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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Monday, 29 June 2015

AVIAN FIELD REPORT 11/100 June 2015 - A Visit to Jeram Kuala Selangor

In the month of June 2015, I went exploring  coastal plains in Selangor. The site near  Jeram is near perfect and  secluded. It getting a bit dry coming to the end of July. The habitat have conducive muddy  coastline for shorebirds, linear mangrove patch, palm oil plantation and open shrubland in between. A pair of Black-shouldered Kite resident to the locale for the few times I was there.

Within the matured mangrove patch you can see Great Tit and Ashy Drongo.  There is no Mangrove Pitta here though. The Sunda Pygmy Woodie is a sure see at Jeram. There were no response from the otherwise Mangrove Whistler.

The Blue-throated Bee eater are having a feast here. We counted less that a dozen. They are  the first of the 3 species of Bee eater to arrive from the Northern Hemisphere. A foursome Lesser Adjutants flew over our heads to roost during the hightide at about 11.30am. Never been good at flying shots.....

The Shrubland  have plenty of action. A pair of Red Whiskered was sighted but very shy and flew away when ever I tried walking closer.


Arriving at the site a male Koel was the first bird I saw perched on a dead tree trunk over the marshland at Jeram. As usual it was very vocal. The female was not seen thought. A  rather yellow immature Black-naped Oriole drop by after that.

Walking into the palm oil plantation to explore a fruiting ficus I flushed a pair a Large Nightjars. One of them perch on branch looking at me. Luckily the beauty stayed there ready to take flight if I move nearer. After my photo shoot  I left it where it is.

Coppersmith Barbet is quite comment at this coastal enclave. A pair of confiding White collared Kingfisher was seen watching me from a distance of 25 ft. The male was seen with some prey in mouth supposedly to offer to its partner but later gulp it.

A pair of Pied Fantail  where hunting amongst the low shrubs. One was chewing up a red dragonfly whilst its partner looks on closeby. It took itself about a few minutes before it managed to gulp the entire prey.

The shore line and river mouth still have handful of familiar waders that stayed behind for the summer. Life is too good in Peninsula Malaysia

Friday, 26 June 2015

WADER 51/60 - Eastern Curlew

The adult  Eastern is much larger than the Eurasian by a good 6cm and has a longer curly beak. It breast and head is much buff and it has an  overall  browner coat. This shot was about 500-600m away at the low tide shoreline. I was testing out the Nikon P900 with its 2000mm reach. I was shooting at maximum zoom on a cloudy day. As you can see the sharpness and details  is wash-out but for identity purpose its okay. You really need a lot of patient and effort from located a bird in the viewfinder and  focussing .  My eyes was teary and sore using the low resolution viewfinder. Unlike the Olympus new Superzoom SP100 (50x)which has a pop up  dot scope sight  to locate  bird  when using LCD screen you face a big problem to find the bird from the EVF or Screen if you use the P900 at its maximum zoom. What I have to do is zoom out and then zoom in again. Focussing in the heat haze is another problem. 

Monday, 22 June 2015

AVIAN NESTING 5/100 - White Morph Asian Paradise Flycatcher

It was late May 2015  we were tipped off by a good birding friend. Seeing this beautiful white morph APFc sitting in its tiny little mossy nest was avian bliss. Stumbled upon it  off the trail about 800m from the bridge.  If it was the female it would be more discreet for me to notice. The nest was about 10-12 ft from the ground in a valley. So we were shooting slightly above the nest off the trail which was perfect.

So nest building may have started in early May. It appears that the location & selection for the nest is decided by the female ideally on a twin or 3 branches stump of a singular 20 mm diameter stem young tree of about 10-15 ft. The spot must be in a clearance away from  other trees and undergrowths as well as off  any trail or track. This may be to prevent predators from jumping onto their nest.  If you find drongo nesting nearby; there  is a good chance  a APFc nesting can be possibly nearby. In our case there was one about 150 meters away. It is a synergy taken to take advantage of  the drongo aggressiveness to keep predators away. 

The Asian Paradise Flycatcher is monogamous and  it is the female who do the choosing its partner. Those female who matured earlier will have the first choice of choosing the more matured male, the white morph. Those with no choice will  have to be contended with the short tail rufous Paradise Flycatcher. This assumption came about from observations from other read.

