Words and images by Tou Jing Yi
I was looking forward to 12th March 2011, the first day for Raptor Watch Week 2011 (RWW 2011), the first time where I am able to arrange myself to join this marvelous event that was ran annually for more than 10 years now. This year, the Perak bird group decided to organize to pay a visit at Tanjung Tuan during the RWW.
We depart according to our own schedules and meet up at Tanjung Tuan for the watch. I departed with Connie, Dr Chan and others from Ipoh around 7am in the morning and drive ourselves directly to Ilham Resort, Tanjung Tuan. We were lucky to be greeted by Oriental Honey Buzzards (OHB) that was already on the move. I was very excited because this is not only my first Raptor Watch Week but was also my first time at the well known Port Dickson, where Tanjung Tuan is located at.
Streams of OHBs came in and circled around the forest reserve and Ilham resort all day which was definitely one of the most spectacular scenes for first timers like me compared to the much smaller numbers of OHB that I had seen migrating through inland. During late afternoon, OHBs continue to stream in with large numbers as well as a small mixture of Grey-faced Buzzard, I missed out them when they were mixing flocks with the OHBs but do accidentally got it in the photos, I did however then manage to see one flying pass alone.
This is significant for me as it was a lifer for me due to the difficulty of spotting and identifying this raptor inland. According to the counters, the day count is very impressive, with more than 9000 raptors counted in total with almost all OHBs, most likely due to bad weather the day before.
For the second day, a few of us decided to walk to the light house to get a view of low flying raptors reaching the forest reserve. However, we waited for more than an hour but the raptors weren’t here, but some Blue-tailed Bee-eaters did manage to make it here, with some Barn Swallow and probably also a Fork-tailed Swift.
We were however lucky to be continuously entertained by a pair of Dollarbirds and a pair of Van Hasselt’s Sunbird (split from Purple-throated Sunbird). Finally, when the first few OHBs showed up from far, we realized that they were flying very low and were struggling towards the forest reserve north of the light house, obviously not lucky enough for us, a few OHBs did occasionally flew pass us after thermaling higher up, including a Peregrine Falcon. However it is luckier for those who stayed at Ilham where the falcon was seen to catch and feed on a swift mid-air, definitely something interesting to watch.
Some of us were so excited and almost decided not to have lunch and continue to watch the never ending stream of OHBs to pass through Ilham, most of them were being very low, creating good photography opportunities for many photographers there. We were lucky to see some mixture of species once a while, including some Grey-faced Buzzards, Black Bazas and large formation of Chinese Goshawks that were flying very high up and were barely visible even with the binoculars. Streams of raptors continue to pass through until late evening when the event finally ended.
Our birding luck did not end there as we spend some of our time to bird at the accommodation where there were some birds there as well, such as a Lineated Barbet, a good proof of the southward spread of this barbet species. We were however more excited when we spotted a Banded Woodpecker and everyone were technically chasing after the bird to get photos, the hard part is that the woodpecker continues to pop in and out from the coconut tree that it was at.
In the third morning, before leaving, we returned to Ilham to check out with some birds, especially in hope to take some decent shot of the male Van Hasselt’s Sunbird, we did see the bird but it was simply too active to stay in one place for a nice photo. I did manage to spot a Red-eyed Bulbul within some Olive-winged Bulbuls, although common, a significant sighting for me as it was the second lifer I picked up during this trip.
I was happy that the Perak bird group organized this trip for this year, definitely a RWW to be remembered, until next time…