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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Sunday, 29 May 2016

RAILBABBLER 1/1 - Malaysian Rail Babbler

It was a beautiful sighting here  in the month of May 2016. I was very envious of fellow birders getting this bird at one time.  I was tempted  to go down to Johor just  to shoot it  whenever fellow birders post their picture in facebook or blog. I never thought I get this chance to see this rarity up close and in the open near KL. So happy to chalk up another lifer for 2016.

In my previous encounters they sort of stayed in an area for quite sometime if the area can provide abundance of food and shelter. The wet season do brings out the birds here in Pahang.

This enigmatic bird is endemic to Malaysia and Thailand peninsula. I have encounter it before in Bukit Rengit but got no chance to shoot it the last time because of low light deep in the forest trail and my poor telephoto gear then. This bird can be sighted in Taman Negara Pahang, Panti forest Johor,  Bukit Rengit and Bukit Tinggi in Pahang.

It is a medium sized, fairly slender songbird, about in length, and weighing . It has a long thin neck, long black bill, long legs and a long tail. The plumage is mainly brown with a more rufous forehead, crown and throat. It has a long, black eyestripe extending from the bill to the side of the neck and a broad, white supercilium above it. There is a strip of bare, blue skin on the side of the neck which can be seen when the bird calls. Juvenile birds are similar to the adult but have duller head stripes, a whitish throat and greyer belly. It has a long, monotonous whistling call. When agitated, it gives a series of frog-like notes.

The Rail-babbler or Malaysian Rail-babbler (Eupetes macrocerus) is a strange, rail-like, brown and pied inhabitant of the floor of primary forest in the Malay Peninsula & southern Thailand.

 Its population has greatly decreased because much of the lowland primary forest has been cut, and secondary forests usually have too dense a bottom vegetation or do not offer enough shade to be favourable for the species. The species is poorly known and rarely seen, in no small part due to its shyness.

It is a shy and secretive bird, which lives on the forest floor. It walks like a rail, jerking its head in the manner of a chicken, and it prefers to run rather than fly when disturbed. It feeds mainly on insects, including cicadas, and beetles; spiders and worms. When feeding it will dash after prey items. Little is known about its breeding habits. The eggs are laid around first few months of the year and fledgling have been seen in June. The nest hes been described as being placed near the ground on a pile of dead leaves among the stalks of a plant around from the ground. It is made of plant fibres and is a cup shape. The clutch is two white unmarked eggs.
You can see the bellowing sag when it call ...............sometimes you can mistake it as the Garnet call and vice-versa.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

WOODPECKER 21 /23 - Great Slaty Woodpecker

This woodpecker has been elusive until just last weekend that is in the month of May 2016. The Great Slaty is the largest Woodie you can see in Malaysia. Coming in at 48-58 cm (1.5-2 feet ) larger that the Great Coucal. In fact its is now the largest woodpecker in the  world! ......with the demised of ivory beaked and imperial.

They are gregarious and the group I saw was a threesome If you are lucky you can see a family of a 6-7 birds. In the month of May you can expect the mating season in full swing. Who knows breeding season is on the way in Bukit Rengit.

The birds response to my  call back as they flew over my head a few times before their curiosity faltered and they left  the place. Their call is rather rowdy  quickening sould-like - "weok koek koek kek kek kek".

The threesome flying over me while calling ............
This unique-looking woodpecker has several obvious distinctive features: a very long, strong chisel-tipped bill, an elongated neck and a long tail. A slight crest maybe occasionally evident. This species plumage is almost entirely dark grey or blackish slate-grey overlaid with small white spots. The throat is paler grey and males have small red moustache. Normally, the nominate subspecies is the darkest, most slaty gray race. M. p. harterti has a more pale throat with a greater amount of whitish feather tips forming small spot and is slightly paler below than the nominate, sometimes appearing almiost whitish on the belly. The size and structure readily distinguishes this bird from almost any other species, including other woodpeckers. 

