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 April 2018 my countdown of lifers photograph has reached
494/688 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 by 30%.

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 Jeram side of the coast . Overnite trip to Merapoh & Cameron, Air Hitam and further north to Kuala Sidim is a seldom affair but for lifer we travel. 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.



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Thursday, 25 July 2013

PITTA 4/7 - Garnet Pitta

Garnet Pitta
This is my Pitta no 4 with 3 more to go for peninsula Malaysia. In Borneo Sabah & Sarawak you can see another few more.
Stumbled upon it while hunting for lifer in Bukit Lancang vast lowland forest. Garnet Pitta like others Pittas live alone until breeding & nesting season which falls from Mar-August of the year. It must be wandering around looking for mate when I bumped into it.

Because of this bird I got lost in the forest fringe for almost an hour. It was a frightening experience. You literally freak out in cold sweat when suddenly the trail became cold and the jungle swallow all sight of markers laid out. I was walking in circles and I was damn lucky to hit one of my marker later. Keeping calm I slowly back track my path out. And thanks to my bird luck that I make it out in one piece. Lesson learned the next time I better make sure I have my compass and a GPS tracker in tow.

Now back to this resident bird. Garnet Pitta go for fruits and grubs that it forage in middle to low canopy and on the ground.. It is an agile bird hopping and flying onto branches in thick lowlight forest unlike its cousins which mainly stays on the ground. However it do nest in earth burrow or dead tree trunks or overgrown shrubby embankment of dry creeks & waterways. It is 16 cm or 6 inches in length with a striking red crown, dark face and maroon belly. It has a distinctly loud monotony "whuuuit " call distinctly loud.

Here's reminding you - do not bird alone in unchartered forest............good luck.

PITTA 3/7 - Blue-winged Pitta

 Blue-winged Pitta

Kemensah is getting to be my favorite birding area. Wandered into anew pathway along a creek of sort and stumbled upon this Pitta. Almost the same features with the local resident Mangrove Pitta but shorter beak and having a blackish streak crown

It is a passing migrant the size of a fat Myna 20cm/8 inches with beautiful colors. It a ground feeder along stream and mud creek in broadleaved forest gardens and plantation/mangrove


Thursday, 11 July 2013

WARBLER 7/15 - Yellow-bellied Warbler

 Yellow-bellied Warbler

Used to be common bird at Awana Trail according to Jason. First time seeing it though. The second lifer for the weekend. There were 2 pairs flirting around me up down they go. Manage one decent short.


WARBLER 6/15 - Mountain leaf Warbler

 Mountain Leaf Warbler
Caught this bird in a bird wave at Gunung Brincang Cameron. Very misty that late morning bunching with rowdy black-eared shrikebabblers, golden warblers and mountain fulvetta. Very exciting times then

The one I got is a juvenile. A mature one will be brighter in color and the head bars darker. It comes down to middle storey so lucky to get it. The bird is a resident of Malaysia ......... prefer higher altitude above 1200m wet dim montane forest. Never can see it in Awana/ Bkt Tinggi

The rarer Warbler is the Eastern Crowned Warbler which is a passage migrant to our lowlands upto 1,800m


WARBLER5/15 - Eastern-crowned Warbler

Eastern-crowned Warbler

The month of September 2010 seem to welcome the early migrants to Malaysia. amongst them is the uncommon Eastern Crowned Warbler. It was seen foraging in a birdwave of local birds of Mountain fulvettas, Chestnut-capped LT, Nitava and Barbets and Tailorbird at the end of Ole Pumphouse Road. Yes it is open!!
The Asian Paradise FC was also sighted but shied to the valley below as well as the Yellow-rumped FC. No visiting Thrush as yet....................

Back to this Warbler; well it looks like the more common Artic Warbler except it has a distinct pale crown stripe besides the single bar stripe to its covert of its wings. Size about the same 13cm. Very active as it forage like Tailorbird looking for grubs under leaves and branches. EC supposedly preferred the lowlands when visiting.

Next to hunt for the other visitor - the greenish Two-barred Warbler.............


