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

ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
29 October 2011 (Continued…)

Once out of Johor Bahru the road twisted and undulated where they didn’t need to undulate, the car bottoming out in some crazy places. The twists and turns through the Palm Oil Groves opened into a straight road (Photo1) heading towards the jungle.

A Black Winged Kite was hovering near a small village while a Greater Racket Tailed Drongo was taking in the morning sun in a tree next to the road.

462.Greater Racket Tailed Drongo----Panti-------------------------Malaysia

Mike almost swerved the car when a Black Hornbill flew across the road, the guy behind us not sure what we were doing. I was happy though, it was a lifer!

463.Black Hornbill-----------------Panti--------------------Malaysia

Common Myna and a White Throated Kingfisher were the last birds we saw before stopping at a track just after Mile Marker 270 (Photo 2), the start of the Panti Bird Sanctuary. While we unloaded our stuff and I was fitting my leech socks a Crested Serpent Eagle flew overhead.

464.Crested Serpent Eagle-----------Panti----------------------Malaysia

Mike was clearly totally unfazed by the leeches as he wore shorts, boots (not sure the Italian maker of my boots would like that) and socks. I was loaded up to do battle with repellent on my leech socks.

Keeping to the centre of the track I felt quite happy as there was no vegetation on the road and I could see if anything was coming towards me, I was also regularly checking my socks. Two lifers in quick succession took my mind away from things for a while, a Blue Winged Leafbird
and a Buff Vented Bulbul starting things off on a very positive note.

465.Blue Winged Leafbird----------Panti----------------------Malaysia
466.Buff Vented Bulbul-------------Panti----------------------Malaysia


It was already clear that a photographic record of the birds I was going to see in the jungle was going to be very difficult. The birds kept themselves either deep inside the jungle, where I wasn’t going to go, or high up atop a tree.

Another species of bulbul and leafbird in the form of a Cream Vented Bulbul and a Lesser Green Leafbird added to my record year list.

467.Cream Vented Bulbul--------------Panti---------------------Malaysia
468.Lesser Green Leafbird-------------Panti---------------------Malaysia

Mike’s (Photo 3) expertise was evident as he found a minute Chestnut Winged Babbler but both of us spotted a wonderfully named Raffles Malkoha (Photo 3), named after the one and only Sir Stamford Raffles of Singapore fame, both being lifers.

469.Chestnut Winged Babbler-------Panti--------------------Malaysia
470.Raffles Malkoha-----------------Panti----------------------Malaysia


Back to the leafbirds again and a Greater Green Leafbird (Photo 5) was one of the few birds that gave me a chance to photograph it.

471.Greater Green Leafbird------------Panti---------------------Malaysia

The temperature was rising all the time but pleasingly there were no sign of any rain clouds. Equally pleasing was that we now started to pick of a series of lifers. I was only just managing to jot down their names quick enough in my trusty pocket book. Mike was far more hi-tech having written his own programme for his mobile phone enabling him to record each bird in a matter of seconds and then download it all to his computer when he returned home. Both Red Throated Sunbird and Green Iora went into the phone and my book.

472.Red Throated Sunbird-----------Panti----------------------Malaysia
473.Green Iora-----------------------Panti---------------------Malaysia


More to follow……
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
29 October 2011 (Continued…)

One of the birds Mike had been unable to show me during my previous trip to Singapore last November was a treeswift. That was rectified as we passed below some tall dead trees where several Whiskered Treeswifts were perched. What splendid birds!

474.Whiskered Treeswift--------------------Panti-------------------Malaysia

Three more lifers followed in quick succession, Grey Bellied Bulbul, Brown Barbet (Photo 1) and Crimson Breasted Flowerpecker, I having to rely on Mike to identify two of the birds. Even if I hadn’t Mike had identified them, being a regular in the forest, before I had even got onto them.

475.Grey Bellied Bulbul-----------------------Panti------------------Malaysia
476.Brown Barbet----------------------------Panti------------------Malaysia
477.Crimson Breasted Flowerpecker----------Panti------------------Malaysia


We had been in the forest an hour by now and no sign of any unwanted creatures crawling onto my boots. I studiously kept to the centre of the track.

After a year bird, a Cinereous Bulbul, which I had only seen for the first time with Mike last year two more lifers slowly inched my list towards the 1,000 mark! A Banded Woodpecker flew into a tree while a Blythe's Hawk Eagle (Photo 2) flew out of a tree after we spooked it.

478.Cinereous Bulbul ---------------------------Panti-------------------Malaysia
479.Banded Woodpecker---------------------Panti-------------------Malaysia
480.Blythe's Hawk Eagle---------------------Panti-------------------Malaysia


A Dollarbird sat bolt upright at the top of a tree until it could take our presence no longer the white flashes in the wings clearly evident as it left the scene. A Bar Winged Flycatcher Shrike that I hadn’t seen since 2004 in Yexiangu near Xishuangbanna in Southern China, a similar jungle which also contained elephants, was next on the list.

481.Dollarbird--------------------------------Panti--------------------Malaysia
482.Bar Winged Flycatcher Shrike-------------Panti--------------------Malaysia

The Large Woodshrike really didn’t seem very large to me, I guess everything is relative, but still it was another lifer. I was able to identify an Arctic Warbler all by myself, the first in a while!

