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A play date with Wendy

Wendy Chin and Burney

Before departing Langkawi, Wendy Chin and I had  mentioned hooking-up for a morning of birding. Before long, the time to depart Rebak Marina and consider travelling south was upon us. As if by telepathy, Wendy contacted me the very day we had moved to Telaga Harbour on the main island of Langkawi, to repair the refrigerator and refuel the yacht before possibly departing. The weather wasn’t promising but we both had a morning free on August 3rd. Yippee, a play date with a fellow birder.

Wendy Chin

Wendy chasing buterflies

Cloud lingered heavily over the mountain rain near our harbour but whilst it rained on the port town of Kuah where Wendy lived, it was dry on the north west corner. Though we were caught out exploring some new mangrove territory with a light downpour. When it totally socked-in we abandoned play for another day.


Hornbill Great (H by Wendy)

Kingfisher White-throated

Koel Asian

Coucal Greater


Bee-eater (heard but not identified)

Swiflet Edible Nest

Pigeon Orange-breast  Green

Dove Spotted

Waterhen White-breasted

Lapwing Red-wattled

Lapwing Red-wattled 2

Kite Brahminy

Sea-eagle White-bellied

Heron Little (Striated)

Crow Large-billed

Oriole Black-naped

Drongo Ashy

Drongo Ashy

Drongo Racket-tailed

Myna Common

Swallow Barn

Bulbul Yellow vented

Tailorbird Common

Sunbird Brown-throated

Pipit Paddyfield

Pipit Paddyfield 1

Munia Scaly-breasted

Munia Scaly breasted

Munia White-headed * New bird

Munia White-headed

Birds of Begnas and Rupa, Nepal

Cattle Egret

If you move your “mouse” over some images the caption appears.

L = Lifer. First sighting on my Life list

H = Heard only not sighted

Egret Cattle

Kite Black

Kite Black

Vulture White-rumped L

Shikra L

Pigeon Common or Rock

Dove Spotted

Green Pigeon, Orange-breasted

Parakeet, Rose-ringed

Cuckoo, Common Hawk (H)

Cuckoo, Eurasian (H)

Koel, Asian

Koel Asian

Coucal Greater

Owlet Collared (H)

Kingfisher, White-throated


Barbet, Blue throated

Barbet, Coppersmith L

Barbet, Great L

Yellownape Great L

Woodpecker, Fulvous-breasted L

Woodpecker Grey-headed L

Long-tailed Broadbill L

Eurylaime psittacin Psarisomus dalhousiae Long-tailed Broadbill

Long-tailed Broadbill

Minivet, Crimson


Minivet, Long-tailed L

Drongo Spanged

Drongo Black

Drongo Lesser-racket-tailed

Magpie, Common Green L

Treepie, Grey

Crow, House

Crow Large-billed

Bulbul, Black-crested

Bulbul Himalayan L

Bulbul, Red-vented

Bulbul Red-whiskered

Tailorbird, Common

Laughing Thrush, White-crested L

Myna Jungle

Robin,  Oriental Magpie

Sunbird, Crimson

Munia Black-headed ( formerly called Tricoloured)?

Sparrow House

Pipit, Paddyfield

Bardia National Park Birdlist

  • Those marked with an asterisk * were (also) seen within the Wild Trak Adventure Lodge grounds

L is a Lifer

(H) is heard only

[click on the photo tile for captions]

Peafowl,  India  Peacock and Penhen


Stork Woolly-necked

Stork Woolly-necked L

Stork Painted  (on the Babia River) L

Asian Openbill


Adjutant Lesser L

Ibis Red-naped (was called Black Ibis) L

Heron, Indian Pond

Egret Little

Cormorant Little


Eagle, Crested Serpent

Sparrowhawk Eurasian L

Buzzard Long legged  (Rufous morph) L

Hawk Eagle, Changeable

Waterhen, White-breasted * (breeding)

Lapwing, River L

Lapwing, red-wattled

Pigeon, Common *

Dove, Spotted *


Green Pigeon, Orange-breasted  L

Dove, Emerald *

Parakeet, Alexandrine L

Parakeet, Rose-ringed * L

Cuckoo Large Hawk (H)

Cuckoo Indian (H)

Koel  Asian *

Coucal Greater*

Owl, Mottled Wood L

Until last year it had never been recorded in Nepal. This large owl with a noticeable white bib and rufous patches had big dark eyes and no ear tufts. Although we only saw one, another called nearby.

