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China Birds (Nick Sismey) 2011 List (UK, China, Hong Kong & ?) (1 Viewer)

ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
31 July 11

Now in Beijing Julia Li from our local office and her partner Xiao Deng met me in the foyer of the Sheraton Great Wall Hotel at 0800 hours where we were soon met by fellow Birdforum member Li Ming (Xiaoming).

It was a beautiful yet very hot day so we decided to head north along the G111 (Photo1) into the mountains towards the Bai He river in the Huai Rou district. 95kms later we were walking along the river (Photo 2) where a lone Godlewski's Bunting flew up from the path next to the river.

434.Godlewski's Bunting----------------Huai Rou (Beijing)------------China

Even in the mountains it was still very warm and we were relieved when we returned to the air conditioned car (after it had cooled down!). A couple of stops later we found ourselves on a newly built boardwalk (Photo 3) on another section of the river. The water was very high for this time of the year reducing the chances of any waders but a female Mandarin Duck was hiding from the fierce sun amongst the reeds.

435.Mandarin Duck---------------------Huai Rou (Beijing)-----------China

After a couple of other stops we parked up in a small village where some trees ran down to the water’s edge, here a Grey Capped Pygmy Woodpecker was calling from high up in some Poplar Trees.

436.Grey Capped Pygmy Woodpecker----Huai Rou (Beijing)------------China

Lunch was had in a small restaurant further up the valley where trout were kept in two large concrete pools. We knew were out in the sticks as the fish we chose was clubbed to death in front of us!

With little else about we then decided to return to Beijing

More to follow……
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
31 July 11 (Continued….)

As we entered Beijing via the 5th ring road the outside temperature gauge on Julia’s car edged towards 40 degrees C (104 F), just as we found somewhere to park it hit 42 (107+). Li Ming knew of what would be a life bird for me that had been nesting in the grounds of the Beijing University so we had to make the effort to try and see it.

With ice-creams in hand that were melting quicker than we could eat them we queued to enter the university (Photo1), talk about having to be keen! The reasons for the queues were that so many people wanted to see one of the top universities in the country that the students had complained to the authorities that there were too many people about and they feared for their security. Therefore the authorities decided to only allow folk in who showed their ID, the thinking was that if someone was going to cause trouble, they wouldn’t want to be bothered to show their ID first. As I always carry my passport in China it wasn’t a problem.

After twenty minutes we were passing the university buildings when twin eight year old Chinese girls started talking to me in English. They were with a large family and when I showed my surprised at just how well they spoke English their father told me they were here from Qingdao in Shandong province for an English speaking competition and that they would travel by fast train to Shanghai the next day for another competition. For identical twins they were a different height, which was cute, but boy could they talk! They knew more English for the 8 years they had been on this planet than I had learnt Chinese after visiting China for 14 years!

After saying our goodbyes to the Qingdao family we passed alongside a large lake (Photo 3) towards some trees outside an old Chinese style building where the bird had been seen a week earlier with young, having nested there. Just as we arrived Li Ming spotted someone he believed was also a birder and asked if there were any signs of the bird (s). Even with my limited Chinese I knew from the body language it wasn’t good news. Li Ming confirmed that since the heavy rain storm a couple of days ago the birds hadn’t been seen.

Deflated we wondered under all of the trees making sure this was the case and then walked around the far side of the building to check the trees there, no luck. Time to go as Julia and Xiao as non birders had put up with more than enough birding in high temperatures for one day.

As we passed under the original trees where Li Ming had talked to the birder he appeared again and quietly exclaimed he had found the mother and one young bird. Our pace quickened as we walked to an area no more than 100 yards away. Sure enough the birds were there, we set the telescope up (Photo 4) so several passers bye could view what we were viewing when their curiosity got the better of them.

Our target species was a Northern Hawk Owl (Photo 5) which has been split from the Brown Hawk Owl found in the south of China. The adult bird was hidden by branches but I was able to get some reasonable shots of the young bird which was struggling to sleep with the noises in the park. Its eyes would suddenly shoot wide open and then slowly shut just like a young child. I thanked Mr Chen Wei profusely for being so kind to come back and tell us he had found the birds.

