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MikeBirder - Malaysian Birds


Welcome to my Malaysian Birding Blog. I migrated to as my blog at 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. Coming to May 2020 my countdown of lifers photograph has reached
539/688 species of birds of Malaysia in photos.

My shooting gear was a EF400mm f4 DO lens and Canon 7D body which to me is the ideal setup for mobility and bird chasing at that time. 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%. In December 2018 I acquired the Nikon Coolpix P1000 as supplementary camera for distance shooting of 3000mm.
Meantime I am hoping Sigma or Fuji will come out with with a 200-600mm lens for my Fuji body. As for a new body I will only consider an upgrade when the megapixel hit 30..........

I am a weekend birder. Do feel free to drop me a line at 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. This I did in 2018 to Sepilok Sandakan and Kinabalu Park. Next Danum and LahatDatu.......

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, 31 March 2019

Avian Call - Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher

Usually visiting birds to Malaysia are rather quiet in nature and they preferred to be discreet in an uncommon territory. I was surprised this Fc was very vocal.  Its call is rather faint with a few syllable chitting sound. Earlier thought it was a bulbul or babbler with its large bill. Its chit-chit call is a giveaway of a flycatcher/

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Flycatcher 28/30 - Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher (lifer 523)

Brown-chested  Jungle Flycatcher is a passage migrant passing thru Peninsula Malaysia. We chance on a beautiful specimen here in Johor.  It is seldom sighted up north or central peninsula as they do not stop for long period but continue moving south. So chances are better here down south nearer Singapore which is one of their last stops.

The bird has a yellowish lower mandible. Coming in at 16 cm;  it is one large flycatcher and it has the largest of a hooked tipped beak. I mistakenly id it as a babbler at first because of its beak but why is it so quiet. Then notice its "chit-chitting" call like many Fc. Will post it vocalizing later.  The throat is mottling/speckle white as compared to the resident Grey-chested Jungle Flycatcher which has a distinct white throat. 

They breed in the mountainous broadleaved forests of southern and central China (ie. Hunan, Guangdong, Jiangxi, Fujian, Guizhou). Brown-chested Jungle Flycatchers head south from August onwards, briefly passing through northern Vietnam. By mid-September, they would have reached Central Thailand, as confirmed by regular sightings around Bangkok. Thus sightings in Peninsula to Singapore are sighted from the last few days of September to early November and there are very few records of birds staying through winter.  

Their last stop is supposedly in Sumatera. Some like this one may stop and stay in Johor and/or cross the causeway or Malacca Straits.

Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher is rarely seen because it has forest dweller in dense patches of undergrowth in woodlands and forests, perching motionless on a low twig while watching the ground for grub and insect.  Many birdwatchers are thus likely to have walked past the flycatcher without realizing that it is there, just meters away in the bushes. 

Secondly, the brownish color tones of the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher is well blended well with the background. See la pictures. It is usually a loner and to do not follow bird wave, unlike APFc.

Thirdly, not many people know the calls the Brown-chested Jungle-Flycatcher makes. Post later.

This bird should be on its way back to its breeding ground up north but I wonder as it is way past Spring now......maybe it has decided stay on until next year. 

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Avian they are not- Giant Green Scorpion road killed

Rest in Peace.... Amithaba

Sad to see such a beautiful creature been quashed on a road trail while birding in Johor. It is also known as the Giant Forest Scorpion which can reach a length of 5 inches. The metallic greenish-blue exoskeleton is very conspicuous of the black ones. The Malaysian Forest Scorpion is quite defensive and will readily sting when it feels cornered or in danger. It is similar to Emperor Scorpion only in looks and not in behavior. They are very aggressive and unlike the Emperor Scorpion, this species is not as likely to settle down in captivity. It can be distinguished from the Emperor in that it is slightly more elongated and its pedipalps and claws are larger and more elongated.

