Monday, August 03, 2009

31st July 2009: Whistling-Thrush Project - Perlis revisited

That last day's views of whistling-thrushes were just too tantalizing not to go back and have another go at catching one! I persuaded Muin and Choo Eng to accompany me back to the site, a short three-hour drive and soon we had the nets up!

Excited House Swifts would periodically emerge from their cliff-face caves to pursue each other in screaming flocks.

A pair of Peregrines made a noisy exit from their roost site high up on the cliff and then disappeared behind the hill for most of the rest of the day.

The first bird to hit the net was a Blue Whistling-Thrush! But as I went to grab it it managed to free itself and flew off between my legs without me even managing to touch it! Arrrgghhh!

A pair of Rufous-bellied Swallows were next into the nets, and, being smaller, they were not able to extract themselves so easily. This is the second bird, and it showed paler brick-coloured underparts, with more prominent dark streaks than the first, so I guess the different may be related to gender, with this bird being a female?

This Little Spiderhunter was a bit of a puzzle. The plumage should make it a female, but while we were holding it, another Little Spiderhunter called nearby, prompting this one to raise its wings in display and to start singing! It was the first time I have seen a bird singing while in the hand.

The whistling-thrushes continued to show themselves on and off through the rest of the day, including at their favourite feeding spot right behind our net, but there was no way they were going to get caught again! In late afternoon we decided to head for the other site where I had seen whistling-thrushes earlier in the week.

Quite apart from the birdlife, these limestone karst hills are truly spectacular!

Equally amazing are the rickety wooden stairs that ascend the sheer cliffs, presumably routes to collect the edible nests of swiftlets.

Good views of a pair of Blue Whistling-Thrushes gave us hope for tomorrow. We closed the nets for the day just in time, as large bats poured out of the caves and swirled around under the canopy. We also heard a daytime-calling Collared Scops-owl, but it refused to show itself to us.

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