Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Kingfishers of Borneo

I was going through my external hard drive yesterday and found some old photo collections of Kingfishers that i have kept. A majority of this photos were taken with my previous Nikon D80 and ever trusted 70-300mm VR lens. Location wise - the photos were shot in the Sepilok Forest Reserve and also my favourite 'hunting' ground which is at the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

Kingfishers have always attracted me because of thier beautiful plumage's and strikingly bright colours and this is very much evident in species such as the large stork billed kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis). It is always a great joy to see one flying past by with great speed, only managing to catch sight of a lightning tinge of bright blue or red. Thier shy and elusive behaviors have made them a difficult bird to photograph in the wild, with the best bet of photographing them is to have an intimate knowledge of thier daily movements and the patience to approach them silently. So far, i have only managed to photograph 6 of the 12 kingfishers found in Borneo. Hopefully i will be able to slowly document the rest.

Stork-billed Kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis). Largest of all Kingfishers in Borneo. Distinctive large reddish bill with an approximate body size of 35 cm long. Found quite commonly along Borneo's major rivers, mangroves and coastline. Status: Least Concerned (IUCN 2010). Photographed in Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

Rufous-collared Kingfisher (Actenoides concretus borneana) - Male. Distinctive sexual dimorphism between Male and Female as seen on this two photos. Body size approximately 23 cm long. Found mainly in dense lowland rainforest and sometimes at secondary forest generally far away from water sources. Status: Near Threatened (IUCN 2010). Photographed in Sepilok Forest Reserve.

Rufous-collared Kingfisher (Actenoides concretus) - Female. 

Ruddy Kingfisher (Halycon coromanda). A medium sized kingfisher reaching approximately 25cm long. Has very large bright red bill with equally red legs. Body generally rufous red but turning violet at the tail end. It is a migratory species of kingfisher - with birds from the Northern Range (South Korea and Japan) migrating southwards to Borneo during the winter. Some might have taken resident in the Northeastern part of Sabah. Rarely found too far away from the sea although they have also been recorded in forested areas. Status: Least Concerned (IUCN 2010). Photographed at Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary in October 2008.

Banded Kingfisher (Lacedo pulchella melanops) - Male. Approximately 20 cm long in body size. Disinctive sexual dimorphism between male and females - with females generally brownish with black bands and white chest. Found mainly in forested area - ranging from lowland up to sub montane forest. Status: Least Concerned (IUCN 2010). Photographed in Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

Blue-eared Kingfisher (Alcedo meninting). A very small kingfisher with an approximate length of 16 cm. This bird is frequently sighted along Borneo's major rivers, streams and lakes where it perches hunting for small fishes. Status: Least Concerned (IUCN 2010). Photographed in Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

Borneo Dwarf Kingfisher (Ceyx erithaca or rufidorsa?) - sub species motleyi. Another very small but bright and colourful kingfisher. Found in lowland rainforest up to 1,500 metres a.s.l. This species was photographed in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary. I am very much intrigued but at the same time confused on the exact name of this kingfisher. There is i believe still an on going debate on the exact taxonomy of this species, as based on the new borneo bird field guide - one by Susan Myers and one by Quentin Phillips - both seem to treat the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher quite differently but one recognizing the presence of both species, Black-backed Kingfisher (Cexy erithaca) and Rufous-backed Kingfisher (Ceyx rufidorsa) in Borneo. A debate i read on bird forum (http://www.birdforum.net/archive/index.php/t-166649.html) suggested by James Eaton is that :

erithaca - is an Indochinese breeder which winter down to the Malaysian Peninsula and Sumatra
rufidorsa - is a Sundaic breeder (Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, Flores, Kalimantan, Sarawak and Palawan)
ssp motleyi  - found in Sabah only and edging into Sarawak and Labuan

Would like to have more info on this if anyone have an opinion? 


Wong Tsu Shi said...

This Ruddy KF is different from the one at RDC during the Bird Festival. I think this is the migrant.

Wai Yien said...

wow, a wonderful post, a good chance to see most if not all Kings...

[MarK LouiS BenedicT] said...

Sifu Wong: I was suspecting so as well sifu wong because of the difference in colours with the ruddy seen in RDC. Do you think the Ruddy KF seen in RDC is a resident sp?

Yen: Thanks. Hopefully so.. :P

Wong Tsu Shi said...

Yes, Mark, the RDC bird should be the resident race.

Green Screen Photography said...

Well, the blog was just fantastic and I liked the pictures of Kingfishers. They are the most amazing species in birds. I like their bright color but to take a picture of them is really a challenge. Keep posting some more pictures like this in future.

shaarila said...

Fantastic!!! Love the pictures!
I am wondering what are the chances of spotting any kingfishers around Mulu? We are going to Mulu National Park for caving, and will probably not have any time for separate birdwatching trip...

Anonymous said...

Just came back to penang from a trip to kinabantangan. Enjoyed looking at your photos of the kings. They brought back memories of the time we were there. We managed to take pictures of the stork billed kingfisher and the blue eared kingfisher along the banks of kinabantangan. We saw the ruffus kingfisher, but we were not quick enough to capture it on camera. To witness the feline twice in your lifetime is truely remarkable. How i envy you.

Hollis said...


Bisnis Borneo said...

very naturan great job sir....

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