H. spinifer can reach a length around 10–12 cm (3.9–4.7 in).[3] The body is shiny black with gray-green reflections. The pincers are highly developed. It feeds primarily on insects, mainly cockroaches, crickets, and locusts.[4] Its venom can cause very severe pain, disorders of vision, and mild numbness in the affected area, but it is not typically lethal to humans.[4] These scorpions tend to be skittish and defensive, using their large pedipalps (pincers) to attack, more than their tails.
Distribution and habitat
This species can be found in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Generally, these terrestrial scorpions live in moist forests in the dark undergrowth under logs or other debris, and they burrow into the ground where they hide during the day.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Avian Call - Striped Wren Babbler

The call of the Striped Wren Babbler is somewhat mono syllable in short whistle "chuiii" or "chiuuu"

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Avian Birding Site - Panti Forest Reserve Johor

Before embarking on your trip please take note that you have to apply for an entry permit. I do not know how well and efficient is the Rangers' enforcement though. MNS should write to Perhilitan Johor to make available e-application so that we do not have to spend a whole morning/ day to just drop by their office in JB town to do the paper work.......Also we birders from other states comeby on a day or upto 3 days trip. Why do we need a 2 months permit. We also bird in smaller group of 2-4 and not 10 pax. Can I assumed you do not need permit if in smaller group........😖

"Apa buat susah susah bang hoi"

Extract from JohoreBirder Group

Panti Bird Sanctuary - Info on Entry Permit Application
Forestry Dept Tel no : 07-2243048
Effective from Sept 2018 : 07-2242211

Person to contact : Miss Nana / Miss Intan
Address : Pejabat Hutan Daerah Johor Selatan
Aras 9, Bangunan Sultan Ibrahim
Jalan Bukit Timbalan
80000 Johor Baru
Johor Darul Tazim
a) Permit costs RM150-00 for 10-person and valid only for 2mths, request for longer period is possible but subjected to FD's approval.
b) Each vehicle is required to pay RM50-00 to use the main bunker trail for the validity of your permit. Vehicle Registration number must be submitted during your application.
c) For Malaysian will be given one mth period instead of the normal 2mths.
As such, for group application, you should apply permit separately for Malaysian and non-Malaysian.
d) For walk-in application, call Forest Dept in advance if you want the permit approved on the spot/on the same day.

Important doc to bring:
Malaysian: a photocopy of IC
Non-Malaysian: a photocopy of passport (the page showing yr photo)
e) For email: Encik Umar - Pengawai Hutan Daerah Johor Selatan.
m1435u2014a@gmail. com
Bear in mind the approved permit only bears the sole applicant's name. So for group application all the individual must carry a copy of the approved letter when entering PBS.

Anyway to bird  Panti there are many ports & trails  that you can go without going thru the hassle.For us birders from Klang Valley an overnighter is recommended. As the journey is 6-7 hours with stop for makan-makan.  It is best to have Johor or Singapore birder to bring you to the familiar ports there without hassle. Target birds that you might want to see are the Grey-breasted Babbler, White-necked Babbler, Crested Jay, Short-toed Coucal, Scarlet-breasted Flowerpecker and a few uncommon Wren-babbler and my target Rufous-tailed Sharma

Adapted from ConFoley writup
Panti forest is about 10,900 hectares. There are a few access trails and forest fringe ports only the local birder know. For the unfamiliar the main access trail is the "Bunker Trail" simply because vehicles can drive in; on the gravel & laterite road with relative good forest cover. There is large scrubby terrain at the entrance and at the end of the road is a disused sand quarry with another scrubland which you can find visiting grassbirds and the Javan Munia!

Yes it was mentioned that the Storm's Stork is a rare encounter here if you are damn lucky at open river crossings.

Peek-a-Boo, I see you!!!!

My other lifer wanted list here in Johor are :-

Long-billed Partridge
Crestless Fireback
Jerdon Baza
Cinnamon-head  Green Pigeon
Malaysian Nightjar
Grey Nightjar
Blyth's Frogmouth
Silver-rumped Spinetail;
Silver-backed & Brown-backed Needletail
Fork-tailed Swift
Giant Pitta
Black&White Bulbul
Grey-streaked Flycatcher
Grey-breasted Jungle flycatcher (Resident)
Javan Munia (PR status)
Thick-billed spiderhunter
Thick-billed Flowerpecker

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Wren Babbler 6/7 - Striped Wren Babbler (lifer 522)

The Striped Wren-Babbler can be seen in lowland dense forest in Johore side namely Panti, EndauRompin Pahang side to name a few. Sighting is also recorded in Taman Negara as well in Danum Sabah. Like all other Wren Babbler, it is a crooner and can response and duet with your callback for minutes at time. Its call is a melodious long "chuii" mono call. Video to be provided later.

