Sunday, December 31, 2006

Birding at Hindhede

Just one day before the school holiday ended =( But I finally got a chance to go on a formal birding trip with Dingli who generously offered me to tag along. Had some nice prata at the Muslim shop opp beauty world for breakfast and he came for some coffee at a neighboring shop before setting off to Hindhede Nature Park, which I first heard of and went to. =S Apparently it was a good birding spot.

The crowd was horrible! The place was so packed with Homo sapiens...but well its a Sunday. Dingli promised me to show me at least 20 species of birds today and above us before the visiting centre, was a group of Asian glossy starlings. Thats one down.

White-rumped shama

I was stunned when we walked on the boardwalk leading into the park cos dingli keep telling me what bird was calling out. There was this distinct loud call very close by and he said it was a white-rumped shama. We found it in the shrubs very close to us. First encounter with something new to me.

Greater Racket-tailed Drongo

There was this trail full of mosquitoes and biting ants, ouch~~ I will never wear sandals and 3/4 pants again on a forest walk. Luckily Dingli had a can of OFF with him. Over here, there are so many racket-tailed drongos that I wasn't so as impressed with it now as previously. Like Dingli said, he will show me so many birds that I will get sick of it. Haha.. But its still amazing la~ ;p

Hindhede Quarry

And here we reached the Hindhede Quarry with a breathtaking view. I wonder why I never heard of this nice place before. The publicity of BT probably overwhelmed this little neighboring treasure. Here Dingli promised me that I can see a lot of birds here and he was right! Yellow-vented bulbul, Olive-winged bulbul, Straw-headed bulbul, Mugimaki flycatcher, Pied Fantail, Stork-billed kingfisher, Drongos and some more which I forgot (can refer to the list below). Also saw in the skies the White-bellied sea eagle, barn swallows and house swifts (still feel incredulous how he can tell the two apart being so high up). From afar, Dingli pointed out the calls of the hornbill which seems more distinctive to me then all the others. He also met two of his fellow lady birders and had a hearty chat with them while continuing looking out for birds.

Yellow-vented bulbul

A lazy Clouded Monitor laying flat on a tree nearby

It soon became sunny after around an hour and dingli suggested that we go back to the trail. We found this small Clouded monitor lizard which allowed me to take a good closed up picture. Dingli told me how to distinguish this from the more commonly seen Malayan monitor lizard.

Comparing the nostrils

The Clouded monitor lizard is similar in appearance to the Malayan water lizard except of their positioning of the nostrils. The clouded has their nostrils which lie mid-way btw the eye and snout while the Malayan Water has them nearer the snout (red circle). Picture of Malayan taken at Kusu and input from Dingli & Ecology Asia.

Red-legged Crake

This was the pict of the day I guessed. Apparently he told me this terrestrial bird is one rare species here and we saw two of them, close up. Can see why it’s so hard to spot, it moves so cautiously that I doesn’t even make a sound when moving among the dead twigs and leaf litter.

Laced Woodpecker

Heres another uncommon woodpecker he found when doing some bashing. Sorry for all the blur shots. Can't do fantastic ones using my compact camera.

Doing the chicken catwalk to lure birds? =p

Another new stuff learnt today was went he showed me this bee hive low at at tree trunk of a T-junction. He said those are sweat bees and will be attracted by our sweat. But they are rather non-aggressive although they still can sting.

small hive of the sweat bees

close up view

We intercepted with Dingli's 2 friends again and one of them told him she saw a orange-headed thrust. Man, hearing that, he bashed and disappeared into the forest again. I wasn’t so eager to follow this time cos the vegetation were much thicker now. But I changed my mind after he came out told me he found it. On the way, we flushed out a large-tailed nightjar which I thought looked like some oversized Javan myna. Mmm…but the thrust was really pretty and colorful.

Thats the last bird he showed. But we came across a female crimson sunbird. Too bad can't see a male with its flaming color. Singapore's unofficial national bird as he always called it, due to its color.

08 Jan~ Today, Dingli wrote out a complete list of the birds we saw and (he) heard.

White-bellied sea-eagle
Laced woodpecker
Common Flameback (H)
Rufous woodpecker (H)
Banded woodpecker (H)
Rhinocerous Hornbill (H)
Red-legged Crake
White-breasted waterhen (H)
Stork-billed kingfisher (UC)
White-throated kingfisher (H)
Barn Swallow
House swift
Greater racket-tailed drongo
Common lora (H)
Mugimaki flycatcher (R)
Brown-streaked flycatcher
Arctic warbler
Yellow-vented bulbul
Olive-winged bulbul
Straw-headed bulbul
Pied Fantail
Striped tit-babbler
Crimson sunbird
Little spiderhunter (H)
Black-naped oriole
White-rumped shama (R)
Orange-headed thrust (R)
Javan Myna
Common Myna
Asian glossy starling
Dark-necked tailorbird (H)
Large-tailed nightjar

(H) = Heard, (R) = Rare, (UC) = uncommon
Some names linked to pictures from Johnny Wee's FlickR photo album

Indeed he had delivered what he promised, seen more then 20 birds. Honoured to have such an experienced guide.

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