Thursday, July 09, 2009

8th July 2009: Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

The last part of yesterday was spent sitting in a dark ravine waiting in vain for a sporadically calling Rusty-naped Pitta. It got darker and darker and then the heavens opened and we got thoroughly soaked making our way out of the ravine and back to the car!

This morning I was back, feet in soggy trainers, slipping and sliding in very wet forest, to stake out the pitta again. To explain this crazy and irrational behaviour, I can only say that I have tried to see one of these mythical birds since my first encounter with them at Fraser's Hill in 1987, without success. I can claim to have heard one's wingbeats, but have never actually set eyes on one! This bird was behaving equally unpromisingly - calling once or twice every hour or so, distantly.

A pair of Rufous-browed Flycatchers were bringing food to an unseen nest near where I was sitting.

After a couple of hours I decided that I was on another wild goose-chase and made my way back to the road. As soon as I did so, I became aware of a second pitta calling loudly and persistently further up the road. I walked quickly to the spot and played the tape and the bird was immediately responsive. The only problem was that the undergrowth was well nigh impenetrable! Eventually, by standing almost on tiptoe and peering through the foliage, I could see a small amount of forest floor which was dappled with some sunlight. After about 20 minutes I moved away, and sensed that the bird had immediately moved to the place I had been watching. Creeping back, I got bare eye views of the male hopping swiftly up a thin trail. In the patches of sunlight I was surprised at how bright the blue-green back and orange-chestnut head were. YES!!

Over the next half hour I got three more views, and had the bird calling about three feet from me, but totally obscured. All I could see was a branch moving. Eventually the bird hopped into view pretty close and I got the bird in camera. I got one shot, and the flash failed to fire! Arggh! Here's the result - processed to the limit!

The back, tail and legs are clearly visible, and the bird seems to have raised its wings at the sound of my shutter. I think that the head is visible, turned three quarters away from me, but I guess that could be a leaf!

After calling solidly for over an hour the bird shut up. I set up my hide in the area and waited for most of the afternoon, but it didn't call or appear again. Oh well - I'm happy that at last I have actually seen one!

 Some other birds seen while pitta searching were Malaysian Hill Partridge (up to four groups calling), and a pair of Lesser Shortwings.

I gave myself a break from sitting in the hide for an hour or two and saw this juvenile (female?) Little Pied Flycatcher...

 adult Slaty-backed Forktail...

...and yet more Barred Cuckoo-doves!

My last bird of the trip - a Blyth's Hawk-eagle.

1 comment:

Choy Wai Mun said...

Looks like you had another great trip. Love the shots.