Roller, Indian L


Kingfisher Stork-billed

Kingfisher Common L

Kingfisher White-throated *

Bee-eater, Chestnut-headed *

Bee-eater, Blue-tailed *

Bee-eater Green L

Hornbill Indian Grey L

Hornbill Great

Barbet, Brown-headed (H)

Barbet, Lineated


Woodpecker Slaty Grey  L

Goldenback, Great

Pitta Indian L


Iora Common

Minivet, Scarlet L

Drongo, Lesser Racket-tailed

Drongo, Greater Racket-tailed

Drongo, Black *

Drongo White-belly L

Oriole, Black-hooded (H)

Paradise- flycatcher, Asian (male and female) L

Treepie, Rufous * L

Crow, Indian Jungle *

Crow, House *

Tit, Great * L

Martin, Plain L

Bulbul Red-whiskered *

Bulbul Red-vented * L

Bulbul Black-crested L

Prinia, Plain L

Tailorbird Common *

Babbler Jungle L

White-eye, Oriental

Myna, Jungle *

Myna, Common*

Starling, Asian Pied *

Starling Brahminy (breeding)* L

Robin, Oriental Magpie

Sharma, White-rumped

Sunbird Purple * L

Sparrow, House *

Weaver Baya *

Wagtail, White-browed L


Approx.  72 species of which 30 were new birds, Lifers, L.



Other sightings:

Barking Deer  (H)

Swamp Deer

Spotted Deer

Hog Deer

Red Cotton Bug

Rhinosaurus Unicornus ( Bardia NP was given several Rhinos from Chitwan N P. They now have 40 living in the area, we saw 4, one of which was a juvenile while on a jeep trip.

Royal Bengal Tiger ( Possibly 85 Tigers with 2 recent cubs)

Asian Elephants

Crocodile, Mugger

Crocodile, Gharials

Turtle, Indain Soft-shell

Lizard, Monitor

Lizard, Garden *


Frog, Skittering *

Frog Indian Pond *

Fish, Golden Masheer

Langur, Grey

Common Langur river

Leaping Langurs




Birding in Nepal part 1

When the buses are on strike and you are caught between destinations, what do you do?

Bird watch from your hotel room. We had hoped to travel from Kathmandu to Bardia National Park in the far west corner of Nepal but found ourselves barely midway. Whilst the surrounding area was scorched flat agricultural fields, I still found enough to keep me amused. For a day at least.

Satun coastal regions

March became hotter and more dusty as the area became dryer. Being Spring, some birds were seen carrying nesting material. Mornings were often heralded with a call and response from a pair of Koels. In trying to preserve a sense of sanity, the occasional bir d walk was essential. Living on a board while it was hauled out on land is called “being on the hard”. Well, yes it’s hard on the hard. Noise, smells, grit, sanding dust, painting chemicals, soldering sparks, needle guns chiseling rust out of steel hulls, people shouting instructions over the noise… Serenity, now!!

PSS sign
Exploring the area near the PSS compound included slightly wooded agricultural plots near the river in Che Bilang and visiting both the neighbouring mangroves around the shipyard and Tammalang Pier (indeed boardwalks with shelters were provided which made access through that area easy). Mangroves throughout Satun, are extensive along much of the province’s western coastline. Apparently those mangroves protected it from the worst of the effects of the tsunami in 2004/5.

Crab eating macaques

Mangroves and monkeys

WBSE flying Thailand



Woven between various subsidence crops and wild grasses were small rubber tree plantations and the ever-present palms for palm oil.

Rubber tree latex cups 3

Latex dripping into cups

Palm Oil

Red berries crushed for palm oil

Little Egret

Brahminy Kite
White-bellied Sea Eagle


Feral Pigeon
Spotted Dove
Zebra Dove
Red-collared Dove

red collared dove

Red-collared Dove

Greater Coucal

Koel female 1

Koel female

Pale-rumped (Germain’s) Swiftlet

Collared Kingfisher

Golden-bellied Gerygone

thai birding

photo from

Brown Shrike

Ashy Drongo
Malaysian Pied Fantail
Large-billed Crow


Yellow-vented Bulbul

Pacific Swallow

Common Tailorbird (ssp Maculicollis)

Common Tailbird maculicollis

Common Tailorbird

Ashy Tailorbird


photo from

Oriental White-eye

White-vented Myna
Jungle Myna
Common Myna
Oriental Magpie Robin
Asian Brown Flycatcher

flock of unidentified Bee-eaters hawking at dawn

Red-wattled LapwingLapwing red-wattle


Thale Ban National Park

Thailand, Satun province.valley and lake sign

Only 2km from the Malaysian border, Thale Ban N. P. shared many birds and wildlife with Malaysia. A valley running through the mountainous border area hosted a lake possibly created by an earthquake which ultimately dammed the streams. This provided a marshland area for secretive birds like the Yellow Bittern. The valley was reported also to be part of the migratory pathway for thousands of raptors flying south in October and north in March. However that did not occur while I visited for days in early March.

glandular frog

Home to the Glandular Frog, the watery habitat resounded with their call similar to yapping puppies. One local actually referred to the frogs as “water dogs”. Gibbons sang from thick forests higher up the steep slopes while quiet Grey Leaf Monkeys moved around tree top branches closer to the lodges. Macaques regularly descended to the ground but usually preferred to pluck berries from palms or trees.

