Tuesday, July 28, 2009

24th July 2009: Whistling Thrush Project: Perlis State Park

Our first full day at the Park, and disappointingly, no sight nor sound of any whistling-thrushes.

A few birds did fly into our nets, and they were duly processed and released. Even though they are not the focus of our project, having birds in the hand does give us a valuable chance to build on current knowledge. For example, we were able to handle adult and juvenile Grey-cheeked Bulbul - juvenile plumage in 'undescribed' according to Wells 2007 - so we were able to fill that small gap.

This juvenile Chestnut-naped Forktail is quite different from that described and illustrated in Wells 2007, which has a dull chestnut mantle (similar to adult female). Is it possible that our bird is a juvenile male, while the one illustrated and described in Dr Wells' book may be a juvenile female? Several Ficedula flycatchers are sexable in juvenile plumage, and it seems that other taxa may be too.

Another case in point - we were lucky to catch two male Rufous-collared Kingfishers at the same time. One had a clear yellow lower mandible and was in primary moult, while the other had extensive dark markings on the lower mandible and had uniformly fresh plumage. A sign of immaturity?

Short-tailed Babblers were particularly common on the slopes near our accommodation and we caught one. The other common babbler was Black-capped, which was noticeably absent on the slopes but numerous on the flat valley bottom along the stream.

Chestnut-winged Babblers were only noted along the Prince of Denmark trail, where the undergrowth is a bit more open.

These birds gave an interesting response to playback of their calls. They immediately sat close together, fluffed up their back feathers and started to preen each other, while calling at the same time.

An adult (male I guess?) Acanthosaura armata, or Horned Tree Lizard.

In the afternoon we visited a valley between two limestone ridges where about forty Rufous-bellied Swallows were coming to bathe and drink in an irrigation pond. Unfortunately I missed the best light conditions. These are my best attempts at a challenging subject!

After dinner I was determined to have another go at photographing the deceptively un-Slow Loris, so drove slowly along the road to the border spotlighting from the car. After several kilometers I finally found a Loris - not on the wires this time, but near them - and started to take a few blurry photos. However, my endeavours were cut short by the arrival of a Police Landrover, whose occupants wanted to know why this foreigner was taking so much interest in apparently photographing telecommunications installations at night! After a lengthy explanation I was allowed to resume my journey, but of course, by then the Loris was long gone - 2-0 to the Lorises!

A few other fruits of my labours at night:

A pair of Red Giant Squirrels sailed over our accommodation and spent 5 mintues exploring holes in a nearby tree.

The best I could manage of a 'flight shot'!

Most eye-shine when lamping at night comes from spiders, and some of them are very impressive indeed. I wouldn't fancy getting a bite from the jaws of this one!

This stunning creature was suspended over the road - luckily I saw it before walking into it!

Mammals are a lucky find at night - and a challenge to photograph well! This is the best I could manage of a Greater Mousedeer.

And this is some kind of rat!

Limnonectes blythii. Blyth's River Frog.

Hylarana or Rana labiallis. White lipped frog.

Humerana miopus. Diagonal-lined Frog.

Also Humerana miopus, but in a different shade!

Hylarana glandulosa. Rough-sided Frog.

Leptobrachium hendriksonii. Spotted Litter Frog

Frogs were many and varied! Thanks to Muin for helping me to id them, and for pointing out this excellent website.

Sleeping beauty! A roosting butterfly.

An impressive-looking and noisy Forest Gekko.

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