Whether the  male bird handles the nest building task by himself it is for the ornithologist to study. Not sure about this as other reports mentioned that the nest building is  done by both the adults. Multiple eggs are commonly laid in a neat cup-shaped nest, usually lined with root twine and decorated with living mosses and liverworts as camouflage.

The first hatchling was sighted on 7 June 2015 and the feeding starts immediately. Most of the initial feeding is tiny insects like flying beetle and  spider. The parents will call out and the alpha chick will response and open its mouth naturally.

My fellow birder MowSum is monitoring the progress and  3 chicks have hatched and they are growing healthly. Here are 2 photos credited to him. After 10-14 days from the day of hatching the threesome should have fledged................

Friday, 19 June 2015

CUCKOO 12/14 - Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo

 I like to thank fellow MNS birders Andy & Ang  for their guidance in my search of this lifer of mine . As you can see in my first photo there are 2 of them!!! at the site  in Kuala Selangor Jeram side. One was  with white  eye and the other has reddish one. This will be my second lifer of the year of 2015.

The HB Cuckoo looks almost the same as our resident - Little Bronze Cuckoo except that it has a more prominent brown eye stripe ala the Banded Bay and without the red eye-ring of the latter. Size wise they are the same at 6 inches or 15-16cm. 

The Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoo is common throughout Australia preferring the drier open woodlands away from forested areas. It is a rare visitor/ vagrant to Peninsula (ie. a bird that strays off its typical migration course because of strong winds, which in this case, has blown it beyond the Indonesian islands during the austral winter (ie. May, June, July and August), from Australia to Indonesia. So now this cuckoo can be  seen from Singapore  to Pulau Burung Seberang Prai.  I am sure there are plenty of HB cuckoo  along the coastal plains of peninsula Malaysia ..........its a matter of going out to explore and search for it... a record year for 2015. Look for Mimosa vegetation in the open land which they make it their playground. Cuckoos have a common habit of impaling their preys on  thorny plants.  They usually hunt for hairy caterpillars amongst the lower ground shrubland.  Next is to see any of  Perak birders to report from their side. Koay what say u. BTW Madi fellow birder from KL(http://madibirder.blogspot.com) did sight one as far as  in the coastal side of  Bukit Keluang Trengganu in 2012.

Now is to wait for a Sacred Kingfisher to drop by .........fat hope  you'll say.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

STARLING 4/6 - Black collared Starling

Since 2013 there were sightings by fellow MNS birders at Bukit Jelutong Shah Alam. Again threesome of 2 adult birds and a juvenile were seen foraging on the ground near the Pavilion recently. Like the Red Whiskered Bulbul; Black-collared Starling are feral (KL Bird Park do have them) or released caged birds. Starlings are  adaptive bird  which can propagate easily in suburban environment. It is recorded as a Malaysian bird in www.birdlist.org. Hopefully they can establish a good size colony and be actually  recognised as permanent  resident of Malaysia.

The Asian Pied Starlings are already making a mark at Port Kelang Golf Club Selangor. There is more than a dozen of these gregarious birds there as we speak. My blogging buddy just informed me that he has also seen a few Black Collared  there too.

My take was in Xiamen China Dec 2014.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

AVIAN SIGHTING 11/100 - Maroon Breasted Philentoma

The month of June 2015 the resident Maroon Breasted  Philentoma was very showy and has been attracted by the activities on the ground. As usual it stayed at higher storey for most of the encounter  but do come down to 10-15 ft in the undergrowth. This is a lifer male. Somewhat it reminds me of the  male Black & Crimson Oriole of the montane habitat ala Frasers which has a similar  striking  patch on its chest.
Below was a photo taken using my new Nikon P900 which I may give a review of my  birding experience with it.  I purposely bought Nikon P900 for its reach 2000mm!!!! This can come in handy for long distance viewing especially waders and shore birding.  Do you think Digiscoping will be superseded soon. I think  other makers will now  race to develop better 80-100X Tele-zoom camera. The demand for P900 was so good that it is out of stock most of the time This is after its rave review on its sharpness. YL Camera  got just one unit and I was there at the right time to grab it.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

