Monday, September 14, 2009

8-11th Sept: Whistling Thrush Project - Cameron Highlands

Our previous trip to Cameron Highlands had netted us one Blue Whistling Thrush, which was duly colour banded. We didn't manage to see the colour-banded bird on this trip, though others have seen it fairly recently.

We did however, manage to trap another bird, which now wears a pair of rather fetching pink and pale green bands.

This dicrorhynchos race of Blue Whistling Thrush is markedly duller and less prominently speckled than the northern crassirostris form (see here). It's not surprising that people frequently mistake this dull race for the smaller, rarer endemic Malaysian Whistling Thrush, which we have yet to encounter during our project.

In the field, these birds often seem to have a brownish tint to their plumage.

Perhaps Blue Whistling Thrush is one of the few species that isn't negatively impacted by the profusion of new building projects that are springing up (or have been abandoned)in the Highlands, since these half-finished buildings provide habitats reminiscent of caves, which are their preferred breeding sites. At any rate, this one was quite at home foraging around this building, though I can't imagine it found much food.

Robinson Falls, named for H C Robinson, for whom Malaysian Whistling Thrush (Myophonus robinsoni) was also named, is a traditional haunt of Blue Whistling Thrushes, but we failed to find any this trip.

Blue Whistling Thrushes have been recorded feeding on reed snakes. This one is a Schultz's Reed Snake (Macrocalamus schulzi).

A couple of other birds we caught at the whistling thrush site, a Slaty-backed Forktail and a male White-tailed Robin, both in pristine fresh plumage.

On our second day we moved uphill to try to catch the thrush we had failed to catch on Gunung Brinchang last trip. Once again, this bird was not for the catching, but we caught plenty of other birds while trying!

An adult male Large Niltava.

A female Little Spiderhunter.

A White-throated Fantail.

More White-tailed Robins, including this young juvenile.

A Mountain Bulbul (surprisigly smart birds at close range!)

Juv female and adult male Snowy-browed Flycatchers - which are TINY - weighing around 8g!

This seems to be a good year for Barred Cuckoo-Doves - we were able to watch this male bird fly to its roosting tree.

More White-tailed Robins, including adult females, which seem to be able to avoid our nets without fail!

On our last day we went up to near the summit of Brinchang, to see if we could sniff out a Malaysian Whistling Thrush (we couldn't). Our most noteworthy sighting was of a medium-sized all dark cat (larger and longer-legged than a domestic cat, with a long bushy tail), which crossed the road and walked under one of our nets. Its size and shape pointed to it being an Asian Golden Cat, which occasionally comes in a dark brown or blackish morph.

The view from the Gunung Irau trail is well worth the short climb - if the clouds clear!

The mossy forest along this trail is the sort of place where you half-expect hobbits to appear!

Snowy-browed Flycatchers are one of the most visible species up here.

Yellow-breasted Warblers are another upper montane specialist.

A pair of Bay Woodpeckers were holding territory around the trees above our nets.

Batman's pet cicada?

Another momento of Robinson's contribution to the area - this is Gonocephalus robinsoni - Robinson's Anglehead Lizard. Thanks to Muin for the herp ids by the way!

We were lucky to catch a pair of Malaysian Hill Partridges feeding by the roadside as we drove down one evening. They seemed quite unconcerned by the vehicles passing close by.


Terence Ang said...

Nice write up again Dave. I enjoy most of your write up and your photo as well. Nicely taken

Richard King said...

Nice photos, fantastic animals there.

digdeep said...

Thanks for your kind comments Terence and Richard

Unknown said...

has been quite some time I didn't view your blog, and wow.. nice close look of the montane birds.. so colorful and interesting. Thanks.

zzlaloq said...

seing the bird in hand, show how small the birds are.