This species prefers to inhabit areas of primary semi-open, moist deciduous and evergreen tropical forest clearings with scattered tall trees and similar almost park-like areas but do not generally visit heavily disturbed areas. Locally, the great slaty woodpecker prefers sprawling stands of diptocarp and teak trees. Also found in mature swamp forest and mangrove with tall, mature trees. The species usually occurs below an elevation of 600 m (2,000 ft), but also locally in montane areas of up to 1,100 m (3,600 ft), occasionally ranging up to 2,000 m (6,600 ft).

The nesting season, in Malaysia  at least, appears to be from March to August. The clutch reportedly consists of 2 to 4 eggs, which are incubated by both parents. Both parents also feed and generally brood the young. The young great slaty woodpeckers probably stay with their parents until the next breeding season.
They landed on a death tree which is their favorite perch hunting for grubs and larvae about 100 m away

Wednesday, 18 May 2016


This is an escapee from the bird park in Taman Tasik Perdana. This lonely bird have been roaming the public park since 2012. It would be nice if the bird park or DBKL get to import a few more bird to keep it company. Then it will be a better attraction and visitors can feed them or something.

Hadada ibises have a wide range across sub-Saharan Africa, south to South Africa. They are Africa's most common and least aquatic ibis. Hadadas live in open grasslands, savannahs and rain forests, especially along wooded streams, marshes and river courses. They are also common around small towns and villages, in pastures and cultivated land and in timbered areas and are occasionally seen in the glades of deep forests. They are carnivores.

The bird's name comes from its raucous call of "ha-ha-a-a-a-a," usually uttered on the wing. Hadadas typically call around dusk or sunrise, when returning to the roost or leaving it. One bird starts, followed by others. In large roosts, several groups may call simultaneously.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

WADER 54/60 - Great Cormorant

This is a very common and widespread bird species. It feeds on the sea, in estuaries, and on freshwater lakes and rivers. Northern birds migrate south and winter along any coast that is well-supplied with fish. In Malaysia it is a rarity but there are sighting in coastal waters until Selat Tebrau Johor off Singapore side as recent as this year 2010.

The Great Cormorant is a large black bird, but there is a wide variation in size in the species wide range. Weight is reported from 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs)[1] to 5.3 kg (11.7 lbs)[2], with a typical range from 2.6 to 3.7 kg (5.7-8.2 lbs).. Length can vary from 70 to 102 cm (28–40 in) and wingspan from 121 to 160 cm (48–63 in). It has a longish tail and yellow throat-patch. Adults have white thigh patches in the breeding season.

The Great Cormorant can dive to considerable depths, but often feeds in shallow water. It frequently brings prey to the surface. A wide variety of fish are taken: cormorants are often noticed eating eels, but this may reflect the considerable time taken to subdue an eel and position it for swallowing, rather than any dominance of eels in the diet. In British waters, dive times of 20–30 seconds are common, with a recovery time on the surface around a third of the dive time. The Great Cormorant is one of the few birds which can move its eyes, which assists in hunting.

Cormorant fishing is practiced in China, Japan, and elsewhere around the globe. In it, fishermen tie a line around the throats of cormorants, tight enough to prevent swallowing, and deploy them from small boats. The cormorants catch fish without being able to fully swallow them, and the fishermen are able to retrieve the fish simply by forcing open the cormorants' mouths, apparently engaging the regurgitation reflex.

WADER 53/60 - Little Cormorant

The Little Cormorant (Microcarbo niger) is a member of the cormorant family of seabirds. It breeds in tropical south Asia from southern Pakistan through India and Sri Lanka east to Indonesia. It is resident but undertakes some limited seasonal movements. In Malaysia they are visitors coming in i Dec-March period. They are rarely seen here nowadays. There are record sightings in Borneo wetland, Bidor-Bt Gajah freshwater mining ponds and northern Peninsula waterways in Langkawi. My photos are from Cambodia where plenty can be seen in TonLe Sap.

Originally described by French ornithologist Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot in 1817, this is a common and widespread bird species. It breeds in freshwater wetlands and on coasts. 3–5 eggs are laid in a nest in a tree or long grass.

