As I mentioned in my last post, the MNS February 2012 trip to Panti Forest was primarily for birding. You can tell, because everyone in this picture is looking up. What are they seeing?
Closer to eye level, the bushes along the road edge were excellent places to watch flowerpeckers. Some rare species have been recorded here, but I only found the common ones (though none the less attractive for that). The beautiful little Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker (Dicaeum percussus) was abundant, tame and cooperative.
Here is a well-known garden bird, the Orange-bellied Flowerpecker (Dicaeum trigonostigma).
We found this Rufous-crowned Babbler (Malacopteron magnum) in the undergrowth around the hunters' camp I described in my last post.
Judging by call alone, Sooty-capped Babblers (Malacopteron affine) must be common in the lower under storey of the forest.
Certainly the most spectacularly beautiful bird of the trip was this male Scarlet-rumped Trogon (Harpactes duvaucelii). I am used to seeing trogons perched more or less high up, but this bird was at (or below) eye level. His perch was several metres inside the forest, though, so it required a bit of ducking and weaving to get a clear view through the shrubbery.
By night we found both Large-tailed (Caprimulgus macrurus) and Malaysian Eared Nightjars (Lyncornis, or Eurostopodus, temminckii) in the clearing just past the entrance to the southern trail (see previous post). I would have loved to get a decent photo of the latter, a new bird for me, but these birds are both Large-tailed Nightjars. The Malaysian Eared is a particularly acrobatic flyer with a distinct, loud whistled call totally different from the rather frog-like sound produced by the Large-tailed.
I don't usually think of cuckoos as particularly approachable birds, but this Drongo Cuckoo (Surniculus lugubris) didn't seem the least bit concerned about me. Notice the white stripe across the base of the flight feathers in the second photograph. Some authorities now split the Drongo Cuckoo into a number of species, in which case this bird becomes either the Square-tailed or Asian Drongo Cuckoo (but, as the nominate form, keeps the same scientific name).
Not far away we found one of the the cuckoo's presumed models, a Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradises). Drongo Cuckoos do look remarkably like drongos, but they do not parasitize them. Is the similarity of real advantage to them, or is it a purely human perception?
South-east Asia is particularly rich in woodpeckers. This is a Checker-throated Woodpecker (Chrysophlegma mentalis), a species I had seen only once before (at Sepilok, in Sabah).
Smallest of the woodpeckers in Malaysia, or indeed in the entire Old World, is the Rufous Piculet (Sasia abnormis). You would have to go to the Americas to find a smaller one, and it would be a piculet too (piculets are particularly diverse in South America). The name "piculet", in fact, means "little woodpecker". Piculets, unlike typical woodpeckers, do not have stiffened tail feathers and do not use the tail as a brace when climbing.
Nearer the larger end of the size scale is the Orange-backed Woodpecker (Reinwardtipicus validus). The bird at the top is a female; the lower bird is a male.
Here is one of them: a Greater Sandplover (Charadrius leschenaultii).
Oddly enough, it was here that we saw the bird of the trip: not new for me, but a lifer for many of the West Malaysians. Chinese Egrets (Egretta eulophotes) are a globally threatened species, but there is a good wintering population near Kuching in Sarawak (to be featured in an upcoming post). In West Malaysia, though, they are definitely a rarity.
Sedili Besar itself is an attractive little town, where fishing is obviously an important occupation.
Asian Glossy Starlings (Aplonis panayensis) posed attractively on the wharf pilings, giving me a good chance to photograph this common species.
Here, back at Panti, are two more cuckoos, this time both non-parasitic species. This one is a Chestnut-bellied Malkoha (Rhopodytes sumatranus)…
…while this is the similarly-named, but quite different-looking, Chestnut-breasted Malkoha (Zanclostomus curvirostris).
This one is a much more common species: an Asian Brown Flycatcher (Muscicapa dauurica).
Finally, some views of a female Blue-winged Leafbird (Chloropsis cochinchinensis) - a lovely creature.