483.Large Woodshrike----------------------Panti------------------Malaysia
484.Arctic Warbler----------------------------Panti------------------Malaysia

“Little Green Pigeon” Mike exclaimed as a Little Green Pigeon flew over our heads and out of sight, probably my briefest lifer of the day.

485.Little Green Pigeon---------------------Panti------------------Malaysia

Mike was even more excited about our next bird, a Finch’s Bulbul (Photo 3) as they were rarely seen in Panti. I was equally excited as it was yet another lifer.

486.Finch’s Bulbul--------------------------Panti---------------Malaysia

This was the turning point of our two hour walk along trail 270. We started our return journey at around 12pm. As we looked forward to lunch, even though it was at least two hours away if we walked back at a quicker pace and drove to a local outdoor food stall, Mike noticed that he had been leeched, his sock red with blood. He had been off piste so wasn’t surprised. While there was no sign of the culprit I kept ever more vigilant.

More to follow……
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
29 October 2011 (Continued…)

The birds were still caming thick and fast on the return journey with an Orange Bellied Flowerpecker (Photo1) being the first

488.Orange Bellied Flowerpecker-----Panti-------------------Malaysia

“Oh what a stunning bird” I heard myself utter out load when we came across a Red Bearded Bee Eater, a real forest dweller according to my guide. We just couldn’t get enough of this bird, but it soon got bored leaving us with just vivid memories.

489.Red Bearded Bee Eater-----------Panti------------------Malaysia

I was almost disappointed when I saw my next lifer, a Bronzed Drongo, after the bee eater, but they all give the same size tick. An Eastern Crowned Warbler took my year list into the 490’s for the first time.

490.Bronzed Drongo------------------Panti------------------Malaysia
491.Eastern Crowned Warbler------------Panti------------------Malaysia

It would take us another hour to reach the car, with water supplies low and despite having already been on our feet for two and a half hours in the humidity and heat the steady flow of birds kept our concentration up. There were so many bulbuls in this forest. A Grey Cheeked Bulbul and a Streaked Bulbul were two more ticked off in the book, the former a lifer.

492.Grey Cheeked Bulbul--------------Panti------------------Malaysia
493.Streaked Bulbul---------------------Panti-------------------Malaysia

Six more birds would go in the book before lunch time with a Yellow Vented Flowerpecker being the next lifer. Only juvenile Tiger Shrikes are ever seen in Panti according to Mike, we were not therefore surprised to identify a juvenile Tiger Shrike. Overhead a distant Grey Headed Fish Eagle circled high over the canopy, its grey head clearly visible. A Drongo Cuckoo turned its head just enough for Mike to identify it, while a Crow Billed Drongo was the last bird we saw in the jungle before we arrived back at the car. These three birds were all lifers, the Crow Billed Drongo making it 26 lifers for the morning!

494.Yellow Vented Flowerpecker-------Panti-----------------Malaysia
495.Tiger Shrike--------------------------Panti------------------Malaysia
496.Grey Headed Fish Eagle------------Panti-----------------Malaysia
497.Drongo Cuckoo ---------------------Panti-----------------Malaysia
498.Crow Billed Drongo------------------Panti-----------------Malaysia


I was pleased to survive nearly four hours in the jungle without being leeched, it gave me confidence for the next day and a half so long as I managed as I had managed that morning.

Before we left for lunch a Crested Honey Buzzard circled the road crossing over from the extensive Palm Oil Groves into the forest.

499.Crested Honey Buzzard----------------Panti-------------------Malaysia

My 500th year bird would have to wait, time for lunch.

More to follow……
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
29 October 2011 (Continued…)

Mike drove us back ten kilometres to a roadside restaurant (Photo1) that he had used many times before. The food was very basic but very good and following a visit to one of the many fruit stalls on the way back to the jungle we were set up for the afternoon.

This time we drove an extra couple of kilometres to the official Panti Bird Sanctuary which had a much more substantial road running through it (Photo 2) frequented by lorries transporting Palm Oil fruit to the factories. There was even a tarmac car park near the entrance close to where two second world war bunkers (used to try and repel the Japanese advance) were situated either side of the main road. Near the car park was a visitor’s centre which Mike claims has never had anyone in. There was no-one in the car park and no-one in the visitor’s centre!

What would be my 500th bird of the year? As we slowly drove down the track we noticed another western bird watcher. He was an elderly gentleman walking with his shirt open to his waist. He didn’t seem particularly happy, was it the heat or something else? We would find out the next day….

My 500th bird of the year would be my 976th lifer, a diminutive Pin Striped Tit Babbler

500.Pin Striped Tit Babbler--------Panti--------------------Malaysia

Within five minutes this increased to 503. A Dark Necked Tailorbird was feeding low in a bush while the latest lifer a Black Bellied Malkoha was working its way through the fruit at the top of a tree. I had only ever seen one Malkoha in China in 14 years, here I had seen two species in less than a day! An Asian Red Eyed Bulbul kept my pen and Mike’s finger busy.

