Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Brown Fulvetta

Brown Fulvetta (14 cm) Alcippe brunneicauda is widespread lowland and submontane resident of Borneo.

It is generally uncommon and usually found in small parties feeding in mid-storey. It could be underecorded as its call , an up and down series of notes : do-di-do-di-do-di-do, is one of the commonest one can hear in the Sabah forest.

It is a similar looking bird to the Mangrove Whistler Pachycephala cinerea, but should not be mistaken in the field because of distinctive habitats and songs.

Smythies listed A.b. brunneicauda for North Natunas and North-west Borneo, A. b. eriphaea elsewhere.

Myers lists this as monotypic, while Mann follows Smythies while maintaining that the race eriphaea might not be valid as the boundary between the two forms is unclear and they are also poorly differentiated.

One observation is that Phillipps does not list this in both his Common name and Scienticfic name indices in his book.

This bird was photographed in Tawau (my new bird), one among the small party that came to feed. Like other babblers, they are active birds and to get a sharp and infocus shot is a real test to your skill.
Happy birding.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

New Barn Swallow race in Borneo ?

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica, occurs almost globally, is an abundant winter visitor to Borneo, recorded over all habitats from sea level to mountain peaks, and from offshore islands.

Some birds in Borneo during the winter months are in moulting plumage without their diagnostic long tail streamers, they can look similar to juvenile/immature birds in this plumage.

Here are some images of either moulting birds or juvenile birds, I am not sure, they may be all immature birds.
Here is how the adult should look like when not in moult, with its diagnostic breast-band and tail streamers.
The race usually recorded in Borneo is H. r. gutturalis, all the above birds should belong to this race, it occurs across China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea Kuril Island and lower Amur river.

H. r. tyleri,  another race which mainly breeds in South Central Siberia, Mongolia and North East China has been recorded in Myanmar, Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia. This race has dusky brick orange over its entire underparts compare to whitish or buffish underparts of the gutturalis race. This race has not been documented in Borneo as yet as it is not mentioned in Smythies, Mann, Phillipps and Myers in their respective publications.

The following bird photographed in Tawau is evidently from the race tyleri by virtue of its distinctive underparts coloring. It could be a regular visitor here, but due to its abundance, it could have been overlooked by most birders.
Edited to add: Thanks to Dave B., who raised the point on the races of satuata and  mandschurica. This might very well be the former, but the the two races might not be always separable.

Happy birding.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Chestnut-cheeked Starling

Chestnut-cheeked Starling Sturnus philippensis, a very local winter visitor to Borneo, usually flock with Asian Glossy Starling Aplonis panayensis.

Its appearance in Borneo is somewhat irregular, not seen in some years, while large flocks were seen roosting in other years, however, it is a very regular visitor to the Philippines,

It breeds in Japan, from Central Honshu to Hokkaido, South Sakhalin and South Kuril Island from April to October, winters in Southeast Asia and the Philippines.

These images of this species were taken near Rainforest Discovery Centre, Sepilok, Sandakan in October (My new bird). They were seen flocking with a flock of Asian Glossy Starling.

Happy birding.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bornean Short Python

Bornean Short Python or Short-tailed Python Python breitensteini is a small python, grows to 2 meters, inhibits edges of waterbodies, such as sluggish rivers, swamps and marshes in lowland tropical forests, where they ambush small mammals and birds.

Chinese call this Piglet Python as it looks fat and short, resembling a piglet, against the long Reticulated Python Python reticulatus, which grows to 10 meters in length.

It is endemic to Borneo and known from Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei and Kalimantan.

We encountered this beauty when we were photographing birds, it was crossing the access road, slowly and steadily.

Happy birding.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tree Monitor - prelude

Further to my earlier post of the Tree Monitor. My good friend, Mr. K O Ku, generously allow me to share these few shots taken by him when the Changeable Hawk Eagle was trying to secure its dinner.

 Holding the Tree Monitor under its claws.
 Struggling to lift its prey on our approach.

Dropped it and watch out for the human approaching.
 The Tree Monitor seems to have expanded in size and 
the Hawk Eagle must have decided by than to leave as the dinner is too hard to secure.

Happy birding.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tree Monitor

Monitors are the largest of the living lizards. They are swift and active predators of small mammals, birds, bird eggs,  reptiles, amphibians, as well as invertebrates. The Water Monitor Varanus salvator, growing up to 3 meters in length,  is one of the three largest lizards in the world. I have seen large Water Monitors along the tributaries of Kinabatangan, which easily measures up to 3 meters,

Tree Monitor Varanus rudicollis, on the other hand, only grows to about 1.5 meters, half the size of the Water Monitor.

It is a dark, rough necked monitor, widespread in the lowlands. However, many people might not have seen one as it inhibits the forests.

Water Monitor, on the other hand, is widespread but also inhibits in urban environments like rubbish dumps, urban marginal swamps, sewage drains and moonsoon drains adjacent to motorways, is regularly seen and is the commonest road-kills.

This young Tree Monitor was under the claws of a  Changeable Hawk Eagle Spizaetus cirrhatus, but it was too big and heavy for the bird to lift it up into the air. The bird abandoned it while we were approaching. It was quite exhausted and we managed to take some photos before it disappeared itself into the thick undergrowth.

Tree Monitor

Compare to the following picture of a Water Monitor.
Water Monitor

And the Changeable Hawk Eagle that lost its dinner.
Changeable Hawk Eagle

Happy birding.