Thursday, July 09, 2009

4th July 2009: Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

This trip was a combination of a chance to spend a few days with some old friends, meet some new friends and take advantage of an extended Selangor Bird Group stay at a timeshare apartment.

The old friends were Dr Graham and Jenny McAll, and the new ones - Peter and Miranda Harris. Peter and Miranda are the founders of A Rocha - a Christian conservation organization. There's a short video clip of their work here. I read Peter's first book , Under the Bright Wings, some years ago, and have been an admirer of A Rocha's work since. Both the Harris's and the McAlls are here on A Rocha business, holding seminars in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur on biblical environmental stewardship.

Peter is what I would call a 'dead keen birder', so it was my job to introduce him to some Malaysian montane birds while the rest of the party relaxed and enjoyed themselves. It was a tough job but someone had to do it!

We stayed at the Lutheran Bungalow, which is at the end of a very birdy lane in an area of CH I hadn't visited before. Pre-dawn this Blyth's Hawk-eagle was already on the alert.

In a wooded ravine not far from the bungalow, large numbers of cuckoo-doves were coming down to drink in a sadly polluted stream. There must have been a hundred or more Little Cuckoo-doves, and about thirty Barred - a lifer for me after many years of looking! This was my first shot - a digiscoped effort.

A couple of flight shots. Robson states that Barred Cuckoo-dove has a 'long, graduated tail with no white or grey markings', but as can be seen here, the outer tail feathers have quite obvious pale grey terminal and subterminal markings, which are lacking in Little.

Later I found a branch where many of the birds would perch en route to or from the water. It was a little dark and in the shade, but at least it gave a chance of a clear shot. Here a female Barred sits alongside a female Little, giving a good impression of relative size and bulk.

The female is well barred all the way down the underparts.

In the sun, both sexes have a gorgeous mint choc chip green sheen to the neck and upper breast feathers.

A couple of Little Cuckoo-doves on the same branch. I think the right hand bird may be a juvenile and the left one a female.

A male (right) moves into a better posing position!

Juveniles were a feature of this trip - obviously this is one of the peak breeding periods - here's one of several young Slaty-backed Forktails we saw.

"Cuckoo-dove valley" held several singing Lesser Shortwings. Here's an obliging subadult male (aged by the brown primaries).

A Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo enjoying the first rays of the morning sun. Most Lesser Racket-tails seem to be minus their rackets, but are easily identified by their square tail and wedge-shaped 'foreheadless' head.

Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrikes seem particularly numerous in the Cameron Highlands.

A composite picture of a single subadult Rufous-bellied Eagle. The underwing coverts and some of the body plumage is still juvenile. The shape of this eagle in flight is quite similar to Booted Eagle.

 A short walk along Trail 5 in the afternoon yielded a few passerines, including this moulting male Black-throated Sunbird...

... and several hyperactive Yellow-breasted Warblers - common but so difficult to get a decent picture of!

A striking leaf!

I thought a pair of Everett's White-eyes were being very obliging, hanging around close by and preening - until I realized that I was sitting a few feet from their nest - so I hastily retreated!

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