To be honest, though i’ve seen leeches before, I’ve never really come face to face with one until I was taken to a place called Panti in Malaysia. According to fellow birder friends in Singapore, Panti (located in Malaysia, 103o 54.00′ East 1o 50.00′ North, an hour’s drive from Singapore) is a huge forest reserve which comprised of lowland and montane forest and swamps and rivers.
My friends, Wong and Jon came to pick me in early morning to beat the traffic and busy immigration checkpoint. When we arrived at Panti, the environment was hot and humid. We got off the car and started walking some side trails. At the trail, I saw Toshio wearing leech socks…and there he was plucking leeches away from his socks. “Leeches here?” I asked. “Just as long as you don’t walk off trail, you’ll be fine!” said Wong confidently. I took my chances and bet my luck on it.
As we continued our walk, there was still no sign of any birds. “Today is a tough day. We’re here for 2 hours and I havent seen a bird yet” I said. Jon replied “I am going to call the Scarlet Rump Trogon“. He then played the bird call through his phone…and soon enough the birds responded! Not just 1, but a pair!
Female Scarlet Rump trogon…
The male scarlet rump trogon came!
Back view of the female scarlet rump trogon
Both birds were very friendly, and just as I hate to leave them, I was determined to find the bird whose call resounded through the forest! I trekked towards the direction of the call, and used my lens to try to search for it. Very soon, I spotted the bird in a non gaudy costume. 🙂 I quickly took some shots, and it certainly looked like a drongo…but which one? When I went back, I asked my friend for help with the bird I.D. and it was identified as the Crow Billed Drongo!
crow billed drongo
It was nearly mid-day and we were about to leave when Jon saw the Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher fishing by the stream. It was hard to take a photo given to the tough environment (excuses!) But I am happy 😛
oriental dwarf kingfisher
And off we go! While we were talking about where to go for lunch…I suddenly felt something very very cold falling out of my sleeve! I couldnt help but to scream! But my squeal was soon overlapped by the screeching sound of a Lexus car. “What?? What happened?” asked Wong nervously. Wong was so shocked that he nearly lost control of his car (sorry mate!). I looked down onto the floor…it was a huge and fat leech! Urgh, the blood sucker took so much of my blood! I was no longer in the mood for any feast, but to go home and check for leeches. I did find another blood sucker in my shoe! Leeches anyone?