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Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Wasan early September

Sometimes luck strikes. This Saturday Kolbjorn noticed a purple-backed starling from the leisurely surrounding of his garden. Only a second record for Borneo (the first was from 1892) and great addition to the Panaga list. Despite Kolbjorn notifying me immediately I missed the bird by roughly 45 seconds. Dave has already posted Kolbjorns pics on his blog so I won't repeat it here.

Another good place for rarities is the Wasan rice scheme, our destination this Sunday. On the way over there we noticed a lot of asian glossy starlings feeding close to the road - the result was mayhem, for the glossy starlings that is: we counted at least 20 dead birds on the road between Jerudong and Wasan. Something we'd both not seen before. The number of starlings in Panaga has also dramatically increased in the last week; perhaps these birds do locally migrate and the roads offer easy food after a long journey?

As usual, at Wasan there were plenty of wandering whistling ducks around. A quick estimate yielded around 150 individuals, which seems to indicate that their number is on the rise.
Wandering whistling duck (Dendrocygna arcuata).
Wandering whistling duck (Dendrocygna arcuata).
Besides the ducks, wood sandpipers were in their hundreds and could be seen everywhere. A little adverse discrimination from my side; as the wood sandpipers were so abundant I didn't take a picture of a single bird! Other common waders that were seen included golden plovers, red-necked and long-toed stints, marsh sandpipers and a single greenshank. While walking through the long grass near the edges we flushed some blue-breasted quails, but we never got any decent views.

I only got my first painted snipe a couple of weeks back, when I saw two birds in the Seria grasslands. I almost felt a little disappointed that we flushed around 10 to 15 birds when we traversed one of the paddy fields - it nearly suggests that painted snipe are easy sightings!
Female greater painted snipe (Rostratula benghalensis).
The female of this species is the one with the bright colors. Not only that, she also typically has more than one devoted male!
Greater painted snipe (Rostratula benghalensis).
The best part however was the sighting of two buff-banded rails. A first bird flew up only a few feet in front of us. Shortly later, this second bird came out in the open. The first record of this species in Borneo only dates back to 2007, when two birds were seen at the Tempasuk plain by Madoya. There have been several sightings in Sabah and Sarawak since, including a couple of chicks as documented by Wong Tsu Shi (see here). Still, this is a very nice record, and I suspect a first for Brunei.
Buff-banded rail (Gallirallus phillipensis).
Buff-banded rail (Gallirallus phillipensis).
One noteworthy wader was a single Curlew sandpiper, a scarce passage migrant to Borneo, that was seen foraging together with a group of wood sandpipers. This is the second curlew sandpiper I've seen the past two weeks. Closer to home, the below individual has been consistently feeding at the same spot in the Seria grasslands:
Curlew sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea).
Curlew sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea).
Oh, and sometimes luck strikes twice. When I dropped Kolbjorn at his house the purple-backed starling did a little fly-over.

Folkert, 11/09/2013.


  1. Nice record of the Buff-banded Rail, it has been documented to breed in Kalimantan as well. I feel your pain on those Blue-breasted Quails as I have seen them twice without a single photo!

  2. they're quite tricky indeed - I tried for some flight shots this time but only ended up with blur.

  3. I have been following your blog for quite time, am wondering what camera and lens are you using for bird photography ? I love the first shot of wandering whistling duck ! by YJ.H

  4. Thanks YJ.H.I am shooting with Canon. I now mostly use a 300 mm with 1.4 extender that I bought earlier in the year. I prefer handheld shooting and with a Canon 7D (or 5D) this forms a very versatile combo. On occasion I fall back to my first birding lens, Canons 100-400 mm, which is still a great lens.

  5. Thanks for answering, really appreciate it ! by YJ.H

  6. Hi Folkert, thank you for the info on your blog. Was wondering if it is OK to bird with you again sometime? Please call or taxt me as I just realised I don't have your phone no. My h/p no. is 8170288. Thanks, Roger.
    p/s trying to arrange for CK to come back to Brunei too.

  7. Hi Roger. No problem - will text you to line something up.

  8. Hi,
    I hope that you don't mind me asking for some advice about birding in Brunei. I've never been to this part of the world before, but I'll be there for 2-3 days in the middle of Jan 2014 just prior to a birding tour in Sabah. Given that I have a limited amount of time in the country, would you recommend that I rent a car and bird on my own in the western districts of the country or should I take a 2 day /1 night trip package at Ulu Ulu resort?
    I appreciate any advice you can give me. I'm open to meet up for some birding if that might work for you.

  9. Hi anonymous. Both would be nice - Temburong offers some excellent forest birding, though you should note that trails and expert guiding are very limited. If you want to see some more varied habitats than KB district offers a great alternative (typical lowland dipterocarp, peat swamp forest, coastal forest). If I'm around I am open to join. Happy to take further "off-line" if you can provide an email address.

  10. Thank you for responding. Based on what you said, my first thought is to check out the KB district.

    My google email address is birdingwithzackweber. I look forward to corresponding more with you, but I'm actually going to be out of email contact for the next few days. I'd be glad to get back to you when I return on Monday or Tuesday.

    (I'll share more details over private messages. I just don't like to put too much personal information on open web pages.)