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Monday, 22 April 2013

Migrants in the Seria grasslands, April 2013

The Seria grasslands around Panaga form a good wintering ground for many waders and it pays off to drive around here as something interesting can almost always be seen. Even in April you can still spot a fair number of migrant birds on the fields and in the ditches surrounding these.
Snipe are typically not easily encountered as they are exceptionally well camouflaged. Most views are of birds flying of from a foot in front of you, leaving you wondering how you could have possibly missed it before it took to the sky. And when you then do finally see them getting a positive ID is also not straight forward.
The bird below was providing me with a brief and clear view; a possible Swinhoe's or Pintail snipe.
Snipe species
This grey heron was see sitting on a lamp post next to the main road connecting the cities of Kuala Belait and Seria. The grey heron is an uncommon visitor to Brunei, though every winter a few birds are usually seen. The Tutong sewage works in Brunei especially are a good place to find them. 
Grey heron
Even though it was drizzling and lighting conditions were far from perfect I somehow felt compelled to get this bird on camera - and am still questioning myself why: it seems rather strange to fill your memory card with pictures of a bird that is one of the very common sights back in Holland. 

A little later I found a flock of pacific golden plovers in the grasslands, nicely coming into breeding plumage - perhaps I may still get lucky and find some birds in full breeding plumage before they've all headed up north.
Pacific golden plover (Pluvialis fulva).
Pacific golden plover (Pluvialis fulva).
The pond herons are also still around - I suspect that the below individual is a chinese pond heron; but until the breeding plumage is developed further I can't fully rule out that this bird is a javan pond heron.
Chines pond heron (Ardeola bacchus).
The most familiar migrants to the Seria grasslands are the egrets. Every year between September and May the Sungai Seria estuary and surrounding grasslands are home to a couple of thousand birds. Of the white egrets that winter here, the cattle egret is the most common. Right now the adult birds are also coming into breeding plumage - with the distinctive orange head and plumes on the back.
Cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis).
This individual was vigorously defending a little wet patch that was created after extensive morning rains. I noticed some other birds doing the same.
Cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis).
The bird would become quite aggressive every time other birds came too close. Others egrets seemed more relaxed and just used the water-logged field to simply lie down in.
Cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis).
While driving back home through the grasslands this Sunday, like in October, I saw another small falcon flying fast across the road. Frustratingly I again couldn't get good enough views for a positive ID. As Kolbjorn got the same frustrating glimpse from the passenger seat at least this time the frustration was shared.

Folkert, 22/04/2013

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The carpark woodpecker

A very brief post to share 2 recent pictures of a brown-capped woodpecker, also known as the Sunda pygmy woodpecker, Dendrocopus moluccensis.

This is a supposedly common woodpecker in coastal forest and gardens throughout Borneo. I, however, seem to mostly encounter this species in any large car park. In fact, the number of times that I have seen these birds in a different environment can probably be counted on one hand.

Our office car park is home to a couple of these chirpy little woodpeckers also and quite regularly they are seen and heard as they make their daily rounds. In recent years I have been very good at resisting the temptation to bring my camera to work - but when a little family group of 3 were seen up-close on consecutive mornings, I finally gave in. And, during the lunch-break I was rewarded with the following shots of the female.
Sunda pygmy woodpecker (Dendrocopus moluccensis). 
Sunda pygmy woodpecker (Dendrocopus moluccensis). 
Oh, and my stealth must be improving; none of my co-workers seems to have noticed me trodding through the car park, lens in hand...

Folkert, 10/04/2013.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

KB road, again

As some of you may have picked up from previous posts, the Kuala Balai road can almost be considered as my local birding patch. A broad variety of birds, and some great mammals and reptiles have been recorded in the past along this road. Unfortunately the local bird catchers realize this too and every weekend a couple of people can be seen pulling up their cages to the treetops.
Still, the birding along this road is usually rewarding. I have lost count of the number of times I visited this road over the past 3 years, but even now I pick up new species.

Last week the weather was not too great and frankly the birding and photography was a little disappointing. Most exciting was to hear a few ruddy kingfishers and I also had brief views of one bird flying past. 
Luckily there are always some yellow-bellied prinias around to keep me entertained.
Yellow-bellied prinia (Prinia flaviventris).
This species was definitely not discovered in Brunei; most birds here only have a very faint yellow wash to the belly that gives them their name. I think the subspecies in Borneo is called p. f. latrunculus.

The male van Hasselt's sunbird can often be seen calling from an exposed branch in the top of the trees. This is a very small sunbird with some stunning colors. It was a little too early and foggy to get a proper picture of the bird below.
Van Hasselt's sunbird (Leptocoma brasiliana)
A little later I again heard the ruddy kingfishers, there were at least 3 birds calling. But again, no views...
The black-and-yellow broadbills, on the contrary, were not very shy today and a female and male were providing good views. My guess is that during the breeding period, or really just before, they seem more oblivious to their surroundings and only have eye for each other. The black breast-band shows that this is the male.
Male black-and-yellow broadbill (Eurylamus ochromalus).
There were a good number of hornbills heard and seen flying across the road. Of the four species seen this morning I only managed a quick snapshot of this female Rhinoceros hornbill.
Rhinoceros hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros).
A small family group of rufous woodpeckers was foraging next to the road as well. This is probably my best shot of this species so far and I was quite pleased - but it even got better!
Rufous woodpecker (Micropternus brachyurus).
When I was driving further I heard a scarlet-rumped trogon (Harpactes duvaucelii) calling next to the road and soon located this fine specimen.
Male scarlet-rumped trogon (Harpactes duvaucelii).
The scarlet-rumped trogon is one of the more common lowland trogons. I really find this a very pretty species and was very happy with the images I took home today. Even more so as I never had such clear, close and prolonged views along KB road before! And maybe, just maybe, that ruddy kingfisher will show itself like this one day...

Folkert, 03/04/2013.