Oct 27, 2011

Raptors Watch at Chumphonraptorcenter - Radar & Pencil Hills, Thailand.

From Oct 14 -19 2011, 27 members of MNS Selangor boarded a bus at the central bus station (Pudu Raya) in downtown Kuala Lumpur for what would be a 19 hour road trip to Chumphon, Thailand. We spent the night at the Morakot Hotel located in downtown.

Thailand is famous for it rich variety of food and the group lived up to it's equally famous or maybe it's infamous reputation of  Makan Non-Stop or Minum Non-Stop in a mix of Malay and English words, taking cognizance to the Malaysian Nature Society's abbreviated letters MNS. Loosely translated into English it meant Eating Non-Stop or Drinking Non-Stop. Both remarks are to be  taken in a light hearted manner just for some laughs. 

So in keeping true to the iconic abbreviation of MNS the group spent the first night in Chumphon doing just that. Eating and albeit moderately drinking Non-Stop. LOL

Here is the 'evidence' and happy faces all round. No prize for correctly guessing who is the Man in Black. :-)

The tummies well satisfied now on to the more serious stuff. We came to see the Raptors migrating from their northern hemisphere wintering homelands like Mongolia, China, Japan, Siberia, Russia etc to warmer countries in the south. Radar Hill aka Khao Radar in Thai has been identified as being strategically located along one of the migrating routes of the Raptors. Hence bird watchers from around the world converge here every year to watch the repeat of the spectacle year after year.

The weather was hot and humid. The sky was clear of clouds. Good news for the Raptors but not so good news for Raptor watchers. With abundant hot thermal filling the sky the Raptors fly high and most times are seen as just tiny specks thousands of feet above us. We ended the day with good observations using our viewing scopes and binoculars. But no close -up photos. 

Pencil Hill aka Khao Dinsor

The next morning we started early. After a hearty buffet breakfast the entourage hopped into 3 spacious vans and by 7 am we were well on our way to Pencil Hill. We were informed that from what was experienced in the past years Raptors fly lower around Pencil Hill. Our enthusiasm were lifted and faces lighted up on hearing the good news. 

Soon enough we were at the foothill. Unlike Radar Hill where we were driven all the up to the observation plateau, at Pencil Hill it was a steep climb for the first 500 or so meters and then a gradual gradient ascending to the 3 covered counting stations. The top most station do not have a shelter. So if one choose to be here it will be out in the open come rain or shine. I did spend the best part of the second day here.

As we had anticipated the Raptors passing here did pass closer than those we saw at Radar Hill. However the direction and speed in which they approach and fly pass were unpredictable. When one or a group of Raptors is seen in the distance loud announcements could be heard from either the counters or visitors like us. There will then be a period of keen observation and excitement if the Raptors should pass by in the vicinity. And sighs of disappointment should they follow the wind and change direction before reaching the hill. 

Some from the group spent the second day on Pencil Hill whilst others decided to visit King's Park to check-out the lowland birds and waders there. I have posted the birds found on Radar Hill and those in King's Park in separate postings in this blog. 

For this posting I will only post photos of the Raptors. So here goes,

                                  Oriental Honey Buzzard

                                Japanese Sparrowhawk (Juvenile)

                                Prerigrine Falcan


                                    Black Eagle

                                 Oriental Honey Buzzard

                                 Japanese Sparrowhawk

The beautiful Gulf of Siam and eastern scene overlooking Pencil Hill


Birds of Radar Hill, near Chumphon, Thailand

Besides watching the Raptors fly pass Radar Hill from their winter homelands to warmer climes in the south, we fill-in the lull periods with birding around the hill. It yielded reasonable result with mainly smaller species of birds.

Below are examples.

                                Asian Brown Flycatcher

                                Black-headed Bul Bul

                                Olive-backed Sunbird

                                Yellow-rumped Flycatcher


This Buddhist Stupa is located in the valley and could be clearly seen from hill top.  

               The scenery surrounding the hill is simply superb!

A casual morning of birding in Kuala Selangor Nature Park (KSNP)

It was the Festival of Wings weekend (Oct 22-23 2011). I was amongst the volunteers from the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) who had turned up to lend a hand to the many activities planned for the weekend. On Sunday morning we got out of bed at around 6 am. Freshen up and was ready for casual birding in the park by 7 am. For company I had Tang Tuck Hong, Lee Keen Seong, Chin Choong Liung and Andy Lee all members of the Birdgroup SIG of MNS Selangor Branch.

The sun was slowly breaking in the distant horizon. We only have the 1st half of the Sunday morning. In the afternoon we have to take up volunteer duty at the Kapar Power Station Ash Pond, same schedule as on Saturday.

We had just entered the left trail when the familiar calls of Laced Woodpeckers broke the quiet morning silence. There were three of them, possibly 2 adults and a Juvenile.

We came upon a winter visitor next - the Asian Brown Flycatcher

Further down the trail was a lone Black-capped Kingfisher, another winter visitor. It was perched a fair distance away, amongst some leafless branch. Just a record shot.

At the edge of the trail a Black Drongo was seen feeding on flying insects and a pair of Blue-tailed Bee-eaters perched at the top of another leafless tree.

A short distance after turning right of the trail 5 Great-Tits were seen playfully chasing one another. One stayed long enough for me to take a close-up shot of this very agile specie.

An Ashy Tailor Bird was in the same vicinity as the Great-Tits. This is another bird which move from perch to perch at great speed. It tested my patience and mental reflexes to follow it, waiting to seize an opportune moment to release the shutter. YES...! this time it did not get away. :-) This is one of my closest shots of this tiny bird! And against bright natural sunlight too - a bonus!

A Grey Heron flew over-head and was 'captured' in the nick of time.

As we ventured a little further down the trail 3 birds which 'escaped' the camera earlier was seen foraging in a tree just by the side of the lake. It's the Little Bronzed Cuckoo. There were 3 of the them, 2 adults and 1 Juvy Here are photos of an adult and and that of the Juvenile.

A quick look at the watch and it was already 12.30 pm. It is time to proceed to the next venue. To save some time we decided to return by back tracking the same trail in which we started. We knew more bird species lie ahead but duty calls, so reluctantly we 'retreated'. 

On our way out we were again rewarded with more bird sightings. An Artic Wabbler was seen and heard (no pix) and below are the Abbots Babbler and an Olive-backed Bul Bul. A great wrap to just a couple hours of casual birding. The 'treasures' would have been more abundant if we have more time at our disposal. Well there is always a next time.

How to get to Kuala Selangor Nature Park (KSNP)

Oct 25, 2011

10000 HITS @ 3.35 pm on 25th OCT 2011!!!

 10,000 Hits!!!

A new milestone was reached today! I made my first posting on this blog in June 2009 and it is now 16 months old. 10000 hits is an average of 625 hits a month; 21 hits per day. 

Total page viewed during same period was over 18,000 or 1,125 pages a month and 37.5 pages a day.

A big thank you to all who stopped over. It's a great pleasure to share and I hope you have found it worthwhile and informative too. Cheers to all!

Country visits share last 12 months

Henry Goh Photo Blog
This Year's Visits and Page Views by Month

This Year's Visits and Page Views by Month