This is a small cormorant, 55 cm in length. Its rectangular head profile and short bill are distinctions from the somewhat larger Indian Cormorant. Little Cormorant is mainly glossy black in the breeding season, with white head plumes and a whitish throat. The wing coverts are silvery, and it has a longish tail.

The sexes are similar, but non-breeding adults and juveniles are browner and lack the head plumes.

Like the Little Grebe; Little Cormorant can dive to considerable depths, but usually feeds in shallow water. It frequently brings prey to the surface. A wide variety of fish are taken.

WATER BIRD 22/60 - Ruddy-breasted Crake

Another lifer for the year 2016 bringing my tally to 453 subspecies of Birds of Malaysia that I have photographed. This Crake is mainly a permanent resident throughout its range, but some northern populations migrate further south in winter.

Usually it can be seen in water catchment areas of marshland, padi fields and secondary clearings with flooded watershed in coastal areas in Peninsula and Borneo. It has also adapted to the suburban habitat amongst open land overgrown with lallang and lowland vegetation as more and more wetland are  been recovered; poised for development.

The ruddy-breasted crake (Porzana fusca), or ruddy crake, is a waterbird in the rail and crake family Rallidae. Its breeding habitat is swamps and similar wet areas across south Asia from the Indian subcontinent east to south China, Phillipines, Japan and Indonesia. This crake nests in a dry location on the ground in marsh vegetation, laying 6-9 eggs.
The ruddy-breasted crake is about 22–23 cm long. The body is flattened laterally to allow easier passage through the reeds or undergrowth. It has long toes and a short tail. Coloring includes a pale brown back and chestnut head and underparts, with white barring on the flanks and undertail. The bill is yellowish green, and the eyes, legs, and feet are reddish. Notice their wings are really tiny meant for short flights whilst their extended index feet are adapted for stepping on water vegetation.
The sexes are similar, but juveniles are dark brown with some white spotting.
These birds probe in mud or shallow water and also pick up food by sight. They forage for shoots, berries and insects, as well as large snails, which they eat by using their bills to peck through the hard shell.

Ruddy-breasted crakes are territorial, but are quite secretive, hiding amongst grassy shrubs and bushes when disturbed

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

SWALLOW 4/4 -Swallow Striated

The striated swallow (Cecropis striolata) is a species of swallow found in open, often hilly areas, clearings and cultivation in South and South East Asia to northeastern India and Taiwan.
The striated swallow was formerly sometimes considered to a subspecies of red-rumped.

The striated swallow feeds low over the ground or at cliff faces on flying insects. It has a slow buoyant flight compared to barn swallow. It will feed with other swallow species.

The Striated is slightly larger than Red-rumped by an inche. Above picture compares the size to the smaller pacific swallow

Monday, 9 May 2016

WATERBIRD 24/60 - Oriental Darter

The Oriental Darter or Indian Darter (Anhinga melanogaster ), sometimes called Snakebird, is a water bird of tropical South Asia and Southeast Asia. It is a cormorant-like species that has a very long neck. It often swims with only the neck above water. It is a fish-eater. It inhabits shallow inland wetlands including lakes, rivers, swamps and reservoirs. A small family of only four species of cormorant-like birds, one in the Neotropics, one in Africa, one in Asia, and one in Australia. .

Anhingas chase fish underwater and can remain submerged for long periods. The neck is very long and snake-like. Unlike cormorants, Anhingas have straight, dagger-shaped bills, but like cormorants, their feathers become waterlogged and they spend a lot of time standing in the sun drying their outstretched wings. Unmistakable, large (84cm), waterbird with very long, slender neck and small narrow head. Head and neck brown with white chin stripe extending down side of neck. Rest of plumage blackish with white plume-like covert feathers, with black edges. Iris - brown; bill - yellowish brown, black culmen ridge; feet - grey.

It is a quiet bird with a voice rattling and clicking calls. Screams during courtship. In Malaysia there are sighting in Kinta Nature Park in Bidor and Borneo. it remains a vagrant visitor to our rivers and ex-mining ponds but has apparently disappeared from most coastal areas.

