Mike Birder - Malaysian Birds


Welcome to my Malaysian Birding Blog. I migrated to blogspot.com as my blog at multiply.com closed shop in 2012. I wish to showcase all Malaysian birds that I have photographed whether here or overseas. My countdown of lifers started in 2005. As of January 2017 my countdown of lifers photograph has reached
470/668 species of birds of Malaysia.

My shooting gear are a EF400mm f4 DO lens and Canon 7D body which to me is the ideal setup for mobility and bird chasing. Eventhen the weight over my shoulder is more that 5.5 kg. As of June 2016 I have also acquired a Fuji XF 100-400mm OIS lens to complement my travelling cum birding trip overseas. The Fuji X-T2 is now in hand ; the weight over my shoulder is much lighter now.

I am a weekend birder. Do feel free to drop me a line at mikebirding@gmail.com and I see whether you can tag along in my outings. My usual day trip is just an hour ride away to Hulu Langat, Lancang Kemensah, Krau, Awana, Hulu Kali, Gombak Ole Road, Fraser's Hill , Bukit Tinggi and KSNP & Coastal Sg Janggut . Overnite trip to Merapoh & Cameron, Air Hitam and further north to Kuala Sidim is a seldom affair and when the family permit. Panti in Johor is another good birding site that I yet to go. Then there are the Borneo birds of Sabah and Sarawak of Malaysia which I seriously much go to chalk up more lifers

WARNING Birding is an addiction once you started its hard to stop. The wifey and children are now birding widow and orphan.


Search for Malaysian Bird Photos

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Avian Sighting- Purple-throated Sunbird

One of my elusive bird that I have yet to shoot in the wild is this  Purple Throated Sunbird. The opportunity came at Cyberjaya in the month of March 2017

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

SHRIKE 3/3 - Long-tailed Shrike

Long-tailed Shrike

This is the one of the three Shrike species you can see in Malaysia. It is recorded as a resident in  my beloved country ...... actually very rare to see it  my side of the KL/Selangor usually in northern state of the  Peninsula. It do breed in Malay Peninsula. Easier to see in Thailand. In my case I saw it in Jogyakarta as a caged bird. A beautiful shrike with its long tail probably the Longicaudatus.
It is about 27- 28cm in length. China has the largest population race amongst the nine subspecies . Sexes similar or nearly so. Head and mantle are dark gray, back and rump are rufous; tail is long, black, and graduated; wings are dark with conspicuous white primary patches. Underparts are whitish, strongly tinged with rufous on the sides of breast and flanks. Erythronotus, widespread in central Asia and in the Indian subcontinent, is similar, but distinctly smaller, somewhat duller, and with a narrower black band on the forehead. Caniceps from southern India and Sri Lanka is paler, with less rufous on its upperparts. Race tricolor is a superb Himalayan bird; it bears a black cap, shows a small grayish area on upper mantle, and has mainly deep rufous upperparts. It is rather similar to the three insular races. Race longicaudatus from Thailand has a very long tail. Remarkably, in certain areas, nominate has a melanistic form called fuscatus; mixed pairs have been recorded. Peninsula is called the l.s. Bentet........

A scrub jungle bird, but also associated with lightly wooded country, cultivated areas, and gardens. Generally a bird of lowlands, but in the Himalayas, tricolor populations have been found up to 9,800 ft (3,000 m) and occasionally up to 14,000 ft (4,300 m). Nominate breeds up to 9,800 ft (3,000 m) in China.

My new sighting in MalimNawar Feb 2017 is my first shot of this specie in the wild 

Monday, 6 March 2017

Avian Sighting - Crimson Sunbird

Some say there were 3 males seen at the  same area of this Lakeside Garden in Cyberjaya. Besides that there are other species like the Purple-throated, Brown-throated and Olive-backed. The latter did show up but the aggressive Crimson  chase it away.