437.Northern Hawk Owl-----------Beijing University--------------------China

What a superb end to a great day, which like yesterday ended with a lifer. We thanked Li Ming for being our guide as we went our separate ways from the University. I also thanked Julia and Xiao for their hospitality as they dropped me off at the hotel…..
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
06 August 11

While waiting for my late night flight home from Hong Kong I went with the Crested Bulbul Club (Photos 1 & 2) to Shing Mun to try and pick up some forest birds. The birds new it was Summer however therefore the only new bird I picked up was a Chestnut Bulbul as a Hong Kong year tick.
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
08 August 11

Steve called me yesterday to see if I wanted to see a fledged Cuckoo being fed by its step parents at Willington as he was on his way there and knew I hadn’t seen a Cuckoo in the UK for a couple of years. Unfortunately I had to decline as it was my first day home after two weeks away.

However this morning, waking up at 0500 hours with still being on China team, I made a quick visit to Willington where there were already three birders (Photo1) watching the Cuckoo (Photo 2) deep inside the hedge.

It was keeping its step parents (Photo 3) fully occupied and while actively moving through the bush never really settled where one could get a good shot of the bird.
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
09 September 11

Steve and I hadn’t been out birding together since May so it was time to make amends this afternoon as we took the 45 minute drive from Derby to Belvide Reservoir (Photo1) in Staffordshire to look for what would be a lifer for me.

It was the first time either of us had been there however there were plenty of local birders to guide us.

As soon as we walked out onto the dam wall we set up our scopes and after a few minutes spotted our target bird, a Sabine’s Gull.

It was too far away to get good views so we moved further along the wall but instead of getting better views we lost the bird! A Peregrine had unsettled all of the birds on the reservoir and therefore it took us a while to relocate the bird in front of the new hide way off in the distance. A local birder who had only taken up the hobby a couple of years ago joined us on our walk to the hide.

The hide was brimming with birders (Photo 2), all who seemed to know each other very well, all who welcomed Steve and I like long lost friends. The shoreline (Photo 3) was around 50 metres from the hide which gave us reasonable views of the gull (Photo 4) before it flew off (Photo 5) back to the centre of the reservoir.

438.Sabine’s Gull----------------Belvide Reservoir-------------England

An Arctic Tern was also feeding not far from the dam wall, my first of the year.

439.Arctic Tern--------------------Belvide Reservoir--------------England

From here we moved to Gailey Reservoir where a Red Necked Grebe, just starting to lose its summer plumage, was mixing it with Little and Great Crested Grebes. We were hoping for Little Gulls which would have been another year bird for me but while scouring the gull roost we spotted the Sabine’s again, a first for the reservoir. A local birder further round the reservoir must have seen it at almost the same time as us as it came up on the pager minutes later.
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
28 September 11

Following a text from Steve yesterday, which read, “Nightjar sitting on a garden fence at 30 Wright St. Codnor – brill! Been there 5 days”, I just had to make the short drive to Wright Street (Photo1) tonight. It was a glorious evening without a cloud in the sky.

A note taped to the front door (Photo 2) gave instructions on where to go. Cautiously walking around the back of the terrace houses, through private gardens, I arrived at the back of No 30. The couple there couldn’t have been more helpful when I peered nervously through their open back door.

They told me that they had had over 100 people in their garden (Photo 3) over the last five days. As we walked down the path towards the bird the gentleman said that the first time he saw it, from an upstairs window, he thought it was a cat. However when he went to scare it away he was surprised to see a strange bird asleep on the fence. He remembered seeing a similar bird in a book and after confirming what it was called up a birding friend. From there the news spread.

Another couple joined me after about 15 minutes where we shared the views of a wonderful bird. I was able take some reasonable shots (Photo 4 & 5) despite the fading light under the trees

440.Nightjar-----------------------Codnor--------------------------England

It was a big thank you to the couple for allowing me in their garden and then home for dinner…
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
03 October 2011

A quick two day trip to Frankfurt to provide some training to our European offices found me strolling along the banks of the River Main (Photo1) near the Intercontinental Hotel (Photo 2)

The Indian summer we are currently enjoying in the UK had extended across Germany and therefore I had to make the most of the sunny and warm autumnal evening to take in the sights.

Black Headed Gulls, Woodpigeons and Cormorants were the most abundant birds with Egyptian Geese (Photo 3) being even tamer than in the UK before flying off down the river.

Mute Swans were in plentiful supply around the floating restaurants with Blackbirds, Feral Pigeons and Carrion Crows taking my German list to eight!