501.Dark Necked Tailorbird----------Panti---------------------Malaysia
502.Black Bellied Malkoha--------Panti---------------------Malaysia
503.Asian Red Eyed Bulbul----------Panti---------------------Malaysia

I had to smile when an Asian Brown Flycatcher appeared. It was the first non year bird I had seen over the last six hours such were the calibre of birds in the Panti. The road twisted and turned through the jungle sometime passing small swamps, always close to the river that meandered alongside and underneath the road. We kept a continual look out for Rail Babblers and kingfishers. Mike told me he normally walked up the stream to find such birds as well as forktails. I said he was more than welcome to do so but I wouldn’t be following him!

Halfway along the road the jungle changed, suddenly huge trees dominated the scene making your neck ache even more as you arch it to see birds high up in the canopy. We could just find Hairy Backed Bulbuls on this our first pass of many through the area over the next 24 hours.

504.Hairy Backed Bulbul-----------Panti----------------------Malaysia

At the furthest extreme of the sanctuary the trees are replaced with scrub and large structures (Photo 3) used to house the many workers reducing the forest to timber. Thankfully they all seemed deserted now and later in the day we were pleased to see several large lorries transporting heavy machinery out of the forest. A little further and we came across more Palm Oil Groves, making you realise just how small the Panti jungle really is and yet it holds such a diverse species of birds!

High above our heads both Germain's Swiftlets and House Swifts were doing a good job at keeping the insect numbers down.

505.Germain's Swiftlet-------------Panti---------------------Malaysia

All of the Palm Oil Groves were secured by electric fences we believe more for the elephants (although we weren’t sure why they would head for the groves when there was so much to eat in the jungle) than the humans so we turned around and parked near the scrub to see if we could find some more open country birds..

More to follow……
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
29 October 2011 (Continued…)

The first bird we picked up in this area was a Black Baza, followed a couple of minutes later by a Pink Necked Green Pigeon

506.Black Baza ----------------------Panti----------------------Malaysia
507.Pink Necked Green Pigeon--------Panti----------------------Malaysia

With little else around and the temperature soaring we decided to drive back into the jungle to get a rest bite from the heat. It wasn’t until we arrived back where the tall trees were that we picked up our next bird, a Grey Streaked Flycatcher, which was very unusual for Panti.

Mike suggested we stay in this area for the last hour of the day. We would be rewarded for his decision.

Within ten minutes I would pick up another lifer way up in the top or one of the tallest trees, I knew they were white eyes but wasn’t aware that the only type in this Malaysian Jungle was Everett’s White Eye. In the same tree a pair of Scarlet Minivets flashed their red and yellows lit up by the low sun.

508.Everett’s White Eye----------Panti------------------------Malaysia
509.Scarlet Minivets----------------Panti-------------------------Malaysia

Much closer to the ground a Black Naped Monarch was sharing the jungle with a number of smaller birds, when a sudden call above our heads directed us to a Dark Throated Oriole. The bird was holding onto the trunk of one of largest trees. The trunk was smooth but it didn’t seem to hamper the oriole, a lifer, who left as quick as it arrived.

510.Black Naped Monarch------------Panti-----------------------Malaysia
511.Dark Throated Oriole----------Panti-----------------------Malaysia

Walking past a swampy area near the river there were many more birds in some very tall trees. The first bird identified (by Mike) was a Ruby Cheeked Sunbird that disappeared amongst the thick foliage.

512.Ruby Cheeked Sunbird---------Panti----------------------Malaysia

Some of the trees in this area were really enormous with huge trunks a real draw for woodpeckers. Three of the next four birds we saw were woodpeckers, first up (literally) being Checker Throated Woodpecker. Then the canopy just burst into chatter, with several Dusky Broadbills arguing over who would roost where. Mike was looking for his 700th year bird and believed he had already surpassed it, the broadbills confirmed this.

513.Checker Throated Woodpecker--Panti---------------------Malaysia
514.Dusky Broadbills-----------------Panti---------------------Malaysia


In the same tree a further two woodpeckers showed up Buff Necked Woodpecker and
Crimson Winged Woodpecker, both lifers, this was some tree!

515. Buff Necked Woodpecker--------Panti----------------------Malaysia
516. Crimson Winged Woodpecker-----Panti---------------------Malaysia


When these birds all flew off to roost we thought that was it for the night but near where we had parked the car a flock of Asian Fairy Bluebird were darting between the trees. Mike went to get a closer look I stayed on the road.

517. Asian Fairy Bluebird----------------Panti---------------------Malaysia

When Mike returned he showed me two small leeches on his boot. They looked innocuous but as soon as he picked them off they looked to get a hold on one of his fingers. They looked more like the type of caterpillar that arch their back as they move but clearly they weren’t.

Leaving the park we headed for Kota Tinggi to find a cheap hotel, one that Mike frequents on these trips. Parking next to the river most of the buildings had swiftlet hotels on their roofs. The swiftlets being attracted by speakerd playing their calls. The owners of such hotels farm their nests for bird nest soup. Based on the number of swiftlets we had seen all day it wasn’t having any impact on their population. It is believed only the first and maybe second nest is taken then they are left to their own devices.

