Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sugud Forest Reserve; RDC of the West Coast

It’s less than an hour to get there. However, long stretch of gravel and winding hilly road slows down vehicle even to off-roaders. Chunks of cracked and broken pieces of asphalt tell an appealing story. Once upon a time, this region was a place of grandeur at least that was my first impression.

Once the engine stopped, the place which I thought was dead suddenly came to life. Jason heard at least five different calls of Barbets and two Trogons within minutes after we all parked our cars. The most distinctive one must be the call from a Banded Kingfisher. I pleaded to myself that I must have photos of them as a token of my lifers. Could be another impressive list, I sensed. Sugud Forest Reserve, RDC of the West Coast? We'll see...

I am greatly thankful to Jason and friends for the invitation. My wife and I had tried numerous of times in Sepilok, Sandakan to get a hold of these lovely birds which are mostly my lifers. Enjoy them as much as I enjoyed photographing them;
1. Brown Barbet (Calorhamphus fuliginosus)

Lifer # 1 Brown Barbet. Despite the unforgiving back lit background, I managed to get one shot for the record.

2. Crested Serpent-Eagle (Spilornis Cheela)

Not a lifer. It was fast, so was my Canon!

3. Ben Duncan

A tattoo artist and a free lancer of everything else! That was what he told me. We befriended online and I am also a follower of his blog and an admirer of his tattoo jobs. Quite unbelievable what the NET can do...By the way, it was his first anniversary and he went out birding with us. I thought I was lucky with an understanding and supportive wife! Happy Anniversary you two!!!

3. Jason R Bugay (a.k.a. Horukuru)

One of the raw and rarest talents in town! He has the eyes of a hawk and no birds could easily fly unnoticed! One with the most impressive digiscoped images. A skill developed through plenty of hard work and practice!

4. Andrew S & Karim M (a.k.a Sinooorita)

Two other experts with tonnes of bird collections! Most of the rarest images could be found in their collection. Aided by a scope and a DSLR, no birds can escape.

5. Banded Kingfisher (Lacedo Pulchella)
6. Banded Kingfisher (Lacedo Pulchella)

7. Banded Kingfisher (Lacedo Pulchella)

Lifer # 2. Please excuse me for the three pictures above. I just adore this bird so much and this shows how much I am grateful for this opportunity! Aren't they gorgeous?!

8. Red-Bearded Bee-Eater (Nyctyornis amictus)

9. Red-Bearded Bee-Eater (Nyctyornis amictus)

Again, two photos for my Lifer # 3. Opportunity that isn't easy to come by.

10. Black and Yellow Broadbill (Eurylaimus ochromalus)

RDC of the West Coast? No doubt about it at this point of time.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy Lunar New Year!

While you're at it, please click here for an amazing coverage of Mari-Mari Cultural Village, Inanam Sabah by Mr. John Prudente.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Blessing In Disguise?: I Wrecked My Car

Rufous Night Heron (Nycticorax calendonicus)

Unlike the fate of the Rufous Night Heron (Nycticorax calendonicus) above, I wrecked my car in a freak accident this morning on my way to work. The heron maneuvered effortlessly avoiding the power cables, while I lost control of my car...

It was around 7:50 AM when suddenly 4 kittens fell one by one from under the car in front of me as I was driving. I avoided the first two but not the third... that was the time when I was completely stopped by the lamp post. Still stunned, I saw the forth kitten fell as the car moved further not knowing what was happening.

I guessed they must have took shelter under the hood during the cold night. It rained most of the nights lately. I am heart broken to have killed one even by accident.

Blessing in disguise? I surely hope so...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

2008 Year End Birding Bonanza

We touched down at Sandakan Airport before 8.00 AM. The flight attendant proudly announced the arrival was earlier than scheduled. Ronald, Hazel, Chai, Zaiton and me rushed to get off the plane..."feels good to be here" I thought to myself.

It was drizzling but I could see everyone didn't mind, including me. I imagined all the birds flying around looking for food after the rain! That's always been the case before.

Food? No better food found elsewhere! Sandakan is the place for good food. Having to fly early, I did not take any breakfast in Kota Kinabalu except drinks. Frankly speaking, I had to leave some space for Sandakan!

Our ever so great "welcoming committee" Alphonsus and John knew exactly what we needed. A delightful pit-stop on the way to Sepilok where we had a wonderful "Ngiu Lam" (beef & noodles soup ) and freshly baked breads for serious breakfast. Great food as always.

Everyone has their own agenda when we arrived at the Sepilok Rainforest Discovery Centre (RDC) Sepilok. Instead of going in a group, we split and hunted for our prized birds! My wife Zaiton and I started our session trekking on the forest floor hoping to encounter with the Pittas while the rest of the group headed for the towers, looking for the Bristleheads perhaps!

Our three-day birding session in Sepilok overall was a memorable one. Plenty of exciting and interesting highlights such as our encounter with a numbers of wild Orang Utans, Giant Squirrel, Flying Squirrel etc., beside some great lifers for most of us.

Seeing Mr. Cede Prudente anticipating and setting ups for the Flying Squirrel during our night walk was a great experience. Having to see Mr. George J Stambul with a DSLR and full camo attire is also a pleasant surprise (Welcome to the club man)! Talk about birding flu...

