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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Friday, 30 August 2013

WADER 26/60 - Grey Heron

 Grey Heron

WADER 25/60 - Purple Heron

Purple Heron

WADER 24/60 - Pacific Reef Egret

 Pacific Reef Egret

Always a loner or a twosome. My first encounter of this Dark Morph and in Tioman Isle East coast of Peninsula. Just flew by never allowing me to get closed to 100 ft of it.

2 footer in size so quite good to get a reasonable shot. It got close to 30ft when it flew by though. When in breeding there will be a plumes on nape and breast. Keep to rocky, shores beaches with mudflats


WADER 20/60 - Night Crown Heron

 Night Crown Heron

This bird used to be elusive but in recent time it can be sighted breeding and brooding all along the west coast of Peninsula. How to get a better picture when my Kowa scope is in hand ........still contemplating....how arh?


Wednesday, 28 August 2013

WADER 19/60 - Yellow Bittern

 Yellow Bittern

Yellow bitterns are commonly found in wetlands especially paddy fileds and mining pond with densed upcrops in Peninsula Malaysia. I always confuse with its looks with the Chinese Pond Heron Size wise its about a footer plus very much smaller that the latter.

Washed buff brown breasted with black undercoat wing feathers. Always will try to hid behind vegetation and stand still at spot and thus approachable to 40 ft if you are patience.


WADER 18/60 - Cattle Egret

 Cattle Egret

Same place where I got the Purple Swamphen in Batu Gajah. Often found amongst Buffalo and cattle in frest water pond marshes and rice field. They have this bearded brown buff from forehead till its nape when matured. Beak in strong orange colour and legs turns from black to red when matured. Supposed to be non breeding migrants but then they are colonising & flourishing in Malaysia

WADER 17/60 - Little Heron

Little Heron
Very difficult to get close to this buggers unless u set up a hide or camouflage yourself. Digiscoping from 100 ft is the best . Little Herons are very adaptive. They have  invaded OD ponds all over the urbanscapes whilst their natural habitats are destroyed by man.

Monday, 26 August 2013

WADER 15/60 - Chinese Pond Heron

 Chinese Pond Heron

There are 3 species of Pond herons that could be sighted in Malaysia namely:-
Indian Pond Heron - This is a bird found in Iran, Afghanistan an the Indian sub-continent  Vagrant in Malaysia
Chinese Pond Heron - It is a bird  of India, China and wintering in the south. This is the most common Pond Heron you can see in Malaysia.
Javan Pond Heron - Resident in Java, Bali,  Borneo and Philippines - vagrant in Malaysia.
All the 3 birds are  identical in size - 45  cm having almost identical features albeit some very minor differences. Very difficult to tell them apart in their normal non-breeding plumages when visiting Malaysia. When they take flight the underside of the wings and tail is white. Pond herons are most likely seen in open areas with pools of waters, e.g. sewage ponds, fish ponds and padi fields. They could also be among the low trees by the river and in mudflats.

The only way to ID them is when they are in breeding plumage as the pictures below would show during the tail end of their stay in Feb-April.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

WADER 12/60 - Intermediate Egret

Intermediate Egret

The bird on the right  compared to the Great on the left. They prefer to hunt in freshwater (marshes, cultivated fields), but are also found in mangroves, mudflats, estuaries. They prefer to roost in reedbeds, but will also roost in mangroves. It is medium (68-71cm), closer to Little than Great Egret with out the obvious neck kink; bill noticeably shorter & yellow in color when not breeding ie visiting peninsula Malaysia; legs and toes black. In breeding their body develop short breast plumes, long back plumes; bill becomes black.

Intermediate Egrets eat small fish, frogs and insect. They stalk for their prey on mud, grass or shallow water.

Intermediate Egrets are less common than the Little or Great Egrets. But they often hunt and roost with these other egrets as well as other herons. They are often confused with the Great Egret, but their noticeably shorter bills help to sort things out.

Intermediate Egrets breed far north of the Asian subcontinent, with some resident populations in Indochina, Myanmar and Southwest China.

MALKOHA 5/6 - Chestnut-bellied Malkoha

Chestnut-bellied Malkoha

We must not mistaken Chestnut-bellied with the Chestnut-breasted Malkoha in name. Physically former looks almost the same as the Black-bellied in size and shape; slightly bigger by an inche or two. The eye patch is definitely larger and tangy orange skin face compared to the reddish of the Black-bellied. CBM is a  long bird at 40cm long due its long tail. Though looking like a Black-bellied the belly and under tail is actually chestnut and in poor lighting appears dark colored.