On the way back to the hotel, through a cobbled square (Photo 4), a large poster full of birds (Photo 5) caught my eye which I later found out was advertising an exhibition of Icelandic artist Erró. The following info was quoted on http://www.schirn.de/en/exhibitions/2011/erro/erro-exhibition.html:-

QUOTE
Erró. Portrait and Landscape
6. October - 8. January 2012


The Icelandic artist Erró is one of the great solitary figures of twentieth- century art. At once Pop and Baroque, eye-catching and narrative, critical of society and humorous, moral and inscrutable, over the past fifty years he has produced an opulent, unmistakable oeuvre that resists all categorization. His critical narrative collages reproduce in painting combinations of pictorial elements from various popular sources to create eloquent, often disturbing tableaux. As reflections on great social themes such as politics, war, sexuality, science, and art, these dense visual arrangements seem to create a comprehensive atlas of images of the modern world.

On the occasion of Iceland’s turn as guest of honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the SCHIRN will show Erró’s series “Scapes” and, for the first time, the artist’s entire cycle of “Monsters” from 1968. This bizarre series of double portraits confronts the official likenesses of prominent persons with a second, monstrously distorted face. Erró films from the 1960s will be shown as a link between the two work groups.

Curator: Esther Schlicht, SCHIRN
UNQUOTE

A pity I will have left Frankfurt before the exhibition opens.
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
04 October 2011

I would never have thought that an early morning walk along the banks of the Main River (Photos1&2) would provide me with both a life bird and a great April fool story.

Having added Blue Tit, Chiffchaff, Goldfinch, Great Tit, Kestrel, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Nuthatch and Starling to my German bird list I heard a call I wasn’t familiar with. The sound was coming from a treecreeper that wasn’t a normal treecreeper call. The bird was calling as it ascended a nearby tree. A check of my Collins guide identified the call of a Short Toed Treecreeper. Checking the internet I found that they were common in this area and habitat. I also found this review doubting the existence of the bird at http://10000birds.com/short-toed-treecreepers-do-not-exist.htm dated 1April10!

So long as the bird does exist it was a lifer!

441.Short Toed Treecreeper------Main River, Frankfurt-------Germany
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
05 October 2011

Another early walk along the river this morning under very grey clouds added a Robin and a Song Thrush to my German list while a Magpie appeared as I made my way to the aircraft taking my German list to a grand 20!
 

ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
13 October 2011

An early flight from Heathrow had us touching down in Toulouse, France at 1040 where the taxi drive to the hotel provided us with views of Magpie, Carrion Crow and Feral Pigeon.

For the last couple of hours of daylight I walked along the Canal du Midi close to the hotel where Black Redstarts were hurling themselves up into the air from the red roof tops (Photo 1) catching flies.

442.Black Redstart------------------Toulouse-----------------------France

House sparrows were also to be found in the bushes alongside the canal

At the Grand Rond park (Photo 2) close to the Museum d’Histoire Naturelle, where we were due to attend a banquet that night, four more birds were added to the French year list namely Woodpigeon, Blackbird, Starling and Pied Wagtail.

Later that evening in the Museum d’Histoire Naturelle we were wined and dined in the shadow of a full sized replica Quetzalcoatlus. The shear size of the largest creature in the world to ever fly dominating the ceiling of the main hall was a wonderful precursor to what was to come tomorrow……………….
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
14 October 2011

As we weren’t being picked up from the hotel until 1015 I walked to the La Garonne River (Photo1) on a glorious morning, picking up Herring Gull, Mallard, Yellow Wagtail, Black Headed Gull and Cormorant.

In the Prairle des Filtres park alongside the river (Photo 2) Common Sandpiper, Kingfisher, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Robin, Grey Heron and Moorehen were added to the list.

Crossing the river again a Swallow plus a flock of Cattle Egrets flew overhead on the way to their feeding grounds.

Heading back to the hotel and through the Jardin Royal park (Photo 3) Great Tits were calling high above the path.

Next stop was the Airbus delivery centre where China Southern Airlines were taking the first A380 (Photo 4) to be delivered to China, which attracted a vast number of media personnel (Photo 5). After the wonderful festivities we waited to board the aircraft for the delivery flight to Beijing. A lone Kestrel was quartering the airfield while a Song Thrush flew over the delivery centre.

