Uncle Sin’s “Pond”

Location: Kaeng Krachan National Park, Thailand

Guide: Tomorrow we will visit Uncle Sin’s pond. You can do half or full day there.
Me: What kind of birds can we get there?
Guide: Mainly forest birds…
I am baffled…did he just say forest birds? Surely this can’t be right! My basic understanding of a pond – fish pond, would be frequented by ducks, kingfishers or even terns! I am convinced there is some mis-communication between us. 🙂

“Where’s the pond?” I ask, when we arrive at location. Our guide beckons us to follow him. We trek deep in to the forest and arrive at a small open ground. No sight of pond, but only to see hides and trees enclave around the area. As we settle in to our individual hides, we are told to wait for Uncle Sin.
“Okay, this is totally weird…I simply don’t have a clue of what’s going on here”. I glanced at my friends and they look equally puzzled . Soon Uncle Sin arrives, carrying with him a huge container. He walks to the depression in the ground, opens his container and pours water in to the hole and leaves! By this time we all burst into fits of laughter! The mystery is solved, the so-called “pond” is actually a water hole!
We are highly entertained by a variety of  water forest birds…where most of them come for a bath! The mouse deer (mouse+deer=mouse deer) is another highlight at the pond!
Below are some of the birds taken at the famous “pond”. 😉 😉

Note to Self- Start my own “pond” when I retire.   😎

red legged crake in bath!


brown cheeked fulvetta

Tinkle Blue flycatcher-male and female

red jungle fowls- male and female

red jungle fowls- male and female

Silver Pheasants- male and female

Silver Pheasants- male and female

mouse deer (mouse+deer=mouse deer, simple logic)

Here’s a photo of the hides at the “pond”… 😛

Hides at the Pond area – Photo by Bonnie Chan

List of birds at the “pond” : Silver pheasants, Red jungle fowls, Lesser and Greater necklaced laughing thrush, Tinkle blue flycatcher, Brown cheeked fulvetta, Racket tailed treepie, Red legged crake, Black naped monarch, white rump sharma, Streaked eared bubul, etc.

Australia- Sydney, Cattai National Park- Part 2 of 2

When I drove in the park, I didnt really know where to go. Fruiting trees and shrubs were plentiful, but no signs of birds. As I sat in the car, windows down- gazing dreamingly at the blue sky, I saw something gliding gracefully. “It’s a small plane gliding” I thought to myself. “Hmm, doesnt look like a plane….and it’s not Superman…” Only many seconds later did I realise its a Pelican. 😛

flying plane…I mean pelican!!

As I watch the “plane” glide away from me, a raptor flew towards the direction of the big bird! I just couldnt afford to miss this one! Grey Goshawk!

grey goshawk!

As I head back to my car, birds flew in from all directions, as if in a concerted behavior and landed in the patch of green right in front of me. Perhaps they were too busy with their breakfast…they didnt seem to be daunted by my appearance!

eastern spinebill

Red browed Finch

rufous whistler

Varigated Fairy Wrens

After an exciting hour ( there were more than 10 species), I was soon joined by a local birder (forgot his name, sorry!). I was truly amazed at his skills of pishing…something I have yet to learn. The guy was really friendly and knowledgeable- he helped me with some birds ID, and even pished a few birds for me!

scarlet honey eater

mistletoe bird

spotted pardalote

brown thornbill

As we drove on, we came to a golf course. On the other side of the course was a marsh wetland. We couldnt get into the wetland as it’s fenced all round.  But still, I managed to get the Australasian Grebe, Little Black Commorant and White Faced Heron. 😛

white faced heron

little black commorant and Australasian grebe

When noon arrived, we said our goodbyes and parted ways. My drive back to Sydney downtown was 1.5 hours ( I made a wrong turn somewhere ). >.<“

Leeches Anyone?

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?

Australia- Sydney, Cattai National Park – Part 1 of 2

I was recommended to do some birding in this park- Cattai National Park, as it’s supposed to be an easy drive from Sydney downtown. And thank God it was a pretty straightforward 50 mins drive.

The morning breeze was refreshing and as I drove along the quiet suburbs with beautiful landscapes, it somehow gave me this sublime feeling of loneliness, but yet makes me happy.  As I stop to watch some horses, I was interrupted by a loud bird calling repeatedly. It almost felt creepy! I looked up, Oh that’s the Laughing kookaburra! Somehow the bird reminded of the nursery song that I used to sing when I was just a kid!

laughing kookaburra

As I turned, a white and statue-like object on the barn roof caught my eye. It’s a Barn Owl! It seemed to realise his cover was blown and took off very quickly! Hang on! I’ve got an owl in flight photo (pat on the back)!

Barn owl in flight!

The drive towards the entrance of the park was truly amazing. The photos below are only some of the many bird photos I have taken before entering the park. They include Little Wattle Bird, Common Kestrel, Rufous Fantail, Yellow Rumped Thornbill, Willie Wagtail, White Throated Treecreeper, etc.

common Kestrel

little wattle bird

rufous fantail

yellow rumped thornbill

white throated treecreeper

Easy Birding in Langkawi- Day 2

Rise and Shine!! Today, my Malaysian friend- Riz, flew in from Kulua Lumpur to join me! We were met by Indera, whom I met on the previous night and was kind enough to take us to Gunung Raya. Before I came to Langkawi, I was told that this thick forest mountain, with dense tropical overgrowths is home to a variety of birds. So I guess this is a “must go” place for birders. As we start our elevation at 0730, the mountain was shrouded with mist. “Perhaps, I came at the wrong time?” I thought to myself. Indera seemed to have read my mind, “The clouds will soon be gone”, he said knowingly. And he was right. As soon as the mist starts to clear, bird calls soon came loud and clear and echoed in the mountain. Suddenly, there were birds flying in the sky, resting on branches and wires!  “Good grieve! Where should I begin?!?” I thought panickingly. While, Riz beckoned me to the branches full of Chestnut Headed Bee-Eaters; Indera was pointing at the flock of Great Hornbills flying, and I was eyeing on that Dollar Bird resting on the wire…

Dollar Bird!

A tree full of chestnut headed bee-eaters!

Great Hornbills! woohoo!

After we bagged a couple targets, we continued our elevation. While I was trying to make sense of what just happened, the car rolled to a halt.  “What is it?” I asked. “Viper on tree!” Indera exclaimed.  This is not good, I thought to myself ( my phobia sets in). While Indera and Riz were “engaged” in the reptile, Karim, our driver/birdwatcher spotted a raptor roosting on a tree. We quickly rushed to his position and luckily, all of us managed to get some shots before the raptor flew away. Indera quickly referred to his bird guide book. “Its a grey faced buzzard” he said in disbelief. It appeared that this raptor is a rare migrant seen on the island! Yay, to all of us!

Grey Faced Buzzard!

The mist starts to set in again, hence we decided to call it a day. As we made our descend, we saw this weird looking hornbill. According to Indera, that was a female wreathed hornbill! I was thrilled- my 3rd hornbill in just 2 days! What a lovely bird to end the morning trip!

Wreathed hornbill – looks evil to me~!

P.S. I have shared the wreathed hornbill with Guardian Post.