Photo3  below is the female

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

PIPIT 3/5 - Blyth's Pipit

Lifer 471 - Can you believe it, this is the second record that this visiting  bird is been photographed in Peninsula. The first time was in Chuping Perlis by yours truly Dave B.That was in the year 2010. On that occasion  it was a day affair and the bird was not to be seen in the vast sugarcane plantation after that. It most probably was there but its like  a needle in the haystack to find it.

Coming forward to 2017 surprise!  it came this far south.... this is the first time it is been photographed in Perak central peninsula . The good thing is that it stayed for a good part of January until now. Though it is very cautious and vigilant of the humankind and other predators around, it has carved out a  niche at Malim Nawar birding site.

Usually the MO to shoot this bird is from your car. Anytime you embark and walk openly to shoot, it will fly to safety like wagtails usually do. So a good beanbag or pillow over your side window screen helps.

Now if you see a pipit feeding as shown in  the pictures below chances is that its a  Blyth's. This bird tends to jump to pluck seeds to eat in this case the mimosa. The other Paddyfield's Pipit prefers to take grubs and dropped grass seeds from the ground. The bird was seen to be quite aggressive. It would chased away the other pipits but not the grey wagtail which it allowed it into its territory. Paddyfield's usually are seen in a pair whilst the Blyth's keep to itself during visiting Malaysia.


Avian ID - Identifying a Blyth's Pipit

To identify rare pipit to Malaysia like Richard's and Blyth's is very challenging in the field. More often that the two we see  are the common Paddyfield's Pipit. So extracting from David Bakewell's blog who is our local  re-known birder - a concise pictograph to identify a Blyth's Pipit is attached . I hope he don't mind as I too wants to propagate his knowledge and expertise to all fellow birders.

Photo 1 : The streaking on the head is way too weak and faint & ear coverts too dark...........failed

Photo 2 - The beak is conical but way too long.........failed

Picture 3 is another Paddyfield Pipit the lore is dark and streaking on breast too distinct .........failed

Picture 4 &5 are the Real McCoy Can you notice the differences.....

It is unfortunate that the Blyth's Pipit is moulting and new feathers are overlapping that you cannot see the medians on the right profile of the bird. 

Sunday, 26 February 2017

PELAGIC 3/30 - Little Tern

Are there Whiskered Tern amongst them?. I was able to shoot them from 80 ft away when the tides came in at about before noon at Kuala Kedah. Before that they were skimming the seashore 200m /500 ft out. They do have to rest and this give me an opportunity to shoot them. It was a colony of about 30-40 terns.

The Little Tern is a small, slender, migratory or partly migratory seabird. At less than 25 cm long it is small amongst tern species Pale grey upperparts contrast with the white chest, underbelly and the moderately long, deeply forked tail.

The Little Tern has a black cap and black outer wing-edges. Can be seen in flight. During breeding the bill (26 - 32 mm) and legs change from black to yellow, and a black wedge appears from the bill to the eye. During non-breeding, the Little Tern’s black cap shrinks to a black nape and its bill becomes black. No record of breeding here in Peninsula.

Their location and habitat distribution are :-
Ours is the Sinensis subspecies migrating from Eastern Asia, in Sept-November the Little Tern is found in Peninsula until Western Australia South Australia. It breeds in spring and summer along the entire east coast from Tasmania to northern Queensland, and is seen until May, with only occasional birds seen in winter months.

Their Habitat and ecology:-
Almost exclusively coastal, preferring sheltered environments; however may occur several kilometres from the sea in harbours, inlets and rivers (with occasional offshore islands or coral cay records). Nests in small, scattered colonies in low dunes or on sandy beaches just above high tide mark near estuary mouths or adjacent to coastal lakes and islands. The nest is a scrape in the sand, which may be lined with shell grit, seaweed or small pebbles.
Both parents incubate up to three well-camouflaged eggs for up to 22 days, aggressively defending the nest against intruders until the young fledge at 17 - 19 days. Often seen feeding in flocks, foraging for small fish, crustaceans, insects, annelids and molluscs by plunging in the shallow water of channels and estuaries, and in the surf on beaches, or skipping over the water surface with a swallow-like flight.

