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Saturday, 29 September 2012

Last years migrant ducks

So no... not my first migrant ducks in Brunei this year. Instead a short post in anticipation for some sightings of ducks this season. These scarce winter visitors can be observed during October to April anywhere in Brunei where there is suitable habitat. A good portion of luck is required though; there are only few sightings recorded by PNHS members in the past.

The first species I saw last year is the Garganey (Anas querquedula). This single bird was encountered in an abandoned reservoir of a prawn farm close to Telisai during a visit of Quentin Phillips, CK Leong and Roger Rajah to Panaga last year. Because of work commitments I missed that first visit, but luckily this duck called the prawn farm it's home for at least a month longer, allowing me to take a few pictures during it's stay.

Garganey (Anas querquedula)
Garganey (Anas querquedula)
Garganey (Anas querquedula)
I think this bird is a female, it has a distinct head pattern with diagnostic pale supercilium, dark eye line and a pale lore spot bordered by a second dark line.

The second species is the Tufted duck (Aythya fuligula). In December I was happily surprised to find 4 birds in the lake at J15, close to Seria. The birds where only there for less than a week and seemed to deliberately be at the far side of the pond each time I got my camera out. Previous recordings were all in the Wasan rice fields (1995, 1988 and 1986). 

Tufted duck (Aythya fuligula)
Tufted duck (Aythya fuligula)
Let's hope we'll see some more ducks this year again (and that I haven't jinxed my luck with this post...).

Folkert, 29/09/2012

Saturday, 22 September 2012

New life in Panaga

I've been a little busy the last couple of days. Friday the 14th of September my wife gave birth to our very first child: Jacob, a healthy young boy! I am very happy and proud. And a little tired... Jacob is keeping us busy around the clock and I expect I will not be going out much the coming period!

In between naps I did have some quick peeks in the garden. Yesterday an arctic warbler was foraging up in the trees around the garden. These birds are migrants to southeast Asia and seem to be regulars in the Panaga gardens year on year. There not the easiest birds to capture on camera and this was my best attempt before the bird flew of.

Arctic warbler (Phylloscopus borealis)
In between baby feeding time I took my camera to the garden again this afternoon, secretly hoping to get another photo opportunity at the warbler. No such luck. To stay within the 'brand new life' theme some pictures of the yellow-vented bulbuls that are nesting next to the outside staircase instead. The yellow-vented bulbul is an abundant species in the Panaga gardens and arguably the most common bird around. This particular nest has already seen plenty of fledglings. This time only one of the two eggs hatched, the parents do not seem less busy though.

Yellow-vented bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier)
Yellow-vented bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier)
Yellow-vented bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier)
Ready for delivery!
A lot of commoners only this afternoon. A group of 4 zebra doves where foraging close to the house. This species is introduced in Borneo and very common around the Panaga gardens. The birds are remarkably approachable. I liked this out of focus shot best of the photos I took as the blur seems to enhance the zebra-effect.

Zebra dove (Geopelia striata)
Will likely do primarily garden-birding the next couple of weeks, hope the migrating season won't disappoint!

Folkert,  22/09/2012

Monday, 10 September 2012

Teraja at 6 AM.

Finally, after a handful of hikes to the Teraja waterfall at mid morning, I decided that there would be no more excuses for the track to be explored at sunrise. Kolbjorn was again prepared to join me, so this Saturday I got up at 04:00 and after an uneventful drive parked the car at the end of Labi road and the start of the waterfall trail at exactly 06:00 AM.

We quickly gathered our gear and set off on the trail. The forest was still only just waking up when we crossed the stream into the primary forest. There was plenty of activity to be heard, alas we didn't see anything. This is, until we happened to come across a small fruiting tree with the fruits sprouting directly from the trunks and branches. We stayed for a little while and saw some flowerpeckers, bulbuls and a male fairy bluebird. The grey-cheeked bulbul was already a nice surprise, but my bird of the morning was definitely the grey-bellied bulbul, a lifer for me! As luck would have it I even managed a half-decent picture (and also the only half-decent picture taken in the forest this morning).

Grey-bellied bulbul (Pycnonotus cyaniventris)
After observing the activity for a good period we decided to continue to the waterfall. Along the way we saw some unidentified fluttering and heard quite a few interesting calls and songs.

Teraja Waterfall
After a short pitstop at the waterfall we decided to head back to the fruiting tree. Along the way we did see a little more now: yellow-bellied bulbuls, some babblers and spiderhunters and we heard a helmeted hornbill. A passing kingfisher was too quick to identify (banded?). At the fruiting tree there were some different species, incl. puff-backed bulbuls and a female red-throated barbet. Most enticingly we heard a pitta-like call that with reasonable certainty we think was a blue-winged pitta.

