Manchurian Bush Warbler

Manchurian Bush Warbler by Ck Leong

This is a first record for Borneo and Malaysia.  Its nearest geographic range puts it in Vietnam and the Phillippines.  Early yesterday morning, after 2 days of searching in the coastal scrub habitat of the northern tip of Borneo, local name Simpang Mengayau, Andy Boyce and I finally heard the distinctive song of the Manchurian Bush Warbler Cettia canturians.  Two mornings earlier this bird was first spotted by local birder Zaim Hazim who was basically doing the same thing as we were, trying to spot migrants which might use this area as the staging ground for their return migration up north.  Not sure of what this new warbler was, Zaim made a voice recording on his mobile phone and posted it online.  Incredibly lucky for us in the birding world, bird trip leader James Eaton had a listen in this clearly not the best recording and picked out the song of the bird.

The bird was a first for me and I had not expected a bush warbler to be high up in the pine needles of the casuarina tree.  But it was there, and vocalizing constantly.  It took me a long time to get a decent enough photo of the bird which was moving in and out of the leaves around the top of the tree (digiscoping is really not the way to go for such birds).  But it was there a long time, feeding (insects I assume) and singing.  What a beautiful song!  What a great day!  

Siberian Rubythroat

Siberian Rubythroat

For the second year in a row, this visiting Siberian Rubythroat Luscinia calliope has turned up on Mt Kinabalu.  Well actually I do not know if it is the same individual but there is just this one bird and in the same little spot as seen last year.  It makes its daily appearance early in the morning near the Power Station with a definite preference for the low bushes.  What a beauty!

Thanks to Andy Boyce.

Bushy-crested Hornbill

Bushy-crested Hornbill by Ck Leong

The Bushy-crested Hornbill is the most common hornbill of the lowland forest in Borneo.  It moves around in small flocks of up to a dozen birds, feeding on fruit and insects.  Whereas most other hornbills breed in pairs, the Bushy-crested Hornbill has a social system of cooperative breeding, thus enabling the species a much higher chance of survivalabilty in a limited habitat.

Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker

Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker by Ck Leong

Here’s another common flowerpecker found in gardens and secondary forest.  The Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker Dicaeum cruentatum is really appropriately named, the male flashing its brilliant colours at every opportunity.  Different colour morphs have been reported, with this particular individual showing a much narrower white on the belly.

Gull-billed Tern

Gull-billed Tern in flight

Gull-billed Tern in flight

Gull-billed Tern

Gull-billed Tern

At the Tanjung Aru beach north of Kota Kinabalu last month, this lone Gull-billed Tern stood out among a group of Little Terns.  It was already in winter plumage, grey on the upper parts and black patch behind the eye.  Perhaps because it was with the Little Terns, its size caught my full attention (my lifer!).  Between graceful flights over the surf, it came down on the beach and sat with the other terns and waders.  Great day.