Monday, October 12, 2009

Whistling Thrush Project: Fraser's Hill 8-11 October 2009

We caught fewer birds than on just about any previous trip this time, but who cares - we caught the one that we really wanted!

On our first morning we had set up nets at two locations, Kim Chye manning one lot and myself the other. On my way to open the nets before dawn, completely by chance, I shone my spotlight on a very close Mountain Scops Owl. I had neither bins nor camera with me, so just enjoyed great bare eye views at it sat there blinking at me!

That proved to be the highlight of my netting site - and by ten o'clock there had been neither sight nor sound of a whistling thrush, and not a single bird had been netted. Deciding to cut my losses, I packed up and moved down to Kim Chye's patch. When I arrived KC was taking a break so I went to check the nets. First one - empty. Second one - hmm - a single bird in the bottom shelf - a medium-sized black bird ... can it be?? Until that moment KC had not heard or seen a whistling-thrush all morning, and yet there it was, miraculously...a Malayan Whistling Thrush! I almost didn't dare breathe till the bird was out of the net and in the bag, whereupon a quiet whoop may have escaped my lips!!

What all the fuss was about! To the untutored eye, just a black bird - certainly not as spectacular as the trogons, green magpies and minivets that you can see at Fraser's Hill, but for the connoisseur - one of Malaysia's five-star birds!

Back to the wild! The MWT stops briefly on release to show off its new yellow and white 'bling'. If you are lucky enough to see this bird, please let me know!

This is the kind of place a Malayan Whistling Thrush feels at home.

The same kind of places are also much beloved of Slaty-backed Forktails. These birds are always flying into our nets - shame the study isn't on forktails!

Up on the Telekom Loop there was a flock of what I took to be Himalayan Swiftlets - deeply forked tails and long slender wings.

The rump was conspicuously pale and the underparts quite dusky.

A resident Dark Hawk-Cuckoo (formerly the bocki race of Large Hawk-Cuckoo) gave prolonged but slightly distant views.

A foraging Golden Babbler was one of the few birds I managed to photograph in the field!

This rather attractive 'blue' butterfly - Heliophorus epicles - was purple, orange and dark brown on the upperside, and yellow and orange below!

A couple of years ago a lizard wandered into our accommodation at Fraser's Hill. I photographed it, and it turned out to be the juvenile form of a then undescribed species! It was subsequently named Acanthosaura titiwangsaensis. This trip I found what I am pretty sure is the adult form sunning itslef in the middle of the road! It had an interesting threat display. When it moved, it would open its mouth briefly, revealing a startlingly white mouth!


alchi1210 said...

Congratulation!!!!!!!! So so so so ..... WOW & Lucky!! Hip hip Hooray =)

Wai Yien said...

Hi Dave, thanks for leaving a comment on my page, and yes, I was informed by Terence the same. Raptor was or still is a unfamiliar territory.

Nice shots on Slaty-backed Forktail, and a very productive trip indeed.

tippytommi said...

Congratulations! Is this the first MWT caught since the start of your project? It seems that MWT is rarer than prevously thought. Hope to see more intesting findings/sightings in near future.

Unknown said...

Amazing catch! The lizard is indeed a titiwangsaensis,armata has longer spines on the back. Maybe daytime coloration.

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