They are lowland birds  preferred coastal forest. I got a threesome at an estuary at Laguna Pulau Indah a coastal bakau forest. Sadly to say the landscape  is fast depleting in the advent of housing development.

Malkohas are gregarious in nature as it is in the cuckoo family but non-parasitic. Malkohas have a habit of staying motionless for a while as they tend to crawl and get concealed behind obstacles. Because of the relatively large size, they can be spotted easily. But getting a pictures of a full view bird is not easy but there are good chances if they are curious enough.

In Malaysia, they are forest birds but mostly stay at the forest edge or even open country. Most of them feed on insect but prefer hairy caterpillars like any other cuckoos. A food normally avoided by most birds.  Malkoha  are differentiated amongst them based on colour of its beak and bare skin around the eyes.

Most Malkohas is described as a  shy and restless but sprightly dweller who prefers tall forest canopy They take short flight. Malkohas looks clumsy  when manoeuvring through tangled twigs, creepers and foliage in search of grubs. Sometimes hopping from branch to branch to reach the top of a tree. From a vantage point , they tumble  directly to another point. Usually is short distances. While doing so the wings produce a soft hum.

 Malkohas 's nest is simple patch of twigs and leaves. The young are taken care of by both parents. The young can leave the nest before they could fly because they are skill climbers and has habit of creeping along branches.


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Wader 13/60 - Great Egret

The Great Egret is a large heron with all-white plumage. Standing up to 1 m (3.3 ft) tall, this species can measure 80 to 104 cm (31 to 41 in) in length and have a wingspan of 131 to 170 cm (52 to 67 in).   The Great Egret can be distinguished from other white egrets by its yellow bill and black legs and feet, though the bill may become darker and the lower legs lighter in the breeding season. In breeding plumage, delicate ornamental feathers are borne on the back. Males and females are identical in appearance; juveniles look like non-breeding adults.

Differentiated from the Intermediate Egret (Mesophoyx intermedius) by the gape, which extends well beyond the back of the eye in case of the Great Egret, but ends just behind the eye in case of the Intermediate Egret. It is a common species, usually easily seen.
Comparison Great & Intermediate
It has a slow flight, with its neck retracted. This is characteristic of herons and bitterns, and distinguishes the from storks, cranes, ibises, and spoonbills, which extend their necks in flight.
The Great Egret is not normally a vocal bird; at breeding colonies, however, it often gives a loud croaking cuk cuk cuk.

 A few Great Egrets breed on the west coast of the Malay peninsula, but none in Singapore (Madoc, in the 1940's, described 70 nests in the mangroves of Pulau Ketam off Port Klang, Malaysia). Great Egrets usually pair for life. During the breeding season both males and females develop a delicate cloak of long white feathers that extend over their backs. Courtship displays include erecting their spectacular lacy breeding plumes some raising their wings or arching their necks.

Great Egrets nest in colonies together with other egrets and herons such as Grey and Purple Herons, Black-crowned Night Herons and Milky Storks.

They breed in both freshwater wetlands and saltwater marshes; building nests in medium-sized trees or reedbeds. Their nests are a fragile platform of small sticks, usually over or near water. Sometimes the nest is lined with softer materials like grasses.

1-6, usually 3, pale bluish-green eggs are laid. Both parents take turns to incubate the eggs and to feed the chicks. While most birds do not start incubating their eggs until the full clutch is laid, Great Egrets start incubating as soon as the first egg is laid. Thus Great Egret eggs hatch at different times about 25 days later. Great Egret parents also allow their chicks to squabble over food. Chicks often kill each other. Thus, if there is insufficient food, the strongest (usually the one that hatched first) stands a better chance of surviving. Great Egret chicks also have an unfortunate tendency of climbing out of their nests. They then often fall prey to predators. Few chicks therefore survive to fledge, in 6-7 weeks. Great Egrets reach maturity at 2 years and can live for 22 years.


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Wader 14/60 - Little Egret

Little Egret

The Little Egret is the smallest and most common egret during the northern hemisphere  winter (September-May). In February, just before they leave for their summer breeding sites, some may start to put on their beautiful breeding plumes (right). Small in size (55-65cm), pure white; bill black; legs black; toes yellow. Genders look alike.  Juvenile birds have bills greenish with black markings; lores pale green; legs dull black with green.