Taxiing to the runway Skylark and a Buzzard took my French year list to 28.
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
15 October 2011

After landing in Beijing the celebrations (Photo1) there were even grander than in Toulouse…

16 October 2011

Following an 0715 start from the Sheraton Great Wall hotel with Yan Shen and Fred Li, a current and former colleague, we picked up Li Ming a fellow birder and headed North West towards the Guan Ting Reservoir valley. Passing the Great Wall at Badaling, one of the most famous viewing areas of the wall, we dropped down out of the mountains into a wide flat valley that must have been 20 miles across with stunning mountains (Photo 2) either side.

Stopping near the main river Little Buntings (Photo 3) were the most common small bird with the exception of Tree Sparrows and Parrotbills.

443.Little Bunting------------------Guan Ting River--------------------China

Pheasant and Buzzard were also added to the Chinese year list

We then visited a large grassland area which we found out after paying the entry fee and arguing with some locals that we really didn’t need to ride some horses that it was in fact the wrong grassland area. Therefore we moved onto Wild Duck Lake park which was only a couple of miles further up the valley.

Having paid our £5 entry for park (Photo 4) a couple of early winter Bewick Swans (Photo 5) took my year list to a personal record of 444, my previous best being 443 in 2008.

444.Bewick Swan-------------------Wild Duck Lake-------------------China

Six Ruddy Shelducks also flew in over our heads onto a low mud island, taking my China year list to 153.

More to follow…..
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
16 October 2011 (continued)

We were guided along a long and winding boardwalk through the reed beds by a pipit that I frustratingly I just couldn’t get a front view of but thanks to Birdforum members the vote is that it was a Buff Bellied Pipit (Photo1)

445.Buff Bellied Pipit-----------------Wild Duck Lake-------------------China

An hour in the reed beds produced not a thing so while the rest took the weight off their feet I decided to scan the mountains for any migrating birds. The air was crystal clear enabling every nook and cranny of the mountain ridges to be picked out through the scope. There seemed little about until I was looking as far north as possible where the mountains started to dip out of sight. Suddenly five unmistakable black dots, soaring on the thermals, came into view. Increasing the scope’s magnification to 60x I could see five cranes making very slow progress against Southerly headwinds. Occasionally they would catch a thermal and ascend and then glide a little further. I was transfixed.

They worked their way along the mountains ridges until they were straight in-front becoming virtually invisible against the grey mountains. If you lost them in your scope when we quickly handed it over to each other it was a devil of a job to find them again. But when you had them in view they were majestic; it left a lump in your throat. Can there be anything more rewarding in the birding world than migrating cranes?

The others left me to it for the next hour and at one point I picked up 20 cranes, all Common in the scope. It mattered little to me that we had seen very few birds the day was made so special with these, my favourite bird species.

Yan finally convinced me it was time to move on to our next destination and as I turned my view away from the skies Li Ming and I picked up a woodpecker calling in the woods on the way back to the car. The owner was a White Backed Woodpecker (Photo 2).

446. White Backed Woodpecker-------Wild Duck Lake-----------------China

We did then find the grasslands we had tried to find earlier and drove past hordes of horses, buggies and off road vehicles to the beautiful Guan Ting Reservoir (Photos 3) which contained huge numbers of birds which we just couldn’t get close enough to identify with the wind now blowing a gale and shaking the scope of its tri-pod.

As the night drew in we made a pledge to return in the winter when there would be fewer horses, buggies and off road vehicles and yet more birds, especially cranes, in large numbers.

As we crossed the virtually bare grasslands (Photo 4) that resembled a dust bowl, a Little Owl (Photo 5) watched us watching it before disappearing into the night. We did the same stopping in a local village for sustenance before battling with the Beijing traffic once more.

It had been a glorious day thanks to Yan, Fred and Li Ming, although I wasn’t sure whether the colour in my cheeks was due to the sun or wind burn……
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
17 October 2011

An afternoon/early evening trip to Tianjin on the fast train from Beijing produced a flock of Daurian Jackdaws as we were leaving the office at the Airbus Final Assembly line

447.Daurian Jackdaw------------------Tianjin----------------------China
 

ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
22 October 2011

At 7am on a beautiful autumn morning in Shanghai four colleagues (Cai Chang, Zhao Jiankang, Lou Mingxuan and Andrew Wang) and I headed for Rudong to the North West of Shanghai. Three hours later we were in the docks of Yang Kou port (Photo1) watching several Heuglin’s Gulls (Photo 2) circling over the moored fishing trawlers

448.Heuglin’s Gull--------------------Yang Kou-----------------------China

The skyline was dominated by wind turbines as we made our way along the concrete sea wall. Dropping down into the vast marshland area (Photo 3) an Osprey was circling far away in the distance over where the shoreline must have been.

