visit of mine at the end of August coincided with fruiting of some trees at Rafflesia Centre and two of them came to feed which allowed me an opportunity to get some photographs. It was a pity that the position that I have to shoot from was facing the bright sky.

Happy birding.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

2nd Borneo Bird Festival

Hi friends, here is a photo-summary of the 2nd Borneo Bird Festival in Rainforest Discovery Centre in Sepilok Sandakan over the week end from 15th to 17th of October 2010. It was a carnival there over the three days and the event was well attended by both local and foreign visitors. 

Informative and thoughts provoking lectures were delivered by famous names from the birding and ornithological fraternity of Borneo and Southeast Asia.
To the delight of birders and photographers, the evergreen star bird, Bristlehead Pityriasis gymnocephala, affectionately called BB, showed up on the second day. The up and coming starbird, the resident Ruddy Kingfisher Halcyon coromanda, which is equal match to Bristlehead also showed up every day on its favorite pond. 

 The opening
 The Borneo Bird Club Booth
Bird photographers' rigs
 Bird Race Flagging off
 The usual shower in the Rainforest
 The usual shower in the Rainforest
Professor Pilai Poonswad, Thailand Hornbill Project
Mr Dennis J.I.Salvador, Philippine Eagle Foundation
 Professor Frederick H Sheldon, Museum of Natural Science and Department of Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University, USA
 Mr Quentin Phillips, author of Phillipps' Field Guide to The Birds of Borneo
 Mr David Bakewell, MNS Bird Conservation Council Waterbirds Group
Photographers waiting for the Ruddy Kingfisher

 Waiting for the Red-giant Flying Squirrel to wake up at dusk.

Happy Birding.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ashy Bulbul (Sociable Bulbul)

Ashy Bulbul Hemixos flavala is widely distributed in Southeast Asia and colourings and markings of the birds differ significantly across populations and regions.

In Borneo, it is chiefly a montane and sub-montane bird, but also found occasionally at sea-level. I have photographed it in montane forests of Rafflesia Centre and also in a hill near Tawau, which is one to two hundred feet above sea level.

The Bornean bird is of the endemic race connectens which has bright olive wings and tails, a puff white throat, and a yellow vent, it vaguely resembles the Ochraceous Bulbul Criniger ochraceus,  but it is smaller, quieter, and more of a canopy bird.

Susan Myers classified this under Cinereous Bulbul Hemixos cinereus connectens following Fishpool & Tobias (2005) who separated the Sunda (Borneo, Sumatra and Malay Peninsula) forms from those of Himalayas, China, and Southeast Asia under cinereus.

Both Clive Mann and Quentin Phillips rejected Fishpool & Tobias and treated this as Hemixos flavala connectens as the Borneo race is quite unlike the dull grey Cinereous Bulbul of Sumatra and Malay Peninsula and is a potential Bornean endemic with the scientific name Hemixos connectens and a proposed common name of Sociable Bulbul.

Interestingly, Craig Robson also rejected Fishpool & Tobias and continued to treat the cinereus race that occurs  southwards from Southern Thailands as Hemixos flavala cinereus with common name Ashy Bulbul in his latest Birds of Southeast Asia.

Here is the bird photographed in montane forest of Rafflesia Centre.
Here is the bird photographed in lowland forest near Tawau.

May be sometime in the near future we get to welcome the new endemic bulbul of Borneo.

Happy birding.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Chestnut-crested Yuniha's nest

Chestnut-crested Yuniha Yuhina everetti, locally common endemic submontane and montane resident, from close to sea level in valleys in mountainous areas, up to 2,800m.

Whitehead described its nest as occurring in small holes in river banks and at similar sites. The nest is composed of moss and lined with fine roots. Nests frequently occur along trail embankments in Kinabalu Park. 

This nest was seen along Jalan Tambunan near Rafflesia Information Centre in late August. It was constructed along the road embankment, more than 10 meters from the road on the cut out hill slope, two birds were seen busy carrying nesting materials. Photographs were taken from far away and no attempt was made to get near to see the inside of the nesting hole.
Happy birding.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mountain Imperial Pigeon

Mountain Imperial Pigeon Ducula badia, is found over a large part of southern mainland Asia, as well as the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Borneo and Java. 

In Borneo, usually a montane bird but occasionally found in lowland coast. In montane forests, resident from about 900 metres up to 2,450 metres.

Usually seen singly in the mountains, however, large flocks numbering up to hundreds individuals have been seen in mangrove along the coast.

Individuals may also make daily flights to lowlands forest or mangroves to feed, and such flights are dependent on the fruiting cycles in the mountains and the lowlands. They are thought to return to montane forest each night to roost, and probably remain in the mountains when incubating eggs or attending young.

This Mountain Imperial Pigeon was photographed in Rafflesia Information Centre, my new photographed wild birds of Borneo.

Happy birding.