Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Merapoh: Day 7

After a successful night drive, the morning of March 18 greeted us nicely with lots of fruit-eating species in the fruiting fig trees in front of our houses. A large flock of Asian Glossy Starlings (Aplonis panayensis) was flying in and out of the trees all the time. There was even an odd male Daurian or Purple-backed Starling (Sturnus sturninus) joining the feast as well. I believe it was the same individual that I saw the other day. A small flock of Brown Barbets (Caloramphus hayii) still came to visit the fig trees as usual, as well as a good variety of bulbuls. The most numerous one was the Buff-vented Bulbul (Iole olivacea), followed by the smaller Spectacled Bulbul (Pycnonotus erythropthalmos), then the large Streaked Bulbul (Ixos malaccensis). Other birds included the big and colourful Gold-whiskered Barbets, Lesser Green Leafbirds and tiny Crimson-breasted and Yellow-vented Flowerpeckers.
Asian Glossy Starling (Aplonis panayensis)
Male Daurian Starling (Sturnus sturninus)

Streaked Bulbul (Ixos malaccensis)

Buff-vented Bulbul (Iole olivacea)
Spectacled Bulbul (Pycnonotus erythropthalmos)
Immature male Lesser Green Leafbird (Chloropsis cyanopogon)
After the feast was over, I had a quick breakfast then walked into the trail. Before leaving the house, I saw a Grey-breasted Spiderhunter (Arachnothera modesta) visiting a strikingly colourful flowering tree, so I had a brief strop and grab some shots before the bird flew away into the forest. Birds were quite active in the trail and I was greeted by 3 different species of malkohas at the same time including the Chestnut-breasted, Black-bellied and Raffle's Malkoha. However, only a pair of Chestnut-breasted Malkohas (Phaenicophaeus curvirostris) came close enough for me to get some photos. The male has beautiful light blue eyes, while the female's are bright yellow. A pair of a male and female Maroon-breasted Philentoma (Philentoma velata caesia) also made a brief appearance as well, but I wasn't fast enough to be able to get their photos. Other birds seen include the drab Brown Fulvettas, Scaly-crowned Babblers, Dark-throated Orioles, Buff-vented, Hairy-backed and Yellow-bellied Bulbuls.

Male Chestnut-breasted Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus curvirostris)
And the yellow-eyed female

Grey-breasted Spiderhunter (Arachnothera modesta)
Brown Fulvetta (Alcippe brunneicauda)
Buff-vented Bulbul (Iole olivacea)
As the sun was getting higher in the sky, birds began to be less active. However, we came across a male Diard's Trogon (Harpactes diardii sumatranus) calling by the roadside. The bird responded to playback but didn't come out nicely like the smaller Scarlet-rumped we saw the day before. We finally gave up after quite a long hide-and-seek and began to walk back to have lunch. On my way back, I heard the call of a Garnet Pitta (Pitta granatina coccinea) coming from the roadside. The call was really close to the road, so I tried my playback, and the bird responded well. I was a bit frustrated as I didn't have any hide with me and I don't know if the bird would be brave enough to come out to the roadside. I tried hiding among the bush on the opposite side of the road and waited for the bird. There was a large fallen log close to the spot where the call was heard, so I put my focus on that log, as pittas are likely to perch and call from exposed logs. Finally, a rounded ball-like object flashed up from the ground and perched on the fallen log. My heart skipped a beat. A beautiful Garnet Pitta was finally perching before my eyes, and I could watch it from the roadside!
Garnet Pitta (Pitta granatina coccinea)
Male Diard's Trogon (Harpactes diardii sumatranus)

Male (left) and female (right) Cinnamon-rumped Trogon (Harpactes orrhophaeus)
After lunch, I set up a hide at the same spot where I saw the bird and others were also waiting eagerly to see it as well. However, the bird didn't show up on the fallen log as it did before, even though it was still calling in the bush behind the log. As I was almost giving up, a big object dashed into the bush in front of my eyes. At first glance, I thought it was the same old Scarlet-rumped Trogon, but then I realised that it was actually the much rarer Cinnamon-rumped Trogon (Harpactes orrhophaeus)! This was something extremely unexpected. What's more amazing was that another bird came perching on the top of the log where I was expecting for a pitta! The first one I saw was the brightly coloured male, and the one perching on the log was the female. I quickly got out of the hide and told everyone around me about them. Finally, almost everyone got a chance to see at least the female bird, as the male was just too shy to show up nicely.
Large Frogmouth (Batrachostomus auritus)
The backside view of the same bird

Common Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus)
It was again another extremely productive day of birding, but it didn't end easily. After having dinner, we decided to try out for the Large Frogmouth (Batrachostomus auritus) again for the second time as the bird didn't show up quite well the night before. Surprisingly, the bird was extremely cooperative and we all had great views of it. I totally love it when the bird flew from perch to perch. Its huge broad wingspan silhouetting across the moonlit forest was a very impressive sight for me. It's just unbelievable how big the bird was, and we were so happy to see this globally endangered species for the second time. After watching the frogmouth, some of us tried searching for other wildlife around the park's entrance, and I spotted a cute Common Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) sitting just by the roadside. It was also cooperative and I was able to try different style of lighting with it before returning to my room and had a good rest.


Russell said...

Wonderful collection beautifully photographed as usual. I'd get writers cramp if I tried to give the right praise for each species. All are a great find.

Ari said...

Great catch, Ayuwat, I've never even seen the Pitta before what more to photograph!

Stu said...

More amazing birds, my fave being the spiderhunter.........

Phil said...

Tremendous selection there Ayuwat, you really spoiled us with all that variety. I'd have to say the Garnet Pitta and the Frogmouth stand out though, not forgetting those superb Spiderhunters.

Hawkeyes a.k.a Kiah said...

Superb captured of the bird species. I enjoy reading your trip reports.

Chris said...

I guess it was a productive birding day and a wonderful one in term of pictures. Wow that is simply wonderful!

John said...

The Pitta, the Trogon AND a Frogmouth - all the kind of brilliant birds we live to see - well done !

chris said...

Again one of this fantastic captures of yours... Beautiful pictures of all these beautiful birds... Excellent...

Peng said...

I remember the first time I saw the Frogmouth too. As we waited with bated breath in darkness, a large moth-like silhouette glided silently across the faint moonlit sky, calling like a little puppy. That sight definitely caught my breath and still does. :D
As for the first time I saw the Pitta, I took some time to believe that I was finally seeing it! I think I stopped breathing too. Hahaha!
Beautiful shots. And you're really lucky. ;)