Friday, March 22, 2024

PS: Second Inaturalist Record Butterfly for Malaysia, 9-11-15

Well, eight years after my trip to Fraser's Hill, I finally got around to editing the few butterfly photos I took.  It was mostly cloudy during my visit and I was busy with birds so I didn't get many butterfly photos.  But I got nice shots of this beautiful little rufous grass skipper with white spots in the yard at Stephen's Place.  During the past few weeks I've been getting more experience with iNaturalist and after searching, the best identification I could come up with was the not uncommon "Chestnut Bob" (Iambrix salsala).  They have such fun common names for butterflies in the Old World!  I was not happy with the ID as the wing shape and the placement of the spots were a bit off but I entered the record into iNat anyway.

Then to the rescue comes Aaron Soh aka Atronox!  Aaron is a young naturalist from somewhere in SE Asia with not a lot of records in iNaturalist but with an amazing 117,000 identification verifications.  He has recently been cleaning up a few of my misIDs and he found my little grass skipper is actually Zenonoida eltola.  So I looked this taxon up in iNaturalist and and shocked to see only five other records.... Period!  On the whole damn plant!  Mine is the second for Malaysia with the first being not far from Fraser's Hill.  There is one record from Thailand and three from Taiwan.

Of course these are just the only iNat photo records.  There are actually quite a few records as lepidopterists have been studying the area for many years.  Here's the page for Zononoidea eltola from the website Butterflies in Indo-China.

Well that was fun!  This one is called the Tailed Judy.

The Yellow Glassy Tiger.

I think this is Aurivittia aurivittata.

Two species of Euploea, tulliolus and mulciber.

I've entered over found hundred species of butterflies from eight countries into iNaturalist as I write this.  Having access to expert naturalist around the world is pretty cool!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Stephen's Place and the Telecom Loop, 9/9/16

I decided to try something different on our most recent trip to the Philippines to visit Honey's family.  With this being my ninth trip over there, I figured I would leave Honey with her family and take advantage of the cheap flights offered by Cebu Pacific to spend a few days at Fraser's Hill, Malaysia.  This longtime favorite birding destination is one of the old British hill stations located in the cool mountains about two hours away from sweltering Kualalumpur.  Other hill stations in the area are being developed into expensive resorts but Fraser's Hill still retains its colonial charm and inexpensive prices.

After some research, I chose to stay at Stephen's Place, a great little affordable bed and breakfast located on the Telecom Loop above Fraser's Hill.  Stephen was a former wildlife cinematographer for the BBC and is a great host full of fascinating stories.  His b&b is up in the cloud forest, away from the sometimes noisy tourists of Fraser's Hill and makes a great base for exploring the area.

I arrived at the airport in Kualalumpur in the evening and was met by Stephen's neighbor, Dave the Canadian, who drove me through the darkness to the lodge.  I woke up early to a cool misty morning.  Stephen had some moth lights set up as he does most nights and there was still some around.  He does a lot of macro photography and has found some amazing moths in the past.  I forgot the name of this big common one.

My first lifers came easy as they preyed on the nocturnal insects attracted to the lights.  Here's a Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush and a Silver-eared Mesia.

More life birds were found as the day slowly brightened.  This Black-throated Sunbird worked the flowers.

Long-tailed Sibias came in to take yesterday's leftover bread at a feeding station.

A lesser Racket-tailed Drongo sat in the rain that would plague me all morning.  It made for tough photography.

After more than a dozen life birds and a fine breakfast, I set off down the 2.4 mile Telecom Loop in the rain.  I think I took this photo on a later sunny day.

I'm not sure how this Gray-chinned Minivet is different from the Fiery Minivets I have seen in Palawan.  But it's the one they get at Fraser's Hill.

I really loved the cool Streaked Spiderhunters.  This one was feeding on a weird banana flower.

I've seen a few malkoas through the years but this Green-billed Malkoa has to be one of the best.  The malkoas are member of the cuckoo family.

Black-crested Bulbul is a pretty common bird in southeast Asia.

Mountain Fluvettas were common but hard to photograph and there were little things flitting up high that I had to leave unidentified.  But then about halfway around the loop I found a bird that I badly wanted to see, a male Red-headed Trogon.  Best trogon I've ever seen.

Then I found a little flock of Black Laughingthrushes but this was the best photo I could come up with.