Bird watching trains one to be constantly vigilant for movement. Casting one’s eye both over the ground as well as around tree canopy and open blue skies. Admittedly not every movement was a bird; insects, butterflies and falling leaves often trick us. (Once upon a time I would joke with Maxwell Smart imitation:”Ah, the old leaf bird trick” but since there are indeed lovely green species of Asian birds called the Leafbird, I can’t make that same joke, in South-east Asia. ) While scanning high branches, I saw the local squirrels and tiny chaps called .Kratae which may or may not be a tree shrew. Their piping squeak sounded almost bird-like however they manner by which they could grip the bark of a trunk and eat with their forefeet was truly acrobatic.

Conversely, thinking I was seeing a tiny rodent scampering along a branch, I focused my binoculars on what resulted in…..a pair of birds hopping along and down the tree trunk like a dark coloured Sitella. It was my first Nuthatch, a pair of beautiful Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch (I think). Alas, no photo as it was poor light.

Whilst the lake area had several boardwalks and viewing shelters, a trail ventured further into the forest. It was definitely a nature trail since there was no real graded track, only tree roots and buttresses to assist the steep inclines. Typically, the thicker the forest, the fewer the number of seen birds. Nevertheless, it was pretty with mosses and ferns, fungi and various plant species. However, while much was similar to Australian rainforest the lawyer cane was ferocious.

wait a while




With dusk approaching it was a surprise to hear the call of a Nightjar, though not a single owl hooted during my visit.

valley and lake sth

View from the bungalow looking south.

Bittern Yellow
Waterhen White-breasted

Pond Heron Chinese

Nightjar Long-tailed (H)

Buzzard Oriental Honey

Cuckoo Plaintive

Thrush Chestnut-capped
Bulbul Red-eyed
Bulbul Black-headed
Bulbul Yellow vented

Barbet Red-throated

Barbet Blue-eared


Barbet, Blue-eared 


Barbet, Red-throated






Woodshrike Large
Flycatcher Dark-sided
Flycatcher Brown streaked

Flowerpecker Orange-bellied
Nuthatch Chestnut-bellied

Swift Asian Palm
Swallow Pacific

Swallow Pacific

Swallow Pacific

Woodswallow White- breasted

Grey Leaf Monkeys
Gibbons singing (H)
Little creature in photo Thai “Kratae”
Glandular Frogs “water dog”
Lace monitor
Draco leaping lizard



Flycatcher Darksided

Flycatcher, Dark-sided

Birding Langkawi

Although the archipelago of Langkawi had about 100 islands, the main island called Palau Langkawi was the largest. With habitats varying from mangrove swamps, and rice paddy wetlands to mountainous peaks, there was enough food sources to support over 200 species of birdlife. Development, as usual played havoc with the environment however we had a very successful morning on Gunung Raya, thanks to bird guide extraordinaire, Wendy Chin.

Wendy Chin in the foreground

Wendy Chin in the foreground

It was the highest peak in Langkawi with an altitude of 881 meters and was covered with various species of tree and plant life. Weather sculptured limestone formations made rugged profiles against the very clear blue sky. Fortunately, the high winds affecting much of the coastal shores were apparent only along the summit ridges. The dense rainforest remained green due to the occasional water seepage points descending Gunung Raya Reserve Forest.  Home to creatures like the Dusky Leaf Monkeys, Macaques, Giant Black Squirrels and leaping lizards which Wendy readily indicated. (Fortunately, we did not see any Cobra Snakes which were mentioned!) Occasionally, a break between the peaks afforded a view towards the Andaman Sea however the haze affected the panoramic photo. Although there was a large structure on the summit,  D’Coconut Hill Resort, we didn’t venture that high. Our interest was for all things feathered.

A hazy view from the mountain

A hazy view from the mountain

Draco, leaping Lizard

Draco, leaping Lizard

Leaping Black Giant Squirrel digiscope photo

Leaping Black Giant Squirrel digiscope photo








Google Archive photo of the orange chest and cheeks we saw.

