Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Overdue Overseas Report

Sorry for the delay in getting this posted. My old computer finally gave up the ghost and I just got a fancy new Asus laptop delivered yesterday. I couldn't process photos on the old machine and I know that most of the readers of this blog read it for the pictures rather than the text. Anyway, here goes. . .

I started to tell you about our birding experience in Malaysia but got sidetracked with the leech story. We did see birds - 80+ species in 2 days. Some of those were "heard only" birds. This is deep forest birding where it is impossible to see birds that are more than 10 yards away from the road. Our guide helped us identify the sounds and also helped to call the birds out to the road so that we could see some of them. There are a few categories of birds that are very common in this area. Flowerpeckers fill up a page in the field guide. The first real bird that we saw was Orange-breasted Flowerpecker. This bird is a)great looking, and b)easy to see because it likes feed in low bushes on the roadside.

Orange-breasted Flowerpecker
The next Flowerpecker was this Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker. Same as above, pretty and easy (sounds like a few of my high school friends). 

Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker
The next group of birds takes up 3 pages in the field guide - the Babblers. Babblers are much harder to see. They skulk in the low, dark, bushy areas of the forest. Mostly, we heard these birds and saw fleeting glimpses of them as they darted through the underbrush. This fellow popped out for a few seconds - Short-tailed Babbler that really has a short tail.

Short-tailed Babbler
The third category of birds that dominates all sightings are the Bulbuls. Bulbuls come in all shapes and sizes, but are mainly drab and boring like this Buff-vented Bulbul ("vent" means ass or rectum) which on this bird is buffy. We saw many of these and many other species of Bulbul on the trip.

Buff-vented Bulbul
There are other birds in the forest that are much easier to spot. They are big and loud and easy (much like other friends of mine). One category of big birds are the Malkoas. We saw a few species of these including this Black-bellied Malkoa which is the hardest to find.

Black-bellied Malkoa
And this Chestnut-bellied Malkoa. I love the schnoz on this bird. Reminds me of Jimmy Durante. Ha-cha-cha-cha.

Chestnut-bellied Malkoa
Another easy bird to spot is this fancifully colored woodpecker. It is a large bird with crimson wings, crimson crown and yellow mowhawk (like some of my friends from the 80's). How can you not love this bird?
Crimson-winged Woodpecker
We basically drove up and down the same dirt roads in the forest and stopped where ever we heard bird activity or saw a bird or other animal along the road. Our guide, Con knew the place inside and out. He would stop at places along the road where he knew a particular bird frequented or nested. He was able to help us find a few Broadbills which are pretty cool looking birds. There are 4 species of Broadbills in this area. We were able to see 3 of them including these 2. First is Dusky Broadbill. This is a juvenile bird that was begging food from Mom and Dad. He looks like a dope.

Dusky Broadbill
This is the only bird that I can think of that is purple. The photo doesn't do it justice. You can only see the purple around the head and the light blue beak. Not sure why it is called Banded Broadbill and not Purple Broadbill. Stunning in real life. We watched this bird going in and out of its nest.
Banded Broadbill
Another very colorful bird is this Pale-blue Flycatcher. It also has a pretty song unlike most flycatchers in the US. The pale blue really shows up in the green forest. 

Asia doesn't have any hummingbirds but they have a category of bird called Bee-eaters. Bee-eaters are very colorful birds that remind me of hummers. This photo is terrible but you can kind of see the blue throat that gives this bird its name - Blue-throated Bee-eater.

Blue-throated Bee-eater
There were many other animals in the forest. I'll post about those tomorrow.

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