Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Some rarities of USM

Being one of the USM's staffs gives me the opportunity to explore the campus more than who is not. But i guess that's not the fact because of my job which is not related to my hobby doesn't allow me to spend more time birding. Anyway, like everybody said, its a matter of luck too when it comes to birding.

Here are some of my rare find recently from the campus...

An Eyebrowed Thrush,
On 10 December 2010, i saw this bird with another individual at Alumni House during my lunch time. When i first saw it, i know it is an unsual sepcies to the campus. The belly is whitish and it has a distinct white supercilium. It was feeding on a fruiting Ficus tree nearby together with Asian Glossy Starling. As it was friday, i went for friday prayer and came back to the same tree to check it and try to get some photos. Lucky me, it was stil around.

On 25 December 2010, i went to Tasik Aman for a short birding. After  a while, i sat down to write all of my sighting into my notebook. I was nearly finished writing when suddenly i heard a lot of noise made by a few birds around the lake. Suddenly a bird flew on top of my head and perched on a branch across the lake. At first i thought it was a sparrowhawk...but after a closer look, i realized it is a Hawk Cuckoo. Known for its rarity, i rushed myself to get some shots. I managed to get two shot of it on a clean perch and quite close by before it flew off..Thanks to Dave Bakewell for pointing it out as Large not malaysian hawk cuckoo. Another new bird for the campus...

 A shot showing rusty colored tail tip...

This shot shows the nape,

I hope i can find some of the other rarities soon so i can proceed with the book for USM's birds. Wish me luck! Thanks.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

An amazing find

Here is a footage  video of Lee Grismer and friends talking about speciation of gecko in our local cave..the full version will be available soon on BBC/National Geographic...

I was around but a bit late to join the shooting by the BBC crew. Better luck next time...Enjoy!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Of the resident, migrant, captured and escapees of Kedah Coast

I went back to my wife's house after attending family day programme held by my wokplace. As we were at Semeling, i decided to home through Yan- Kuala Kedah road. After reaching Kuala Kedah, we were brought by my GPS to a small road cutting through paddyfields. We did reach home safely and along the way i found many surprises..i also did some birding and here are the results..

Lets start of with some shots of the resident birds...

My first Cinnamon Bittern from this area...

Some migrants...

Common redshanks..
 White winged tern hunting for dragonfly...
 It did manage to get one..
I finally got a decent shot of this fella, Common Kingfisher..

Now come the sad the migratory season starts off, so did the mist netting season for the local usual many unwanted animal including bats and birds was also captured and left to dry on the net...
The usual victims are fruit bat and the Baya weaver,
 Brown Hawk Owl,
 The owl was lucky that i manage to release it on time and it survived. Unlike this Japanese Sparrowhawk which was too weak and finally died after some time of removal from the mist net...

Now come to the escapees...

This is Asian Pied Starling. It has been recorded from some other area in Peninsular Malaysia too...

and to my surprise, i saw this bidr which i'm pretty sure is a Crested Myna....anyone disagree?

It suppose to just reached mainland Penang?! Hmm...

A civilization as old as 110 A.D.

I was at Sungai Petani on saturday and at Semeling on sunday morning (4th and 5th December 2010) for my workplace family day. At Semeling, we visited an Archaeological site which was an eye opener for me and others. At first i thought we were going to the usual Lembah Bujang Archaeological site but instead we went to a new area called Sungai Batu (still in the Lembah Bujang area but different place). This is an important site which was recently discovered by USM's team. It was dated 110 A.D.,the oldest civilisation in South East is actually a vast area for iron ore industry. Can you imagine...iron ore industry in 110 A.D.! This is a place where everybody should go..

 Dr Mokhtar Saidin, Director of the Global Archaeological Centre,Universiti Sains Malaysia, giving us a briefing. His explanation mesmerized everybody....
 A structure made by bricks,believed to be a worship area. During that time, they still worship nature and this structure was facing Gunung Jerai which is believed to be their deity during that time..
 An iron ore processing area or a furnace. You can see the rectangular structure  which has holes which work as bellows..
 The jetty for exporting the iron. It was exported to as far as india and Arab. This is proven by the composition of these two countries sword was mainly made of iron which came from this area...

 A well dug to show the layer of earth proving that this area was surrounded by sea at one time..
 Archaeologist at work..

 The replica of the iron furnace...the one inside it are processed iron! Not a rock...i hold it and it is heavy!

 As you can see this area was an oil palm plantation...nobody realized what's beneath until it was dug by USM.

This area is quite new and facilities is still quite minimal but the work of preserving this important heritage area are on going. There are more discoveries to be made. They will start digging two ships which sunk along the river at the side of this area next month.  Can't wait to come back and see more...!

After visiting this area, i realized that after this discovery...we need to rewrite our history book!

Keep up the good work USM archaeological team!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Some which i missed...

