Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pelagic Birding 3rd December 2011

We went again on 3rd December 2011, to yet another pelagic birding trip, hoping to see more of our migrating avian friends, as a Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia, a rare Borneo vagrant, was photographed in Tawau by two of my birding sifus a few days earlier.

The number of birds seen on this trip was only a little more than our previous trip (reported here), nothing much to shout about. However, I had a consolation in photographing a Lesser Crested Tern Sterna bengalensis as my lifer.

Here are the birds seen that day.

 Greater Crested Tern, a few seen flying around the boat.
 Lesser Crested Tern, a few seen.
 The lone Aleutian Tern in winter plumage.
 A low flying female Lesser Frigatebird. There was a large group of them.
 One of the handful of Common Tern

Black-headed Gull, the only gull positively recorded in Borneo.  I took this picture of one that was very far away, after noticing the different wings colors of this bird. A handful of them was in west coast of Sabah last year, see here.

 Adult winter Black-headed Gull
Happy birding.

Photodocument of Wild Birds of Borneo.

Standard References for my blog.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Field identification of Scaly-crowned and Rufous-crowned Babbler

Scaly-crowned Babbler Malacopteron cinereum is a common babbler in primary forests.

The very similar Rufous-crowned Babbler Malacopteron magnum, however, is common in all type of forests in Borneo. They occur side-by-side in the same habitat and in almost identical elevation.

Population of both species dropped after logging, with Scaly-crowned Babbler dropped drastically.

In Tawau, we often bird in logged and secondary forests, Rofous-crowned Babbler is commonly encountered, its melodious song is often heard,  Scaly-crowned Babbler, on the other hand, is seldom seen.

Field identification to distinguish the two is not difficult as Scaly-crowned Babbler has pale pinkish legs and pale lower mandible while Rufous-crowned Babbler has dark legs and without pale lower mandible. Another ID feature is the dark tipped crown feathers of Scaly-crowned Babbler, however, this might not be easy to observe in the field.

 Rufous-crowned Babbler showing, 1. dark legs, 2. dark lower mandible and, 3. lack of black-tipped crown feathers
 Scaly-crowned Babbler showing pale legs and pale lower mandible.
 Black-tipped crown feathers and pale lower mandible of Scaly-crowned Babbler.

Happy birding.

Photodocument of Wild Birds of Borneo.

Standard References for my blog.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Roulroul Rollulus rouloul or Crested Partridge is stated to be the commonest partridge in Borneo. However, their habit of foraging terrestrially in thick undergrowth under deep forest cover makes them very hard to spot and observe.

They usually forage in small flock, leisurely walking and scratching on dark forest floor. The female was more daring to move about, it could forage within feet of a stationery observer. The male bird, on the other hand, was much shyer and was hidden under deep cover most of the time.

To photograph them is another matter as the dim light and their constant movements require a reasonaly high shutter speed which can only be achieved with combination of expensive fast lenses and high ISO capabled pro-level camera.

This photo was taken with my D300 set to ISO3200 with my old 70-200 f2.8 lens, that was the best my set could do. The result was only just good enough for record.

Happy birding.

Photodocument of Wild Birds of Borneo.

Standard References for my blog.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Some waders at Tinagat, Tawau end November 2011

It is the migrating season again, visits to Tinagat beach were rewarded with these waders.

I managed to record a new lifer, Grey-tailed Tattler Heteroscelis brevipes.

 A section of the hundreds of Great Knot, which is the commonest waders here.
 Grey-tailed Tattler, my lifer.
 Two Great Egrets, showing the range in size.
 Lesser Frigatebird, L to R, adult ♀, adult ♂ and immature.
 Eurasian Curlew
 Eurasian Curlew, showing its diagnostic white rump.
 Broad-billed Sandpiper
 Terek Sandpiper
 Bar-tailed Godwit with a Great Knot
 Pond Heron, suspected to be Chinese instead of Javan as they are only around during the northern winter, however, it is not possible to positively confirm in this eclipse plumage.
 Common Redshank
 A composite of diving Little Tern
 A Mangrove Skink Emoia atrocostata
 Common Greenshank
Far-eastern Curlew.
Happy birding.

Photodocument of Wild Birds of Borneo.

Standard References for my blog.