Blue-winged Pitta

Blue-winged Pitta by Ck Leong

The Blue-winged Pitta Pitta moluccensis is a winter visitor to Borneo but this particular individual could have stayed over from earlier in the year.  It was discovered in early July in scrub forest near to a housing area in Kota Kinabalu.  Always a favourite with birders and bird photographers, it attracted a lot of attention while at the same time adding more discussion to whether this lends to possible local breeding.

Copper-throated Sunbird

Copper-throated Sunbird male

Copper-throated Sunbird male

Copper-throated Sunbird female

Copper-throated Sunbird female

The Copper-throated Sunbird Leptocoma calcostetha has a preference for coastal and mangrove vegetation.  Elsewhere you would find it difficult to see this bird.  Its behavior is typical of sunbirds with their speedy flight, moving rapidly in search of nectar and invertebrates.

Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike

Black-winged Flycatchershrike by Ck Leong

The Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus hirundinaceus is a common bird of the local forest.  It prefers the upper canopy when hunting for insects.  They are usually seen in pairs, the male having an all black upperpart while the female is dark brown.  

Red Junglefowl

Red Junglefowl by Ck Leong

This Red Junglefowl, the ancestor of the domesticated chicken, has been busy since introduced as a pest control in the late 90’s in the oil palm plantations around the Lahad Datu area of Sabah.  Since then I have seen it, alone or in flocks, in both commercial palm cultivation and in forest, in various places along the east coast of Sabah.  We don’t know the genetic purity of the original birds introduced here but they were most likely derived from West Malaysian sources.  Still it is always nice to see one of these birds in the wilds of Sabah.

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!