Several Pacific Swallows also flew over

518.Pacific Swallow------------------Kota Tinggi------------------Malaysia

After checking into the hotel for £10 a night we crossed the road for a Malaysian style meal and then went to get some provisions for the next day. We ended up watching the last 20 minutes of the Chelsea v Arsenal match in an open restaurant where I ordered fresh orange juice that came hot being covered with ice. The ice soon melted and cooled down the juice but it was the first time I had had orange juice in that way. Arsenal scored two goals to win an extraordinary match 3 – 5.

It was lights out soon after that having added 65 year birds during the day 37 of which were lifers! More of the same tomorrow I hoped…..
 
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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
30 October 2011

We were up before dawn Sunday morning heading for Panti hoping to pick up some night birds. Mike suddenly stopped the car below a Crested Serpent Eagle sitting on a dead tree. The bird was totally indifferent to us, watching dawn break (Photo1)

Arriving at the Panti Bird Sanctuary we took an early morning walk (Photo 2) where a family of Black Magpies were the first birds into the year and life list.

519.Black Magpie---------------------------Panti-------------------Malaysia

As the sun came up so did another lifer a Yellow Breasted Flowerpecker (Photo 3) came into view.

520.Yellow Breasted Flowerpecker-----------Panti-------------------Malaysia

Mike convinced me to take a walk down one of the trails, He said it would be fine for leeches if again I was careful. Having built up confidence from yesterday I agreed to try it. Mike showed me an overhanging rock that gave shelter to several Lesser Sheath Tailed Bats, their little bodies rocking gently as they slept. I had to walk across some leaf litter to gain access to what had been turned both into a Chinese shrine and a rubbish dump, pilgrims clearly happy to share their shrine with a few bats. I’m not sure what the bats thought of the disturbance and the refuse tip!

Having returned to the path I checked myself again for any friends, I was clear.

The trail soon ended where the Palm Oil Grove began. As we retraced our steps I noticed something move to our right but I just couldn’t get on it. Mike was the first to spot what had caught my eye a Brown Chested Jungle Flycatcher. It seemed a very exotic name for what seemed like a very drab bird, but drab or not it was my third lifer of the day and another good recording for Panti

521.Brown Chested Jungle Flycatcher--------Panti----------------Malaysia

After successfully negotiating the trail we moved onto where the large trees were, Mike picking up on a Rufous Winged Philentoma from a flock of birds moving rapidly through the forest. That one had totally by-passed me in the book. At least this bird matched its fancy name, another lifer.

522.Rufous Winged Philentoma---------------Panti------------------Malaysia

Two more lifers followed in quick succession a Greater Flameback and Yellow Bellied Bulbul before the forest went quite again.

523.Greater Flameback-----------------------Panti------------------Malaysia
524.Yellow Bellied Bulbul---------------------Panti------------------Malaysia


While waiting for some more action I found a large gap in the canopy and checked out the swiftlets, neck ache taking hold after a few minutes, I knew what amateur astronomers must have felt like without telescopes. Then two larger birds came into view, Mike confirming them as Silver Rumped Needletails. I saw my first needletails at Chong Ming Island near Shanghai earlier this year. That had been a very brief affair, these you could watch at length so long as your neck withstood the abuse. If ever a bird was built for rapid sustained flight it is the needletail.

525.Silver Rumped Needletail-----------------Panti----------------Malaysia

With little activity we drove out to the scrub area where we found a pair of Large Billed Crows and another Dollarbird as well as a pack of puppies from one of the buildings that still held workmen. The dogs decided it would be a good wheeze to follow us barking all the way ensuring no bird came within a hundred yards of us.

We finally lost them as we returned to the car just as three Hill Mynas flew overhead. A pair of Oriental Pied Hornbills also crash landed into a tree.

526.Hill Myna-----------------------------------Panti-----------------Malaysia
527.Oriental Pied Hornbill------------------------Panti-----------------Malaysia

Back along the road we had to wait as a resident (Photo 5) crossed our path

More to follow……
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
30 October 2011 (Continued…)

Back again through the jungle we came across the same gentlemen we saw leaving the jungle yesterday. Again he had his shirt open and looked very purposeful. We started chatting and he introduced himself as Dexter from Boston Massachusetts. A birder for ten years, who was enjoying retirement, travelling the world birding. He had just been birding in Borneo and stopped off in Malaysia on the way back home. He was naturally not familiar with this jungle and soon as he realised that Mike was asked to tag along with us. We were now three.

The first new bird Mike was able to show him was the Blythe's Hawk Eagle as one flew overhead. One of his target birds he wanted to see was a Banded Woodpecker, which we had seen for the first time the previous day but had seen again just before meeting Dexter. Unfortunately the bird had gone but later Mike would find him one!

Over the next few minutes we had some activity as another flock of birds was working the lower part of the canopy. Mike thought he had a Japanese Paradise Flycatcher but it turned out to be just an Asian Paradise Flycatcher, just an Asian Paradise Flycatcher, wonderful!

528.Asian Paradise Flycatcher---------Panti-------------------------Malaysia

We mentioned to Dexter that we had seen him looking hot walking out of the sanctuary yesterday. He explained that he was not particularly hot he was however rather annoyed as he had been approached by the warden and asked to leave as he didn’t have a permit. Dexter had refused to be driven out but instead made the slow walk out. It had not deterred him as again he had hitchhiked from Kota Tinggi this morning.