Moving back inland we travelled down a very dusty tree lined road (Photo 4) where there were a large number of migrating birds including many Yellow Browed Warblers (Photo 5).

More to follow…
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
22 October 2011 (Continued)

A gorgeous Mugimaki Flycatcher (Photo1) never did let me get close enough to get more than a record shot in between the plumes of dust being thrown up by the trucks pounding the road.

449.Mugimaki Flycatcher------------Yang Kou------------------------China

We then moved to the large fish ponds the two that had been drained notable for the waders they attracted. We weren’t disappointed with good numbers of Common, Curlew, Green and Wood Sandpiper, Sanderling (Photo 2) Kentish Plover, Snipe, Black Winged Stilt, Red Necked Stint (Photo 3) and Long Toed Stint (Photo 4).

Later in the day we returned to the coast (Photo 5) where several Eastern Curlews were feeding on the immense silt flats built up from the endless discharge from the Yangtze River to the South.

450.Eastern Curlew------------------Yang Kou------------------------China

We had been out 13 hours by the time we returned back to Shanghai but it had been a great way to spend a Saturday…..
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
23 October 2011

The following morning started an hour later and this time it was just Cai and I driving south to Nan Hua (Photo1). Dunlin, Bar Tailed Godwit, Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Pacific Golden, Grey and Kentish Plover were abundant in the shallows and raised mud areas.

Someone told us that there was a Hawk Owl roosting in the trees (Photo 2) close to the Holiday Inn Express, next to the sea wall, the only building for several miles. We didn’t find the owl but did pick up several Pallas’s Leaf Warblers (Photo 3), their bright yellow rumps showing vividly as they hovered between branches.

451.Pallas’s Leaf Warbler-----------Nan Hua-------------------------China

Daurian Redstarts (Photo 4) were in good numbers as well, with a male and female Mugimaki Flycatchers skulking under the trees.

Other birders joined us as the owl had been seen for three or four days, but clearly it had decided to move on late that morning. Therefore we went for lunch before returning to the mud flats behind the sea wall. With the tide having ebbed the birds had left so we moved to another area where there were boardwalks (Photo 5) across one of the flooded fish ponds. No new birds but we did witness a pair of Peregrine worrying a good number of birds. Despite their team work they were unable to make a kill

More to follow…
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
23 October 2011 (Continued….)

Before leaving for home we made another quick trip to where the owl was reported. Again no owl but a first year Chestnut Bunting (Photo1) was resting before his journey south while an Asian Brown Flycatcher (Photo 2) was feeding in the lee of the wood where there was no wind.

452.Chestnut Bunting-------------------Nan Hui---------------------China
453.Asian Brown Flycatcher-------------Nan Hui---------------------China

With a meal appointment that evening we left mid afternoon
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
29 October 2011

Earlier this year fellow Birdforum Member Viator (Mike) invited me to visit Singapore and Malaysia again, around October, to pick up the winter migrants. As luck would have it on this trip I was able to work my return trip from China via Singapore for little or no extra cost compared to flying direct to the UK from Hong Kong.

I met up with Mike in the lobby of the Grand Mercure Roxy Hotel in Singapore at 0615 today where we caught a taxi to the bus station. From there, for the equivalent price of £1, they take you through the border between Singapore and Malaysia, our destination for the nest two days.

We could see nothing through the bus windows due to the condensation so my first year bird was as we ascended the escalator to the Singapore Border Control. Several Javan Myna were clearing up scraps left by the crowds.

454.Javan Myna-------------------Woodlands--------------------Singapore

My Singapore year list then swelled to three with Peregrine and Grey Heron.

Clearing Immigration we headed to where our bus should have been waiting for us to take us across the kilometre long causeway to Malaysia. Our bus did not arrive so Mike agreed that we could walk, he had never done it before but as we had to wait until 0830 before the rental car firm opened in the town of Johor Bahru, where the Malaysian Border Control was situated, he thought it a good idea to kill time.

We followed the signs indicating where pedestrians could cross the causeway, a Singapore security officer waving us goodbye just before we wound down the spiral stairway and onto the causeway. We met a couple of other pedestrians that we had assumed were doing the same as us but in reverse!

Crossing into Malaysia (Photo 1) a House Cross was my first year bird for this a new country to me.

