Whos keeping an eye on me....

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Far out in the East.... Week 1 Day 4

Frasers Hill, a full day of exploration..... I had read up on the place names.... Telecom Loop, The New Road, Jeriau Waterfall and the Smokehouse, now it was time to find out where they where. We eventualy found out that we were driving the Telecom Loop in the wrong direction..... didnt realise it was one way!

It turned out to be a very productive day with great numbers of Bulbuls and Flycatchers along with a host of other beauties.

First off though we were allowed superb views around the hotel grounds of
Silver Eared Mesia

and the funky looking
Chestnut Capped Laughingthrush

along with Long tailed Sibia these birds kept us entertained when we sat on the balcony with a Malt Whisky.

The Telecom Loop provided us with a great variety and a constant tick over of new species, during the morning the Flycatchers were showing particularly well...

Little Pied Flycatcher

Verditer Flycatcher

Hill Blue Flycatcher (taken on the New Road)

The lovely species wernt always easy to spot, but were usually well worth straining your neck muscles for when you picked out species such as the
Blue winged Leafbird

The Lesser Racket Tailed Drongo
seemed to be very common or just conspicuous, but who was complaining, its a stunning bird

If you want a splash of colour, the Grey Chinned Minivets seemed to stand out in most of the bird waves that appeared, the female bright yellow while the males look rather dashing in their red capes

however the star of the show for me was this fella. 
Streaked Spiderhunter

again another species seen in good numbers, and often upside down!

Fire Breasted Flowerpeckers, Lesser Shortwing, Blue Nuthatch, Black Eagle,Golden Babblers, Sultan Tits were amongst the many species that didnt make it onto the DSLR. Frasers Hill is a wonderful place to visit, we were to spend a couple more days here, now it was time to hit the trails.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Bempton Cliffs

The sea birds are back in great numbers! Gannets, Guillimots, Razorbills. Puffins,Fulmars and Kittiwakes are all back at RSPB Bempton Cliffs ready for the breeding season. Around 250,000 birds will have arrived by mid May all making use of the shear cliff faces that make ideal nesting ledges.... I say ideal as a pair of Gannets may just about get 12" of space to live, mate, feed, Incubate eggs and rear their off spring.... truly incredible. Most birds will be returning to the exact same spot as the previous years.

I try to make the 3hr trip at least once a year, the sound and smells are intense, the shear numbers are incredible, but the whole scene is spectacular.

Yesterday I arrived early and before most of the Bank Holiday visitors arrived. Its always busy so any lingering photo shots or just being stood there watching the vast numbers of birds needs to be done early in the day, by lunchtime I am usualy on my way leaving the extravorganzer to the masses!

First port of call was to the one of the viewing points to see the Gannets gathering nesting materials from the top of the cliffs, always stunning views as these images show.

Can this fella actualy see?

enough bedding for everyone

of course the real reason for all the birds being here is for the breeding.
This pair of Gannets are in courtship on the cliff face

The other birds are no less spectaular


Herring Gull
(standing on her nest, how about that for a view from your house!)


I partucularly enjoy seeing the Fulmars, however yesterday only a handful were showing and I didnt get any worthy images.

However this is really why the 100,000s of visitors turn up each year...
The iconic Puffin

Having a preen

just looking very cute

Of course being along the coast always brings a suprise or two, yesterday being no different I was able to bag myself a new bird, albeit too distant for more than  a humble record shot, however he looked stunning in the scope

Grasshopper Warbler

I think there is still time to make another visit in the coming month!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Far out in the east, Week 1 Day 3

Today travel.... leaving the reserve at Kuala Selangor we head for Frasers Hill. We intended to spend as little time in the car as possible and get some birding in in-bewteen sites. The weather was cruel to us with persistant drizzle for much of the day and with a blanket of cloud making photography hardwork. However I think the days birds were pretty special. We headed directly for the Rice Fields about 45 minutes away but luckily we took a diversion and somehow stumbled across a fish farm. I had been looking forward to a day without the walking boots so decided to wear the flipflops for the car journey, within a few minutes out of the car I was infested with ants...... stinging ants! Its a good job the birdlife was worth the pain. Oriental Reed Warbler, Watercock, Black capped and Common Kingfisher, Black Headed Munia, Tiger Shrike were all picked up quickly as well as this confiding White Collared Fantail.

However the star of the location was this splendid Crested Serpent Eagle who perched up nicely for a few minutes before retreating to a nearby wood, we then caught a second one shortly after.

We arrived at the Rice fields before lunch, again the drizzle continued so unfortunatly most of the birding of this site was from the confins of the car. Most of the expected species were showing well, Little Egret, White Egret, and vast numbers of Cattle Egrets

We didnt spot any Javan Pond Herons but managed to see plenty of these funky looking
Chinese Pond Herons

The Cinnamon Bittern

as well as Yellow Bittern were playing a little more hard to get for the camera

The Star of rice fields goes to this fella who put on a superb display at the side of the road

White Throated Kingfisher
Pole Dancing

and just Posing .....

We now decide to head staight to Frasers Hill
On the way we picked up Oriental Pied Hornbill, White Breasted Wood Swallow, Dollarbirds and these Long Tailed Parakeets who were part of a dozen strong flock

After another stop close to the base of the long winding road upto the Gap which is situated at the bottom of the Frasers Hill single track road we picked up Chestnut Braested Malkoha, Stripe Throated Bulbul, Grey Breasted Spiderhunter and Pale Blue Flycatcher and finished the journey with a Mugimaki Flycatcher.

We arrived at the Shezan inn to find this lovely lady on the hotel bird feeders!!

Long Tailed Sibia

Happy Days......

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Far out in the east, Week 1 Day 2

Today we had a full day at the Kuala Selangor reserve, after yesterdays visit we knew our way around and were soon up and out....... and an hour later back to the chalet. The early morning start was a great idea but was intolerable due to mosquitoes..... we quickly spotted a Japanese Sparrowhawk and a Common Sandpiper before retreating for breakfast. Not to be put off an hour later we were back at it, this time the mosquitoes had dispersed allowing us to enjoy what the reserve had to offer. Olive Winged Bulbul, Pied Triller, Ashy Drongo all made it onto the trip list.
At the tower hide over looking the Heronry this awesome White Bellied Sea Eagle circled for a short while, almost at our eye level.... what a sight! Grey, Purple and Black Crowned Night Herons were all in large numbers

while lower down at the main lake were Jungle Myna, Little & Great white Egrets, Stork Billed Kingfishers while this Pacific Swallow took time out to yell out loud

and preen .....

and pose....

Not all birds were willing to be so showy, this Blue Throated Bee-eater sat atop of a distant dead tree

 while this Brown Throated Sunbird wanted to remain anonymous.... almost

however the Woodpeckers eventually became obliging:

Laced Woodpecker

Common Goldenback

This colourful Coppersmith Barbet enjoys a good scratch

 and just before leaving the reserve this Little Bronze Cuckoo hunted for caterpillars

Monitor Lizards were to be found all over the reserve, this fella striking a nice portrait

and of course where theres birds theres usualy Butterflys

In the evening we met up with a local guide who took us spotlighting for Owls amongst other nocturnal creatures.
Buffy Fish Owl, Barred Eagle Owl, Long Tailed Nightjar and Mangrove Viper were all seen at very close quarters..... the Viper a little too close for comfort!
The 5 minute encounter face to face with the Buffy Fish Owl maybe be the most incredible sighting I am ever likely to witness..... utterly amazing!

Day 3 we travel and head upto Frasers Hill