Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Hairy One

We do know that birds feed on caterpillar. What if the bird got a real hairy caterpillar?
This Black-Naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis) got herself a real big and hairy caterpillar. It hold the caterpillar and hit it against the tree branch real hard in order to remove the hair. As you can see from the photo above, slowly but surely it worked!

The irritating hair did help the caterpillar from some predators but obviously failed against this beautiful Black-Naped Oriole!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Olive-Backed Sunbird

My last trip to the North Sulawesi indeed was an eye opener for me.
When I first saw this beautiful sunbird, is so familiar and yet not too sure if this is an Olive-backed sunbird. Something was different from the Olive-backed sunbird that I used to see back in Singapore.

After double check on the guidebook when return to Singapore than I realise this one indeed a Olive-backed Sunbird and belongs to another sub-species - Nectarinia jugularis plateni (sulawesi). The main difference is the yellow facial-strips (as shown in the photo above)

These are the Olive-backed Sunbird that I used to see in Singapore and belongs to N. j. ornata. Very similar to the sunbird that I saw in Sulawesi but without the yellow strips.

There is always something new and something to learn on every trip! Wow!

Reference used: Birds of South-East Asia (New Holland), Birds of Wallacea (Dove).

Monday, July 19, 2010

Raining Birds

Despite the heavy downpour and flash flood yesterday, we proceed with our planned birding trip to Pulau Ubin. We share a cab in order to reach Changi Jetty before 7.30am, CHL stay furthest, so he get a cab first and pick me up before we pick Ling. We arrive at Pulau Ubin as planned right before 8am.
The first bird that I saw was this very shy Lesser Coucal. It may looks very similar to Greater Coucal from far, however Lesser Coucal is smaller and with the very distinctive white streaks which Greater Coucal don't haveOne of the reason we want to reach Ubin early is to catch this pair of White-bellied Sea Eagle. They will perch here early in the morning and will flew off when the temperature rises.
A curious Yellow-Vented Bulbul checking on us.I saw this Blue-throated Bee-eater last week being fed and is now hunting his own food today.
A Common Myna that once very common now are found usually near coastal area. The weather changed rather fast and it was drizzling and we know is time we head back to the mainland.
Once back to mainland at Changi Village, we go for breakfast while waiting for the sky to clear. Saw these flocks of Rock pigeon fly in a straight line so I just took a shot of it.
There is no sign that the rain will stop so we proceed with our birding with umbrella around the Changi Village. AS usual, is not difficult to locate this very noisy but beautiful Pink-breasted Parakeet.
This pair of Tanimbar Corella in a lovey dovey mood...
Not a bad idea to go for birding in a raining day!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Feeding Behavior of Bee-eater

As the name suggest bees and wasps formed main diet of bee-eaters but they also feed on most flying insect such as dragonfly. I’m particularly delighted to watch the bee-eater ‘process’ their prey before consuming it or feed it to their juvenile.

When the bee-eater caught a bee or wasp, the bee-eater will repeatedly hit and rub them on the tree branch and at the same time add pressure onto the prey. This will remove most of the venom from their prey. Only then the prey is considered safe for consumption.
I saw this pair of Blue-throated Bee-eater (Merops viridis) last week during my trip to Pulau Ubin.

The juvenile (just fledged and without the brown caped) on the left patiently waiting while the parent is processing the bee.

The adult bee-eater hold the prey in the bill and hit it against the tree branch that she perched on several time.
The bee-eater will at the same time add pressure onto the prey to force most of the venom out from the prey.
Only when the prey is considere safe for consumption, the adult bee-eater will feed it to their juvenile.
The adult carefully place the bee into the open bill of the juvenile.
The adult will just watch the juvenile slowly consume the processed food.
What a beautiful sight! "Like father like son!" or you may say "Like mother like daughter!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Another Exciting Pulau Ubin Trip

It was quiet than usual when I arrived at Pulau Ubin (a small off-shore island at the north of Singapore) this morning. Perhaps the World Cup match between Germany & Uruguay finish at local time 4.30am partly the reason. Since the traffic is low, I suppose it will be a better chance to spot more birds?

I did have a really fruitful trip this morning and below are some of the photos that I have taken this morning. Just a few minutes walk once I off from the main road I saw a flock of Red-Breasted Parakeet (Psittacula alexandri) Being a noisy birds, is not difficult to spot them when they are nearby.