With lunch time fast approaching we invited Dexter to come with us to the same restaurant as the previous day. Dexter was kind enough to pay for that and the fruit we bought on our way back to the forest. Dexter brought up the subject of trigger birds, as he had a theory that everyone had a bird that set them on their birding career. He is probably right as Mike had one, a Rhinoceros Hornbill, I had one a Goldfinch and Dexter had one…..but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was as I write. Will update as soon as I remember!

Update: I never did remember what Dexter's trigger bird was but he just e-mailed me on 27Nov11 to advide that it was a Marbled Godwit -thanks Dextor

Back in the jungle Mike took Dexter down the Chinese shrine trail. At one point the trail opens up into some scrubland where flowerpeckers were feeding in the low bushes. With no cover the temperature went off the scale and we just stood in our own perspiration. We had to photograph the birds into the sun so I only managed a reasonable record shot of a Crimson Breasted Flowerpecker (Photo1)

With nothing new down the trail we headed back stopping near Mike’s favourite tree an enormous buttressed specimen of what would have been common throughout the jungle at one time. High in her canopy a Chestnut Breasted Malkoha was walking through the foliage. A Buff Rumped Woodpecker had also taken up residence in an opening where one of the main boughs began.

529.Chestnut Breasted Malkoha------Panti---------------------Malaysia
530.Buff Rumped Woodpecker--------Panti---------------------Malaysia


While Dexter and Mike checked the book on Malkohas (Photo 2) I had to take an urgent phone call. When I finished Mike informed me I had missed another Malkoha and another lifer, a Chestnut Bellied Malkoha. I was mortified (within reason!) to have missed the bird but luckily a few minutes later the bird returned with its two comrades a Chestnut Breasted Malkoha and a Raffles Malkoha.

531.Chestnut Bellied Malkoha-------Panti----------------------Malaysia

Just as we were leaving the trail a bright red bird flew onto an overhanging vine above our heads. Our initial reaction was minivet but when Mike got onto it properly he exclaimed “Scarlet Rumped Trogan!” (Photo 3) We were transfixed, was this possibly the best bird of the weekend? Yes, despite so many incredible birds over the last two days this really was the icing on the cake. The apparition didn’t last very long though but will always remain with me when I think of Panti, what a glorious bird!

532.Scarlet Rumped Trogan--------Panti----------------------Malaysia

How could we top that? Well we couldn’t could we. We repeated what we had done the previous evening over the last hour keeping watch over the large trees, a Velvet Fronted Nuthatch being my last year tick of the weekend. It was good to see one of these as I hadn’t seen one for seven years.

533.Velvet Fronted Nuthatch----------Panti-----------------------Malaysia

We also managed to get Dexter the second of the three birds he wanted to see in Panti the Dusky Broadbill. In fact we found ten squabbling over roosting space again.

The last bird we saw before leaving was a Dark Sided Flycatcher that took my Malaysian year list to 98. Not bad in two days, I was totally indebted to Mike for both his logistical organisation skills as well as his knowledge of the local fauna and flora.

Contented we all climbed into the car whereupon Mike commented that he had one of our little friends on him, that had just finished dining. My phobia immediately went into overdrive and I leapt out of the car. In the open I was able to watch Mike detach the leech and despatch it into the undergrowth. “Now you can see how irrational I can behave” I remarked. Mike was bemused!

This just reinforced why I had had to take every precaution there was just no way that I could not have been leeched. I had trusted Mike that if I kept to the gravel paths I would be fine. He was absolutely right, if anyone else has the same phobia as me please don’t hesitate to visit Panti you can go two days and see some wonderful birds without being leeched. Of the 98 birds seen in Malaysia over the weekend 79 were year ticks and 48 lifers, quite superb! We were also extremely lucky to have no rain over the two days, which could have painted a very different story! We would make up for that in Singapore the next day!

We dropped Dexter off in Kota Tinggi, after stopping to take our last photograph of the day, a Pied Hornbill (Photo 5). Dexter was going to spend his last day walking up Trail 270 after Mike told him what we had seen up there the day before.

We returned the rental car and took a taxi across the causeway all the way to my hotel this time avoiding any discussions with the local authorities. I picked up the luggage that I had left with the concierge and caught another taxi to the Sheraton Towers hotel where a hot bath and room service soon had me back in the land of the living. I opened my lap top and started to update my records………..
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
31 October 2011

Another day another country, it was to be my last day in Asia after being away from home for nearly three weeks. Mike and I decided to go for something a bit different after two days in the jungle, therefore I jumped into the taxi Mike had just arrived in at my hotel and we left for Singapore’s premier wetland area, Sungei Buloh Wetland. Mike had seen a large Salt Water Crocodile here the previous Sunday and just missed a King Cobra that came within 4 metres of the main bird hide. We clearly were in for some action!

Entry was free at that time of morning so we acknowledged the security staff and walked across the wooden bridge, where workman were rebuilding some of the levees, and into the mangroves. The hides were open and easily accessible giving panoramic views of the mangroves (Photo1). Mike showed me where the King Cobra had been seen, I was undecided whether I would have wanted to have been in the hide at that time!

