Monday, December 14, 2009

Birdwatching in Bakelalan

Bucolic view of Bakelalan from the one of the smaller hills across from Bakelalan airport.

Bakelalan wasn't meant to be a birdwatching trip, it was meant more as an introduction to Bakelalan, the place. It is more well-known for it's native community the Lun Bawangs, their buffaloes and apple (yes, apple) orchards.

We ended up doing limited birdwatching anyways. We took walks around the village, to the salt licks as well as the view point.

There seemed to be bubbling streams everywhere we look, looks an ideal habitat for forktails though we didn't see any on this visit. Another interesting observation this time around was that we did not spot a single raptor in the paddyfields nor surrounding hills.

Birding from the side of the hill, it was a big job hauling the tripod and scope up this slope, photographically it's an ideal spot providing eye level shots of the quarry.

Birds we saw:
A significant presence of Yellow-vented bulbul. A fair number of Oriental Magpie Robins and Orange-bellied Flowerpecker. These three species seemed to be everywhere we where.

There was also a high number of egrets, Cattle Egrets especially around the buffaloes, Little Egrets and in lower numbers Intermediate Egrets.

A family of Ashy Drongo was observed noisily hawking for insects at two separate locations. At one location by a gurgling stream a pair of Crimson-winged Woodpecker were also spotted quietly sharing the same tree as the Ashy Drongo.

A scattered number of White-breasted Waterhen was observed at the fringes of the paddyfields including a single Lesser Coucal.

Tricolor Munia were abundant in the paddyfields as well as in the village gardens. Less conspicious were the Dusky Munia, their sightings were limited to the edges of the paddyfields near the fruit farms.

A gregarious group of Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush were seen from eye-level vantage point hopping from tree to tree in a mid morning birdwave together with several smaller unidentified birds. Their calls were unmistakable.

Five Slender-billed Crow were sighted at the top of the hills returning to roost.

Other birds sighted were : Asian Koel (1), Wood Sandpiper (20), Yellow-bittern (2), White-breasted Woodswallow (2), Pacific Swallow (numerous), Red and black Broadbill (1 heard), Zebra Dove.

Summary birdlist from this visit:
Yellow-vented Bulbul
Oriental Magpie Robins
Orange-bellied Flowerpecker
Cattle Egrets
Little Egrets
Intermediate Egret
Ashy Drongo
Crimson-winged Woodpecker
White-breasted Waterhen
Lesser Coucal
Tricolor Munia
Dusky Munia
Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush
Slender-billed Crow
Asian Koel
Wood Sandpiper
White-breasted Woodswallow
Pacific Swallow
Black and Red Broadbill
Spotted Dove
Paddyfield/Richard's Pipit
Eurasian Sparrow
Olive-backed Sunbird
Pied Fantail
Yellow-bellied Prinia
Ashy Tailorbird

Ashy Drongo taking a rest from hawking for insects.

Slender-billed Crow way yonder from a separate vantage point.

An Olive-backed Sunbird and his unidentified friend, whose markings is unfamiliar.

The lush vegetation alongside the rivers and the winding gurgling streams of Bakelalan seem to hold much more as far as bird life is concerned. The same potential holds for the forests surrounding Bakelalan highlands. Perhaps another visit is called for, perhaps during the harvest or paddy planting season.

Facilities in Bakelalan are better then some (Apple Lodge comes highly recommended) , there is ample accomodation options in the area which offers full board package for visitors. A few coffee shops are scattered in the center of the village, these are stocked with the usual grocery store items.

Till then ...

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