Saw this huge wasp at the side of the road and perhaps this also explain the high number of Bee-eaters around this area.
A pair of mother and juvenile Blue-throated Bee-eater were spotted just a few steps from where I saw that wasp.
A very colourful Pink-neck green pigeon hiding among the leaves. If the pigeon stay still, it will not be easy to spot them.
A Little Tern was spotted flew pass on top of meHuge red bill Stork-billed Kingfisher patiently perch on the tree waiting for prey.
Oriental Magpie Robin, bird that almost go extinct due to cage bird industry sometimes ago make a comeback after it was re-introduced.
Peaceful Dove taking sun bath under the morning sunlight.
As the temperature soar, this Scaly-Breasted Munia take shelter under the leaves.
A juvenile Scaly-Breasted munia is taking shelter from the hot sun too.
A really tiny bird that less than 9cm, a Scarlet-Backed Flowerpecker.
As the temperature continue to soar, I decided to call it a day as I also need to catch some sleep to be ready for tonight World Cup final at 2.30am local time.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My First Wallacea Birding

The first time I visited Manado, North Sulawesi was about 2 years ago on a 7 days dive trip. This time round, birding was added as part of the itinerary on top of just diving. I starts off with 3 days diving at Lembeh Straits, Lembeh is one of the best muck diving destination in the world before make our way to Tangkoko Nature Reserves.

I have never been bird watch at any of the area within the Wallacea boundary and Sulawesi is within the Wallacea boundary. Since this is going to be my first birding trip in Wallacea, any birds that we saw could be an endemic species!

We arrived at the reserves around 3pm and after settle down and rest for an hour, we set off at 5pm for our 1st night walk with our Ranger. The first mammal that we came across was the crested black macaques. It was about time for them to settle down and rest for the day. We move on deeper into the forest to look for the elusive yet super cute Tarsiers. Our ranger ask us to stop and wait around a big tree and told us to just wait till the surrounding get dark. Since Tarsiers are nocturnal animals, they will leave their nest for hunting at night. Suddenly we heard a rustling of leaves and branches in the nearby bushes. The Park Ranger quickly turned his torch in the direction of the noise, and yes! Is the Tarsiers!! They are so cute, is an amazing experience to be able to see this elusive tiny creature up close! After about few minutes, the ranger switch off the light to let the Tarsiers carry on their activities and switch the torch back on after the Tarsiers disappeared in the dense forest.

What an amazing experience to be able to see Tarsiers up close!

While on the way back to our cabin, the ranger show us the 1st bird of the trip! An endemic Sulawesi Scops-owl (Otus manadensis)!

Sulawesi Scops-owl (Otus manadensis)

I set my ISO to the highest to avoid using flash. I took a few shot as the ranger shine on the owl. The light from the torch is just good enough for me to focus and make some shots without causing too much stress for the bird. We sleep rather early on the first night as we will be going to the forest again the next morning around 4.30am.

We set off at 4.30am sharp and were greeted by flocks of Great Eared Nightjar.

We were at the forest all the way till about 1pm before we go back to our cabin. We were out for birding again in the afternoon at 4pm but this time round we were on the boat, travel around the coastal area into the mangrove. As we were too tired, we didn’t go for night walk and check out the next morning.

It was an fantastic birding trip. We were there for just 2 days and more than 40 species of birds have been observed with more than half of them endemic. These are some of the birds that we saw in just 2 days.

Silver-tipped Imperial Pigeon (Ducula luctuosa)

Green-backed Kingfisher (Actenoides monachus)

Knobbed Hornbill (Rhyticeros cassidix)
Not difficult to look for Yellow-billed Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus calyorhynchus), as they are always nearby Crested Black Macaques.
Crested Black Macaques. When they move from tree to tree, insect are flush out of the tree and exposed them to the waiting Yellow-Billed Malkoha.

White-breasted Wood-swallow (Artamus leucorhynchus)
I have no idea what bird is this with lots of worn out feathers.

Looks familiar yet different from the usual Brown-throated Sunbird, this is a sub-species of Brown-throated Sunbird ( Anthreptes malacensis heliocalus)
Another sub-species of Olive-backed Sunbird (Nectarinia jugularis plateni )
Buff-banded Rail (Gallirallus philippensis)
Chestnut Munia (Lonchura atricapilla)
Tangkoko is worth to go back again and again!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Living Planet

I attended this part of The Living Planet series at National Geographic Store at Vivo City - "Conservation in the heart of Borneo - Photography as a tool for change" . I've been to Borneo last year for a photography trip. Is a paradise for all nature photographer but it will not last long if nothing is done about it now.

Conservation does not always equal to sacrifice development. What is important is the balance and sustainable development.
Mattias Klum share with the audience about his experience in Borneo and how we can help to protect it. He is quite an inspiring speaker, I must say!

It was a huge turnout and is full house!
If you happens to be at Vivo, go to National Geographic Store to take a look at Klum's photos that are on display now.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Intraspecific Competition of Little Heron

Competition is unavoidable when the population growth at high densities. At higher densities, resources will become limited as such the effect of intraspecific competition will happen. Intraspecific Competition refer to competition for resources within the same species.

I am fortunate enough to witness the intraspecific competition between 2 Little Heron (Butorides striatus) while I was on a birding trip at North Sulawesi.

This Little Heron happily landed near a coastal area thinking to feed while the tide is low.

Almost immediately, the other Little Heron that already started feeding earlier at the same location move in to protest to the 'intruder'.

A fierce fighting is looks set to happen...
After few rounds of chasing, eviction, display of muscle,...
The 'intruder' decided to back off.

The incumbent Little Heron managed to defense her territory and the 'intruder' just flew off to other location.