More hard to photograph stuff included Golden Babblers and Chestnut-crowned Warblers.  Then I got a cooperative White-browed Shrike-babbler.  The babblers of the Old World are much like the antbirds of the new world in so much as they have radiated structurally to adapt to different niches much like birds of other families have.  So with a strong predatory bill similar to shrikes of the family Laniidae, there are antshrikes in the New World tropics and  and shrike-babblers in Southeast Asia.

Black-browded Barbets were common and I got a good shot of this one investigating a cavity.

Eventually I circled the Telecom Loop and arrived back at Stephen's Place just in time for a little afternoon nap.  I was laying there enjoying the comfortable bed when I heard the "poop-poop-poop" of a Collared Owlet calling outside.  I ran outside and imitated the call just like I would that of our Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls.  In fact the two species are both in the genus Gluacidium.  And the bird flew in for photos.

I called Stephen outside and he was excited to get some photos.  And I was happy to earn a little "street cred" from the accomplished wildlife photographer.

New Road, 9/10/16

After a good night's sleep and a fine breakfast at Stephen's Place, Stephen generously offered to drive me into Fasier's Hill and the start of the New Road.  For years there was only the single one lane one way Gap Road up the side of the mountain to Fraser's Hill.  The direction for up and down would change at different times of the day.  In an attempt to make the community more tourist friendly, they built a second road.  So the one way Gap Road is the "up" road and the New Road is the "down" road.  And this New Road goes through some pretty nice habitat which varies at different elevations.

So I started walking down the New Road with Stephen agreeing to pick me up later at 3 PM.  I had not gotten far before I found this Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike.

And then this cool Yellow-bellied Warbler.  I didn't ID it till I got back to the lodge.  Photography really makes birding in new environment a lot easier.  But it also makes us a lot less disciplined in our observation and note taking skills.

Sometimes even a photo doesn't help.  This is some kind of a babbler but I don't know which.

And this is one of the Blue Flycatchers.  I called it Hill Blue Flycatcher but I may be wrong.

I had seen Dark-necked Tailorbird previously in Borneo.

And then I head heavy wing beats and weird squawks.  A flock of Wreathed Hornbills flew over.

Raptors were proving hard to come by so I was happy to see this big Black Eagle.

And this juvenile Blythe's Hawk-Eagle.

More little guys included this Verditer Flycatcher.

And lots of Mountain Fulvettas.

Streak-throated Bulbul was another one I had to look up later.

A young barbet had to go unidentified.

I knew this one was a Brown Barbet when I saw it but now the Malaysian species has been changed to Sooty Barbet.  The one I had seen before in Borneo remains Brown Barbet.  So this one proved to be a new species for me.

I was getting tired and it was getting hot when Stephen picked me up at 3PM near the bottom of the road.  As we drove back up the Gap Road, we got behind a tourist from Kualalumpur who was driving exteremly slowly.  Stephen explained that  because they are used to driving on straight flat roads, they get terrified when driving the steep winding one way road up the mountain.

Telecom Loop, 9/11/16

After another fine breakfast at Stephen's Place I decided to spend a full day on the Telecom Loop.  This tree shrew had been cleaning up on last night's moths and some left over bread.

I decided another trip around the Telecom Loop was in order.  Finally got a decent photo of a Common Green-Magpie.

As with all the leafbirds, Orange-bellied Leafbird is usually high in a tree and hard to get good looks at.  I don't even try to identify the females but this male was easy.

Mountain Bulbuls were fairly common.

Then in a dark heavily wooded area I found another on my most wanted list, the Blue Nuthatch.  Not great photos in the poor light.  It sure acted like a nuthatch as it crept up and down the tree limbs searching for insects.

And in the same flock with Mountain Fulvettas were a few Golden Babblers.

A bit down the road I heard a scratchy chatter in a dense tangle of vegetation.  I recorded the call on my phone and played it back.  With a little pishing I got some poor views of a Pygmy Cupwing.  They've been separated from the rest of the wren-babblers based on morphology of something or other.  Anyway it's a cute name.

On my last trip around the loop I saw a couple of Black-and-crimson Orioles.  Got much better views this time.  The female lacks the red.

One more much wanted bird was the Sultan Tit.  This one was a little ragged.

I made it back to Stephen's Place and enjoyed a nap.  His yard holds a population of endangered Red-cheeked Squirrels.

Not a lot of birds but I got some good ones.

PS: Second Inaturalist Record Butterfly for Malaysia, 9-11-15

Well, eight years after my trip to Fraser's Hill, I finally got around to editing the few butterfly photos I took.  It was mostly cloudy...