It was a great way to end our birding activities for 2008. Plenty of great experience and encounters and surely made me more determined to make 2009 even greater! An addittional member was a real bonus, I guessed Georgy will have a hard time arranging his time between birding and clubing soon! (Clubing as in Golf!).

Meanwhile, These are the images taken during my last visit to Sandakan to end my 2009 birding activities. Enjoy;
Day 1 (December 20, 2008)

1. Black-capped Babbler (Pellorneum capistratum)
Lifer #1

I was a bit upset with my wife during our encounter with this ground dwelling bird. Instead of taking their photos, she kept signalling to me to get close and have my shots. She missed some good shots by doing so. What can I say? She loves me too much!

2. Red-Naped Trogon (Harpactes Kasumba)-femaleLifer #2

I have seen the handsome male months ago. However, none of the shots were usable. This is the best shot of my Trogon so far. They are top of my list currently.

3. Green Iora (Aegithina viridissima)
I was on my toes during this shot. It was a joy to have it as sharp!

4. Wild Orang Utan
Sepilok is known for her rehabilitated Orang Utans. This fellow is wild and his colors appeared to be darker compared to the ones in the rehab centre. They does not make eye contact with people and this one is one lucky shot.

5. Crested Serpent-Eagle (Spilornis cheela)
I wish I had a chance to capture this eagle in flight.

6. Spectacled Spiderhunter (Arachnothera flavigaster)Lifer # 3

All of the Spiderhunters I have seen were extremely shy including the spectacled. With my current gear, I don't dare to wish for the whiteheads.

7. Red-Eyed Bulbul (Pycnonotus brunneus)
8. Streaked Bulbul (Hypsipetes malaccensis)

These Bulbuls are not too shy, however that doesn't mean they are easy to take pictures of.

9. Green Iora (Aegithina viridissima)-juvenile

One unique shot I guessed. I wonder what was it thinking of?!

10. Greater Racquet-Tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus)

Posed for everybody as beautiful as we would hoped for and definately my personal favorite!
11. Ronald I Pudin

Great time Ron? you bet! Sepilok is the place to work the 2.8 lens huh?!

12. Gary Albert

Mr. Pitta! He has the most and the best Pitta collection. Sigh...

13. Kenneth A. Tizon

Newly aquinted and befriended with a Nikon diehard!

14. Zaiton Yunus

Get rid of the 400D and the 55-250 babe... after you get me the 2.8 LOL

15. John Bakar

Which lens is next? He almost covers all angles except for the bazookas!

16. Lee Teck Seng

He was busy and didn't have much time to spare during our visit there. Poor Aseng!

17. Hazel Koroh

I wonder how many birds she got in Sepilok. She's one of our trusted spotter! Unfortunately for Ron, he was not the only 'dear' in Sandakan. Whenever she called her 'dear' everbody seemed to respond!
Day 2 (December 21, 2008)

18. Lesser Green Leafbird (Chloropsis cynapogon)
The leafbird was taking a morning shower peacefully before...

19. Ronald I Pudin and Mark Louis Benedict

Ron Experimenting a tripod while Mark looked on if the Violet Cuckoo is around.

20. Chai Chie Rong

Chai desperately needed reassurance that upgrading to a 50D from a 400D is worth it. He got what he was looking for!

21. Mr. Alphonsus Loinsang and Jonathan Tan

Alphons giving out birds location to everybody!

22. Hazel and ZaitonThese two ladies trekked and got themselves a Black-backed Kingfisher! Look at that smile...
23. Black and Red Broadbill (Cymbirhynchus macrorhynchus)
24. Rufous Piculet (Sasia abnormis)
Lifer # 4

25. Baby Orang Utan

26. Baby Orang Utan
Two different shots of the same wild baby Orang Utan.

27. Ruby-Cheeked Sunbird (Anthreptes singalensis)

28. Black and Yellow Broadbill (Eurylaimus ochromalus)
Shot with Chai's 70-300mm while he used his 50D and my 300mm f4 lens. The result was remarkable.

29. Flying Squirrel

I have taken better shots than this...much better!

30. Owl

A rediculous shot!
Day 3 (December 22, 2008)

31. Yellow-Bellied Wren-Wabbler (Prinia Flaviventris)

32. Wreathed Hornbill (Rhyticeros undulatus)

33. Bornean Bristlehead (Pityriasis gymnocephala)
Would love to have better shots of this beautiful ugly bird!

34. Red-Billed Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus javanicus)
Lifer # 5

A delightful lifer!

35. Lizard
Just to keep myself busy with this shot.

36. Chestnut Collared Kingfisher (Halcyon concreta)-female

37. Chestnut Collared Kingfisher (Halcyon concreta)-female

I am grateful to get decent shots of this female kingfisher. Shot at shutter speed 1/15sec, not an easy task. Thanks for spotting this one Alphon, you're the man!

A total of six lifers is not too bad at all. You might wonder where is the sixth bird. Well, wonder no more because it is the Violet Cuckoo. I have to say this shot was a missed opportunity though. It is a beautiful bird with lots of unique characteristics. A couple of Orang Utans "terrorized" the tree the bird was feeding and cauzed it to flee before we get better shots. Next time perhaps...next time...

38. Violet Cuckoo(Chrysococcyx xanthorrhynchus)