They have a large radius feeding area and they drop by only once at a locale if you are near its feeding route.  If bird luck is not with you then  it not your time to see this bird.

The SWB is a medium size Wren Babbler coming in at 15cm compared to Eyebrowed or Pygmy below 10cm of the hill-lands. The adult showed here have a black mantle crown-nape with white specks buff lore. Its brown wings and breast side also got white streaks.

The last Wren Babbler that I need to look out for is the Eye-browed Wren Babbler  which we have record sighting in the hills of Negeri Sembilan and Bukit Frasers.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Avian Sighting March 2019 - Dark sided Flycatcher

I am hoping it was the Brown-streaked Flycatcher or Grey-streaked but after reviewing with other photos the bird fall on a Dark-sided with its short bill and mottled streaking. 

Avian Call - Fluffy-backed Tit Babbler vocalising

It is a common sighting of paired Fluffy-backed Tit Babbler which come out in the open to duet with your playback. If you notice the two birds give different sound. One call was the bassy "wuh wuh wuh" call and the other is a husky creaking call......................

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Avian Birding Site - Migrant Birds Genting Highlands @ Banjaran Titiwangsa

Prologue from yester years

Ulu Kali Genting Highland sits right smack in the Titiwangsa range which stretches 480 km from down under of Peninsula Malaysia until Phuket Thailand. This mountain range is a part of the Tenasserim Range, Phu Khao Tanaosī in Thai, which is the geographical name of a mountain chain forming a natural border between Burma and Thailand.
The period Feb - May of the year spell migrant birds take the flight to return to their natural breeding grounds back in the northern hemisphere. Basing on my sightings of some exotic species at Ulu Kali; I can say that Genting peak is a strategic stopover for  migratory birds enroute to the north!  I have sighted the white morph APF here. Then I have a glimpse of the rufous long-tailed APF but alas no photo then.

The birds flying home during early dawn or late dusk and some in the dark; do encounter hazards of bright lights from building and spotlights which become a beacon which blurred birds vision causing them to hit darken solid walls, lighted glass window and chain fencing. Unlike bats which have sonar built in their system; birds rely only on their vision guided by moon and starlight. A few years back I am fortunate to come face to face with a Hooded Pitta which was disorientated after hitting some structure at the Radar station the night before. Luckily it was not seriously injured; it was freed in my presence at 10am. However, it was not so lucky for a Chestnut-winged Cuckoo which probably injured its neck and spine which may have paralyzed its body. I cut short my birding and rushed it to Zoo Negara hoping the vet can do something to help the poor creature.

Other chance sighting of  rarity like Rufous-headed Robin, Rubythroat, Little Bunting and fly-by raptors like the Eurasian Sparrowhawk have been recorded here. 

Meanwhile, you fellow birders who do not want to go too far up Fraser's or Cameron or even Maxwell can opt to come to Genting Highland because the chances are good for "birding" high rollers to win big time................cheerio and good luck.

Present time
In the month of  March 2019, we managed to sight several good birds. Glad to meet again a pair of Siberian Blue Thrush here. The pair were most obliging and stayed for long periods for us birders that were there to shoot to their heart content. The pair is most possibly in its return leg back to their homeland. Still hoping for a Eye-browed and Scaly Thrush to drop by...........................

Banjaran Titiwangsa is the flying route of the many passage migrants and wintering birds both ways. In March  I would say is a peak season for the return flight. Ulu Kali with its bountiful food source is a stopover station for these birds to fatten up and then moving up Tenasserim range of Thailand and Andaman Burma.

Yellow-browed Warbler is a regular sighting here. Wish it was the Hume's but alias the pale legs and beaks and prominent barring give it away. Both are from the same province but one preferred to visit down SEA whilst the latter to the westerly side towards India. Hume's is a vagrant to southern Thai though but no record sighting in peninsula...

The Siberian blue below have been appearing in UK since last year. I expect it to remain here until next year. Its coat is turning to its adult plumage as compared to the shot I took in January. We will see..............