Here are some of the photos which i missed or didn't manage to do a proper write up due to lack of time...

I went to Juru after i heard from friends that the indian roller is back. Here is my shot but  i didn't manage to get it on natural perch...

During the Raya haji holiday, i manage to squeeze some time for birding. I knew that Barn Owl was nesting in an unoccupied house in front of my house for long. But i didn't manage to get any shot of it as it didn't come out whenever i approached the house. I didn't go into the house as it will probably disturbed the bird and chasing them away..finally this time it did flew out of the house and perched nearby...there were two of them and i suppose it should be the mother and a kid..



Permatang Nibong paddyfield has always been a good place for birding. In recent years it has been cultivating good numbers of Peninsular Malaysia rarities. This season, the aquila, openbill and black kite is back...i did a single visit recently and here is what i got..

Aquila on the pylon. It was very far from the road and this is the best i could get. This fella has a very pale head and i can't conclude which of the aquila it was...maybe Terence could give some idea..

Another aquila perched on the ground. This one could be greater spotted...but still it was too far to be sure..

 Some black kite were flying by..

 A yellow wagtail,

 Some other bird seen at Permatang nibong was grey headed lapwing, little egrets,intermediate egret, cattle egret, great egret, brown shrike, swallows and some others..i missed the black headed ibis which was sighted later by a friend in the area..sigh!

From USM, i got this forest wagtail foraging but a little skittish to get a good shot...

 This juvenile white breasted waterhen was sighted at my kid's nursery and somehow while i'm photographing it,it came closer and closer....wonder why..

Thanks for reading. That's all..

Friday, November 26, 2010

USM 101126

Though this post dated today, some of the bird's photos may came from as old as a month ago. Year end is always a busy time for any company or institution including USM. I also missed out some other post which should have posted much earlier..

The urgency of creating this post is to highlight my sighting of a raptor which i long to see perching, a Japanese sparrowhawk. This smallish raptor is always very secretive. It always perched or roost in a hidden area. The main reason is that it can coceal itself from its prey,which are mainly smaller birds such as sparrows n munias. I was lucky to come across this bird which was particularly hunting late at dusk. It was around 6.30 p.m. while i was trying to photograph this dollarbird. It was also hunting for food,

 Ready, Get set,


 And came back with a beetle or something,
 Afetr a while the dollarbird suddenly flew off and didn't came back. It took me a few second before i saw a japanese sparrowhawk landed nearby.

This is a juvenile japanese sparrowhawk, Accipiter gularis. Its a female judging from its yellow eyes. It's a migrant. Can be cofused with Besra but Besra will have darker mesial streaks and breast band. Though this bird recorded nearly every season here, seeing it perched is quite a rare ocassion.

Afterward, a raptor was flying quite far away. I considered it as a mysterous raptor till i got back n checked the book. I concluded it as an immature Brahminy Kite. Any comment anyone?

 Other migratory bird sighted during this month of migratory season,

 Asian Brown Flycatcher, Muscicapa dauurica. Sambar Asia.
It can be seen perching on branches everywhere around the campus. The particular behaviour of tis bird as of other flycatchers, it will ocassionally fly off to catch its prey and came back to same perch again.

 Some other birds which i manage to get improvement of the shots,

Black Naped Oriole, Oriolus chinensis. Burung Kunyit atau Dendang Selayang.

 Our university ever famous mascot, Brahminy Kite. Haliastur indus. Helang Merah atau Lang Kawi.

 Though a house crow, Corvus splendens (Gagak rumah) is a common bird but getting them on a natural perch is quite tricky. They tend to be camera shy and skittish sometime.

 A white throated Kingfisher, Halcyon smyrnensis. Pekaka belukar.

That's all. Thanks.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Raptor Count Alor Setar 101031

After counting at Taiping, i can't wait to do the raptor count at Alor Setar,Kedah. Hopefully it will be as good as before. I actually went back to attend a friend's wedding.

The weather was cloudy the whole weekend. It was however good in someway that the raptors flying quite low enabling me to see them properly. The strong wind also helps the raptors to fly across easily. But i could have missed a lot of flock which flew on top of the dark clouds.

I started my count at 9.15 a.m. and stopped at 1 p.m. after a heavy downpour. The total count was a bit low but still its amazing to see the raptors flying by in flocks.....i wonder how would it feel if i were to be at Radar or Pencil Hill...

Anyway here are some shots of the passing by usual, do correct me if the identifications are wrong..
Japanese sparrowhawk,male. (Thanks friends for the correction)

 Oriental Honey Buzzard

Another Oriental Honey Buzzard, dark morph


Pale morph of OHB
Though many japanese sparrowhawk pass by, i failed to get a good image of them. The final count is:

217 Japanese sparrowhawk
2 Chinese sparrowhawk
321 Oriental Honey Buzzard

Surprisingly, no black baza were seen....or i just miss id them....?

That's all. Thanks for viewing.