My photos were shot at Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary TonLe Sap Cambodia. There they are protected and conservation vie NGO give life line to these beautiful birds. Currently there are a few hundred breeding birds there.It lives in large stretches of clean fresh water in lakes and big rivers where it is an amazing diver, spending long periods under water. It can reduce buoyancy so that only the head comes out of the water but, thus waterlogged, has difficulty running and flapping over the water to get airborne. Spends many hours sitting on an exposed perch with wings\held out to dry; roosts communally in open trees. The Oriental Darter differs in appearance from American darters most recognisably by its white lateral neck stripe. It builds a stick nest in a tree and lays 3-6 eggs.

WATERBIRD 23/60 - Slaty-breasted Rail

It is a rarity for weekend birders to see this waterbird of marshland mangroves and even padi field in Peninsula. Male and female looks the same Size about a foot chestnut crown , grey chested with black and white bar to its behind Reddish beaked and black legs. Feed on grubs of insects and worms caught on the grass and muddy ground.

Generally the family Rallidae is a large group of small to medium-sized birds which includes the rails, crakes, coots, and gallinules. Nearly all members are associated with wetlands. Most species walk and run vigorously on strong legs, and have long toes which are well adapted to soft, uneven surfaces and waterplants like lily patch. They tend to have short, rounded wings and be weak fliers, although nevertheless capable of covering long distances. In general they are shy and secretive birds, difficult to observe.

Island species often become flightless, and many of them are now extinct following the introduction of terrestrial predators such as cats, rats and pigs.

Many reedbed species are secretive, apart from loud calls, and crepuscular, and have laterally flattened bodies. In the Old World, long billed species tend to be called “rails” and short billed species “crakes”. The larger species are also sometimes given other names watercock, moorhen, jacana etc. The black coots are more open water than their relatives, and some other large species are called gallinules.

All the above photos taken in Port Kelang

Latest sighting was in Putrajaya Wetland

WATERBIRD 52/60 - Asia Openbill

The 5 nos of visitors are still around Permatang Pauh, Penang mainland. Glad that for 2 consecutive years they are visiting us. My shots were taken in Prek Toal bird santuary TonLe Sap lake near Siem Reap. The latest count 2009 there are about 1050 pairs of breeding birds there. Photo here their favourite food is the freshwater mollusc shellfish which are pest in our padi fields. Besides that they go after fresh water fishes during the planting season.

The Asian Openbill or Asian Openbill Stork, Anastomus oscitans, is a large wading bird in the stork family Ciconiidae. It is a resident breeder in tropical southern Asia from India and Sri Lanka east to Southeast Asia. They are broad-winged soaring birds, which relies on moving between thermals of hot air for sustained flight. Like all storks, it flies with its neck outstretched. It is relatively small for a stork at 68 cm length. They breed near inland wetlands and build stick nest in trees, typically laying 2-6 eggs.
Breeding adults are all white except for the black wing flight feathers, red legs and dull yellow-grey bill. The mandibles do not meet except at the tip, and this gives rise to the species' name. Non-breeding adults have the white of the plumage replaced by off-white. Young birds have brown tinge to the plumage.

The Asian Openbill Stork, like most of its relatives, walks slowly and steadily on the ground, feeding on fish, molluscs, frogs and large insects.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

WADER 4A/60 - Purple Swamphen

WADER 6A/60 - Painted Stork

WADER 7A/60 - Milky Stork

Milky stork

Avian Field Report - Ayer Hitam Dalam Seberang Prai in the month of May 2016

I was back in Alor Setar to attend a wedding dinner with the family. It was the long weekend of 1st May weekend. The highway was already pack with cars when we hit Rawang at about 11.30 am on Saturday. As usual we exited Behrang to take the trunk road to avoid the stop go traffic on th NSE which is very fustrasting and accident prone.

At past 1pm we only reach Sungkai and we decided to have lunch at   famous for its Pork Trotter and River fish. After a hearty meal we continued our journey entering the highway at Bidor. The traffic remain slow because of heavy lorries and buses hogging the 2 lanes. The journey from  Ipoh -Penang the traffic was much better as I manage speed of 120kph. Eventhen we reach Sg Dua at about 4.30pm when I stop to check out the situation at AHD hoping to see other birders but no one in sight except several malay  bridal photo shoot were in progress. Left the place at 6 pm with no good sighting of the target birds.