Amongst the Pacific Golden Plover (Photo 2), Greenshank, Redshank and Marsh Sandpiper I spotted a wader I couldn’t recognise. Mike checked it out with the scope and identified it as a Grey Tailed Tattler, a lifer and Mike didn’t think I would get a lifer this morning. I wasn’t complaining!

534.Grey Tailed Tattler------------Sungei Buloh-------------Singapore

Despite the tide being out Mike advised that it was a “high low tide” and therefore many birds started arriving in the shallows of the lagoon as the tide returned out in the bay. Mongolian Plovers (Photo 3) came in, in droves with Curlew Sandpipers not in short supply, Red Necked Stints and Broad Billed Sandpipers also present in small numbers.

535.Mongolian Plover---------------Sungei Buloh----------------Singapore

The noisiest birds in the reserve were Collared Kingfishers (Photo 4) which sounded like falcons to me. No comment from Mike just raised eyebrows….

We then progressed along one of the many bunds (Photo 5), the sea to our right the reserve to our left. Water Monitors accompanied us at times but soon racing down the bank as we approached. One large individual I didn’t see until it moved, making me jump, my reaction in turn making Mike jump!

A woodpecker then caught our attention its habit of feeding on the ground indicating to Mike, before we got a proper view, that it was a ……….

More to follow….
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
31 October 2011 (Continued…)

………….Laced Woodpecker (Photo 1), a second lifer in less than an hour!

536.Laced Woodpecker--------Sungei Buloh----------------Singapore

The reserve, run by the Singapore government, was very well maintained with boardwalks and viewing platforms (Photo 2) everywhere. A Purple Heron (Photo 3) had been disturbed by a Brahminy Kite, its direction of escape right in front of us.

One of the many former prawn ponds held good numbers of Whimbrel (Photo 4) and Black Naped Orioles kept us company along many of the bunds.

Ashy Tailorbirds with their large red patch of feathers around their eye were as annoying as their cousins the Common Tailorbirds with their repetitive calling.

537.Ashy Tailorbird----------------Sungei Buloh-----------------Singapore

More to follow….
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
31 October 2011 (Continued....)

Mike then directed us to the Freshwater Marsh (Photo1) pointing out a Giant Honey Bee nest strung along the underside of a large branch. There was no structure just the bees’ bodies guarding the honey. We didn’t want to get close to that!

Common Emerald Doves were feeding along the edge of the ponds

538.Common Emerald Dove----------Sungei Buloh----------------Singapore

We then just caught site of a White Bellied Sea Eagle through the gap in the trees before the heavens opened and we retreated to one of the hides.

539.White Bellied Sea Eagle---------Sungei Buloh----------------Singapore

When the rain subsided we took to the boardwalk (Photo 2) through the mangroves where a Stork Billed Kingfisher (Photo 3) was resting.

540.Stork Billed Kingfisher ----------Sungei Buloh----------------Singapore

As we headed for the reserve’s restaurant for some sustenance we met an English couple from London who were visiting their son, their daughter-in-law having brought them to the reserve. We discuss what we had seen that morning and they were impressed with our tally. I advised them it was thanks to Mike and his expertise! This chance meeting with these three would save the day a little later

Just before we arrived at the restaurant we returned to the first hide we had visited that day and a Milky Stork was feeding in the shallows, which was not only my last lifer of the weekend but also my 1,000 lifer!

541.Milky Stork--------------------Sungei Buloh-------------Singapore

Mike ordered Fish and Chips all I wanted was some soup at the restaurant. The rains came back with vengeance as we were eating, viewing a small fresh water pond (Photo 4), but not before Mike identified my last bird of the trip a pair of Brown Throated Sunbirds.

542.Brown Throated Sunbird---------Sungei Buloh--------------Singapore

With the meal completed it was getting time to leave, I had to check out of my hotel, which I was staying in on points, by 4pm otherwise I would be charged. However with the rain coming down in stair rods and the fact that we would have to walk at least a couple of miles to pick up a taxi that would be few and far between in this weather, we were in a quandary.

Then I noticed the gentleman and two ladies I spoke to earlier. Explaining our predicament to them they kindly agreed to take us to the nearest shopping centre where we managed to catch a taxi to my hotel. I hadn’t realised just how far out of town we had been, without their help I just wouldn’t have made my flight and have been charged through the nose for an even later hotel check out, all this while having had a good drenching!

Mike and I arrived at my hotel at 3pm plenty of time to get myself ready for my flight. I couldn’t thank Mike enough for a most superb weekend. I saw birds that I could only dream of and many that I didn’t even know. Mike guided me through leech infested jungles without a single bite and ensured that I didn’t get deported from Malaysia! He also managed all of the logistics as well as providing some expert advice in many areas. A truly remarkable birder and a great friend, thanks Mike.

The final tally for the three days were 130 birds, 89 year birds, 51 lifers, 98 Malaysian and 48 Singapore birds.

Now for two 8 hour flights home via Abu Dhabi, plenty of time to log all of the birds I had seen and write up the reports………………..
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
1 November 2011

While I was in Malaysia Steve text to advise me about a Squacco Heron that had been seen at Attenborough, Nottingham. With it being a lifer I was checking Birdguides after being picked up from Manchester Airport to see if the bird was still around? Arriving home before my wife went to work the bird didn’t come on until around 0800 hours.