AVIAN FIELD REPORT 10/100 - Overnight Trip to TAMAN NEGARA Part 1

This is my third trip to Taman Negara forest Merapoh side (before Gua Musang) from Kuala Lipis. Those coming from the North usually takes the Grik side. I missed the MNS Selangor trip to Kuala Tahan- Sg Koh at the same time. This was on the request of Dr Rahul and so invited Mowsum to join me on this trip. My target lifer was of course the Large Frogmouth.  For both my buddies in crime - picture below in action;  they  got their target Garnet Pitta and in the case of  Dr R most of the  birds he got  are lifers.......lol

We booked 2 nights at Pekan Merapoh dormitory runned by SGI Outdoor in advance. The Perhilitan Chalets are still close citing refurbish. Hello its been 2 years! For the shophouse converted "barrack" at RM25 per pax per nite; we cannot complain about the basic single toilet, bunker bed, noisy fan and traffic noise.  Better bring some beer to drowse yourself for a better sleep lol.

Anyway we started our journey late at 8 am no thanks to my buddy who got caught in traffic to our rendezvous at Zoo Negara. Travelling thru Bentong we reached Merapoh outskirt at about close to 11.30am. Packing & checking in was a breeze and then reaching the Perhilitan office minutes pass noon to pay entrance & camera fees which remains the same for the past years. Rahman was his usual chatty self and took his time to issue the receipts. On that Friday  & Saturday we were the only guys birding along the trail but interruption of hikers and army of  team building group was something a novelty as they get the opportunity to take selfie photos with their handphones with us with our bazookas .

Bird life as you can see from my collection of photos was somewhat brisk and busy as it is time of the year for breeding for many of the avian jungle dwellers.

On Sunday morning we  met the threesome of Terence, Danny and Chin who are on a day trip to catch the Pittas. There were unfortunate as the place was getting crowded when another  group of 6 supposedly from Perak dropped by  for the same intent. Alas the Pittas was a no show at the spot we got the Garnet in the morning before. I guess they are still happy to see their Lifer of the Black-capped Babbler......I think. So here are my  better catch of the trip with many blurred species of the Yellow & Black Broadbills, Leafbirds and Sunbirds which I am paiseh to post.

I like to report that the weather for  May is erratic in Merapoh. The devastating flood here in Gua Musang in late December 2014 have not cause damage to the forest here.. We got downpour the entire Friday night thus we wasted one night to hunt for nocturnal birds. So if you are coming here please check the weather forecast. On Sat night we set out early, pack our dinner and prayed  the sky hold back the rain. That night we were happy  as the resident  Large Frogmouth make an appearance.

The pair of Rufous-winged Philentoma and a fledgling was sighted.  There were also other coupling Bulbuls pairs and post nesting feeding of  Sunbirds. There were 2 nesting of Bronze Drongos that we sighted along the main road. So I must say the bird activity is happening here.

The Brown barbet was seen with beakful of seeds to feed its hatchling. It was weary of our presence and dare not approach its nest. We waited until it departed into the trees.

Then later in the evening session at the feeding station we saw the Male Black-capped Babbler presenting its easy catch to the Female. This is an act of courting for most birds There are many pairs of bulbuls in courting session but not in nest making stage as yet.

The Drongo as shown in the following picture is feeding its days old hatchling. At one time we saw the Male on guard duty attacked a bulbul which got too close to the nest and for that encroachment it lost some feathers. The lovely APFC was a bonus on the last hour  walk back home. There were plenty of other birds species calling but high in the canopy which we cannot get any good pictures nor ID. And yes the Argus was calling in the wee morning for the 2 days we were there.

The Ferruginous Babbler was a surprise bird for me to see at close quarters at the feeding station.  Its was a fine specimen indeed. We only managed to call out a pair of Scarlet-rumped Trogon but not the Red-naped. Nearer the Bridge; there were 2 gorgeous  Fairy Bluebirds wooing the female bird with their chattering calls........

The Whiskered Treeswift was too high for my 400mm to get a good shot. This was at the former swamp land pass the Gajah crossing. Very sad that they have  filled up the  natural watershed habitat.  Saturday the Rangers reported some Bantengs were crossing the road at about 1.30 pm. A single Bull Elephant also pass by the route in the late afternoon as reported by the ranger a day before. So guys be alert if you wonder into the trails to avoid any confrontation.

The yellow-vented flowerpecker was shot at the HQ compound. Notice the Indian Cherries are still green..............thinking of the scarlet breasted now.