Google Archive photo of the orange chest and cheeks we saw.

The main target was seeing all three Hornbills. (Any other birds were a bonus)

Nothing was guaranteed, we could only hope. Wendy had tried to prepare us for a disappointment as the previous day hadn’t been very successful due to the wind…

A pair of Great Hornbills with the female to the left

A pair of Great Hornbills with the female to the left

When first hearing those very Great Hornbills, it was the sound of their wing beat as they approached that had us craning our necks upward. Since their wingspan could be as wide as 175cm it was little wonder that we heard the whooshing in the core of our chests. The yellow band of colour running between their black and white wings caught the light brilliantly. We were especially luck to have a mating pair land in a tall tree long enough to really observe their features as they cleaned and preened. Wendy had her spotting-scope quickly mounted, focused and zoomed onto the pair. Wow ! what detail. The most recognizable feature of Hornbills was the casque, which is a hollow structure located on top of the very large curved bill. Wendy told us that the colour will change with maturity. Also the mandibles will become more serrated as they age due to wear. Whilst we have seen Oriental Pied Hornbills eating fruit and mostly figs, Great Hornbills were more omnivorous especially during breeding season. Wendy informed us that they have been known to eat lizards and small mammals. I, personally love all the extra information to fully appreciate these magnificent creatures.

The noticeable difference between the sexes: males have larger beaks and casques and a red eye which looked actually black due to the dark eye-ring. The female eyes were light with a red eye-ring.

Wendy had it in the scope

Wendy had it in the scope for Hans to view

To view the Wreathed Hornbill, we had to continue higher and higher up the mountain side. It was actually as we were waiting for a then unidentified raptor to reappear that Hans whilst gazing at the panorama had a hornbill flash through his field of vision. Simultaneously, Wendy was shouting and re-positioning her scope. She already knew it was a Wreathed Hornbill. This time, the distance was a challenge for my camera but the most important features for identification were clear. Using Wendy’s scope was a bonus.


Google Archive image

Google Archive image






Although a large bird it was smaller than the Great Hornbill. Noticeably different was the colour of its wings, all black and the tail was completely white. The Hornbill’s name comes from its striped casque, which bears a flattened wrinkled band, or wreath, at the base of the bill. (More than one ridge on the wreath may form in a year, and some front ridges may even drop off. Up to nine ridges may be present at any time.) Ours was a male with a creamy head and reddish plume from the nape. The yellow gular pouch with a distinct black stripe is also distinctive. Females are distinguished by a black head and neck and blue gular pouch. They apparently collect fruit in their neck pouch and hide them in caches.

The Oriental Pied Hornbill was heard and fleetingly seen. Considering I had fabulous views of them on Pankor and Rebak Islands, I wasn’t particularly concerned.

The following bird list was compiled by Wendy on 17 Feb 2017. They are in order of sighting and only include birds I personally saw. Wendy could identify the calls of many species that were around us, but I prefer not to include them.

1. White Throated Kingfisher
2. Yellow Vented Bulbul
3. Brown-Throated Sunbird
4. Greater Racquet-Tailed Drongo
5. Crested Serpent Eagle
6. Great Hornbill
7. Emerald Dove
8. Red-Eyed Bulbul
9. Asian Brown Flycatcher
10. Laced Woodpecker
11. Crested Goshawk
12. White-Bellied Sea-Eagle
13. Scarlet-Backed Flowerpecker
14. Grey Wagtail
15. Oriental Pied Hornbill
16. Brahminy Kite
17. Oriental Honey Buzzard
18. Chestnut Headed Bee-eater
19. Wreathed Hornbill
20. Black-Naped Oriole
21. Orange-Bellied Flowerpecker
22. Red-Wattled Lapwing
23. Baya Weaver
24. Spotted Dove
25. Little Egret
It was a fabulous morning, one I look forward to repeating with Wendy Chin, when we return from Thailand.
Wendy looking for that juvenile raptor

Wendy looking for that juvenile raptor

A  mysterious raptor we saw which had us rather confused proved to be a juvenile  Oriental Honey Buzzard. Wendy kindly circulated her photo within the raptor survey chat group for identification. Raptors are tricky but these Asian morphs make it a greater challenge.
Drongo, Great Racket-tailed

Drongo, Great Racket-tailed

Wagtail, Grey (dark wing coverts)

Wagtail, Grey (dark wing coverts)

Bee-eater, Chestnut-headed

Bee-eater, Chestnut-headed










Keeping cool in the shade. Lapwing, Red-wattled

Keeping cool in the shade. Lapwing, Red-wattled

Close-up of wattle

Close-up of wattle