Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fraser’s Hill, 24th-26th Sept. 2010

The CN Volunteers trip for 2010 to Fraser’s Hill was an early start with the bus moving off at 6:30am from Newton Food Centre.  After breakfast and lunch stops on the way, we reached the Gap at 3:15pm, just in time to catch the “up” traffic.  The 40-seater bus was not easy to manoeuvre round the tight bends that were built 90 years ago for much smaller vehicles. Our bus captain William made it look easy. Arriving at the iconic Clock Tower we were greeted by the bird chorus, cool air and our expert local guide Mr K. S. Durei waiting at the Shahzan Inn.  After a quick check-in, we had a briefing on our program which was to kick off with a night walk starting at 8pm. The night walk along the Hemmant trail opened our eyes to nightlife of the forest. Huge toads, a fern that glows in the dark after it has died, trapdoor spiders, and tarantulas. The following morning after breakfast we had a Birdwatching Workshop on the basics of participating in a Bird Race. After our briefing our “mini” Bird Race got underway at 10am and was to last 24 hours until 10am Sunday. Teams were formed in 2’s or 3’s, our team was ourselves and Kok Seng.  Most of us had already seen some of the more common residents, the Oriental Magpie Robin, Streaked Spiderhunter, Long-tailed Sibia and the beautiful Black-throated Sunbird. Our team started along Jln. Lady Maxwell down to Jln. Semantan and onto the Rompin Trail. While we recorded many birds, we also picked up some uninvited guests, namely leeches. Some of which were not discovered until later having lunch at The Smokehouse, when a couple were found nice and fat on the floor. After a short rest our team resumed the bird race at 4pm along Jln. Lady Guillemard and a short way on Jln. Girdle, but heavy rain cut our afternoon birding.  The rain stopped when we met for a BBQ dinner at Punchak Inn and it was followed by a presentation on nature trips at Kenong Rimba Park  by the Pahang Tourism office. Next morning after breakfast we met Kok Seng at 8am and headed for Jln Mager where we saw 3 species of Barbet near Kindersley Trail. As cut-off time was approaching we took a short cut down the trail, where Kok Seng picked up another leech but managed to dislodge it before it could start feeding. After the tally had been completed and Durei had judged everyone’s submission the results were announced.  Our team managed to make 4th place with 22 birds which was better than we had hoped for. A “new” bird was seen by Gerard’s team, a Diard’s Trogon which they photographed.  We left at noon for our long ride to Singapore, stopping for dinner at Jusco, Bukit Indah, 20 minutes from the 2nd Link. We had a great time and we thank everyone involved in organising the trip.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Birdwatching at Semakau with Dr Ho Hua Chew

Another early Sunday wake up as we met at 7:30am at West Coast Pier for a NSS birding trip to Semakau Landfill.  Dr Ho Hua Chew led the trip and we started our walk along the 7 km bund.  In the sky the  Brahminy Kite was soaring overhead, and numerous Swiftlets flying above the grasslands with Pacific Swallows and the occasional Barn Swallow. A White-breasted Waterhen scurried away, next we spotted Scaly-breasted Munias among the grasses and glimpsed the Zitting Cisticola as it "zinged" by.  The Paddyfield Pipit and the Yellow-vented Bulbul were seen as were the Spotted Doves along the walk.  On a tall tree a Black-winged Kite was perching while above a White-bellied Sea Eagle drifted in the warm air.  Nearing the re-planted mangroves, a Grey Heron accompanied by a Pacific Reef Egret were leisurly feeding, with a lone Common Sandpiper. Hua Chew explained the difference between the more stationary Reef Egret and the fast moving Chinese Egret.  An excited whisper was heard from Ee Ling when she sighted close by on the rocks of the bund a pair of Malaysian Plovers. Further in the distance we spotted 4 Wimbrels while a White-throated Kingfisher flew into the mangrove. As we neared the wet Cell 3, there were more Wimbrels and a small group of Greenshanks. We then walked into the forest trail, braving the gauntlet of the voracious mosquitoes disturbing another Brahminy Kite that had been resting in the trees at the forest edge, we also flushed an Oriental Magpie Robin which quickly disappeared back into the undergrowth.  Along the beach we heard a pair of of Brown-throated Sunbirds and stopped to take a look.  A Collared Kingfisher flew by.  As it was past noon and becoming very hot not many birds were in sight.  At this western part of Semakau island, Dr Ho pointed out the islands of Hantu, Salu, Sudong, Pawai, Senang and Raffles Lighthouse in the distance. We then finished our walk and took a welcome ride back in the waiting air-conditioned  bus.  Our boat was arriving at 12.30pm and took our group of 11 back to the West Coast Pier. Thanks to Hua Chew and everyone for a good trip.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Birding Panti Encore

After our last trip to Panti, we could not resist one more trip, as it seems there is always something new for us to see. We met up with two friends at the start of the Bunker Trail at 7am and off we went. The weather was clear and dry, perfect for a nice morning with nature. We were not disappointed as new (to us) species were seen. The Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker, Raffles Malkoha, Grey-bellied Bulbul and the Spectacled Spiderhunter were all new to us. So we enjoyed another good day in Panti. After lunch in Kota Tinggi it was off home, feeling well fed and a little sleepy but very satisfied with our trip.
Raffles's Malkoha (Rhinortha chlorophaea) female

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Birding with friends

Last weekend we met up with some friends at Sungei Buloh to take at look at the migratory birds. Unfortunately the weather was not cooperative as it rained most of the morning, but even so we managed to get some shots of the different shore birds that came to feed. 
Towards midday when the rain stopped we moved on to the Kranji Marsh area where we were greeted by a Black-shouldered Kite perched on a nearby tree. Walking along the track we saw a beautiful Changeable Hawk and at the reservoir's pumping station a Grey-headed Fish Eagle was balancing on a low post.
On Monday we went to Panti with the same friends for a change of scene. We were surprised but pleased to have the forest practically to ourselves. On this trip we saw some different species from our previous visits which goes to show that Panti may still have a good population of birds. The weather was good in the morning, but when we returned after lunch it changed and became quite stormy with strong winds. This was our cue to head south, and it rained very heavily on our drive home.