Little Egrets eat a wide variety of prey from fish, molluscs and worms to insects and even small mammals and birds.    Little Egrets are the liveliest hunters among herons and egrets, with a wide variety of techniques. They may patiently stalk prey in shallow waters. Or stand on one leg and stir the mud with the other to scare up prey. Or better yet, stand on one leg and wave the other bright yellow foot over the water surface to lure aquatic prey into range.

In peninsular Malaysia, some have been observed hunting near floating vegetation (like palm fronds), possibly looking for prey attracted to the shade. They may crouch with their wings slightly outstretched, either to reduce the sun's glare or perhaps to create shade to attract underwater prey. They may also enthusiastically rush around in shallow waters perhaps to flush out prey. Little Egrets usually hunt alone. Where they hunt in a group, they are well spaced out, each individual aggressively defending a feeding spot. However, they roost communally, often with other herons and egrets, usually in mangroves. They also roost in reed beds or snags over open water.       

Little Egret in comparison to the Great Egret in the background.

SUNBIRD 11/11 - Ruby-cheeked Sunbird

Ruby- cheeked Sunbird

OK this is the last of the sunbird subspecies you can see in Malaysia. Forgot to post it. Got it few years back but never see it  since. This is one of the most colorful sunbird that I have encountered. I was taken by surprised when a group of 3 of them flew in. So many times I encountered sunbird as close as 10-15 feet away. They somewhat do not feel intimidated by human or r they curious with us guys with big camera lenses?

The male I saw have a full length dark band from its nostril to its nape. Its head and crown is usually is green but the one I shot was more toward turquiose The breast is distinctly orange while the belly is yellow. Sunbird are monogamous . Often if you  see one, its partner can also be around. Sometimes a juvenile or two will tag along until itself finds a partner.

They are after nectar amongst the budding flowers or looking for grub I really not sure. Their beak are not as curvy as the others subspecies a whopping 170 of them in the world! They do feed on caterpillars and grub they find on branches and foliage.


Sunday, 18 August 2013

SUNBIRD 10/11 - Copper-throated Sunbird

The Copper-throated Sunbird is found mainly in mangroves, but also coconut groves and coastal scrubland. I got mine in Pulau Indah Selangor after a tip off from JT. So the Ruby-cheeked Sunbird  will be my last to shoot; I tot I have  shot it before........hmmm.
Sunbirds eat insects but are best known for sipping on nectar. They have a typical long, slender, decurved bill with fine serration along the margins of both mandibles. Their tongue is tubular and deeply cleft.

Although it is said that they cannot hover like a hummingbird (which is found only in tropical Americas), the sunbird can hover briefly. But they do prefer to cling to a nearby stem or vegetation as they sip on nectar. They may "steal" the nectar by piercing through the base of the flower (thus avoiding payment of pollinating services in exchange for the nectar).


It has this rapid twitter similar to Crimson Sunbird but lower; also a long very high-pitched trill. Will show it in video. It has this darting & sallying flight.


Like other Sunbirds, the Copper-throated male is more colourful than the female. In fact, females of most species of Sunbirds look very similar.It is large for a sunbird (14cm), bill thin and obviously decurved; appears all black in poor light. In good light, the male  wears a green cap; copper throat and upper breast; dark purple lower breast and belly. Upperpart metallic green, tail blackish. In contrast the female looks like other sunbird females but has a greyish head. Upperparts dark olive; throat and under tail coverts greyish; breast and belly greenish yellow; tail black with bold white tips. Juvenile is like female but tail is brown.           The Copper-throated male has two bright yellow tufts on his sides (See pic3), best seen when his wings are open.
Males are particularly territorial and may defend a good feeding site from other Sunbirds. This I notice when another male approaches the flowering shrubs nearby the one that I was shooting was very vocal and chase the other away.

Sunbirds form monogamous pairs. The Copper-throated Sunbirds breed in April-August.

The female builds the nest, while the male escorts her as she finds and collects nesting materials. She uses fine twigs and leaves to construct a pear-shaped nest with an entrance hole at the top. The nest is usually built in a mangrove tree, 2-6 ft above the ground facing water (a pond or the sea). The eggs are pale brown with fine markings forming a band around the larger end. Both parents raise the young.