Friday, November 19, 2010

The BIG Cat of Borneo

My recent trip to the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary produce an unexpected encounter with one of Borneo's rarely encountered feline. This is none other than the Bornean Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardii). My last personal sighting of this feline in the Kinabatangan was approximately about a year ago and to see it back again - this time with one slightly decent photograph will be something that i will never forget. The extreme rarity of seeing one in the wild makes me shiver with joy every time i recap back on this wonderful moment.

It all started when we spotted two bright orange eyes staring at us through a thick undergrowth foliage - and i knew that we were looking at a feline at that moment. But due to the thick undergrowth we could not see it properly. The feline seem to know that we were there and continued to stay put at its position without moving. At this period of time we still have not identified this cat species until it suddenly moved and we saw a very long tail approximately about a meter long that we knew that it is a Clouded Leopard that we were looking at. The leopard move along the river and suddenly stop at a small opening as if it seems to be inspecting us - and in this split 10 seconds i saw it peering through the only opening of the undergrowth thicket i manage to shoot 7 frames hoping for the best - as never had my hands tremble when pressing the shutter - the feeling of seeing a Clouded Leopard in the wild was just too much at that moment. That 10 seconds went by quickly as the leopard continued moving back into the forest. We waited for another 10 minutes or so but it never came back out. 

This is the only one (i would say) 'decent' photo that i manage to capture and under the circumstances at that moment i will say that this is a success for me.

Bornean Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardii) - suspected to be a sub-adult (due mainly to size which seems to be slightly smaller than full grown adult). Captured on image along the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary (N 05. 53' 84" E 118. 29' 56"). Population estimates in Sabah approximately about 1,500 - 3,200 individuals, with only 275 - 585 of them in large protected reserves. Status : Vulnerable (IUCN 2010)

Photo taken at 8:58 pm on 17 November 2010 with a Nikon D 300 + 70-300mm VR lens at ISO 1600,  f 4.5 built in flash on rear sync mode.

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 ( 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? 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My "Consolation"

The 2nd Borneo Bird Festival 2010 has just ended a few days ago, and due to my busy work schedule i was unable to be part of the organizing team - much as i would love to be part of. The only activity that i managed to partake in this year is the Bird Photography Competition. Here, i would like to congratulate all my fellow friends from the Borneo Bird Club, Rainforest Discovery Centre, Sabah Tourism Board, Sabah Society, Nikon Malaysia and other collaborative organizing committee for working hard to ensure the overall success of this event. You all are superb! Even though i feel bad that i wasn't part of the team but at least i have a consolation. Well, maybe next year then.. or maybe i should say.. See you next year.. and YES i will be there for next year.

Sunbird - Consolation Prize - 2nd Borneo Bird Festival 2010

Taken with a Nikon D 300 + 70 -300 mm VR lens at Sepilok Forest Reserve on 05/10/2010

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