The Grey Wagtail is another winter visitor.  It looks rather fatten up. Ready to go home liao...........

The Male Mugimaki was not  been seen but the female Fc was still around in March. Sad to hear from Pak Long that one MFc hit its guard glass window a few weeks back and died...............

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Avian Nesting -Large Frogmouth Roosting

News of a Large Frogmouth nesting reaches my ears in late February 2019 of all places in Lanchang. By that time many fellow birders were already making a  pilgrimage to see the rare event. I was up early  and  reaching the spot after 6.30am before dawn .  As I was not sure of the spot I wanted to locate bird roosting with my NightVision camera. Took me about half an hour to scout the vicinity and luckily spotted the bird from afar. So as I waited for daylight I decided to drive out to buy breakfast at my favorite nasi lemak stall which open before 7am.

Apparently, nesting started way back in January but it was hushed up. By that  time it was public knowledge the ground has been cleared and devoured of vegetation all around it. Everyone was concerned for its safety and as for me no posting in my blog until it can fend for itself.

Luckily the nest is about 20 feet high from the ground above a slope. I hope it will be safe until the baby fledged in another few weeks time in late March. Amazing you can notice the bird front features cover over the nest and hatchling. At times you can see a white blotch of feathers aka  the baby  poking out underneath.  See picture below.

The nest is made over a 4-way branch of less than an inche thick. The last encounter of a Frogmouth nesting was in 2006 when I started birding That time it was a Javan and the harassment of bird photographers from overseas was the talk of bird fraternity at the peak of the nesting. They even propped up scaffolding to shoot video at night.

Javan and other Frogmouth build their nests on flattish tree horizontal branch of 5-8 inches diameter to which their feathers texture blend to the color of the stump whilst the LFm feathers are like leaves which suite on thinner branches.

In March read from my bird chat group that a bunch of hooligan birders from down under came up to Lanchang to shoot it after gotten news of the nest.  It was reported that they tried shaking the tree to wake the birds which roost and seldom move during the day. An ultimatum warning from our local ornithologist  Dave was sent to the Singapore Chatgroup to be mindful of their endeavor which may land them in trouble from Perhilitan or blacklisted or shamed by MNS  and local bird fraternity.

In the 3-4 weeks semester, I was back to the post to see how is the birds are fairing. By then the chick is  about 20cm in size  and nowhere it can hide beneath its parent. I guess it will be fledging soon by end-March.

Latest news is that as of today 14th March the nest is empty liao. I only hope the bird has successfully fledged. I did not expect it to happen so soon as the wing feathers was not yet developed on my earlier visit.

Monday, 11 March 2019

Avian Sighting March 2019 - Rufous-winged Fulvetta

Rufous-winged Fulvetta is a sure see montane bird here in Genting Highland. They are hyperactive when looking for grub especially moths at the station. So to shoot them is quite a chore and any momentarily open perch sighting is a  god given opportunity.  First time seeing a pair coming to the post to feed on the mealworm placed by birders here. Usually, they ignore our free grub and instead keep to the undergrowth popping in and out. Frustrating indeed.

In March the sky was clear and sunny during the late morning.  So lighting was good  and I managed some improved shots of this common bird in Genting.............

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Avian Sighting March 2019 - Common Green Magpie

The birds are very much active at Genting in March 2019. The happening bird of the year has awakened the birding fraternity from far and wide.  In the single morning, I got to shoot plenty of species some were winter visitors and the other local residents. The Common Green Magpie is a bird that you can never ignore when it appears. The dilemma is whether you have a chance to shoot it on an open perch and that my friend; depends on your bird luck.

The Common Green Magpie appears active picking up nesting material. It came by several times on the same route as early as 8.00am. I was at the right position to snap a few shots during the 3-5 seconds window when it was on an open perch twice! So it is important to be ever ready. My best pictures so far of this bird.

The CGM is one of the largest bird in the montane forest of Malaysia. It had been seen to feed on anything from squirrels and frogs amongst others bugs. In Sabah, there is a cousin aka Bornean Green Magpie which is now a separated species. The latter is endemic to Mount Kinabalu. You can see my posting  Which bird is the more prettier.......?

The second encounter I got it quite close but alias there was some foreground foliage. Well, you win some you lose some.