WARBLER 4/15 - Chestnut-crowned Warbler

 Chestnut-crowned Warbler

Warbler is another difficult bird to photograph for it never stay put for you to focus on and worse they tends to keep in the shades of vegetation. So a flash is a must. Even then never get any sharp photos. The approach is to move upfront of its path with some possible opening and hope for bird luck that it land on it if only they can read your mind.............

Chestnut-crowned Warbler is found both in montane and lowland forest. It is a fairly common to see it in birdwaves. In this case joining a bunch of Golden Babbler in Awana.

It is a small bird of less than 4 inches/10cm with a white eyering and grey neck and chest.


WARBLER 3/15 - Yellow-breasted Warbler

 Yellow-breasted Warbler

I was rummaging through my Awana photos again and to review some of the blurred out shots like these one Heh! its a lifer.Apparently it is a uncommon resident of Peninsula Malaysia. Found only in montane forest above 1200m until 2300m. So Ulu Kali is the Place now besides Gunung Brincang Cameron to see this bird.

They were in a birdwave of Golden Babblers, Fulvetta and Minivets. Earlier thought they were Black-eared Shrike-babblers. Turns out they are not. Unlike other Warblers these guys came low to the roadside undergrowths but alas poor lighting shooting at 1/10s ISO 800.

It is a small bird of less than 4 inches or 9.5cm. It has similar calls of the Chestnut-crowned Warbler. Beautiful rufous face & head with a black brow and white eyering. Breeding season is in the months of Jan-July which they build their dome nest in crevices/ holes in water banks.


WARBLER 2/15 - Oriental Reed Warbler

 Oriental Reed Warbler

WARBLER 1/ 15 - Yellow-browed Warbler

 Yellow-browed Warbler

This is a better sighting from what i got last month but still cannot get close to what Madi got. The bird is still around at Ulu Kali beside a juvenile male Siberian Thrush. Both are laggers which are reluctant to return home.

The Yellow-browed Warbler is a winter visitor to peninsula Malaysia from temperate northern states mainly coming from China, Mongolia and Siberia. when visiting they prefer the montane forest above 1600m Like many other leaf warblers, it has overall greenish upperparts and white underparts. It also has prominent double wing bars formed by yellowish-white tips to the wing covert feathers (a long bar on the greater coverts and a short bar on the median coverts), yellow-margined tertial feathers, and long yellow supercilium. Some individuals also have a faint paler green central crown stripe though many do not show this. size wise it rather small at about 10-11cm long same as the local mountain leaf warbler. It feeds alone and appears at the same spots at Ulu Kali.

It is not a shy bird but it's constant motion make it a difficult subject to photograph. Its song is a high pitched medley of whistles; the call is piercing, often disyllabic "tseeweest", strikingly loud for the bird's small size.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

PITTA 2/7 - Hooded Pitta

 Hooded Pitta


HeeHa my Pitta no 2. 5 to go. This Hooded Pitta is a uncommon bird to see. We saw it in the suburb of the city. Can you believe it.....what a catch indeed. By now it probably had moved to other more conducive place further south.

The Hooded Pitta is a passerine bird and is resident in northern part of Peninsula whilst many migrate down from eastern and southeastern Asia and the Maritime Southeast Asia, where it lives in different types of forests as well as on plantations and other cultivated areas. The one I saw all thanks to my Sifu "Khong" bird alert. The last time when he alerted the Indian Roller visit to Taiping Perak. So you have to link to other birders' blog to keep abreast of rare sightings.

Hooded Pittas can reach a length of 16 to 19 cm. Their diet consists of various insects (including their larvae) worms, which they hunt on the ground, and dropped fruits like berries. In the breeding period, which lasts from February to August, they build nests on the ground; both parent take care of the eggs and the fledglings. They are highly territorial and their fluty double-noted whistle calls ("qweeek-qweeek") can be constantly heard from their territories, sometimes throughout the nights.

Hooded pittas are strong fliers Found alone or in pairs when mating and then breeding season in Feb onwards. When alarmed, or in order to distract other birds, they display such features as bowing, head-bobbing, wing flicking, and wing/tail fanning. If you see this behaviour please back away to a distance.................u might get pecked lol.