By 0930 hours I joined Steve and good many other birders (Photo1) at the Ereswash River, the border between Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. When I arrived the bird was sitting in Derbyshire digesting its recent foray.

543.Squacco Heron--------------Attenborough---------------England

Joining Steve down by the river, we had to wait 30 minutes before the bird returned to its favourite culvert in Nottinghamshire where there were huge numbers of fish. The sun came out providing stunning views (Photos 2-4) as it successfully continued to fish.

The crowd of birders increased throughout the morning (Photo 5)

This now puts me exactly 100 birds ahead of my previous year record of 443 birds in 2008.
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
23 November 2011

Knowing I was due to take a quick two day trip to Abu Dhabi I contacted fellow Birdforum member Francesca1956 to ask for advice about birding around the area. She kindly offered to meet up for an afternoon birding on the Wednesday before my flight home.

Frankie picked me up from the Hilton Hotel near the Corniche at 2pm and we headed for the very busy and noisy Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street or Coast Road where we parked up (Photo 1) next to a viewing point (Photo 2) looking over a man made stretch of water fed by sea water from The Gulf. Having already picked up House Sparrows and a Kestrel for my Abu Dhabi list earlier in the day the first bird we saw in the afternoon was a Common Sandpiper (Photo 3) flying across the water, wings arched as it flew.

Seconds later and I was onto my first lifer of the day, a pair of White Eared Bulbuls (Photo 4), then there was a flash and another lifer flew into view, a Clamorous Reed Warbler (Photo 5). I must admit when I saw the bird in the photograph taken a little later I thought it was a type of babbler with it being so large, hopping round the undergrowth and with such a large beak, but Birdforum members soon put me right. It would not be the only bird they would correct me on ….

544.White Eared Bulbul-------------Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street------Abu Dhabi
545.Clamorous Reed Warbler-------Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street------Abu Dhabi


More to follow….
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
23 November 2011 (Continued)

Two smaller birds then flew into a bush. Although they were hidden amongst the branches there was enough visible to confirm yet another lifer, Indian Silverbills (Photo1) which we did get much better views of later.

546.Indian Silverbill---------Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street-------Abu Dhabi

Buoyed with our success we started to walk through the narrow park (Photo 2) between the road and the waterway where Frankie identified a pair of Purple Sunbirds by their call. We were only able to get onto the female (Photo 3), which was the story all afternoon, we never did manage to see a male!

547.Purple Sunbird----------Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street-------Abu Dhabi

After we found another area to view the same body of water (Photo 4) my fifth lifer of the day started calling from a tree, a Graceful Prinia (Photo 5), Frankie was doing me proud…

548.Graceful Prinia-----------Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street------Abu Dhabi

We couldn’t walk too far as we were approaching the entrance to one of the Sheik’s residences. We didn’t want to be seen with our long lenses anywhere near there!

Collared Dove, ten Red Wattled Lapwings and a Mistle Thrush added to the day list.

More to follow….
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
Thank you so much to the 7th and 8th Birdforum Members for ranking this thread. I am so pleased you enjoy reading these updates. It is my way of remembering how lucky I am to visit so many wonderful places, seeing so many wonderful birds and meeting so many wonderful people during my Business treks around the world....

23 November 2011 (Continued)

Walking back to the car Frankie heard lifer number six high up in a tree, a Red Vented Bulbul. How Frankie could hear anything with the noise of the cars thundering past on their way to Dubai beat me, she must just be used to it!

549.Red Vented Bulbul---------Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street------Abu Dhabi

Back in the car we travelled East (Photo 2) along the shoreline to another look out amongst the mangroves (Photo 3). Even the traffic couldn’t drown out the noise of the Common Myna and Alexandrine Parakeets (Photo 4), the latter an introduced feral species but like the Ring Necked Parakeets in London a tickable lifer.

550.Alexandrine Parakeet------Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street-----Abu Dhabi

We frightened a Redshank from its feeding grounds amongst the mangroves just as a Honey Buzzard (Photo 5) sailed overhead.

551.Honey Buzzard---------------Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street-------Abu Dhabi

More to follow….
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
Thank you to the 9th person to Rank this thread, again it is very much appreciated that you took the time to do this

23 November 2011 (Continued)

Three large terns were cruising along the waterway, which turned out to be Gull Billed Terns (Photo1). I had actually seen these already this year, in Thailand, but for some reason hadn’t recorded them so another one for the year list. While watching those, another lifer, a Brown Necked Raven crossed overhead

552.Gull Billed Tern------------Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street-----------Abu Dhabi
553.Brown Necked Raven------Al Khaleej Al Arabi Street-----Abu Dhabi

For the last 30 mins of daylight Frankie drove us to a small park near the Abu Dhabi Golf and Equestrian Club where Cattle Egret were feeding on one of the grassed round-a-bouts.