Later we have street food at Sg Petani Clock Tower Foodcourt at about 6.30pm. We are surprise the price of food is still reasonable  compared to Ipoh ie The Lobak RM9.00 for 5 varieties, Laksa RM3.50 KueyTeow Theng RM3.00 HoChean  RM7.00 and Sugarcane RM1.50 and Har Mee RM3.20. We reach Alor Setar almost to 8.30pm and immediately hit the sack after a nice bath.

The next morning woke up at 6.00am and ready to go. Reaching AHD Educational Forest at 7.45am. There were  a few Penang birders already in action. Dr Neoh and son were the first I see there. Then met Birder Ooi and Lee waiting for the Ruddy at the end of   boardwalk adjoining the. backside carpark. Later reaching the carpark I met a threesome lead by James Neoh luring the Blue-winged. I must say the the Penang kias are a friendly lot. They are eager to part their experience and view to me a fellow birder.

Here are some of the many  residents of AHD Educational Forest that you can see here. If you are lucking you may see the Spotted Wood Owl or  my elusive Great-eared Nighjar roosting in the day here.

At the open bund track you can find waterbirds and raptors hanging around like the Braminy,

Black Kite and Crested Serpent.

Theres is a resident pair of Common Flame WP

The Bluey Mangrove and Tickell's Flycatchers  are easy catch here and are approachable and confiding.

At the carpark area there are plenty of opportunity to shot the Abbott's and Mangrove Fc in the open. At about 10.30 am the lovely Blue-winged Pitta show up but still not confident to come to the ground to feed as we waited. I got my shot and left  James and his gang; to hunt for Ruddy when its call was alerted by James that its here..................

Ooi was saying the Ruddy has a favorite perch  where he set up his gear as we waited. Dr Neoh came by and spotted the Streak-breasted and there I have my first lifer of the day. The Woodie just perch there for awhile looking at us as we snap away. After the Woodie left we waited as the clock ticks away to 12 noon and my tummy is aching for food.

Not long after that  the loud kek-kek- kek call was heard and everyone was looking high and low for the Ruddy but I cannot see it possibly behind some undergrowth. Apparently this  bird stays quite low and seldom go high in the canopy.

The Neohs prefers to walk about than staying put in a spot especially with smoking birders is a health hazard hehehe. Their contention is that the birds tends to fly around the place which I also of the same view. In a way its keeps the heart beating and the strolling helps people like me who seldom work out.

Suddenly the Flying Red Jade decided to fly out from its favorite hideout  crossing my path when I decided to walk out for lunch at about 12.30pm. No time to think or set the camera and just snap away still holding my tripod from the boardwalk. It went into the opposite nipah undergrowth as I gave chase as it was my lifer. Bird luck was with me as Birder Lee who came running & spotted it on an exposed perch near the boardwalk as we inches nearer. It was a confiding bird and we can come as close as 12 feet from it.  It was an amazing encounter as I never hope of a full frame shot of the bird. The resident  White-collared Kf on the other hand was a bundle of nerve and cannot be approached nearer that 30-40 ft away.

A candid shot of a juvenile macaque with a coconut shell as if waiting for alms. I must say there is many marauding macaques here just like in Kuala Selangor Nature Park and they may be quite intimating when they show their fangs. Careful if you have food with you as they can pounce on your food if you are not vigilant.

In the month of May is the peak of mating & nesting period. A pair of mating Fantail was sighted  On top a dead tree a Common Myna is already feeding its offspring in a hollow stump. The Abbot's Babbler were also nesting as the parents collected mealworms been offered back to its nestling.

Meanwhile at the main entrance open ground many of the trees are bearing fruits which lure many bulbuls and Barbet - Lineated and Golden-throated as well as  a few Koels.

All in all it was a good outing There is also a good chance to see  Asian Paradise FC or the Japanese  even which may stop by at this small sanctuary on its way back north.