Saturday, April 21, 2012

Little Birdies at SK Kpg Masjid this morning

"Selamat Pagi, Scaly-breasted Munia!"

We left Miri around 0630hrs after dropping off Aisya at her school at Padang Kerbau and reached Kampung Tengah, Bekenu at almost 0700hrs, school just started. The students were already in the classrooms with their teachers, those that saw us waved shyly. No, we are not having another one of those extra activities day again, I wanted to get a better shot of the munias that we saw at the school compound a couple of weeks back for personal record.

Kpg Tengah is located along Sg Sibuti, the last school along the surfaced road at which end led to Sibuti Wildlife Sanctuary. It's quite nice to realise how lively the birds situation is in this sort of surroundings this late in the morning, must be even livelier at sunrise. There were birds criss-crossing the road almost as soon as we turn into the Kpg Tengah junction (the Blue-house turn-off) along the Bekenu-Bungai Road.

The munias were waiting, the bablers were gurgling inside every tall grass clumps by the roadside. We saw a group of 30 hanging parrots flew past as we walked towards our target location. We even saw a few Striped tit Babbler flitting across the road but of course never to be photographed ... bogie-bird saved for another day.

We placed ourselves at the school gates on the grass verge along the tarmac, there were many people using the road this morning. The munias came ... family groups, some came to preen and others just to sun themselves for a wee bit before heading off to the tall grass dominating the area nearby. Scaly-breasted Munia didn't fail today, even a pair of Dusky Munia showed up, they were also there the last time we were here. The shooting was easy enough once you sit still.

An hour later we came back to Miri with the images we wanted.

Next trip maybe just for the Dusky Munia or maybe even be ambitious and try for the Striped-Tit Babbler.

A pair of Scaly-breasted Munia communicating, there must be some sort of pecking order in the clan.

One of the Dusky Munia who got curious and overcame his skittishness to stay a while for the shoot.

A member of a family group that made the first few frames.

Words and images by N. Abghani/MNS Miri/Apr 2012.

Where we got our shots this morning, image by Muhammad Ali. Both SK Kpg Masjid and the road to Sibuti Wildlife Sanctuary is visible behind us. Our little targets were literally at the school gates!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Scaly-breasted Munia

Scaly-breasted Munia, 31st March 2012, SK Kpg Masjid, Bekenu.

High on the my list of boogie-birds, birds that only I seemed unable to see whilst it's the most common sight for everybody else, is the Scaly-breasted Munia.

Scaly-breasted Munia is supposedly common in coastal scrub and grasslands in Miri especially Kuala Baram. The first sighting I've had of this little seed eater was back in 1998 on our first Asian Wetland Census near Kpg Batu Satu, Kuala Baram north of Lutong with Lee Bor Seng, Sparrow Tan and John Parr. Unfortunately, that was my first and last sighting of this munia. Apparently it's all over the place in Kpg Masjid, our regular haunt. Most fellow birds have fellows are poised with the loaded, "Are you blind or something?" everytime I mentioned I have not seen this bird since 1998.

That unlucky spell was broken recently when I finally got my perhaps best-est of Scaly-breasted Munia during a workshop for little birders at Kpg Tengah that was conducted by MNS Miri Branch for Sekolah Kpg Masjid and Sekolah Kpg Angus, Bekenu. These little fellas (the munia) were scattered all over the school yard. After almost 15 years, talk about the quary being under your nose, I finally managed a half-way decent photograph of this little guy, on my second sighting.

The picture above was made while we were waiting for the students to arrive. It was captured within the school compound using a Canon 7d and EF400/5.6 handheld. Rest assured there'll be another proper session to further elucidate the fine details of the scaly pattern on the front of Scaly-breasted Munia with more appropriate gear and absolutely a steady tripod.

Beautiful pattern on the front of Scaly-breasted Munia, it's Malay name "Pipit pinang" probably originated from similar patterns which can be found on the inside of areca nuts, buah pinang.

Images and words,
Nazeri Abghani/MNS Miri/April 2012