Read more: Pittas: Pittidae - Hooded Pitta (pitta Sordida): Species Accounts

This was caught in Ulu Kali on its way back north in 2012.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

PITTA 1/7 - Mangrove Pitta

Its been awhile for me to get new lifer I am glad to chalked up this resident Pitta of Malaysia last weekend. Courtesy of my birding buddy JT. With the breeding season over the Mangrove Pitta in Port Klang are still active.

Measuring 180–210 mm (7.1–8.3 in) in length, the Mangrove Pitta has a black head with a buff-coloured crown, white chin and buff underparts. The shoulders and mantle are greenish and the vent is reddish. Juveniles have similar patterned plumage but are duller. It resembles the Blue-winged Pitta but can be distinguished by its much heavier bill.
They need strong beaks like the stork billled KF in the mangrove river flats to grab and dig for crustachean, mollusks and terrestrial insects. They seldom go beyond mangrove and coastal mudflats.

Its call, transcribed as wieuw-wieuw has been noted to be "more slurred" than the Blue-winged Pitta.

The Mangrove Pitta is native to the Southeast Asian countries of: Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, and southern Thai peninsula. Its natural habitat is specialised and restriction to subtropical or tropical mangrove forests and Nipah palm stands. It is threatened by habitat loss. In Malaysia; coastal mangrove forests are suffering severe pressure through clearance for fuelwood, charcoal production and construction materials, for the development of fish and shrimp ponds. Worse is alienation of forest reserve for housing development and opening of cultivation land is fast depleting the Mangrove forest of Port Klang. Very sad indeed if this continue.

Pittas are noted for being difficult to study and spot in the wild. However Mangrove Pitta is one of the easier ones to see in their natural habitat as it do sits high up in mangrove trees and calls. It is territorial in nature and will responds to call if another bird approaches their domain. It tends to be vocal while brooding but quiet at other times. Nesting is usually in May to June during the wet season here.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

GROUND BIRDS 7&8/16 - Blue-breasted Quail and Barred Buttonquail

Another 2 birds you can see in Penang birdpark. Supposedly quite common in Penang Island in open grassland and shrubland of abandoned housing schemes but this soon will change. I got a hunch its migrate down from jungle during the wet season to breed and forage in the grassland. As ground birds they seldom fly except when flushed.

It is uncommon bird found in Malaysia in dry and semi marshy grassland or scrubland. Very small about 6 inches in size The male have a blue coated breast and face. Female a bit dull to camouflage itseft in its habitat.

Zog mentioned :-
"The Blue-breasted Quail which was supposingly common is likely no longer so common, I have not heard of records from Penang and Perak for the recent years, eventually I have no idea where to find the quail nowadays.
From your pic, the leftmost bird on the first photo and second photo shows a Barred Buttonquail, this unrelated but similar looking bird is still very common and widespread across the country. Notice the pale greyish leg and general pattern. The blackish throat indicates either an immature female or moulting effects."


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

GROUND BIRD 6/15 - Crested Fireback Pheasant

 Crested Fireback Pheasant

The Crested Fireback is a resident of Malaysia. found in dark dense lowland to hilly forest upto 1200m.

I chance on a family of 3 pairs taking turn to cross the road. No chicks though. They were crossing one by one trotting and flying across in succession. Just got the last 2 birds at 40m away in the late dull morning in Bkt Rengit. This bird is commonly seen in Taman Negara/ Gunung Tahan.

GROUND BIRD 4/15 - Malayan Peacock-pheasant

Malaysian Peacock-pheasant

The Malayan Peacock-pheasant, Polyplectron malacense also known as Crested Peacock-pheasant or Malaysian Peacock-pheasant is a medium-sized ground bird, up to 53cm long, spotted black, brownish pheasant with an elongated dark blue green crest, bare red facial skin, bluish-white iris and green ocelli on upperbody plumage and its tail of twenty two feathers. The female is smaller and duller than male.

A shy and elusive bird, the Malayan Peacock-pheasant is distributed and endemic to lowland forests of Malay Peninsula. At one time, this species was widespread in Malaysia, Thailand and also reported from Myanmar, Singapore and Sumatra. It is now disappeared from most of its former range. The remaining population confined to central Malaysia.