Barn swallow (Hirunda rustica), opposite the parked car.
Note the bend tail-feather.
Barn swallow (Hirunda rustica)  
On the way out we did see a spotted fantail, probably quite common but still a first for me in Brunei. As expected Teraja really offers good opportunities to see some great new species. But it does require a lot of dedication as good views are hard to come by! The morning's Teraja list:

puff-backed bulbul, yellow-bellied bulbul, cream-vented bulbul, red-eyed bulbul, grey-cheeked bulbul, grey-bellied bulbul, asian fairy bluebird, spotted fantail, red-throated barbet, little spiderhunter, spiderhunter sp., black-throated babbler, ferruginous babbler, chestnut-winged babbler, ruby-cheeked sunbird, yellow-rumped flowerpecker, yellow-vented flowerpecker, kingfisher sp., barn swallow

Folkert, 10/09/2012

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Labi road, September 1st

Went for an early morning birding trip on Saturday morning together with Kolbjorn. We left Panaga around 05:30 and drove straight to Labi road. A first, very brief stop was at Luagan Lalak, a shallow fresh water lake roughly halfway between Labi and Sungai Liang. Luagan Lalak was very quiet and we soon headed off again. Our second locality was the side-road towards Kampung Rumah Panjang. As soon as we turned onto this my morning was instantly successful: a pair of large green pigeons was sitting high up in a dead tree. These birds are quite rare in Brunei and this was only the second time I've seen these largest of the Bornean green pigeons. As luck would have it we saw another pair (the same pair?) flying in front of a group of approximately 6 thick-billed green pigeons half an hour later. I wasn't quick enough to get any of the pigeons on camera though.

After driving on a little further we saw some hill myna's up in another bare tree. One of the birds looked suspiciously different and upon closer inspection it was a red-crowned barbet. The light was very bad and the bird high up in the treetop; the below (heavily cropped) snap was the best I could manage.

Red-crowned barbet (Megalaima rafflesii)

A couple of months ago on May 26th, and before the birth of my weblog, I got some more decent pictures at the same location of this barbet species enjoying a fruiting bonanza:

Red-crowned barbet (Megalaima rafflesii)
Red-crowned barbet (Megalaima rafflesii)

We walked up and down the road for a little while and soon spotted a flycatcher. We observed this little fellow for some time, as it returned to the same branch after each sally for insects. I am still not fully certain which species this exactly is; my guess is a dark-sided flycatcher but I am open to alternative suggestions (brown-streaked?)...

Dark-sided flycatcher (Muscicapa sibirica)
Dark-sided flycatcher (Muscicapa sibirica)
Dark-sided flycatcher (Muscicapa sibirica)

We continued to follow the road past the Kampung and as far as we could by car. In the past I think you could drive all the way to the river, but the road now stops roughly two kilometers short. After parking the car we walked probably a couple of 100 meters further into the forest. This is a very nice area. As it was getting a little later the activity did drop, but we still managed to see some nice birds including some babblers, a black-naped monarch and an emerald dove. I didn't get any great photo opportunities and most frustrating was a perfectly perched purple-naped sunbird at 1 meter, well within my minimum focus distance! This female black-and-yellow broadbill provided some reasonable views.

Black-and-yellow broadbill (Eurylaimus ochromalus)

The big birds stayed out and we didn't see a single raptor or hornbill this time. Still, we had a great morning with over 40 species recorded, and this side-road of the Labi road remains one of my favorite areas. The morning's list:

white-breasted waterhen, large green pigeon, thick-billed green pigeon, emerald dove, blue-crowned hanging parrot, stork-billed kingfisher, rufous woodpecker, brown barbet, red-throated barbet, red-crowned barbet, greater racquet-tailed drongo, crow-billed drongo, slender-billed crow, dollar bird, hill myna, blue-throated bee-eater, raffles' malkoha, chestnut-bellied malkoha, black-and-yellow broadbill, black-and-red broadbill, black-naped monarch, pied fantail, green iora, common iora, dark-sided flycatcher(?), fiery minivet, black-headed bulbul, red-eyed bulbul, cream-vented bulbul, sooty-capped babbler, scaly-crowned babbler, chestnut-winged babbler, olive-backed sunbird, crimson sunbird, purple-throated sunbird, little spiderhunter, spectacled spiderhunter, dark-necked tailorbird, whiskered tree-swift, white-breasted woodswallow, pacific swallow, chestnut munia.

Folkert, 02/09/2012