Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bird with Sifu Jason in Kota Kinabalu areas

I was in Kota Kinabalu for some personal matters and took time off to photograph some birds with Sifu Jason, Sifu agreed to fetch me to visit all those interesting places and thanks to him, I managed to get three lifers in 24 hours.

First we got this Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus (my lifer) at Tanjong Aru at late afternoon, when the sky was heavily overcast and a storm was brewing. There were about ten of them there, in winter plumages and mostly first winter birds, flying above the shallow sea  occasionally diving for the surface for food.

Black-headed Gulls are very scarce winter visitor to coast of northern Borneo, however, despite scarce, they are quite regular along coasts of Sabah during the migratory season.

 Black-headed Gull

Common Teal Anas Crecca (my lifer) was photographed at Tuaran the next morning. A pair was seen there, the male bird was in the process of moulting into summer plumage, leisurely preening amongst the thick weeds growing on the unplanted paddy field.

Common Teal is a vagrant of Borneo, 4 records before this, only one from Sabah at Padas Damit in December 1984. This is the second record in Sabah.
 Common Teal - Male (top), Female (bottom)

A Common Kingfisher was also feeding from a stick placed in the middle of the flooded paddyfield.
 Common Kingfisher

After photographing this beauty, we left to look for the earlier spotted Garganey Anas querquedula , Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata and Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula but they were no where to be found. Hope they have made their way back to their respective homelands and not trapped and ended in dinner plates of some uninformed farmers.

Hoping to have a glimpse of the Buff-banded Rail Gallirallus philippensis, Tampasok plain was our next destination,  this bird too was not seen but the place was rife with activities.

A group of otherwise foraging Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus took flight, flashed by the fastest raptor in the world from above, the migratory Peregrine Falcon Falco pereginus, who was looking for lunch.
Black-winged Stilt

Its lunch was an unlucky White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus.
 Peregrine Falcon

Yellow Wagtails Motacilla flava, an abundant passage migrant,  can be seen in some open fields in Tawau, where it is often seen singly, in Tampasuk, they are all over the place, all seen were of the race tsuchutschensis,  flying and perching on dried paddy straw.
Yellow Wagtail

A hovering Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus was looking for lunch as well.
Black-winged Kite

We too went to lunch and later dropped by at Lok Kawi. We were handsomely rewarded with this rare Chinese Egret Egretta eulophotes (my lifer), which I have been trying to photograph for quite a while. This elegant looking bird was oblivious of our presence while busy feeding close to the shore.
Chinese Egret

Chinese Egrets are uncommon winter visitor to Borneo, IUCN red list status is vulnerable due to lost of habitats to human economic activities.

Happy birding.

Photodocument of Wild Birds of Borneo

Standard References for my blog

Friday, January 14, 2011

Brush Cuckoo

Brush Cuckoo Cacomantis variolosus sepulcralis is an uncommon and local resident of lowlands and lower montane forests in Borneo.

Quite similar looking  to the commoner Plantive Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus, except for its rufous throat against the grey throat of the Plantive, other than this the plumages of the two birds look very similar.

Brush Cuckoo has a Wee-fu-wee, wee-fu-wit call which sounds very similar to one of Plantive Cuckoo's calls.

This is my new bird photographed in Tawau, it flew in for a few seconds and left, than was heard calling from far away never to return for another shot.

Taxonomic note: Treating this as a sub-species of C. variolosus follows Mann (2009).
Happy birding.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Immature Black Eagle

When I first looked at this bird I thought it was a pale morph Changeable Hawk Eagle Spizaetus cirrhatus,  a common raptor here in forests near Tawau. However, on detailed inspection, I noted a few features which indicated it to be a different raptor.

The adult of  Black Eagle Ictinaetus malayensis is unmistakable in flight, its yellow feet together with the equally yellow cere and gape is striking against the otherwise blackish bird. However, images of immature birds are not as commonly seen. The following two images of an immature Black Eagle were taken about one month apart, I suspected they were of the same bird.

I concluded this is an immature Black Eagle, may be a second year bird, based on the following, however, all other opinions are welcomed.

1. Yellow cere and gape.
2. Evident whitish patch at base to outer primaries.
3. Blacky streaked breast and underbody.
4. Darkly barred remages against paler wing-linings, and
5. The shape of the wings and the longish fingers.

Here is a closer image showing the yellow cere and gape.

Happy birding.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Three Kingfishers of Tawau Hills Parks

We were alerted of the presence of a Banded Kingfisher Lacedo pulchella by our good friend, Mr. Gary Albert, at the hanging bridge in Tawau Hills Parks last October.

Since I have not seen a Banded Kingfisher nor have it in my photo collections, we set out to try our luck there, however, luck was not with us despite a few visits. The Banded Kingfisher was heard a couple of times but was never seen, so must try harder in 2011.

Our attempts, however,  resulted in the following three Kingfishers.

Stork-billed Kingfisher Pelargopsis capensis innominata, however, this form is included in cyanopteryx by some authors. This differs from the Peninsular race by lacking the contrasting brown cap and side of head. The Bornean race is also slightly smaller at 35 cm compare to 37cm to 41 cm of the peninsular race.

Stork-billed Kingfisher

Blue-eared Kingfisher Alcedo meninting verreauxi, a bird that is common along the Kinabatangan river and its tributaries, one of the star birds on any visit there. I am glad that it is also here at Tawau Hills Park.
Blue-eared Kingfisher

Oriental-dwarf Kingfisher Ceyx erithaca, jewel of the forest, taxonomy is still unfinalised among some authors.

Basically there are two forms in Borneo, the form that is shown here, being the commoner one with darker wings and a rarer form with rufous wings, and out of these two forms there exist many variable plumages and many features that are evident of cross hybridization. As a result you would see authors using Black-backed Kingfisher Cyex erithaca , Rufous-backed Kingfisher Ceyx rufidorsa motleyi and Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher Cyex erihaca and/or Ceyx rufidorsa in their various books for this sepcies.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Lantern Bugs

Lantern Bugs are so named because many species exhibit bright red/orange colours at their  bulbous  tips,  bearing  resemblance to a glowing torch or lantern.

Lantern bugs Fulgoridae belong to the order Hemiptera which also includes cicada, aphids etc. Insect of this order share a common arrangement of sucking mouthparts, in this case,  the form of a proboscis.

From Wikipedia:

The family Fulgoridae is a large group of hemipteran insects, especially abundant and diverse in the tropics, containing over 125 genera worldwide. They are mostly of moderate to large size, many with a superficial resemblance to Lepidoptera due to their brilliant and varied coloration. Various genera and species (especially the genera Fulgora and Pyrops) are sometimes referred to as lantern flies, though they do not emit light.

The head of some species is produced into a hollow process, resembling a snout, which is sometimes inflated and nearly as large as the body of the insect, sometimes elongated, narrow and apically upturned. It was believed, mainly on the authority of Maria Sibylla Merian, that this process, the so-called lantern, was luminous at night. Linnaeus adopted the statement without question and coined a number of specific names, such as laternaria, phosphorea and candelaria to illustrate the supposed fact, and thus aided in promoting a belief which centuries of observations have failed to confirm.

Happy birding.