455.House Crow-------------------Johor Bahru--------------------Malaysia

We add five more Malaysian birds Common Sandpiper, Striated Heron, Grey Heron, Javan Myna and Barn Swallow before reaching the Malaysian Border Control, a splendid new building. We had been surprised that the footpath on the Singapore side had disappeared after we passed the halfway point of the crossing. For the rest of the way we were only separated from the vehicles by a white line which offered little protection.

As we arrived at Border Control we were apprehended by a young Border Policeman who asked us what we were doing. We explained that we had decided to walk across. He advised that we couldn’t, it was illegal, despite no-one stopping us in Singapore. He escorted us up the long escalator into the building that seemed to be managing huge numbers of people very efficiently.

In very good English he told us he was going to have to call his supervisor as we had been seen on CCTV, he would decide what to do with us. After ten minutes or so he arrived, he was not much older but spoke little English. He immediately demanded our passports which then put him on a very firm footing. In broken English he then told us that what we had done was illegal and that he could take our passports away and deport us! Clearly the situation was getting serious…..

More to Follow…..
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
29 October 2011 (Continued…)

All Mike and I could do was apologise and admit the error of our ways hoping for compassion. After several repeat performances from both sides the crux of the situation became clear. Crossing his palm with gold would allow us into the country and nothing further would be said.

After exiting a lift where the deal was completed, out of reach of any CCTV cameras, we were sent on our way, a few Malaysian Ringgit lighter but with the weekend still very much on. After clearing Immigration we were able to reflect on just what had happened. Mike was aware that this went on. I was new to it but went along with the charade as we really weren’t in a very strong position!

Crossing the pedestrian walkway into Johor Bahru (Photo 1), Asian Glossy Starlings (Photo 2) were sharing a cable with Javan Myna.

456.Asian Glossy Starlings----------Johor Bahru--------------------Malaysia

Making our way to the rental car firm Feral Pigeons were everywhere, but the next year bird was a Yellow Vented Bulbul high up in a Palm Tree. Scaly Breasted Munia, Spotted Dove and Tree Sparrow were also around the base of the tree.

457.Yellow Vented Bulbul -----------Johor Bahru-------------------Malaysia

I didn’t expect my first lifer until we arrived in the jungle however Mike spotted a Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker flying across the road in front of us. That was immediately followed by another year bird, a flock of Purple Backed Starlings flying in the opposite direction.

458.Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker----Johor Bahru-----------------Malaysia
459.Purple Backed Starling-----------Johor Bahru------------------Malaysia

Olive Backed Sunbirds and Blue Tailed Bee Eaters were in the trees behind the rental car lot, these were joined by a Common Iora and a Black Naped Oriole (Photo 3) both year birds.

460.Common Iora--------------------Johor Bahru-----------------Malaysia
461.Black Naped Oriole---------------Johor Bahru-----------------Malaysia

The Proton (everyone drives Protons it seems in Malaysia, being the national car manufacturer) cost us £56 for the two days, much cheaper than hiring a car from Singapore, and while it wasn’t the most modern car we had seen it would do us proud over the weekend.

Next stop the Panti Bird Sanctuary about an hour to the North. There was now no turning back for me. As covered above I had jumped at the chance of Mike taking me birding in Malaysia, even though I knew the jungle was infested with leeches. As soon as I booked my flight I had invested in a pair of leech socks determined to beat my phobia about such creatures.

It wasn’t until I got to within a week of arriving in Singapore that my phobia took hold. I had been so busy on my China trip I had been able to put it to the back of my mind, but one night in Guangzhou I just couldn’t sleep and all I could think about was the leeches. What had sparked it was a thread someone had started on leech socks. It mentioned that while the socks worked, you had to be aware of the leeches that dropped on you from the bushes above. This got my mind spinning and no matter how much I tried to deny it my phobia just grew and grew, so much so that the first thing I did the next morning, after little sleep, was to advise Mike that I was so sorry but I really didn’t think I could go through with it.

Mike was very kind and assured me that I would be fine if I stayed on the gravel and sand tracks, that they did not like to come on roads and so long as I didn’t come in contact with any greenery I would be fine.

I took him for his word and the trip was therefore very much on although I was still worrying whether the tracks would be wide enough and what if it rained, which it often does in this part of the world, wouldn’t that free them up to cross the road? Trepidation seemed to most apt word at that point in time.

More to follow……
 

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