New sighting at Malim Nawar February 2017

Friday, 24 February 2017

DUCK 10/15 - Northern Pintail

 Another vagrant duck had landed in Perak's many mining ponds. It arrived in December 2016 and I as usual got the news very late in February 2017. Lucky me the duck stayed for me. The one seen was the Male. If it was the female I may have mistaken it as  a common duck. Its supposed to be gregarious when not in breeding so why one only seen here in Malim Nawar. There were plenty of whistling ducks here though. This will be my malaysian bird lifer no 470. Yippy!!! well effort must be taken to travel all corners of peninsula if you really want to get lifers. 

This dabbling duck breeds across northern areas of Eurasia south to about Poland and Mongolia, and in Canada Alaska and the midwest USA. Mainly migrating south of its breeding range during the northern hemisphere winter period Dec-March, reaching  the equator.

Among the most handsome of all ducks, the northern pintail (Anas acuta) is recognised by its slender build, long, elegant neck and elongated, spiky central tail feathers, a feature that gives rise to its common name. A graceful waterbird with long, narrow wings, during the breeding season the male northern pintail has a chocolate-brown head, white underparts and a white neck, with a thin, white line extending up the back of the neck, and a long, black tail bordered by yellowish-tan patches. The upper back and sides are grey, the lower back feathers are black with pale edges, and the rear of the wing is bronze-greenish, with a black band and white rear edge. The eyes are dark brown and the legs are grey. At other times of the year, the male northern pintail has duller, brownish plumage, with fine, dark streaks on the neck and broad, dark barring on the upperparts. The female northern pintail lacks the colourful plumage of the male, with largely brown upperparts, a tan crown and face, whitish underparts, and a bronzy-greenish band on the rear of the wing, as well as bluish-grey legs and a dull black bill. 

Walking or running with a slight waddle, the northern pintail is actually quite agile on land, but is most graceful and acrobatic in flight. It is able to achieve great speeds while flying, earning the species the nickname ‘greyhound of the air’ . The northern pintail is a rather quiet bird, but the male may emit a mellow, whistled “kwee” or “kwee-hee”, while the female produces a hoarse, muffled “quack”.

The Encounter

After seeing WaiMun's posting it was my turn to try my luck and with some guidance from my Ipoh sifu and MNS Perak folks the encounter begins......... 

I reached the site a bit late in the morning at almost 9.00am from KL. There was nobody there in the weekday. From the car I scan the pond for more than 10 mins but could not spot the duck in the pond. I could only see little grebe and some whistling ducks. I was worried  it may had  left the scene; then there were some movement at the opposite bank and walla my lifer came into view and I was exuberating excited. The duck was preening itself for quite sometime as I quickly took some record shoots just in case. It has yet to go into the pond and I quickly mounted my gears and  in I go to set up position at the right side of the pond. The MO is to stride crouching  the ground  and using the embankment to hide from its view. Almost halfway up the pondside I cannot go further as the duck was in view of me. I stop there  in sitting position so that I am less intimidating and waited. Less than a minute the duck started out into the pond as it notice my position. It did not come close but swim keeping a constant distance. Then a buffalo cowherd on its motobike passes by the pond and it waddle into the middle of the pond and  nearer toward me. What luck as I shoot away.  Even then it was still far out. All pictures here heavily crop as I was shooting at about 200 ft out to the pond. I left about half an hour of shooting it as not to harass it so much. The end of my encounter............

Digiscoping at 1200-1600mm (3 x my  400mm set up) will yield beautiful feather features.  Otherwise to shoot full frame detail photos you need to use a hide and set up as early as 6.30-7.00 am when its still dark and wait.  I really cannot afford the time. I totally forgot to bring  my broken Nikon P900 but usable if not I would have better pictures.