The neat park next to the Al Mushrif Palace and adjacent to Al Karamah street soon turned into something akin to a derelict house and garden (Photo 2 – including Frankie) which was actually better for birds. Thanks to Birdforum members a warbler feeding at the base of a palm tree was identified as a Barred Warbler (Photo 3)

554.Barred Warbler---------------Al Karamah Street-------------Abu Dhabi

The deserted garden was ideal habitat for the penultimate lifer of the day a Grey Franklin (Photo 4) which we had seen many of throughout the afternoon but always flying away from us at speed, so up until then hadn’t been able to identify them.

555.Grey Franklin--------------Al Karamah Street-----------Abu Dhabi

As the sun started to set we returned to the car for the last time disturbing lifer number ten a Laughing Dove (Photo 5) that flew up into a tree.

556.Laughing Dove-----------Al Karamah Street------------Abu Dhabi

More to follow….
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
23 November 2011 (Continued)

It took just ten minutes for Frankie to drive me back to my hotel. I thanked Frankie for her kindness in taking me out at such short notice and introducing me to ten new birds before she left (Photo1). There was still a few minutes left before the night drew in so I strolled around the local area. Walking past a mosque (Photo 2), where prayers were in full swing, my final bird of the day, a flock of swifts were feeding high above in the fading light.

My visit to Abu Dhabi had only lasted two days but thanks to Frankie I picked up 23 Abu Dhabi birds, 13 year birds and 10 lifers. It has certainly wetted my appetite for Middle East birding. Hopefully one day soon I will be back for more….
 

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Nick Sismey
26 November 2011

Steve and I met up this morning for our first day birding together for a couple of months, Rutland Water being our destination.

Viewing from the Fisherman’s Car Park on the North Arm we could see vast numbers of wildfowl stretching right round the shoreline, taking advantage of the very low water level.

Setting our telescopes down half way to the shore (Photo1) the first UK year bird I picked up were three female Scaup with very white faces. Steve needed the reported Bewick Swans for his year list, I for my UK list. Just as we were about to move on I spotted a single bird at the far side of the reservoir. It spent most of its time feeding with its head under water which is the reason why we must have missed it up until then.

The next two or three hours we spent around the Eggleton Bird Reserve looking for the American Wigeon that I had dipped on two or three weeks earlier but Steve had bagged at the same time as seeing the White Rumped Sandpiper that I had also missed! We added nothing to either of our lists but the 500+ Golden Plover at Lagoon 4 were wonderful to watch as they nervously filled the sky.

Before we left we again checked what birds had been reported around the reservoir and a Black Necked Grebe had been seen on the North Arm so we drove past Tim’s cottage and parked up at the end of his road. Through the gate we were joined by another birder (Photo 2) where three pairs of eyes were better than two in search of the grebe….

After 20 minutes Steve unexpectedly called out “I have got the wigeon!” and sure enough he had picked out the American Wigeon (Photo 3) which was some feat considering how many birds there were out there!

557.American Wigeon--------------Rutland Water------------------England

With the light fading we decided to make one more visit to the Fisherman’s Car Park and would you believe it after another 20 minutes there Steve did it again, “I have got the grebe!” and yes he had. Steve was certainly on form today.

558.Black Necked Grebe------------Rutland Water------------------England

By the time we were on our way home Steve had added one bird to his year list and I had added four birds to my UK year list and two to my year list.
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
28 November 2011

Very saddened to hear that the American Wigeon was predated by a Great Black Backed Gull two days after Steve and I saw it! :C

7 December 2011

My six and last visit to China of the year started with a Team Away Day at the Double Tree Hilton Resort (Photo 1) in Sanya on Hainan Island, with its wonderful sandy beaches (Photo 2), which doubled as a hand over between my old boss and new boss and an introduction of the new boss to the team.

8 December 2011

Before the Away Day began I took an early morning walk around the grounds of the hotel (Photo 3) and was very surprised to pick up two year birds in quick succession. A Blue Rock Thrush (Photo 4), which unfortunately seemed to have some sort of growth on its head and followed by a Brown Shrike.

559.Blue Rock Thrush-----------------Sanya-------------------------China
560.Brown Shrike---------------------Sanya-------------------------China
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
13 December 2011

Funny how you can add to your year list in unexpected ways!

During a meeting in one of our Beijing offices, at the airport, I could hear a woodpecker calling but couldn’t decipher what it was. We were just about to take a break so I brought this forward. I had my binocs and camera with me as I was travelling on to Guangzhou later that day.

Leaning out of the window looking out over the car park (Photo1) I was able to snap a reasonable record shot of a Grey Headed Woodpecker (Photo 2) calling from the top of a leafless tree on an equally grey day!

561.Grey Headed Woodpecker--------------Beijing------------------China
 

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ChinaBirds

Nick Sismey
18 December 2011

My first visit to Gedling Pit Top (Photo1) near Nottingham this morning produced some breathtaking views of a Rough-legged Buzzard soaring over the city’s skyline (Photo 2).

562.Rough-legged Buzzard------------Gedling Pit Top----------------England

There were al least 50 birders scattered around the area, many being continually on the move trying to keep up with the bird. I got chatting to a guy and his girlfriend who were there to video the buzzard, we decided the best course of action was to let the bird come to us. We were rewarded with some excellent views (Photo 3 & 4) of a stunning bird. We all ended up with cricked necks (Photo 5) though as the bird circled and hovered overhead.
 

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