Together with the even more elusive Bornean Peacock-pheasant - its sister species -, and the more distantly related Palawan Peacock-pheasant it represents a basal group in its genus;

Due to ongoing habitat loss, small population size and limited range, the Malayan Peacock-pheasant is evaluated as Vulnerable but not endangered. It is very rare to see them in the wild nowadays probably in Taman Negara is the last frontier. We are fortunate that there are breeding programme by Malaysian Department of Wildlife and National Parks and private birdpark establishment like Penang Bird Park

GROUND BIRD 5/15 - Crested Wood-patridge

 Crested Wood-patridge

I cheated photos taken in Penang bird park. What the hell its a lifer to me and I am no Weefar or Adrian who will go the length in search of these beautiful birds.

It is a resident of Pen. Malaysia evergreen forest. Size about a foot The male have this fan like maroon reddish crest whilst the female look strikingly pretty with a green coat and chestnut winged.

GROUND BIRD 3/15 - Malaysian Hill Patridge

  Malaysian Hill Patridge
This is my first time seeing them in the wild. There were a dozen of them- adults and chicks, skirting along the side bank of the trail to the mossy forest. Though not a lifer but seeing them in the wild is just satisfying.

Later the Rusty-naped Pitta called on the lower hill slope but alas it was not curious enuf to come out in the open in response to my duet call. A sighting was confirmed but no photo opportunity when I went after it. In the chase.... got bloody scratches and muddy for the experience.

After consultation with expert it appears ours is one of the four subspecies of Grey-breasted Hill-Patridge family. Yes ours also have grey front. You can call it Sumatran , Campbell or Malayan they looks the same just that they are found on different continent or island.

They are gregarious and feed in a group. My sighting with chicks indicate that their are nesting can be in the months of Dec-Feb and fledged in March. Common sightings are in Bukit Fraser, and even Awana Genting side.....however you got to be there at dawn to see them.

GROUND BIRD 2/15 - Mountain Peacock-pheasant

Mountain Peacock-pheasant 

The opportunity came in the  guidance of Dr Chan and Sharon. As a courtesy I asked him if I can join him eventhough I was first on site with the same intention to see the MPP. He was  reluctance of sort but I am not taking it hands down so I insist my desire to be there whether they like it or not. Sharon was ok though. In the end both of us  walk off as friends as we exchange calling cards.

 The wee morning in Bukit Tinggi experience a drizzle which sort of muffled our present and clicking of our camera.  The gregarious pheasants are very sensitive to human presence and will scoot away if they felt threatened. So no multiple shots, flash and remember to put the camera into silent mode shooting if your camera has one. A hide is a necessity. As for me  I stayed behind their hide using my poncho and lie low using the surrounding. It work! We got a good window of 15-20 minutes to snap away but only a handful of shots were sharp enuf for posting as  I was shooting at speed of 1/30 ISO1600 in the low light condition.

It is currently only known to be found in central Peninsular Malaysia, although there is growing evidence of its presence in extreme southern Thailand. So it is endemic to Malaysia and can be found in the Main Range from the Cameron Highlands south to the Genting Highlands, in the Larut Range to the north-west, and on eastern outlying peaks Gunung Tahan and Gunung Benom. There are recent records from at least 12 localities, at two of which it has been described as common. Total numbers are likely to be small, owing to its highly restricted range and general relative scarcity within it. At present, the population is believed to be declining slowly.

 Mountain Peacock-pheasant, also known as Rothschild's Peacock-pheasant or Mirror Pheasant is a medium-sized ground bird. It can grow up to 65cm long, greyish brown pheasant with small ocelli and long graduated tail feathers. Both sexes are similar. The male has metallic blue ocelli on upperparts,  green ocelli on tail of twenty feathers and two spurs on legs. Female has black ocelli on upperparts, unspurred legs and tail of eighteen feathers. The female is smaller and duller than male.
The diet consists mainly of berries, beetles, worms, ants and all sort of critters and crawlies they find on the ground.

It is sedentary in lower and upper montane evergreen forest, including elfin forest, from c.820 m to at least 1,600 m, and was once found at 1,800 m. It is usually found in steep areas or along ridges with exposed corestones, some bamboo and climbing palms. It is less vocal than other members of the genus, and is hence less easily detectable.

Revisited the place November 2015 Managed to show the male (picture below)  this time at close quarters.